Emotional Guitar Tuning Styles

Emotional Guitar Tuning Styles: How to Accomplish Dark Tuning

Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by AG

Learn about the different guitar tuning styles, including the most common, the easiest tuning to play, and what dark tuning means. We’ll also talk about the forbidden tune in Stairway to Heaven. 

Discover the benefits, applications, and examples of each tuning style. If you want to know more about guitars that have more than six strings (and therefore more tuning options) look here.

What are guitar tuning styles?

Guitar tuning is a process of adjusting the pitch of the strings of a guitar to produce desired musical sounds. A guitar can be tuned to produce various musical styles, including classical, folk, rock, pop, and more. This can be done manually or with the use of an electronic tuner.

There are many different types of guitar tuning styles, including standard tuning, alternate tuning, open tuning, and slack tuning. And then there is always the possibility to adjust your tuning quickly by using a great and easy-to-use guitar capo.

Standard tuning is the most common tuning style and is used by most guitar players. 

Alternate tuning involves changing the tuning of one or more strings from the standard tuning, while open tuning involves tuning the strings to specific notes in order to produce specific chords when strummed. Slack tuning refers to a loose tuning that results in a lower and slack sound.

What are the most common tuning styles? 

There are many different tuning styles for guitars, each producing a unique musical sound. Some of the most common tuning styles include:

Standard tuning: 

This is the most commonly used tuning style and is often used as a starting point for players learning to play the guitar. Standard tuning involves tuning the strings to the notes E, A, D, G, B, and E

Dropped D tuning: 

This tuning style involves lowering the pitch of the sixth string from E to D, which creates a deeper, more resonant sound.

Open D tuning: 

The open d tuning involves tuning the strings to the notes D, A, D, F#, A, and D

Open G tuning: 

This tuning style is characterized by open strings that form a G chord, making it easier to play chords and solos in the key of G. Open G tuning involves tuning the strings to the notes D, G, D, G, B, and D.

A Tuning:

This tuning is commonly used for fingerstyle playing and for playing certain styles of music, such as folk and country, but also metal. The strings are tuned down a perfect fifth of the standard tuning so the notes are A-D-G-C-E-A (lowest to highest)

A tuning involves tuning the strings of a guitar so that the open strings form an A chord. This tuning is commonly used for fingerstyle playing and for playing certain styles of music, such as folk and country.

Benefits of A Tuning

The benefits of A tuning include a brighter, more resonant sound, as well as increased ease of playing fingerstyle patterns and progressions. This tuning provides a balanced and bright sound, making it a popular choice among guitar players.

The A tuning is a versatile tuning that can be used in a variety of music genres, including folk, blues, and rock. It provides a clear and bright sound, which makes it well suited for fingerpicking and strumming. Additionally, the A tuning allows for easy chord formation, making it a good choice for beginners and experienced players alike.

Which Guitar Tuning is Easiest to Play?

When considering ease of play, there are a few factors to consider, including string tension, chord formation, and playing comfort. 

For a tuning to be considered easier to play, it should have lower string tension, making it easier to press down on the strings, and simple chord formations, allowing for easy chord changes.

Some of the tuning styles that are considered to be easier to play include standard tuning, dropped D tuning, and open G tuning.

While some tuning styles may be easier to play for certain players, it is important to note that the best tuning for any individual will depend on their personal playing style, preferences, and skill level. 

Ultimately, the easiest tuning for a player will be the one that allows them to achieve the musical sounds they desire.

Compared to other tuning styles, the Open D, Open G, and Open E tunings offer a number of benefits in terms of playability. They have lower string tension, making them easier to play for beginners. 

They also feature simple chord formations, making them ideal for finger picking and strumming. Additionally, the open strings in these tunings provide a full and resonant sound, which can greatly enhance the overall sound of the guitar.

What is dark Guitar Tuning?

“Dark” tuning is a term used to describe tunings that have a heavier, moodier, or more ominous sound.

The concept of darkness in guitar tuning refers to the overall tone and mood that a specific tuning creates. 

This can be achieved by using a lower pitch or a certain combination of notes, the low, heavy, or dissonant notes and chords create a different mood or atmosphere.

Darker tunings are often associated with genres such as heavy metal, blues, alternative rock and doom metal, but can also be used in other genres for a different vibe.

Darkest tunings for acoustic and electric guitars

There are many tunings that can be considered “dark,” but some of the darkest include dropped D, double dropped D, DADGAD, and open G. These tunings are popular among guitar players for their heavier, moodier sound and the unique musical possibilities they offer. 

For acoustic guitars, some of the darkest tunings include Open G, Open D, and DADGAD. 

For electric guitars, Drop D and Double Drop D tunings are often considered to be among the darkest.

Well known songs that use dark tunings

Some popular songs that use dark tunings include “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Black” by Pearl Jam, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, and “Wonderwall” by Oasis. 

These songs showcase the versatility and emotional impact that dark tunings can bring to a song. How it creates a haunting, moody atmosphere.

“Stairway to Heaven” is a classic rock song by Led Zeppelin that has become a staple in guitar players’ repertoire. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. 

It was released on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album in 1971. The song quickly became a hit, reaching the top of charts and becoming one of the most played rock songs on radio.

The forbidden tune and why it is called so

There is a famous guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” that has become known as the “forbidden tune.” The term “forbidden tune” is used because the song was played so often on the radio and often one of the first ones beginners started with, that the staff of guitar stores all over the world were tormented with it while people were trying out there new would be instrument, that it was jokingly dubbed the forbidden tune.


For guitar players, experimenting with different tunings can be a great way to expand your musical abilities and bring new dimensions to your playing. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, trying new tunings and songs can be a fun and rewarding experience.

By exploring alternate tunings and songs, you can continue to grow and improve as a guitar player. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and see what you can create.

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