Keith Richards – Master of the Open G Alternate Tuning
by Frederik Nielsen, Mar 7, 2020 . 3 min read
Keith Richards, half man, half cigarette, is the legendary guitarist of The Rolling Stones. Having been in the game for as long as he has, it is no wonder that he experimented with alternate tuning. Although you can catch him using Open D and Open E, his favorite is Open G. To refresh your memory, a standard guitar tuning is EADGBE. In order to get the Open G tuning, you want the strings tuned to DGDGBD. Here’s how to do that with your Roadie 2 tuner.
Getting the Open G with your Roadie
Grab your guitar, your Roadie 3, and your phone. You don’t need to tell anyone what you’re about to do, so you can safely close Instagram and open up the Roadie app instead. From the app, choose a six-string guitar, and select Create New Tuning. This is where you add DGDGBD. Once you’re done, name the tuning ‘Keith2050’ — I’ll explain why in a bit. Once you’ve saved the alternate tuning, hit Sync to save it. Put Roadie 2 to the tuning pegs, and let the magic device do its thing. Put on a bandana, and play ‘Honkey Tonk Woman’:
What is so special about Keith Richards’ Open G Alternate tuning?
Now you may be thinking about how limited you’ll be with only three notes to play. As you’ve probably noticed, there’s three D’s, two G’s, and a B. What are you supposed to do with that? Play some Rolling Stones! Here’s what Keith has to say on the subject:
“I found working with open tunings that there’s a million places you don’t need to put your fingers. The notes are there already. You can leave certain strings wide open. It’s finding the space in between that makes open tunings work.” – Keith Richards, from his book ‘Life’
Reading Keith Richards is, of course, nothing like experiencing the real deal. Here is a video of Keith Richards explaining why he loves the Open D alternate tuning so much, whilst the interviewer tries not to die from passive smoking.
Try out the Open G for yourself
Now that you have an understanding of why Open G is so awesome, it’s time to try out the magic. ‘Brown Sugar’ is a great way to get started. Place your index finger on the 12th fret (bottom five strings), your middle finger — the naughty one — on the 13th fret (the B string), and your ring finger on the 14th fret (the middle D string). Boom! You’ve got the first chord to ‘Brown Sugar’:
Some of the other Stones tunes you can play with this tuning are Beast of Burden, Gimme Shelter, Start Me Up, Happy, and Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’. My personal favorite is Beast of Burden, but I’ll let you pick your own! Word of advice though — Open G is the most popular tuning for a banjo. I’m telling you this because it’s a gateway tuning and might result in you spending money on a banjo.