A Beginners Guide and Basic Manual


I have been playing in open tunings for 42 years – since 1966 when I saw Tom Rush at a little club out side of Fort Bragg, NC. He played a dynamite song that was about a train & he used a Telephone Jack on his little finger that slid up the neck to make these groovy sounds. On his break I was able to talk with him & I asked him how he did that.. “open E” he said “you make an E chord by winding up the 3 strings that you would fret to make the regular E chord”. I went back to the barracks & tuned my guitar to open E and I have been playing only in open tunings since then. In 1967 I heard some John Fahey records which solidified my fondness for open tunings.

I also spend time on the basics of guitar playing – how to use finger picks, a flat pick, the alternating bass and “boom chick, and other guitar playing techniques that can also be applied to “standard” tuning. A person who never played guitar can learn from basics to master level with this book. It contains everything I have learned in the last 40 years of my adventure and relationship to the open tunings..

Open tunings can be used to play almost any style of music – they simply offer another way to tune the instruments string relationships. Open tunings are already used in bluegrass 5-string banjo and dobro. I play bluegrass in the key of E by tuning to open E and putting a capo on the 3rd fret – to produce open G. This offers a great platform for the basic “boom chick” bluegrass rhythm. Open tuned fiddles and mandolins can also be found. Blues, rock and country are naturals for open tunings, Slide guitar and Hawaiian lap steel are also done in open tunings. Finger style guitar is also played in many open tunings. One of the Everly Brothers was playing his guitar on open G to get the unique rhythm guitar style on Wake Up Little Susie. Many of the recordings of John Fahey, both finger style and slide, were done in various open tunings. I highly recommend listening to his recordings Volume 1 thru 6 on the Tacoma record label. They are monumental in the world of acoustic guitar and the use of open tunings. Using these tunings has been a great help to me in understanding how the stringed instrument fret board works. With understanding comes increased potential for improvement.

It will be possible to use & understand this book with little or no musical training. I actually stay away from most music theory and try to replace it with simple ways to “keep track” and understand chords, notes and the guitar fret board. I tell what I know about playing blues, bluegrass, slide and finger style guitar. Using open tunings will also improve your understanding and playing in concert tuning. NOTHING in this book is meant to help you play like anyone else. EVERYTHING in this book is meant to help you play like YOURSELF.

Download The Open Tunings Book
(1.07 MB PDF file)

You may purchase the Open Tuning Book / DVD set $50