hey all, I've always played chords in standard tuning but I feel it sounds a bit boring and would like the chords to sound more interesting.

I'm concerned if I try a different tuning then I'll need to re-learn all the chords to accommodate the new tuning, is that correct?

I'd like to play some darker acoustic songs & I feel the standard tuning sounds very pop.

any advice is appreciated, thanks in advance
Standard tuning doesn't restrict your chords to a set amount, changing tunings won't really help you play different chords! If you know the notes on the fretboard and some music theory you can play almost anything! Granted that if you were in DADGAD for example, the chords will be different, but will only create some change because some strings are tuned down... However you can still play those chords in standard tuning as long as you know the notes, you just will have to voice them differently! I'm all for different tunings to create different sounds and sometimes it just gives a change in my playing routine... but don't fall into the trap thinking that different tunings will mean you can play different chords, you can play any chord in any tuning as long as you know the notes that make it and the notes on the fretboard!
I love the tuning which Mark Tremonti tends to use a lot
DGDGBD, it allows you to more easily play octaves and chords like:

d0 and 0 really sound beautiful
B3 5
G2 0
D0 0
G3 5
D1 x
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What kind of chords are you playing? Your generic CAGED open chords aren't going to sound any cooler in a lower tuning if that's what you're talking about. If you don't know many chords I'd suggest learning music theory to expand your chord knowledge, but if you feel you do know a large amount of chords and you're not just restricting yourself to the cookie cutter CAGED chords etc then trying a different tuning could be a good idea.
It's sounds like you just don't know enough chords or how to put them together the right way to get the sounds you want. However, I will still give you a bunch of information about alternate tunings. This is all going to just be copied/pasted from other similar threads, so some of it might not be relevant. Also a lot of it has more to do with slide playing, which has more limitations that you would not have when fretting notes.

Different tunings facilitate easier playing of certain things. For example, Drop D allows you to play power chords on the lowest three strings with only one finger, as well as giving you they ability to easily play certain string skipping and arpeggio licks (the two strings are an octave apart, which allows for identical finger).

Lower tunings, such as D standard, C Standard, etc allow easier playing in certain keys. For example, whereas in standard tuning EM, GM, AM, and CM are very easy keys to play in (due to being able to use a number of open strings, allowing for open chords such as the EM and GM chords), in D you can play DM, FM, GM, and BbM fairly easily, since the lower tuning has open strings that fit more readily into those keys. Having a lower key makes it easier to accompany certain instruments (such BbM for a Bb clarinet) or to accommodate a vocalist's range (someone with a lower voice might have an easier time singing in FM than GM).

Of course, you can play in any key in any tuning, but certain styles that require certain heavy usage of open strings, such as country and bluegrass finger picking (the Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed tune Jerry's Breakdown is a wonderful example) or any of that sort of Andy McKee sort of playing, require open strings that are in whatever key you want to play in, so playing in the key of EbM in standard would be very tricky, since none of your open strings are in that key. This is also why we use capos for guitar playing (it works similarly to tuning up, but it's a lot easier to do.

Playing in lower tunings (like D Standard) is also popular because the lower tunings requires either looser tuned strings or heavy string guages, which changes the timbre of the instrument. For example, heavier strings are often described as having a "beefier sound". For this reason, lower tunings are particularly popular with metal, hardcore, modern rock, etc bands that want a "heavier" sound.

Similarly to this is the use of "open tunings" such as Open D (DADF#AD), Open E (same as Open D but a step up), Open G (DBDGBD), or Open A (same as Open G, but a step up), which allows you to both play certain chord voicings easily and allows you to have open notes in your key of choice (Open G is ideal for playing in GM). Certain instruments, such as the banjo and resonator guitars make use of these tunings for these reasons.

Another advantage of open tunings is that it makes playing with a slide easier due to the physical limitations of playing with a slide (you can generally only play notes in the same position, ie you can only play notes on the same "fret" at one time, unless you use certain techniques that are more commonly associated with steel guitar.

Speaking of steel guitar, there are also "extended" chord tunings such as C6, E7, E9, A6, etc, though these tunings are more common on steel guitar because they allow more closely spaced diads in a single position. That's probably best not to worry about, since it can be very confusing, especially since you probably aren't a steel guitar player and so you probably won't ever tune to E13 or B11. Though interestingly, the standard tuning for a guitar makes an Em11 chord, though it is almost never referred to as such.

