Hello, fellow guitar enthusiasts! Today, we’ll be exploring the weirdest guitar tunings.
These are different from your everyday drop D or open G tunings.
We’re talking about the most out-there guitar tunings musicians use to create unique sounds.
1. Ostrich Tuning (EEEEEE)
I find the Ostrich Tuning (EEEEEE) to be quite fascinating.
It produces an intense, chorused drone music, perfect for creating a unique and experimental sound.
One of the songs I enjoy playing in this tuning is “Venus in Furs” by The Velvet Underground.
To create a drone effect, you must tune your string to the same note.
All you need to do is tune all your strings to ‘E.’
The above video shows what you can achieve with this unusual tuning, including its limits.
2. C6 Tuning (CACGCE)
As someone who loves playing the guitar, the C6 tuning (CACGCE) has always intrigued me.
It produces a beautiful, open sound that’s perfect for playing instrumental pieces.
One of my go-to songs in this tuning is “Bron-Yr-Aur” by Led Zeppelin.
It’s a piece that really shines and sounds fantastic in the C6 tuning, allowing for a rich and engaging musical experience.
Start with standard tuning and tune your low E down to C, A string stays the same, D string goes up to G, G string remains the same, B string goes up to C, and the high E stays the same.
3. Open C Tuning (CGCGCE)
Artists like Devin Townsend and Joni Mitchell use this tuning for big, open-chord voicings.
From low to high, tune your strings to C, G, C, G, C, E.
One of the challenges with Open C Tuning is that it can feel unfamiliar and confusing, especially if it deviates significantly from standard tuning.
It also requires a different approach to playing chords and scales.
This tuning is popular in Celtic music and creates a modal Dsus4 chord when strummed open.
From standard tuning, tune your low E down to D, A stays the same, D stays the same, G stays the same, B goes down to A, and high E goes down to D.
The main challenge with DADGAD is that it changes the sound of the chord shapes you’re familiar with, which can be disorienting.
It also requires a different approach to playing chords and scales.
5. Nashville Tuning (EADGBE)
For Nashville Tuning, you need to tune the lower four strings an octave higher than standard tuning.
Guitarists often use this in recording to create a 12-string guitar effect.
And you’ll need a special set of strings for this one!
Nashville tuning works particularly well on strummed guitar parts, but it can make traditional lead playing a bit tricky due to the heightened tension it places on guitar strings.
It’s perfect for producing the sound of a higher-pitched instrument, including a mandolin, banjo, ukulele, 12-string guitar, or even a six-string guitar with a capo.
6. New Standard Tuning (CGDAEG)
New standard tuning is one of the weirdest guitar tunings today.
Invented by Robert Fripp of King Crimson, this tuning spans a wide range of pitches and requires a special set of strings.
From low to high: C, G, D, A, E, and G.
NST puts the guitar strings under more tension than standard tuning.
Standard sets of guitar strings won’t work well with this tuning.
After all, the lowest strings are too loose, and the highest one may snap under the sudden tension.
7. Open D Minor (DADFAD)
Used by artists like Elliot Smith, this tuning creates a haunting, melancholy sound.
Tuning your guitar to Open D Minor starts with tuning your low E string down to a D.
From there, keep the A and D strings the same.
The G string drops a whole step to an F — this makes the open tuning minor since F is the minor third of D2.
The video above perfectly showcases how Open D Minor can be employed as a slide guitar tuning to create captivating sounds.
8. All Fourths (EADGCF)
This tuning maintains the same interval between all strings, making it popular with jazz and fusion players.
Here’s how you can achieve the All Fourths Tuning (EADGCF) from standard tuning:
- The low E string remains the same.
- The A string remains the same.
- The D string remains the same.
- The G string remains the same.
- Tune your B string up a half step to C.
- Tune your high E string up a half step to F.
As a guitarist, I find All Fourths Tuning (EADGCF) to be a refreshing change from standard tuning.
The symmetrical nature of this tuning simplifies the fretboard’s geometry, making it easier for me to navigate across the strings.
It’s particularly useful when I’m playing jazz or fusion genres, as it allows for interesting quartal voicings.
One of my favorite songs to play in this tuning is Stanley Jordan’s “Touch of Blue.”
