Open C Tuning: FREE Ultimate Guide

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Open C Tuning
Open C Tuning

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Open C Tuning Guitar

Open C is an excellent alternative tuning that is hugely popular with guitar players. In part, this is because there are simple chord shapes to learn to master the basics of the tuning quickly.

From Metal to Blues, Open C is a brilliant tuning to suit many genres and challenge any level of a guitar player. 

C Tuning Guitar

To achieve an open C Tuning on guitar, the strings need to be tuned to, C, G, C, G, C, E. 

To tune to open C from standard tuning, the bottom E string needs to be lowered to a C note, and the A down to a G. Next, D string drops to a C note, and the G string stays the same as in standard. Finally, the B string tunes up at a C note and the top E strings remains as it is. 

Above all, the best way to achieve an accurate Open C tuning is to use a chromatic guitar tuner. This specific type of guitar tuner shows the notes to the nearest semitone, which is precisely what we need when tuning to an alternative tuning. 

We recommend the Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal. It is an accurate tuner over a wide range, and the super-bright LED meter makes it perfect for any setting. 

Open C Tuning
Open C Tuning
Get the Lowest Price Boss TU-3S Chromatic Tuner Pedal here!

Songs in Open C Tuning

‘Burden in My Hand’ – Soundgarden

‘Head Down’ – Soundgarden

‘King of Spain’ – The Tallest Man on Earth

‘Skinny love’ – Bon Ivor 

‘Final passage’ – Al Petteway 

‘Little Lion Man’ – Mumford and Sons

‘One Short Story’ – Xavier rudd

‘Question’ – Moody Blues

‘Sister Awake’ – The Tea Party

In addition, many Ben Howard songs are in Open C, so worth looking into those too!

Is learning to play the piano more your thing?

Led Zeppelin

‘Friends’ by Led Zeppelin is also in Open C. It is a wonderful song that went on to inspire folk musicians such as Davey Graham and Bert Jansch too. 

Jimmy Page once told a reporter that he wrote ‘Friends’ after an argument with someone. He said, “I was inspired, I guess, by this feeling: I’ve just got to release this somehow.”

Also, ‘Friends’ has been closely referenced to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s ‘Carry On’. Another awesome song worth checking out!

Devin Townsend

‘Deadhead’ by Devin Townsend is available on the album ‘Accelerated Evolution’. It is the fourth track on the album which was originally released in 2003 on HevyDevy Records.

The song is in Open C, and there is also a stunning live version live from the Royal Albert Hall.

Get the full guitar tab for ‘Deadhead’ here.

John Butler

John Butler often plays a 12 string guitar and tunes to Open C. We recommend trying the songs ‘Ocean’, ‘What You Want’, ‘Better man’, ‘Busted’, ‘Pickapart’, and ‘Life Ain’t What It Seems’. Moreover, if you are looking for John Butler songs for a slide guitar in Open C, try ‘Treat Yo Moma’.

Chords Open C

Many of the main chord shapes are moveable up and down the neck, which makes them easy to remember.

Playing all of the strings open will give you a C chord (EASY!). Barring all of the string on the second fret gives you a D chord, the fourth fret an E chord, fifth an F chord and so on. 






C-minor open chord: Cross-note tuning 



We believe that Open C is a wonderful tuning to use in metal music. The super-low bass tones make it perfect for the genre.

So crack up the distortion, tune your guitar to C, G, C, G, C, E and give it a go!

Open C Slide Guitar – Blues Songs

Slide Guitar in Open C is perfect for blues songs. Why not try pedal steel for a brand new challenge this Autumn!

If you are looking to buy a lap steel, we recommend the 8 string Vorson Active Lap Steel Guitar.

Open C Tuning
Open C Tuning

Get the Lowest Price Vorson LT-230-8 Active Lap Steel Guitar, 8-String (with Gig Bag) here!

Firstly, the Vorson LT-230-8 is a professional quality 8 String lap steel guitar. Custom design by Vorson’s team of player /luthiers for exceptional performance on stage or in the studio.

Many elite lap steel players prefer the expanded range of an 8 string. Secondly, they allow you to play fuller chords, and more interesting inversions because you have more notes under the bar.

Note: The LT-230-8 is not a converted 6 string lap steel and the nut, bridge, fretboard, and pickup are specially designed for 8 string spacing so no cramped strings. If you can play a 6 you can play the Vorson 8, and you will light it up! Available in Translucent Blue, Translucent Red, and Translucent Vintage Sunburst and ships complete with a premium padded bag, tone bar, and cable. 

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