The second part of “Blind Mary” includes a Bm7 chord and a Gmaj7/B chord. Doug walks you through the B part of “Blind Mary” phrase by phrase in this video.
Alternate tunings can create beautiful guitar sounds that are impossible in standard tuning, and make some things easier to play. You’ll learn to play fingerstyle melodies in a variety of popular alternate tunings, including favorites like dropped D, DADGAD, and open G, as well as more unusual tunings.
Doug gives you an introduction to playing in alternate tunings, advice about the kinds of guitars and gear that work well for playing fingerstyle in alternate tunings, and a basic introduction to fingerstyle guitar (in standard tuning) for those who are new to fingerstyle playing.
Doug gives you an introduction to alternate tunings in this video, talking about the benefits of using alternate tunings to get different sounds or make getting those sounds easier, the use of capos to play in different keys, how to make sense of all the different tunings, and more
Doug talks about the guitars and gear that work well for playing fingerstyle guitar in alternate tunings, including advice on choosing strings and tuners.
If you’re new to playing fingerstyle on the guitar, Doug shows you some basic techniques, using standard tuning so you can concentrate on using the fingers of your picking hand before you start learning new voicings in alternate tunings.
The first alternate tuning you’ll learn is probably the most common, and just involves tuning the low E string down to D.
The first alternate tuning you’ll learn is probably the most common, and just involves tuning the low E string down to D. Doug talks about some of the advantages of playing in dropped-D tuning and shows you how to get into dropped-D tuning.
The first tune you’ll learn to play in an alternate tuning is the traditional Irish song “Blind Mary.” It’s in the key of D and uses the basic chord shapes you’ll need to play in the key of D: D, G, A, Bm.
In this lesson, you’ll learn to play in the key of G in dropped-D tuning with the Irish folk song “Down by the Sally Gardens,” which uses the I, IV, and V chords in the key of G (G, C, and D) as well as the three minor chords in the key of G: Em, Am, and Bm. “Down by the Sally Gardens” has four four-bar phrases, with an AABA structure. Doug’s arrangement includes a couple of different ways to finger the melody against the G chord, including one that takes advantage of the open strings in dropped-D tuning.
In this lesson, Doug shows you how to play the song “Danny Boy” up the neck in dropped-D tuning using triads and chord inversions, a technique that is very useful no matter what tuning you’re in.
In addition to triads and chord inversions, it’s also important to learn the harmonized major scales in whatever tuning you’re in. In this lesson, Doug uses the traditional song “Shenandoah” to show you the harmonized major scale in dropped-D tuning.
The second alternate tuning you’ll learn (DADGAD) is common in Irish music and contemporary fingerstyle guitar, and there are a few great guitarists (Pierre Bensusan, Laurence Juber) who have made it their “standard tuning.”
In this lesson, Doug introduces you to DADGAD tuning, gives you a capsule history of the tuning, shows you how to get into DADGAD, and demonstrates some of the common chord shapes in DADGAD. He also shows you how to modify chord shapes you already know from standard tuning to create new chords in DADGAD.
Doug shows you one of the signature sounds of DADGAD: a harp-like effect created by playing scales across the strings. He shows you how to play a D major scale in such a way that most of the strings ring, and then shows you an Irish melody called “Three Lovely Lassies from Kimmage.” He also uses his own composition “Cross String” to demonstrate cross-string patterns up the neck.
Doug uses the Irish jig “Rose in the Heather” to illustrate another approach to playing scales in DADGAD tuning. In DADGAD, if you play the second and fourth frets (as well as the open string) you will only get notes of the D major scale. Doug walks you through the melody of “Rose in the Heather” and then shows you how he adds bass notes to the melody.
“The Skye Boat Song” is a traditional Scottish song that was written in the late 1800s and was recently used as the theme song for the television series Outlander. Doug uses this tune to introduce the idea of using intervals (thirds, sixths, and tenths), as he did in the dropped-D lesson on “Shenandoah.”
Open-G tuning is a very popular tuning and is used in all sorts of folk and blues styles.
Open G-tuning is sometimes called “Spanish tuning,” not because it comes from Spain, but because it was the tuning for a guitar instrumental written in the mid 1800s, “Spanish Fandango,” which you’ll learn in this first lesson on open-G tuning.
