11 Popular Songs in Open E Tuning for Guitarists

Whether it’s for playing slide guitar, strumming the chords, or playing fingerstyle, you can always count on the incredibly versatile, Open E tuning.

While I was looking for topics to write, I thought why not give you some songs in open e to keep you engaged at home.

So, In this post, I have listed 11 songs in open e tuning that you can easily learn and play on guitar.

Most of the songs mentioned below are pretty easy and will not take much time to learn.

To make your work easier, I have linked each song with its video lessons so that you can easily refer to it without searching for it.

But, before we begin, let’s first tune to open e.

How to tune your guitar to open E?

Tuning your guitar from standard to open E is quite simple. All you have to do is tune your 5th and 4th string up a whole tone and your 3rd string up a semitone. If this sounds confusing then follow the steps below.

  1. Firstly, the low e string will remain the same
  2. Next tune your A (5th) string up a whole tone to B and D (4th) string up a whole tone to E
  3. Finally, tune your G (3rd) string up a semi tone to G#
  4. The B (2nd) and high E (1st) string will remain the same

That’s all. You are all tuned up.

Note: In case you don’t like switching to open e tuning (for any reason), you can always tune your guitar to open d and clip a capo on the second fret to make it open e.

So, here are 11 popular songs in open e tuning with Lessons

1. She Talks To Angels by The Black Crowes

She Talks to Angels is probably one of the most recommended and popular tunes in open e tuning.

It is written and recorded by The Black Crowes and was released as the eighth track from their album “Shake You Money”.

The song structure is pretty simple. It is in the key of E major and starts with a beautiful intro lick on the B string, followed by three verses, three choruses, one bridge section, and an outro.

Here is the tab for the Opening lick

As you can see in the tab above, the intro lick starts with a hammer-on from the 4th to 5th fret of the b string followed by an open note on the high e string. After that, there is a slide from the 4th fret of the b string to the 2nd fret followed by an open note on the b string and high e string.

Next, there is a hammer-on from the third string’s open note to the first 1st fret of the same string followed by an open note on the b, the high e string, the third string, and ending with a pull-off from the 1st fret of the third string to an open note.

Finally, the lick ends with an open note on the fourth string and a full open strum. This might look confusing but is super easy to play.

Below I have mentioned an awesome video lesson by Marty Music that you can watch to learn the whole song step by step.

Note: You can also play this song in standard tuning using only three chords: E-B-A.

Lesson

2. Fiddler’s Green by The Tragically Hip

Fiddler’s Green is one more wonderful song in open e tuning that you can consider adding to your learning list.

Written by Gord Downie, it is the eleventh track from the band’s second studio album Road Apples which was released in the year 1991.

Gord Downie wrote the lyrics of the song for his nephew who passed away because of cancer.

This is one of the most loved songs by the band, however, they never played it live until their last tour in 2006.

There are mainly two parts to this song. One for the strumming and the other for the licks and fillers. However, one can play both the parts in one guitar by combining all the parts.

The good news is, I found a great video lesson where you can learn both the strumming and the fillers. It is by Shutup & Play and below is the lesson.

Lesson

3. Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones

Gimme Shelter is one of the easiest and biggest electric guitar songs by the Stones. Released in 1969, it is the opening track from their tenth American studio album Let It Bleed.

The Stones often play this song live in standard tuning but the original song is in open E.

One of the most captivating parts of the song is its intro, which is considered as one of the most powerful intros ever recorded. 

The song is in the key of C# and it has only three chords: C#-B-A. The complete song revolves around this chord progression.

U2, Paolo Giovanni Nutini, Patti Smith, Stone Sour, and Grand Funk are some of the renowned artists who have covered this song.

Lesson

4. Stay With Me by The Faces

“Stay With Me” is one more great song in open E by English rock band The Faces. It is written by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood for their 1971 album, “A Nod’s As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse“.

It is one of the successful songs by the band that reached top position in record charts, including Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100.

This song will certainly improve your rhythm playing as it is filled with lots of cool rhythm patterns. Like other songs, this one also got some cool cover versions that you must check out.

