Watch the Open String Licks in D online guitar lesson by Johnny Hiland from Ten Gallon Guitar

Open string licks in the key of D. The first one is very close to the G scale we just learned but a bit different. We will start with the 2nd finger on the 7th fret D, B string will go from the 7th fret to the 6th fret and then hit an open E, then go up to the D note (3rd finger 7th fret G string), down to the C note (G string 5th fret open B), followed by the A note (3rd finger 7th fret D string) then an open G. Then we will slide out hand down to play IV and II on the D, open string D, then go III and II on the A with an open A hit the G note. Then play a hammer-on from the 1st to the 2nd fret low E then play and open A and open D. Now, walk back up on the D string, 2nd fret to the 4th fret. As we do this, we use the 1st finger to bar on the 2nd fret in the A position and then play the G and B string, 2nd fret, dropping the 4th finger down to the 5th fret B string, and then end with the D chord. That is the whole scale; we’ll play that full speed and then break it down slowly.

That is the main open scale I use in D. There are a few lick opportunities that we have from there. Here we are hammering-on as we move down. This one is not a pick pick pull, nor was the first one. We will use our pick and hammer-on from the 4th to the 5th fret on the A string. Hit the open D string right underneath that. Moving down on the D string, hammer-on from the 3rd to the 4th fret and hit the G string open underneath that. It does sound dissident but it will work. Then we go down from the 1st to the 2nd fret with a hammer-on with the 1st and 2nd finger. Again, 1st finger on the 1st fret G string, hamming-on to the 2nd fret. Instead of hitting the B open, we will hit a C note which is played with the 1st finger on the 1st fret B string (which is the C note). I’ve lifted my finger, or pulled-off to the open B, hammering that back to an A note (2nd finger on the G string 2nd fret). Then reach up to the high E string and play a hammer-on from the 1st to the 2nd fret on the high E string, reaching down with our 3rd finger to the D note (3rd fret B string) then bounce that off (or pull that off) to the 1st fret with our 1st finger. Hitting that A again (2nd fret G string) and play a D chord. Try that all together. It’s has a great cascading sound like a full on pick pick pull open string scale but it’s not played that way – its very unique and fun.

Experiment with the open D scales and fashion it to where you can know where the D Major scale is and drop it down and use the pick pick pull pattern together. Or you can do a D double-stop which ends in a full triad. Just try different things to see what works. The pick pick pull pattern is the key to experimentation with the open strings. You might not need to use the pick pick pull pattern but try to use it and see what happens. I’ve written a few songs just from experimenting, like Minor Adjustment off my new All Fired Up album (Shrapnel Records). Have fun with your guitar and try new things. I hope this helps you with your scales on open D.