How to Tune a Guitar to Open E

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017
Tune a Guitar to Open E

How to Tune a Guitar to Open E. Open E guitar tuning is a popular choice for slide guitarists and guitarists looking for an open tuning with a less commonly used sound. You can get a full, rich sound from open E tuning while potentially simplifying chord fingerings. Cat Stevens and others have been known to use open E guitar tuning.

Tune your guitar to standard tuning (EADGBE).

Re-tune the A string up to B. Begin by tightening the A string slightly and compare it against the B string. When in tune, they should be the same note, only the lower B should be an octave lower.

Raise the pitch of the D string to E. Tighten the D string slightly and compare it against either the low E or the high E. The high E may be an easier reference because it is easier to hear the pitch. When in tune, the middle E string will be an octave lower than the high E string and an octave higher than the low E string.

Adjust the G string up slightly to a G sharp. Tighten the G string slightly, then hold down the third fret, pluck it and compare it against the B string. They should be the same pitch when in tune. Your guitar should now be tuned to E-B-E-G sharp-B-E.

Tip

When you strum without holding down any strings on any fret, you will be playing an E major chord. You can play other major chords by holding down all the strings on one fret (also known as barring) anywhere on the guitar. Use a chromatic tuner or a piano to verify your pitches and make sure your entire guitar is in tune. Open E tuning makes playing major chords easy, but it is difficult to play minor chords. If you leave the G string as it is instead of tuning it up a half step, you can play minor chords easier while maintaining the open tuning.

Warning

Be very careful with your strings. You are tuning two strings up an entire step and one string up half a step. This will make it more likely that the strings will break or may put unnecessary strain on the neck of your guitar. Use thinner strings for this tuning if possible. Be sure to check that all of the strings are in tune after you tune your guitar to open E. Changing the tuning of one string can affect the tuning on all strings, and tuning to an alternate tuning will make your guitar slip out of tune more easily.