Unusual Open G tuning?

JungleJim99

Electromatic
Jun 20, 2022
7
Phoenix, AZ
Today I heard a song by singer/dobro player Abbie Gardner ('Cold Black Water'). She said the tuning was Open G, but it is like no other that I have found online. Her tuning is G B D G B D rather than what I found - D G D G B D. Since I am new to the resonator and open tunings I have a couple of questions:
- With standard tuning having the low string as an 'E,' do I tune the 6th string up or down to the G
- Is there any concern with over tensioning (if that is the correct direction) the low string (other than the string breaking) - like causing damage to the tuner, neck, etc.?

Thanks for any help!
 

fuzz guy

Electromatic
Mar 20, 2022
39
Adelaide, South Australia
That's an interesting tuning, it eliminates having the low string being D which I hate. I do the Keith Richards thing and just take it off.

I would suspect you tune the low string up to G. It would help if it was a shorter scale guitar, but I don't know, it would certainly make me nervous even though it's only one and a half steps.
 

Shock

Synchromatic
Sep 7, 2020
620
Minnesota
I am not familiar with the dobro, but sure sounds like an open G chord. Check out this video. He talks about using a hipshot, after the 4 minute mark. Explains how to get the 2 different tunings.

 
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Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
18,985
Petaluma
Tune up. I doubt it would be a problem re tension but you could a lower gauge E string or like others said another A string.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
397
Los Angeles
That's an interesting tuning, it eliminates having the low string being D which I hate. I do the Keith Richards thing and just take it off.
I use Variax guitars to do "the Keith Richards thing".

With a Variax, you can set the low string to *mute* which is effectively like removing it. The other strings remain at standard tension, but the firmware in the Variax guitar allows you to set them to Open G. And since it's a modeling guitar, you can select one of the Tele models and you're good to go.

All of this can be set up beforehand in the computer and you can simply switch to it on the guitar *or* you can set it up as one of the user presets on a Helix or HD500X and use a single stomp.
 

Scott Fraser

Country Gent
Jan 14, 2012
1,630
Los Angeles
I've heard this tuning (G B D G B D) referred to as 'Dobro Tuning'. I'm no expert but apparently it's a somewhat common alternative to the usual Open G.
 

Dansimpson

Electromatic
Jul 21, 2022
37
Dartmouth, Devon, UK
@dspellman variax, wow, didn't even know they existed, although I'm not surprised.
I guess we've come a long way since I bought my first acoustic, and used to mess around with tape effects, like a poor man's Wem copycat lol.
ATB
Dan
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
22,295
Monkey Island
Different tuning = different string tension, = different neck relief. You'll likely be ok but check anyway.

I think officially it's called a "repetitive" open G tuning(since the GBD repeats). Generally low E and A go up, high E goes down, but see what you like and maybe invent a new tuning. :)
 

freddyfingers

Gretschified
Thats slide/lap steel open G. I would get a set of strings that accommodate that. I wouldn’t tune the Low E string up to a G. In slide world, at least country, that’s what’s considered open G. I always thought open aG was the keef tuning, and it took me a while to get used to the other. Both work for slide, the keef tuning works well for blues slide and stones songs, but the other is standard country slide.
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,563
Firenze, Italy
Wow, be careful with that G and B on the lower strings man…
I’ve never heard of it but it seems quite a challenge for both the neck and the keys to raise the A string one full note and the E string 1 note and a half.
 

Andrew Griffin

Synchromatic
Oct 22, 2015
813
That's an interesting tuning, it eliminates having the low string being D which I hate. I do the Keith Richards thing and just take it off.

I would suspect you tune the low string up to G. It would help if it was a shorter scale guitar, but I don't know, it would certainly make me nervous even though it's only one and a half steps.
I tune the low string to G too, and I can do the alternating bass that my thumb is used to doing but have a driving G pattern. it works well for me.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
397
Los Angeles
@dspellman variax, wow, didn't even know they existed, although I'm not surprised.
I guess we've come a long way since I bought my first acoustic, and used to mess around with tape effects, like a poor man's Wem copycat lol.
ATB
Dan
Variax guitars were probably introduced around 2005 (maybe slightly before). There were a surprising number of models and none of them had magnetic pickups -- just piezos that fed the internal electronics. I have an older Electric 500 and an Acoustic 700. The electrics had an image problem without standard pickups, were built in Korea and were criticized as being a $300 guitar with $1500 worth of electronics. The Acoustic 700 looks like a small thin-bodied acoustic guitar, but it's actually a solid mahogany guitar in disguise. The guitar models are actually very good. They also put out a bass version in both 4 and 5-string models, and these suckers are highly sought after.

At some point about a decade ago, Line 6 upgraded the guitars by hiring James Tyler to produce new designs with magnetic pickups that looked like existing guitars. So we have a Strat-alike, an LP-alike and a Superstrat-alike that are good guitars even without the Variax guts. There are versions made in Korea and another set of versions built in the US that retail for at last three times the price of the Koreans. The piezo were upgraded, the firmware was upgraded and playability on these things is really really good.

The LP version has a 24.75" fretboard and a control setup that looks like an LP. The Strat version looks and acts like a Strat, and the Superstrat version has a 16" radius fretboard, jumbo frets, 1 3/4" nut width (and one version has a Floyd). At the moment, in addition to the two early models, I have a pair of the JTV-89F (superstrat with Floyd Rose) guitars -- I bought one, found myself using it a lot, and got another identical version as a backup a year later.

They have a very tight relationship with a Helix when using a VDI cable (think "hardened" ethernet cable), so you can change guitar models, alternate tunings, amps/cabs/FX, etc. with a single stomp. Worth a look.
 

Bob Perrone

Gretschie
Mar 7, 2017
479
allentown, pa
Be VERY careful with that GBDGBD tuning. You are putting a great deal of stress on your neck and body at the bridge with those lower 2 strings tuned that way, especially the 6th string
 

LeSainte

Gretschie
Oct 4, 2021
165
New York
Today I heard a song by singer/dobro player Abbie Gardner ('Cold Black Water'). She said the tuning was Open G, but it is like no other that I have found online. Her tuning is G B D G B D rather than what I found - D G D G B D. Since I am new to the resonator and open tunings I have a couple of questions:
- With standard tuning having the low string as an 'E,' do I tune the 6th string up or down to the G
- Is there any concern with over tensioning (if that is the correct direction) the low string (other than the string breaking) - like causing damage to the tuner, neck, etc.?

Thanks for any help!
I use this tuning when I play open G. You are just tuning it to the same notes which you fret on an open g chord. It is for this reason why I like it.

I tune all the strings up, no down-tuning involved. I have had no issues on any of my acoustic with this and I think it is unlikely you will. I do not suggest this if you use heavier acoustic strings, but medium and lighter won't be a problem .
 

fuzz guy

Electromatic
Mar 20, 2022
39
Adelaide, South Australia
I use this tuning when I play open G. You are just tuning it to the same notes which you fret on an open g chord. It is for this reason why I like it.

I tune all the strings up, no down-tuning involved. I have had no issues on any of my acoustic with this and I think it is unlikely you will. I do not suggest this if you use heavier acoustic strings, but medium and lighter won't be a problem .

You tune the high E string up to D?
 


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