The Best Guitar Songs to Learn in DADGAD Tuning

DADGAD Guitar Tuning

What is DADGAD Tuning?

We’ve covered several notable alternate tunings including Open G and Drop D, and today we’ll take a look at another of the most popular: DADGAD. As its name suggests, DADGAD tuning swaps the low E, B, and high E strings for a D, A, and D, respectively. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th strings (G, D, and A) are left unchanged. You may also see it referred to as “Celtic tuning.”

The pitches of D, G, and A create a Dsus4 (D suspended 4th) chord, where D is the root and G and A create intervals of a fourth and fifth. Thus, it may help to think of DADGAD tuning as “Open Dsus4,” where barring any fret up the neck will create a suspended fourth chord with a different root.

DADGAD tuning on a musical staff
DADGAD tuning displayed on a musical staff

For instance, barring and strumming the first fret in DADGAD gives us a D#sus4, the second fret an Esus4, and so on. DADGAD is most often played by leaving some strings open while fretting others up the neck to create many different kinds of chords. An excellent example of this can be found in Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, where guitarist Jimmy Page voices ten different chords using only two shapes.

Kashmir guitar tab by Led Zeppelin | Songsterr
An Excerpt from Kashmir

All in all, DADGAD provides the guitarist with a fascinating sound that can be difficult to reproduce in both standard tunings and open major or minor configurations.

Tunings Similar to DADGAD

Other open suspended 4th tunings are often lumped together under the name “DADGAD” but technically utilize different pitches. For instance, Black Mountain Side was recorded in C#G#C#F#G#C#, every string tuned a half-step down from DADGAD. Since all intervals between strings remain the same, playing in this tuning is effectively no different from playing in DADGAD.

Black Mountainside First Measure C#G#C#F#G#C# Tuning
Black Mountain Side is tuned a half-step down from DADGAD

Other DADGAD alternatives include CGCFGC, D#A#D#G#A#D#, and EBEABE. Essentially, as long as you can tune every string to the necessary pitch without snapping from over-tightening or rattling excessively from being too loose, you can go as high or low as you want.

How to Tune Your Guitar to DADGAD

Tuning to DADGAD is as simple as down-shifting three strings. Start by dropping your low E a whole step to D. Do the same with your B-string, dropping it to A. Finally, lower high E to D. That’s all there is to it; just like that you’re playing in DADGAD.

If you want to revert back to standard tuning simply reverse the changes you’ve made, raising your sixth, second, and first strings a whole step. The entire process takes less than a minute so you can switch back and forth with minimal difficulty.

The Best Guitar Songs to Learn in DADGAD Tuning (With Guitar Tabs)

To become proficient with DADGAD tuning you’ll need to practice a good bit, and one of the best ways to do this is by learning songs that use it. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the best guitar songs in DADGAD tuning, as well as Songsterr’s guitar tabs for each of them. These songs span from very easy to very difficult, so there’s something for guitarists of every skill level.

We’ve lumped in any songs that make use of parallel tunings, so any song that can be played in DADGAD is fair game, even if it was recorded in a higher or lower tuning (like Black Mountain Side).

SongArtistGuitar Tab
White SummerThe YardbirdsWhite Summer Guitar Tab
Black Mountain SideLed ZeppelinBlack Mountain Side Guitar Tab
KashmirLed ZeppelinKashmir Guitar Tab
In DreamsBen HowardIn Dreams Guitar Tab
I Forget Where We WereBen HowardI Forget Where We Were Guitar Tab
Peg Leg Speed KingMichael HedgesPeg Leg Speed King Guitar Tab
RagamuffinMichael HedgesRagamuffin Guitar Tab
Boogie ShredMike DawesBoogie Shred Guitar Tab
RoundaboutEric RocheRoundabout Guitar Tab
Higher GroundEric RocheHigher Ground Guitar Tab
JumpEric RocheJump Guitar Tab
Smells Like Teen SpiritEric RocheSmells Like Teen Spirit Guitar Tab
TopazMasa SumideTopaz Guitar Tab
Knock On WoodJustin KingKnock On Wood Guitar Tab
TapsJustin KingTaps Guitar Tab
Square DanceJustin KingSquare Dance Guitar Tab
SweetheartJustin KingSweetheart Guitar Tab