#1
**Before I start, there is a part that will link users to a YouTube video. This isn't quite done yet but I expect it to be done within the next few days. I'll post it here when it's ready. Thanks guys!

Ultimate Lessons: DADGAD Part I (Still open to other titles but, I'm planning on doing guides on a wide array of subjects all under Ultimate Lessons name, or something similar in the future and it would be nice if they could all kind of be named in the same way.)

Introduction

Hello and welcome to Part I of my lesson on DADGAD. Before we start, I think it's only fair that I tell you a little bit about myself and what I plan to accomplish with these lessons. First off, my name is Jason and I've been playing the guitar for a little over seven years now. In that time I've been an instructor at a music academy, played in several bands, recorded an album, and most recently, been accepted into the Herberger College of the Arts at the Arizona State University where I will be pursuing a degree in music. I'm writing these lessons so I can educate the average guitarist on the wonder that is DADGAD. Obviously some of you are probably advanced players and may have already had a lesson or two in this subject. If that describes you, then you may want to advance to a different part in the lesson so I don't bore you. So, without further adieu, I'll go ahead and begin.

What is DADGAD?

Good question. DADGAD is simply an alternate tuning with celtic origins that shares qualities with the D modal scales. Now that I said it however, it doesn't sound so simple. The letters D A D G A D stand for notes that the open guitar strings will be tuned to. If you're familiar with the notes of the open strings in standard tuning, you will know that they spell EADGBE. If we compare that to our alternate tuning, we can see that the notes A D and G are still prevalent. This makes things a little easier when tuning from standard to DADGAD because now, we only have to deal with three strings rather than six. We will get into the basics of tuning however in the next section.

Right now, I want to go over a little history of the tuning. Like most innovative ideas, there is usually more than one person or culture that claims ownership. For the most part though, we can safely say that DADGAD was brought to the americas by Irish immigrants sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. Since then it has been used widely in genres of music that I'm sure its potato loving ancestors would never have dreamed of. Bands such as Led Zeppelin and Creed have dabbled in the use of DADGAD. Since I have some Irish blood in me, this concept of guitar is a lot more personal and I can have more respect and understanding for it. Alright, that wraps up my little history lesson. Let's now move onto the basics where I will explain some key fundamentals that will allow you to play in DADGAD.

The Basics

In the previous section above, I started to explain a little bit about how the tuning of DADGAD works. The letters D A D G A D stand for notes that the open guitar strings will be tuned to. If you're familiar with the notes of the open strings in standard tuning, you will know that they spell EADGBE. If we compare that to our alternate tuning, we can see that the notes A, D and G are still prevalent. This makes things a little easier when tuning from standard to DADGAD because now, we only have to deal with three strings rather than six. Now we are faced with the task of tuning the strings E, B and E to D, A and D.

When I refer to DADGAD, I am spelling out the six strings from what you know as the E3, Low E, 6, or Fat E string to the High E, Skinny E, or 1 string. Just like reading from left to right, we are going to start with the first note we come to; D. Assuming that you're in standard tuning right now, this string should be an E. So how do we get it to a D? If you already know how to tune to the popular "Drop D" tuning, you can go ahead and do this now and that will solve our problem. If not, there are several other methods that you can try. One would be using an electronic tuner to find the D note. Remember that you're going to be tuning the E down to a D. Don't tune up. If you don't have an electric tuner you can always use another note on your guitar to help you. Let me explain what this means.

When you're in standard tuning, your open notes spell EADGBE. If we look at that series of letters, we can identify another D on our 4th string. Since we are trying to change our 6th from an E to a D, we can use the 4th string as a reference note and hit the two strings, one after the other, until you tune the 6th string to a lower octave of D. Once this is accomplished we can go ahead and move to our next string that needs to be down tuned. This is going to be our 2nd string which is a B but, we now want it to become an A. Again, let's look at our standard open notes. There's another A on our 5th string that we can use as a reference note. If you've got this far, then you're doing a great job. We only have one more string to go! Our 1st string which is an E right now needs to be tuned to a D. Our 6th and 1st strings are exactly the same note wise in standard tuning. This is the same in DADGAD, except instead of E's, they are D's. So, we can use the same way of tuning the low 6th string with the tuning of the high 1st string. Take your 4th string and reference it with your 1st until you get it to a higher octave of D. You're done! If everything went well, you should get a pleasant sound when you strum your open guitar strings. If that was a little confusing, I've made a video on YouTube that explains it again. Go ahead and check it out if you're still stumped.

