Watch the Incorporating Open Strings online guitar lesson by David Grissom from Open Road Guitar
One of the things that has become more and more part of my playing is incorporating open strings into my soloing and rhythm playing. What I've discovered is that every key with the exception of Ab have a lot of opportunities to use open strings. I like this because the timbre of an open string is different than that of a fretted note. What I find is that the open strings available to you in any given key will help to create specific personality for that key. The most obvious example is the key of E minor where all the strings are available to us. What influenced me a lot was while growing up in Kentucky I heard guys like Norman Blake and Doc Watson flat picking and they would always be moving the capo to a different position so they could use the open strings. Another song that influenced me a lot was ZZ Top's Blue Jean Blues. The way Billy Gibbons incorporated that open B string made me fall in love with that sound. As I investigated the sound further I realized I don't have to stay down low on the fingerboard to take advantage of the open strings as you can see in these examples. My first example is over a G mixolydian vamp. This allows me to use all the open strings. To take this concept further let's check out a vamp in F#m using a dorian scale and you can see all the open strings except the G are also available to me. This creates a very different sound than G mixolydian and gives me some nice half step sounds. My final example is over an A7 vamp and here once again we can see how all the open strings are available to us. Experiment yourself with open strings and remember you can do these ideas higher up on the neck and on chords for some great sounds.