Adding Minor Chords to Open D Tuning

Open D is commonly associated with blues music and works particularly well when coupled with acoustic folk and singer/songwriter songs, as well as certain types of country music.

Major chords are easy to form in open d tuning – all it takes is barring across the frets for you to create one!

Major Chords

Playing major chords in open D minor tuning may not be as intuitive, yet adding subtle variations can result in some compelling and eye-catching soundscapes.

As shown below, when played using these fingerings a regular C chord can become a C/D chord (X3223X). This holds true for other chord shapes as well; Gm7 can become Gm/Bb chord (X00202X).

These major shapes have an added advantage of easily being turned into seventh chords by adding frets. For example, adding one to string 3, fret 1 creates an E7 (X-0-2-3-3-0-0).

As versatile musical artists, The Eagles were hard to pin down to one genre. “Bitter Creek”, their 1973 track about outlaw life and featuring a guitar tuned open D minor tuning to add atmosphere, is an example.

Minor Chords

Add minor chords to your open tuning repertoire is an effective way of broadening its tonal palette. Just like major chords, minor ones also consist of scale tones which can be moved around to create different chord shapes.

Moving your index finger up one fret of string three when playing Gm7 will yield an Am7 chord (see FIGURE 4). This movable shape will prove invaluable when learning songs requiring rapid changes between chords.

Though standard EADGBE tuning may be the mainstay for beginner guitarists, experimenting with other alternate tunings is sure to broaden your musical horizons and open up new sounds and chords in your arsenal. Folk musician Joni Mitchell used open D minor for her tune “Big Yellow Taxi,” giving it an upbeat, ironic quality while Megadeth used this tuning for their deep, melancholic sound.

Seventh Chords

Open D minor tuning has an intriguing sound that adds a melancholic or subdued quality to music, often used by blues artists to emphasize feelings of sorrow or loss in their performance. You’ll often hear this tuning used in classic rock songs as well as metal bands like Megadeth.

Learning slide guitar in open D can be a difficult challenge at first, since your familiar chord and scale shapes won’t work the same way. However, there are ‘hotspots’ on your neck you can use to help ease into this different tuning much more smoothly.

One of the easiest places to play a major chord is at the sixth fret. Here, you can bar across all six strings to form a D major chord; to create a minor version simply move this shape up three frets for Dsus2. This chord offers great open tuning qualities to your music!


As is often the case with open tunings, open D is closely associated with blues music. Acoustic delta and Chicago style blues in particular sound great in open D, as can be heard on classic recordings like Ellmore James’ Dust My Broom. Besides blues music, open D also lends itself well to folk, singer-songwriter style songs as well as standard tuning songs being transposed into open D tuning to see how chords and scales translate.

Chord shapes in open d minor are known to be “moveable,” meaning that they can be moved up and down the fretboard in order to play various chords using only your fingertips. This makes transposing chords and scales when changing keys easier; for example, an F major minor seventh chord (X00202) could easily be played as either an Em7b5 or Gm7sus4. With such flexibility available to any guitarist using open tunings, open tunings become invaluable tools in creating music.