Want to learn more about DADGAD tuning?
Well, in this post I will show you the DADGAD chords, scales, songs, artists and useful tips and techniques so that you can start exploring it and write your own songs.
What is DADGAD tuning?
DADGAD tuning is probably one of the most popular alternate guitar tunings out there!
The name “DADGAD” comes from how the strings are tuned. So, how do you tune to DADGAD from the standard? Its Pretty simple.
Let’s first start out by tuning your guitar to standard. From the lowest sounding string to the highest, here is standard tuning: E – A – D – G – B – e
Now, let’s get into DADGAD tuning!
How to tune the guitar to DADGAD Tuning?
- Take the low E string and tune it down a whole step to D. An easy way to do this is to pluck your low E string and your D string at the same time, then tune your low E string down until they sound the same.
- Your A string, D string and G will stay the same.
- Next, take your B string and tune down a whole step to A. Again, another easy way to do this is to play your A string and your B string at the same time, then tune your B string down until it sounds the same as your A string.
- The last step is to tune your high E string down a whole step to D like you did with your low E string. Play your D string and your high E string at the same time and tune your high E string down until they sound the same.
Now you’re all tuned up!
Now we can get into learning chords, scales and some theory to help you play in DADGAD tuning.
First, I’ll show you 6 popular chords played in DADGAD tuning. Then, we will learn how to play the Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, Major7th, Minor 7th and Dominant 7th DADGAD chords.
Here are the six chords that sound great together in DADGAD tuning.
Major DADGAD Chords
To make a major chord all you have to do is play the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of that particular major scale.
For example, the notes of the G major scale are G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G.
So, to play a G major chord you will play the 1, 3, and 5 of the above scale. That gives us G, B, D. Anytime you play a G, B, and D together you’re playing a G major chord.
This is some basic theory that can help you to play the chords anywhere on the fretboard. So, here are the most common major chords in DADGAD tuning.
Minor DADGAD Chords
The only difference between these minor chords and the previous major chords is the third note.
To make any major chord a minor chord all you have to do is flat the third note a half step like you see in the chord graphs below.
These are just simple ways of learning and making new chords without having to constantly check a chord book.
Augmented DADGAD Chords
By now you probably have this theory stuff down, but here is how to make an augmented chord from a major chord.
Take your 1, 3, and 5 major chord and sharp the 5th note. That’s it! So, in the key of C (C, E, G) Sharp the G and make it a G#.
Now you have a C augmented chord. C, E, G#.
Here are the most common augmented chords in DADGAD tuning.
Diminished DADGAD Chords
To make these diminished chords from a major chord, take your 1, 3, and 5 notes and flat the 3rd and the 5th.
So, in the key of C: C, E, G. Flat the E and the G to make the major chord a diminished. C, Eb, Gb.
Major 7th DADGAG Chords
Ok, so to make any major 7th chord from a basic major chord all you do is add the seventh note of that major scale.
Let’s take G as an example again. In the key of G the notes are G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G.
So, to make a major chord we play the 1, 3, and 5 (G, B, D). Now, just add the seventh note to make this a major 7th chord.
(1, 3, 5, 7) – (G, B, D, F#)
Minor 7th DADGAD Chords
Some more easy theory for you!
To make a minor 7th out of a major chord all you have to do is add the 7th just like you did before and flat the 3rd, since this is a minor.
An easier way to do this is, if you already know how to play the Major 7th chord, just flat the 3rd and the 7th. That’s all.
Dominant 7th DADGAD Chords
To make a dominant 7th chord from a major chord, all you have to do is add a minor 7th on the top.
This just means you add a flat 7th on top of a major chord.
So, in the key of G: G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G. You will play the 1, 3, 5, b7 of the scale. So, G, B, D, and F are the notes that make up a G dominant 7th chord.
Now that you have a bunch of most common DADGAD chords, let’s learn some scales in this tuning that you can use to add some lead lines to your playing.
Learning scales is very similar to that of learning chords. Once you know the major scale, from there you can make any scale by applying some theory.
