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Guitar in Dadgad Tuning

Chord diagram

The DADGAD tuning is covered in my other hub Guitar in DADGAD tuning, and there is some video to show you what can be achieved - even if you don't play guitar yet, you might enjoy the music. DADGAD tuning for guitar:

E (string 6) goes down to D, you can check it with open string 4 (D)

B (string 2) goes down to A

E (string 1) goes down to D. Again, you can check with string 4, open string.

Do this slowly, and bring the note up to pitch.

See also DADGAD chords, and the latest hub DADGAD Tuning chords, which includes Irish songs performed by Van Morrison and The Chieftains.

The first seven chords are the chords in the harmonised scale of D, which is all you need for most folk, pop and rock songs. The chord name is subject to discussion, but 99% accurate I think. After that you could explore some weird and wonderful chords - use the shapes I've written out, but move them up and down the neck in a spirit of playful exploration. I find red wine helps with this.

The DADGAD tuning is especially effective for Irish/Celtic/Breton music and for solo singer-guitarists can give you a really full and interesting sound with very little effort.

Important tip: Do try picking or playing arpeggios through these chords rather than just strumming. Also harmonics at frets 5, 7, 12 will sound terrific.

DADGAD tuning Chord Pictures


Alternative chord forms

You can voice chords in many different ways, it's definitely a good idea to experiment.

Both major and minor shapes can be played with just the two outer notes, also chords in harmonics can be played at frets 5, 7, 12.

Open D tuning

Changing just one string (string 3 from G to F sharp) puts you in open D tuning. Of course, the chord shapes will be different. Open D = D A D F♯ A D

Check out my new hub Guitar in Open D tuning for the chord shapes.

Word of caution: although there is only one note different, for some reason it's really hard to adjust between the two tunings.

Using Open G tuning: many of the shapes can be used in Open G tuning as used by the Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Ry Cooder if you move them across one string, one string higher. Some changes will have to be made, but it helps to know this, that there is a relationship between the two open tunings.


This tuning is great for songwriting. Many really original sounding chords are there to be discovered, and the open string ring will really bring out the best in an acoustic guitar.

The power of tunings is everywhere on the early Joni Mitchell albums. Hejira is one of my favourites.

I'll put in a link to a Joni Mitchell fan site, which has a very comprehensive selection of her songs with lyrics and chord changes. It's a work of art really, and essential as a source for songwriters and acoustic guitar players.

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Big Yellow Taxi

This is one example of a song that sounds great in the Open D tuning ( D A D Fsharp A D) - using barre shapes on frets 0, 5, 7,with some E7 shapes hammered on. it's very easy to play, but the sound is full and will bring out the tone from most acoustics. Probably played on a dreadnought Martin.

Joni songs

  • gd
    jmdl The Website of the Joni Mitchell Discussion List

More DADGAD chords



Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on September 03, 2013:

Hi - you're welcome. Open G tuning is also great, as used by The Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Joni Mitchell.

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on June 09, 2012:

Thanks napetv, you're welcome.

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on April 14, 2012:

You're welcome Joe.

Joe Emery on April 14, 2012:

I can work with that.

Thank you jon!

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on April 06, 2012:

Hi Joe - chords are posted above - only a rough guide.

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on April 06, 2012:

Hi Joe - most of the chords are on the chord grids above. The intro and verse - first 2 chords, with the 4th fret hammer -on, slide into chord 2. (three times) Then there is a rundown on string 1 (see last box)to the G chord. Chorus is the G, A, D chords, then Em to D/f sharp. It's hard to hear exactly what's going on!

Joe emery on April 02, 2012:

Our church has a general cycling license. It can be played just not distributed or projected. I have also emailed the artist for approval.

It is Andrew Peterson's "God of our fathers"

Thee are a couple videos on YouTube but not much. On one you can see the fingering pretty well but I am not as familiar with the tuning so I cant get it down as easy.

Any assistance would be appreciated. Even the chord pattern and I can go from there

Thank you for considering


Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on April 01, 2012:

Hi Joe - there are copyright issues, will see what I can do though.

Joe Emery on March 31, 2012:

Hi Jon

Have you ever worked on figuring out songs for people?

There is a very particular song I would really like to play for our 4th and last child's baptism. I am sure it is in DADGAD tuning


Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on March 27, 2012:

Hi. It's great for Irish songs and harmonics, also John Martyn tunes like Spencer The Rover.

Hughesy on March 27, 2012:

Hi mate, thanks for taking the time to draw out the shapes. I've been messing around with dadgad on a little parlour guitar i picked up while travelling Asia and you have given me the pointers I needed to progress with it. Got a new song written within 5 minutes of playing !! Nice one

santossanchez from ga on October 27, 2011:

what is your email. i cant get that piece on here.

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on October 27, 2011:

Hi santos - OK, will do that. I'm not well known as a DADGAD player though.

santos on October 27, 2011:

hey. if i sent you a piece since your a well known dadgad player could you give me notes on it ups and downs?

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on October 26, 2011:

Hi Santos - try asking other guitar players, maybe in a music shop.

santos sanchez on October 26, 2011:

how do you tell if your good in dadgad jon and if you are should you take you music elsewhere and play for people?

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on August 22, 2011:

It's to give you different sounds, usually fuller sounding chords. You could play any song in DADGAD, but it's most suitable for Irish or folk music that uses drone notes.If you want to play jazz or blues you would want to use normal tuning.

reallynk on August 22, 2011:

hello jon, can you tell me the theory how can they change the tuning like that? what do they base on? and more over, why can the artist know when will they change the tuning?

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on July 11, 2011:

Hi heavenrooms - you're welcome

heavenrooms on July 11, 2011:

great hub, thak's for the information

israel nyathi on May 11, 2011:

dear sir/madam help me how can lean this style of DADGAD or drop C TUNINGS.MY EMAIL IS

Jon Green (author) from Frome, Somerset, UK on March 31, 2011:

It's easier than you think - but having a second guitar is a big help.

David Lloyd from UK on March 31, 2011:

Cheers - I've always wanted to see how familiar chords look in a different tuning. I feel I have to improve a lot before I start with this tuning though, the new chord shapes will take me a while I think, but it's nice to be able to visualise them.

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