There are also what are called "regular tunings" which have all the strings tuned to the same interval, with All Fourths (EADGCF) being the most common for guitar. These tunings allow you to use the same fingerings for chords and scales across all of the strings, whereas the Major 3rd between the G and B strings in standard tuning throws that off.

Other Regular tunings aren't common on guitar (and All 4ths isn't even common to begin with), though bass guitar can be considered All Fourths (and extended range basses, such as 6 and 7 string basses, have the higher strings go up in fourths as well (C and F). Also All Fifths tunings are used on other instruments, such as the mandolin and its relatives (mandola, octave mandolin, and mandola), violin and its relatives (viola, octave violin, and cello), and tenor banjo.

Some tunings are also used to replicate other instruments my using the same intervals. For example, Open G can be used to mimic the Russian guitar (tuned DGBDGBD), EADF#BE is used to approximate the the tuning of a lute (usually with a capo on the third fret to actually make it the same tuning), and New Standard (CGDAEG) shares its four lowest strings with the cello and mandocello and its 5th-2nd strings with the octave violin, octave mandolin, and Irish tenor banjo.

I'm sure that there are other things that I am not thinking of at the moment, but those are some of the main reasons.

If you don't really want to go for that, I would at least suggest trying open tunings, since they are all around better for slide playing do to the increased number of usable voicings. In standard tuning, you have one voicing for a major chord (DGB) and two voicings for its relative minor (low E, G, B or G, B, high E). For diad harmonies, you can do a major six (G and high E or D and B) and a major third (G and B), and I guess a rather wide space minor third, but that's about it. Plus you have far less (read: no practical) ability to play slants like on a steel guitar. You also get a fairly useless Em7/G6 voicing.

In comparison, open major chord tunings allow you to at least have most of, if not all of your basic inversions of your major, and afford you a fairly usable number of thirds, sixths, and octaves, so for playing harmonies it should get you what you need, although it does not allow full minor chords or extended chords, particularly the dominant 7th, which is real nice to have readily available. I always miss that particular chord when playing in C6 on lap steel, but that's another story.

In addition to harmony, a major advantage of open tunings is that due to the larger presence of thirds, particularly in the higher range, you don't have to play three notes per string in scales, and in fact if you use open notes, you can get away with only having to use one "fretted" note on several strings. With slide playing, the less you have to move the little piece of metal, the better.

Personally though I would recommend GBDEGB, though you would need to omit the high E string and put in another string (comparable in gauge to a D string) for the E. Probably a slightly lower string for the low G would be cool.

This particular 6 chord voicing is probably the best 6 string open tuning ever though. It is a fourth below the classic C6 (CEGACE) tuning that is basically the standard for Hawaiian lap steel, but it can work well on a standard round neck, Spanish style 6 string as well.

If you look carefully, you have G and B at the top and bottom. Adding the D gives you a G major, while the E gives you an E minor. This means that the open notes give you all three inversions of G major and its relative minor, and the same holds true at any fret (2nd fret is A and F#m, 5th fret is C and Am, 7th fret is D and Bm, 9th fret is E and C#m, etc).

This of course made it (well, the C6 tuning, though this is of course the same intervals) very cool for lap steel, since it is the simplest tuning that allows both major and minor chords with a steel.

It also allows a 6th chord, which is only mildly useful outside of Hawaiian music. And unlike lap steel guitar, where you are limited by the steel, you can put a finger up a fret on the third string (F) to give you your 7th chord. You can even make it an F# if you really want a M7.

Also putting a finger on one of the G strings a fret up gives you G#, which gives you G#BDEG#B, which is an E7 chord, though it is probably more trouble than it's worth to do that on both strings when play bar chords, so just forget the top 2 strings or bottom string.

Like everyone has said though, open tunings are probably not really going to help with what you want unless you play in like an open minor or M13 or sus2 tuning and only play with open notes and by barring at the fourth and eighth frets or something like that.

Really just look into how to play more chords and chord progressions, particularly non-diatonic chord progressions like Cm, Csus2, Em, Esus2, Cm, Csus2, Em, Esus2 ad nauseum or something like that.
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Not sure how useful this will be to you but there is actually a free app on the app store called 'smartChord'.


It has pretty much any and every tuning you could imagine and tells you how to form nearly every chord from it and also allows you to play around with any custom tunings you encounter.

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It's really good for finding chords which sound exactly how you want and in alternative tunings.
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everyone's the main guy in their own story