All the scales mentioned below are in the key of C and to make your work easy, I have mentioned its notes and formula.
If you want to play these scales in other key, simply start the scale from the root note of your choice and play the same shape.
DADGAD Major Scale
Notes of the C major scale are: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.
DADGAD Melodic Minor
Notes of the C melodic minor scale are: C-D-D#-F-G-A-B-C
To make a melodic minor scale from the major scale you just have to flat the 3rd note of the scale. In the key of C you have to flatten the E to E flat.
DADGAD Harmonic Minor Scale
Notes of the C harmonic Minor Scale are: C-D-D#-F-G-G#-B-C
To make a harmonic minor scale you have to just flatten the 3rd and the 5th note of a major scale.
DADGAD Hungarian Minor Scale
Notes of the C Hungarian Minor Scale are: C-D-D#–F#-G-G#-B-C
To make a hungarian minor scale all you have to do is flat the 3rd, sharp the 4th, and flat the 6th note of a major scale.
DADGAD Minor Pentatonic Scale
Notes of the C Minor Pentatonic Scale are: C-D#-F-G-B♭-C
To make a minor pentatonic scale, remove the 2nd and 6th note of a major scale. Not only that, but you have to also flat the 3rd and the 7th note.
These are the popular scales in DADGAD tuning that you can use to solo, play licks and add more flavor to your playing.
Here are the artists that use DADGAD tuning
These are not the only artists but the notable ones. There are more that you can check out in YouTube.
- Justin King
- Andy McKee
- Antoine Dufour
- Erik Mongain
- Mike Dawes
- Masaaki Kishibe
- Michael Hedges
- Don Ross
Songs in DADGAD tuning
If you do a search you will hundreds of songs in DADGAD tuning but here are the most popular ones. To make your work easy I have linked each song with its tabs and lessons.
Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
Co-written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, this is one of the best songs that you play in DADGAD tuning. Jimmy also used this tuning in other Zeppelin songs like “Black Mountain Side” that you can check out.
So, basically the song has four different riffs (sections). We will talk about the main riff which is also considered as one of the most iconic and recognizable riffs of all time.
Here is a great lesson by Shutup & Play that you can refer to learn all the four riffs of the song.
So, here is the tabs of the main riff
As you can see the tabs, the main riff is played only on A, D and G strings with the 5th note of the A string remaining the same all the time.
To start off, place your pinky finger on the fifth fret of the A string and your index finger on the second fret of G string. Here you can either mute the open 4th (D) string or you can play it. But if you mute, it will sound much better.
Now, strum these three notes using the pattern D-U-D then play a open note on the D(6th) string . You have do this two times then shift your index finger to 3rd fret of the G string and repeat the same.
The whole riff goes like this which I think is pretty easy. Learn the whole song here: Shutup & Play.
Photograph by Ed Sheeran
This is one more awesome song you can play in DADGAD tuning. Co-written by Sheeran and John McDaid, it is the fifth track from his second studio album, ‘X’ (multiply).
Like most of his songs, this one also charted in most parts of the world and certified as a double platinum in Australia and Canada.
Ed Sheeran songs are known for its simplicity and this one is no exception. Photograph has only four chords: D-Bm-A9-G with a palm muting strumming pattern.
It also has a beautiful arpeggiated intro that is also easy to play. Overall, it is a great beginner song you can add to your learning list.
Here are 10 Popular Songs in DADGAD tuning
- Bless the Weather by John Martyn
- Ain’t no grave by Johnny Cash
- Norwegian Wood Acoustic by Colin Hay
- Dear Maria Count Me In Acoustic by All Time Low
- Abacus by Fionn Regan
- All Cried Out by Fink
- Your Love Is Enough by Jon Foreman
- Circle by Slipknot
- Norwegian Wood Acoustic by Colin Hay
- Merrily Kissed The Quaker by Pierre Bensusan
I hope I have mentioned everything you need to know about DADGAD tuning. Now, that you have all the resources, you can start exploring and experimenting. I will be updating page with more songs, scales and chords, so don’t forget to give a visit.