Open E tuning as the name implies is an open tuning, meaning all 6 strings can be played open to form a chord (e) or barred to form other chord shapes, for example using a capo on the second fret if tuned to Open D becomes Open E tuning. Due to this versatility it is ideal for slide guitar and has been employed by many of the great slide guitarists such as Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, Joe Walsh and Ry Cooder.
The notes from lowest to highest are:
E | B | E | G# | B | E
When tuning from a standard tuning it’s relatively easy and involves just three strings being adjusted.
- Low E remains the same
- A changes to become a B (7th fret on E string as reference point).
- Next tune your D string up to E (Use your Low E as a reference point).
- Next your G string needs to be sharpened to G#.
- Remaining strings (E and B remain the same)
It’s a very easy tuning to play in and has a number of similarities to open D tuning as far as tone intervals.
Playing this tuning using Major chord shapes can also provide an interesting sound and can be heard in some of Jimmy Page of Led Zepellin’s playing.
Many Guitarists have used this tuning including arguably one of the best known slide guitarists Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers but Keith Richards was responsible for open E tuning becoming well established as an open tuning used in classic rock and blues. Jumpin Jack Flash for instance is a good example of Open E tuning.