Also remember that if this is your first time tuning to DADGAD, chances are high that your guitar will go out of tune pretty quickly. This is common so don't worry. Simply re-tune it using one of the methods described above. You can also stretch your strings out or tune to DADGAD often in order to overcome this problem. It's simply your guitar neck reacting to the change in string tension.

Alright! So now that you're all tuned up you can go ahead and start to play around a bit. When you hit the open strings you should have noticed that they sound great (If something sounds off, refer to the YouTube video and make sure you're tuning correctly). This is because they're all in the same key now and they are actually making a modal based chord. Go ahead and tool around your new tuning for a while. You'll quickly notice that things you could play in standard tuning now sound completely different (and probably bad at that). Get familiar with the open sounding tone that DADGAD produces. Try playing single fretted notes mixed with open notes and see what happens. Basically, this is your chance to experiment and go wild because in the next section of this lesson, I will go over some basic chords that you can play using your new tuning.

Basic Chords

Now that three of your strings have gone down a whole step in tone, the chords that you would regularly play in standard tuning no longer sound the same. We have to compensate for our de-tuned strings by playing chords a little differently. Let's start with a D chord (after all, we're in DADGAD). Normally you would play a D chord like such: xx0232. After the change to DADGAD however, we're going to play it this way:

D Major:

d---0------------------------
a---0------------------------
g---2------------------------
d---0------------------------
a---0------------------------
d---0------------------------

Pretty easy huh? You'll find that some chords that previously utilized three fingers now only make use of one. I will now give you some basic chords for you to try out.

A Major:

d---2------------------------
a---0------------------------
g---2------------------------
d---2------------------------
a---0------------------------
d---x------------------------

G Major:

d---0------------------------
a---5------------------------
g---4------------------------
d---0------------------------
a---x------------------------
d---5------------------------

C Major:

d---0------------------------
a---3------------------------
g---0------------------------
d---2------------------------
a---3------------------------
d---x------------------------

E Minor:

d---x------------------------
a---2------------------------
g---0------------------------
d---2------------------------
a---0------------------------
d---2------------------------

B Minor:

d---0------------------------
a---0------------------------
g---4------------------------
d---4------------------------
a---2------------------------
d---0------------------------

Those are just a few basic chords to get you started. Get comfortable with the new hand positions and try playing them together in a random order. You'll find that they all share the same open quality about them and that they work quite well together.

Conclusion

By now you should have learned how to properly tune your guitar and should also be in the process of messing around with your new found chords. The use of this alternate tuning is a great way for guitarists of all skill levels to advance their playing and I'm happy that you've gotten this far. Please join me in Part II of this lesson where I will cover scales, songs you can learn on your own, and advanced chords. I'll also cover some popular techniques that are commonly used with DADGAD. Until next time, keep practicing!
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Portugal. The Man »–
Last edited by jasonmetal love at Dec 27, 2008,
#2
i think you should offer a bit more information for the first lesson all it really says so far other than the history of dadgad is how to tune to dadgad which for other than beginner guitarist should be very simple. your writting style is very easy to follow and very organized so with a bit more info i thing it could be a great lesson
#3
can't wait for the next installment. I've tuned in to this tuning a couple of times but really dont know what to with it
If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all
#4
I'm afraid, having read it, I don't see the point of it. Thus it is obviously not accomplishing what you're trying to do. First of all it is too short. Instead of aiming for a series perhaps see how much you plan to write on the subject, then break it down into installments.