The song showcases the unique sound that can be achieved with All Fourths Tuning.
9. Warpig Tuning (BEADF#B)
Used by Black Sabbath in “Into the Void,” this is a step down from standard tuning.
The lower pitch provides a rich, resonant tone that can add depth and intensity to your music.
Here’s how you can achieve the Warpig Tuning (BEADF#B):
- B: Tune your low E string down two and a half steps to B.
- E: The A string is tuned down two and a half steps to E.
- A: Tune your D string down two and a half steps to A.
- D: The G string is tuned down two and a half steps to D.
- F#: Tune your B string down two and a half steps to F#.
The downside is that the first time you try this tuning, you might hear some buzzing because your strings will be looser than usual.
10. CABBAGE Tuning (C-A-Bb-A-G-E)
The CABBAGE tuning (C-A-Bb-A-G-E) is a unique and fun way to experiment with your guitar.
To achieve this tuning, start by tuning your low E string down two whole steps to C.
The A string remains the same.
Next, tune your D string down a whole step to Bb.
You need to tune the G string up a half step to A.
The B and high E strings remain the same.
This tuning forms a ‘crunchy’ C13 chord with the root(s) at the bottom.
It might seem silly, but it’s a great way to shake things up and try something new with your guitar playing.
Always be careful when experimenting with the weirdest guitar tunings, as they can put extra tension on your guitar neck and potentially damage your instrument if not done correctly.
The above video of Rob Scallon is a great showcase of this unusual guitar tuning.
11. Ethereal Tuning (D-A-C#-F#-C#-D)
This tuning was introduced by multi-tuning Japanese virtuoso Ichika Nito in 2019.
His jagged configuration twists all but the 5th string away from Standard, while never taking any of them more than two semitones from this starting point.
The Ethereal Tuning (D-A-C#-F#-C#-D) creates a unique, dreamy, and ethereal sound, hence the name.
The open strings form a D Major 9 chord, which has a very open and airy quality to it.
This tuning is perfect for creating fresh major-key melodies and extended chord shapes.
It’s particularly well-suited for fingerstyle guitar and for creating ambient, atmospheric textures.
Here’s how you can achieve the Ethereal tuning:
- Start by tuning your sixth string down a tone to D. Check the tuning with the fourth (D) string.
- Then tune your second string down a tone to A. Check the tuning with the fifth (A) string.
- Lastly, tune your first string down a tone to D. Check the tuning with the fourth (D) string.
Tips for Experimenting with Weird Tunings
1. Start Slowly and Be Patient
When trying out a new and unconventional tuning, take your time to get used to it.
Start by experimenting with simple chord progressions before diving into complex compositions.
2. Record Your Exploration
Record your sessions using the weird tuning.
This way, you can listen back and identify interesting sounds, chords, or melodies that you might want to incorporate into your music.
3. Understand the Theory
Study the theory behind the weird tuning you’re using.
Understand how it alters intervals and chords.
This will help you make informed musical decisions while playing in that tuning.
4. Combine with Effects
Experiment with various guitar effects like reverb, delay, or distortion to enhance the unique sounds produced by the weird tuning.
Effects can take your experimentation to a whole new level.
5. Stay Open-Minded
Keep an open mind and embrace the unconventional.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or produce dissonant sounds.
Some of the most innovative music has come from pushing boundaries and breaking traditional norms.
Weirdest Guitar Tunings: Conclusion
Sticking to the standard tunings is a quick and easy way to tune your guitar.
But there’s nothing wrong with thinking out of the box and trying the weirdest guitar tunings!
You can try any of the list’s tunings if you want to try something new.
If you want to start easy, try Ostrich Tuning, as it only tunes to one string.
But know that not all of them can resonate with the sounds you want to achieve.
Since you’ll be straying from the norm, expect to practice with these weird tunings more than once.
Regardless, after mastering these tunings and adding them to your playing, you can add a unique touch to your music!
Whether you’re a beginner looking for easy yet unusual guitar tunings or a seasoned guitarist wanting to deviate from the norm, experimenting with these can open fun possibilities for creativity and self-expression.
Do you have your own weird guitar tuning?
Share it in the comments below!