10 Iconic Songs That Showcase Alternate Guitar Tuning



In the world of music, guitarists have continually pushed boundaries, exploring new sounds and textures to create iconic songs. One avenue of creativity lies in alternate guitar tunings, where the standard tuning is modified to produce unique chord voicings and tonal possibilities. In this article, we will delve into 10 iconic songs that showcased the creative power of alternate guitar tunings, highlighting the musical masterpieces they produced.

“Supremacy” by Muse (Drop A tuning)

Muse’s “Supremacy” is a tour de force that exhibits their unique blend of rock, orchestral elements, and alternative influences. The song is performed in Drop A tuning (AEEADGBE), allowing for massive power chords and intense riffing. The lower A string brings a heavier and fuller sound, adding to the song’s grandeur and sonic impact. It is considered by many to be one of the best songs in drop a ever written.

“Blackbird” by The Beatles (Open G tuning)

From the iconic album “The Beatles (The White Album),” “Blackbird” mesmerizes listeners with its intricate fingerpicking patterns. The song, written by Paul McCartney, features Open G tuning (DGDGBD), which lends a distinctively bright and open sound. The alternate tuning allows McCartney to effortlessly create rich chord voicings and cascading melodies that evoke a sense of delicate beauty.

“Bron-Yr-Aur” by Led Zeppelin (Open C6 tuning)

Taken from the album “Physical Graffiti,” “Bron-Yr-Aur” showcases Jimmy Page’s masterful guitar work. Using Open C6 tuning (CGCGCE), Page achieves a resonant and harmonically rich sound. The tuning enhances the song’s fingerpicked arpeggios, creating a warm and atmospheric backdrop that perfectly complements its serene and introspective nature.

“Little Martha” by The Allman Brothers Band (Open E tuning)

“Little Martha” is a testament to Duane Allman’s virtuosity and songwriting prowess. With Open E tuning (EBEG#BE), the song resonates with a captivating blend of country, blues, and folk influences. The tuning enables Allman to effortlessly weave intricate slide guitar melodies, invoking a sense of tranquility and nostalgia.

“Heart of Gold” by Neil Young (Open D tuning)

Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” stands as a timeless classic that beautifully captures his signature folk-rock sound. Utilizing Open D tuning (DADF#AD), the song takes on a warm and rich quality. The open strings and altered chord shapes lend a sense of simplicity and purity, perfectly complementing the heartfelt lyrics and Neil Young’s emotive delivery.

“Street Spirit (Fade Out)” by Radiohead (Drop D tuning)

“Street Spirit (Fade Out)” from Radiohead’s “The Bends” album showcases the band’s talent for creating haunting and atmospheric music. The song is performed in Drop D tuning (DADGBE), which adds depth and darkness to its mesmerizing guitar arpeggios. The lower D string creates a resonant drone that enhances the song’s ethereal atmosphere.

“Big Love” by Fleetwood Mac (Open C tuning)

Lindsey Buckingham’s “Big Love” showcases his intricate fingerstyle playing and innovative guitar techniques. With Open C tuning (CGCGCE), Buckingham creates a tapestry of cascading harmonics, percussive slaps, and intricate fingerpicking patterns. The tuning enhances the song’s rhythmic complexity, providing a hypnotic backdrop to Buckingham’s impassioned vocals.

“Daughter” by Pearl Jam (Drop D tuning)

Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” is a poignant anthem that resonates with its emotional lyrics and powerful guitar work. In Drop D tuning (DADGBE), the song carries a raw and intense energy. The low D string adds depth to the heavy guitar riffs, while the alternate tuning allows for unique chord voicings that contribute to the song’s dynamic range.

“Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin (DADGAD tuning)

Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” showcases Jimmy Page’s mastery of alternate guitar tunings. Using DADGAD tuning, Page creates a rich and resonant sonic landscape. The tuning allows for vibrant open chords, intricate arpeggios, and powerful melodic phrases, adding to the song’s adventurous spirit and evocative atmosphere.

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan (Open D tuning)

Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” is a folk masterpiece that highlights the expressive possibilities of Open D tuning (DADF#AD). The tuning brings a distinctive warmth to Dylan’s fingerpicked melodies and soulful lyrics. The open strings create a resonant backdrop for Dylan’s introspective reflections on love and loss.


These 10 iconic songs exemplify the transformative power of alternate guitar tunings. From Paul McCartney’s delicate fingerpicking in “Blackbird” to Jimmy Page’s atmospheric mastery in “Bron-Yr-Aur,” each song showcases the unique beauty and creative potential of exploring alternate tunings. As guitarists delve into these songs and experiment with different tunings, they open up a world of new sonic possibilities, inspiring their own musical journeys and pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with the instrument.