Watch the Open Tuning Handbook: Rhythm online guitar lesson by Vicki Genfan from Open Tuning Handbook: Rhythm

Open tunings (aka alternate tunings) have become a "buzz phrase" within a sub-culture of the guitar world and you may have heard it used when talking about artists such as Andy McKee, Jon Gomm, Petteri Sariola, Christie Lenee, or Kaki King, who are part of the younger generation of acoustic, percussive players. However, rock veterans like Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page have been taking advantage of the sounds and sonic possibilities that these tunings offer long before today. In the 60's & 70's, artists like Nick Drake, Richie Havens, Joni Mitchell, and David Crosby continued the tradition, making music influenced by open tunings, and in the 80's, Michael Hedges came on the scene, completely reinventing the acoustic guitar with his innovative and kinetic style, compositions, and spirit. I encourage you to listen to (and watch) any and all of the artists I've mentioned, as there is such a broad range of music and technique they each display. This genre of guitar music has blossomed and truly found it's time and place and can be referred to in varying ways; acoustic fingerstyle, percussive, two handed, free style...and many more.

In this course, I'm thrilled to introduce you to the magical world of open tunings while at the same time demystifying it. At the time of this writing, I have "discovered" over 36 tunings myself, and from those tunings I have created many, many songs and some really fun techniques: thumb slapping, body percussion, harmonic tapping, and variations on these. I fell into this purely by accident, after hearing the wonderful sounds from the guitar and dulcimer of singer/songstress Joni Mitchell in the late 70's. I dove into this "uncharted territory" using only my ear and my heart. I fell in love with the wide "open" sounds, simple chord shapes, and later on, the shimmering harmonics. I explored, experimented, and found my hands using the guitar and guitar body in percussive ways I never knew were possible. What evolved over many years was a kind of one-woman band where bass, rhythm, and melody were all coming out of the guitar. I call it "slap-tap". This is FUN!!

I'd like to open this world to you in a way that is fun and easy. OK – learning any new skill takes time and practice, but I want to present open tunings to you without overwhelming you. And by the way, don't worry about breaking strings – just prepare by buying some single E, B & G strings (1st, 2nd & 3rd). You can get them at any music store or online (I use D'Addario strings).

We'll work with 5 of my favorite tunings and we'll learn common chords in each tuning, chords that will enable you to play tons of songs. My wish for you in this course is that you'll find open tunings to be yet another "tool" in your musical toolbox, one that you can use to add new sounds, new ideas, and new inspiration to the songs you're playing, arranging, and/or composing – and you can apply all of this on acoustic or electric guitar. (Note: Electric guitar strings are typically much lighter gauges and this will make tuning lower a little more challenging, but not impossible!)

If you're interested in going further with open tunings and the percussive techniques I use, you'll probably love my 3D Acoustic Guitar and Essentials: Open Tunings courses, both of which take you further down the road with this work.

How Will YOU Use Open Tunings in Your Playing or Writing?
Many of my colleagues who use Open Tunings use only one or possibly two. This allows them to dig deeper into the tuning, learn scales, arpeggios, multiple chord voicings, etc so they are able to easily compose, jam, play along with others or figure out cover songs, etc. My path has been different. I chose to use the tunings more as writing tools, and I have continually come up with new tunings for over 35 years...I can figure out anything if I spend the time, since I do understand theory and I have a good ear. This helps me write out charts and tell other musicians what I'm playing. (Using the 'Nashville' numbering system is very helpful in this way, and I'll explain that to you in the course!)

So, let the tunings speak to you and discover how you want to include them in your playing. There are no rules – except to follow your JOY!

This course is the Rhythm edition of the Open Tuning Handbook. It will be followed by a course called Open Tuning Handbook: Scales and Patterns which will take us on a journey through scales, patterns, melody lines and soloing in the 5 open tunings!