In this lesson on playing in open-G tuning, Doug uses the Irish tune “Planxty Irwin” (written by the 17th-century Irish composer Turlough O'Carolan) to illustrate how to play melodies in sixths on the second and fourth strings.
Doug introduces you to open-D tuning (DADF#AD), shows you some of the ways it’s similar to open-G tuning and DADGAD, and teaches you the old Scottish dance tune “Flowers of Edinburgh.”
Orkney tuning is a Gsus tuning that is similar to a modal five-string banjo tuning and has been popular with guitarists like Tony McManus and Martin Simpson. but the tuning, CGDGCD, doesn’t roll off the tongue easily so fingerstyle guitarist (and Peghead Nation Clawhammer Guitar instructor) Steve Baughman named it Orkney tuning, and the name has stuck.
Doug introduces you to Orkney tuning, shows you some of the similarities between Orkney and DADGAD, and shows you how to play the Scottish song “Hector the Hero” in Orkney tuning.
In this lesson you’ll learn to play an arrangement of the Beatles’ classic “Norwegian Wood” in Orkney tuning in the key of G. Doug also uses “Norwegian Wood” to show you how to play major scales and modes in Orkney tuning.
G minor tuning is similar to G tuning (DGDGBD), but with the B tuned down a half step to Bb, so the tuning is DGDGBbD. Doug uses the folk classic “Wayfaring Stranger” to illustrate some of the things you can do in G minor tuning.
Like the relationship between G minor and open-G (major) tunings, D minor tuning has just one note different from open-D tuning. The F# in open-D tuning is tuned down to F, so D minor tuning is DADFAD. You’ll also notice that this is just one note different from DADGAD. The tune Doug uses to demonstrate D minor tuning in this lesson is an Irish harp tune, “Celia Connellan,” which comes from Thomas Connellan, a contemporary of legendary Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan.
In this lesson, Doug talks about playing in keys other than the one most associated with a tuning. He revisits DADGAD tuning and shows you how to play in the key of G in DADGAD, using the traditional Irish song “The South Wind.”
In this lesson, you’ll learn to play in the key of A in DADGAD, using the Celtic and bluegrass favorite “Red-Haired Boy.” “Red-Haired Boy” mostly uses the A Mixolydian scale which has the same notes as D major, so DADGAD is a great tuning for playing in A Mixolydian.
Learn to play in the key of C in DADGAD in this lesson. You’ll also learn some jazz chords in the key of C and use them to play the song “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
DGDGAD Tuning is kind of a cross between DADGAD and open-G tuning (DGDGBD), and of course has similarities to both tunings. It’s great for getting a DADGAD sound in the key of G. DGDGAD can be thought of as a “sus2 tuning,” which means there’s no third, major or minor, so it’s good for playing in either major or minor. The tune you’ll learn, “Paddy Fahy’s Jig #1,” is in the key of G minor.
In the last lesson, you learned the G minor tune “Paddy Fahy’s Jig #1” in DGDGAD tuning. In this lesson, Doug shows you how to play in G major in DGDGAD tuning, with “Paddy Fahy’s Reel #3.”
In this lesson you’ll learn a low-C tuning: CGDGAD. The top four strings are the same as the top four strings of DADGAD, with the bottom two strings tuned to C and G. Sometimes with strings tuned down that low, intonation can be a problem, so Doug uses a capo at the second fret for this lesson. He shows you chords and scales in CGDGAD and how to play the traditional song “Lady Owen’s Delight” in the key of G.
EBDGBD tuning was inspired by guitarist Will Ackerman’s FCE♭A♭CE♭tuning, which requires you to tune most of the strings up by as much as a minor third (A–C, for example). But Doug realized that if he tuned that tuning down a half step, he got EBDGBD, which is the same as standard tuning but with the A string raised to B and the high E string lowered to D, and creates a nice Em7 chord. He uses it to play “The Foggy Dew,” an Irish song written in the early 20th century.
Doug learned D major nine tuning (DAEF♯AC♯) from a recording by fingerstyle guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall. It works well in the keys of D and A. Doug shows you chords in the tuning, and talks about its similarity to open-D tuning, and then he shows you his arrangement of George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone,” which he plays with a capo at the second fret.