Consider these points:
1. Why use this tuning?
2. What does this tuning do for tension on the neck?
3. You state it's used to mimic modal scales, which is an oxymoron in itself, but you don't explain how and I must admit I am intrigued because I don't quite understand that.
4. Artists other than Led Zeppelin and Creed, maybe include the songs so that people can look them up.
5. Maybe include some tablature that shows why this tuning makes it easier to play things and how so.
6. How does this tuning work in relation to open and barre chords?
7. Discuss the youtube video. Fair enough it's not done but there's no reference to it at all so far.
#5
Quote by saband
i think you should offer a bit more information for the first lesson all it really says so far other than the history of dadgad is how to tune to dadgad which for other than beginner guitarist should be very simple. your writting style is very easy to follow and very organized so with a bit more info i thing it could be a great lesson


I was actually turning that idea over in my head for a little while now. I think I might do that too. Thanks for reading.

Quote by colohue
Consider these points:
1. Why use this tuning?
2. What does this tuning do for tension on the neck?
3. You state it's used to mimic modal scales, which is an oxymoron in itself, but you don't explain how and I must admit I am intrigued because I don't quite understand that.
4. Artists other than Led Zeppelin and Creed, maybe include the songs so that people can look them up.
5. Maybe include some tablature that shows why this tuning makes it easier to play things and how so.
6. How does this tuning work in relation to open and barre chords?
7. Discuss the youtube video. Fair enough it's not done but there's no reference to it at all so far.

Also, if you're planning on doing a series it would be nice to give us a little hint at the bottom of what your next installment will be focussed on.


1 & 2: I don't see the relevance.
3: It's not used to mimic them but, the tuning does have qualities of modular scales in D. I guess I can word that a bit differently. But, that's still a more advanced topic and can show its head later.
4: I'm not going to list every band that uses this tuning. Songs are to come in later parts of this lesson.
5: Tablature also comes in later parts of the lesson.
6: This is more advanced stuff, will come in later parts.
7: I talk about the YouTube video twice...

And, as for your last comment, I clearly state what I'm going to cover in the Conclusion. This is going to change though because I've decided to add a bit more to the body.

Thanks for reading!
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Portugal. The Man »–
#6
You don't see the relevance in why people should use the tuning you're going to base your lessons around? I think you'll lose many readers.

Tension in the neck is relevant mostly for tuning issues. A looser string comes out of tune easier than a tighter one because there's less tension on the neck, but not by much. I mentioned it as a possible brief addition should you so choose.

I also think you might want to rephrase:

'DADGAD is a great way for guitarists of all skill levels to advance their playing'

Tunings only improve your ability to play in that tuning.

Apologies for the last part, I read it wrong. I edited it out.

With your first lesson it's important to hook readers in so that they'll come back and read more. I don't feel this gives them enough information to interest them. You're kind of putting everything to later lessons and this one contains very little actual information. In fact a good portion of the first paragraph of the basics is also in the first paragraph of the previous section.
#7
You don't see the relevance in why people should use the tuning you're going to base your lessons around? I think you'll lose many readers.

I guess when I first read that comment, I thought you were trying to suggest telling people why they SHOULD use this tuning. Now that I've re-read it I get more of a "tell people what the advantages of using this tuning are".

Tension in the neck is relevant mostly for tuning issues. A looser string comes out of tune easier than a tighter one because there's less tension on the neck, but not by much. I mentioned it as a possible brief addition should you so choose.

I don't see anything wrong with adding a bit more to the neck tension sentence.

I also think you might want to rephrase:

'DADGAD is a great way for guitarists of all skill levels to advance their playing'

Tunings only improve your ability to play in that tuning.

I'll rephrase it for other reasons than yours because it actually could be better but, tunings improve you overall. Especially if it is an alternate tuning. In order to properly understand theory in a different tuning, you'd have to compensate for the note changes that are usually not there in a standard tune. This will enhance your overall knowledge and therefore, improve your ability to play.

Apologies for the last part, I read it wrong. I edited it out.

No problem I do that a lot too.

