An Easy Guide to Open D

Happy Traum

The Must-Know Tuning for Fingerpickers and Blues Guitarists

2-Hour Video, includes music and tab pdf file
  • Code:DLHAPOT21
  • Skill Level:Near-Beginner (2)

Tuning to an open chord is a satisfying and fun way to play, giving you rich, resonant sounds with relatively little effort. Just follow the tuning instructions by Happy Traum, then strum the open strings for a ringing D chord; G, A and other major chords can be made with simple one-finger barres. It’s all explained in such a way that even novices can start making cool, bluesy music in minutes.

This lesson will demystify open D, help you solidify your alternate-bass fingerpicking and teach you six exciting songs. Your first piece will be the American folk classic John Henry, a mostly one-chord melody on which you’ll start improvising around the fretboard while maintaining a steady rhythm on the bass strings. 

After that you’ll cruise through a repertoire of funky blues, folk/gospel classics and a Southern mountain ballad that make use of open bass strings, fretted melody notes, double-stop harmonies, chord substitutions and improvised licks: Sittin’ on Top of the World, Jesus Is On the Main Line; Willie Moore, Deep Ellum Blues and I'll Fly Away.


Joe Brodnicki 5 years ago

The title sums the material up nicely: An Easy Guide to Open D. Every song teaches something a little bit different. These songs also provide repertoire material---you'll find the songs are pretty well known, but playing them in open D provides a different flavor. Plus, these are all played without a bottleneck.\r\n\r\nFun and recommended.

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Luke 5 years ago

This was an interesting introduction to Open D, which I wish I had had when I started playing in this tuning a few years ago. In spite of already having a reasonable grasp of the tuning, I still got some useful ideas from this. It covers some folky songs, some blues ones and a very small amount of theory. I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it! I hope Happy does one on Open G one day!

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Joe 4 years, 2 months ago

Great introduction to Open D for someone with some basic steady thumb/Travis chops.

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david hing 1 year, 6 months ago

Having worked on a piece in open D tuning for a few months, I watched Happy’s 2 hr DVD hoping to gain more context on the open D tuning than just the ideas in the arrangement I am learning. His choice of songs and their sequencing will take you through a great overview of this tuning. The last paragraph in the product description describes the ideas, that he patiently demonstrates, which will add to your playing “toolbox” options for this tuning. Because there are 3 strings tuned to D and 2 strings tuned to A, there are a lot of double stop ideas that can be applied to the treble or bass side of the neck. It is a very thoughtful and deliberate explanation of open D tuning for the finger style guitar student ( as opposed to slide guitar ). I found that his emphasis on the playing options for each song to be very useful. Often, teaching DVDs will emphasize the song, with some explanation of the technique. Here, there is much more explanation, that will allow you to apply it in other pieces. The techniques of single note improvisation, chord substitutions, and partial chords for double stops were nicely filmed in close up. If you are starting to try Open D tuning, I really recommend getting this DVD.

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