With your first lesson it's important to hook readers in so that they'll come back and read more. I don't feel this gives them enough information to interest them. You're kind of putting everything to later lessons and this one contains very little actual information. In fact a good portion of the first paragraph of the basics is also in the first paragraph of the previous section.

That "re-post" was just to go over that bit of information again since I took a brief break from it. Also, I'm adding a tad more to the body as stated in one of the above posts.

Thanks!
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Portugal. The Man »–
Last edited by jasonmetal love at Dec 24, 2008,
#8
Updated.
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Portugal. The Man »–
#10
Great starter for this tuning, I have a Strat set in this tuning permanently, for slide.
I know this tuning as Hawaiian or open "G" is that NOT correct?
I first got into this tuning to try & replicate some of my banjo songs on guitar (banjo tuning gDGAd) so i simply tuned my guitar to the same tuning & dropped the 6th string to a D.
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

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#11
Thanks, I also have a guitar that is permanently stuck in DADGAD

This is a different tuning than the one you're talking about though. Open G would be DGDGBD. Thanks for reading.

Quote by PiCSeL
Submit and PM me with category and title. I'll approve.


And it's been submitted and I PMed you a few days ago. Thanks!
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Portugal. The Man »–
#13
The chords weren't accurate at all.

You're "D Major" and "A Major" are in fact "D5" and "A5" respectively, the "C Major" is a "Cadd9", the "E Minor" is in fact "Emadd11" and the "B Minor" is a "Bm7".
#14
Quote by michal23
The chords weren't accurate at all.

You're "D Major" and "A Major" are in fact "D5" and "A5" respectively, the "C Major" is a "Cadd9", the "E Minor" is in fact "Emadd11" and the "B Minor" is a "Bm7".


Because this is a beginner lesson, I have chosen to keep the chords "simple" which means not going into the theoretical explanation of EXACTLY what the chords are. In the actual submitted lesson, I have a few sentences on that before I post the chords. Sorry for the confusion there. Also, I don't want to confuse anyone too much with the first lesson so, those chords, while they are not 100% major and minor, are close enough for now. Thanks for your interest.
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Portugal. The Man »–
#15
Quote by jasonmetal love
Also, I don't want to confuse anyone too much with the first lesson so, those chords, while they are not 100% major and minor, are close enough for now.


Chances are that's going to create more confusion than you'd expect. Giving a chord with neutral tonality a name that implies Major tonality should not be done. If a user is familiar with D Major from other lessons they might think that this D5 is correct, but it's going to sound very different and, should they try to show a teacher what they've learned for example, they'd be told it's wrong. This might bring them to question not only your article but your knowledge of theory itself.

Best to just call it a D5. It's safer in the long run to put down definitively accurate information. This is far more likely to evade confusion.
#16
Quote by colohue
Chances are that's going to create more confusion than you'd expect. Giving a chord with neutral tonality a name that implies Major tonality should not be done. If a user is familiar with D Major from other lessons they might think that this D5 is correct, but it's going to sound very different and, should they try to show a teacher what they've learned for example, they'd be told it's wrong. This might bring them to question not only your article but your knowledge of theory itself.

Best to just call it a D5. It's safer in the long run to put down definitively accurate information. This is far more likely to evade confusion.


Thanks for the help. The problem that I see however with just calling it a D5 and leaving it at that is the fact that a lot of people will not know what that is. I'm sure some people will never have even heard of one until now. Yes, I could go into the explanation of why the A in the chord makes up the 5th note of the D scale and therefore adds the 5th tone to the chord making it a D5 but, what do you think about the idea of simply calling it a D? Just leaving out the Major/Minor bits. You can edit your lesson once it's published, correct?
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Portugal. The Man »–
#17
PiCSeL can edit it for you as long as you highlight the necessary corrections.

Just saying D would probably work, but that also implies Major unfortunately.
#18
Very interesting, I like how your going to do a series with it. Keep it up. Always love to learn something new on the guitar!!
E.L.Minneman

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