Some of the popular ones are by English rock band “Def Leppard”, American rock band “Train” and by American singer “Mary Jane Blige”.

Watch the video lesson of this song by Marty Music.

5. You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

Without a doubt, Rolling Stones is one of the most iconic rock bands in history, and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is one of their masterpiece. It is in open e tuning and has one of the most recognizable opening riffs.

The song is built on only two chords but there are lots of variations in the later parts. To play it right you have to tune your guitar to open E and clip a capo on the 8th fret.

The only thing that is challenging in this song is its strumming pattern that goes like D-D-UDD-DU-DU. This pattern requires playing some notes while strumming which can be achieved with little practice.

Overall it is a beautiful song in open e that you can add to your learning list. Below is a great lesson by Justin Guitar that you can refer to learn this song step by step.

Lesson

6. Little Martha by The Allman Brothers Band

This one is a great finger picking instrumental in open e tuning that you can learn. Leo Kottke (acoustic guitar virtuoso), once called this the best song ever written in an acoustic guitar.

According to Duane Allman, the song’s inspiration came from a dream in which Jimi Hendrix taught him how to play it.

There are three guitar parts in this song that is played by Duane Allman and Dicky Betts but you can play it in one guitar by combining the parts.

The song is relatively easy to play, and provides an opportunity for you to work on your techniques in different sections of the song.

Lesson

7. Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell

Big Yellow Taxi is written by Joni Mitchell for her third studio album Ladies of the Canyon, This iconic and easy-to-play tune is in open e tuning and covered by a variety of artists, from Amy Grant to Bob Dylan.

According to Joni Mitchell, she wrote this song on her first trip to Hawaii. Although it is an open e song, you can play it in standard tuning using the same chords. This song is all about the rhythm, so you have to strum it right to get the actual feel of the song.

Here is an awesome lesson by Jerry’s Guitar that you can refer to learn this song in detail.

Lesson

8. Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh

This iconic classic rock song written by Joe Walsh and his band Barnstorm is a great example of songs in open E.

Released in 1973, this opening track from their second studio album have some really catchy melodies with powerful guitar riffs that will make listeners want to sing along for hours.

This is one of those songs that should be in your playing list.

Lesson

9. Just Got Paid by ZZ Top

This is one more iconic blues rock song in open e tuning that you can learn. Released in 1972, it is the second single from the album “Rio Grande Mud“. Most of the guitar parts, especially the lead parts are played using a slide.

The main highlight of the track is its main riff which is build on the top three string and hangs around the 3rd and 5th fret. The verse has only two chords: the open E and a slow slide to D. For the chorus the chords used are G and A with lots of slides.

Overall, this is a solid song to practice if you are working on your slide playing. 

Lesson

10. Bread and Water by Ryan Bingham

Bread and Water is a country song in open E tuning by American singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham. Released in 2007, it is the third single from his first studio album “Mescalito“. This song is an insightful glimpse into the life of a struggling singer-songwriter on the road.

In an interview with the Boot, Ryan said, he wrote this song when he was living on the road, wandering from town to town with an acoustic guitar, playing for tips and bread and water.

Even in this song you will find the use of slides which makes it another great song to work on your techniques.

Lesson

11. Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan

Released in 1975 this song is the fourth track from Bob’s fifteenth studio album “Blood on the tracks” which is in open e. Almost all the tracks in this album were recorded in this tuning. This is a pretty easy song with only three chords. It starts on the open e chord then switches to B then A.

Here is a great lesson by Matt Ferrucci where he tuned his guitar in open D tuning and clipped a capo on the second fret to make it open e. It is the only lesson that I have found in open e tuning.

Lesson

I hope you liked these songs in open as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Do let me know in the comments what’s your favorite one.

Also read - 9 Best Blues Rock Songs to Learn on Guitar

Bonus Songs

1. Say it to me now by Glen Hansard – Tabs

2. Prodigal Son by The Rolling Stones – Tabs

3. Crawling in the Dark by Hoobastank – Tabs

4. No Expectations by The Rolling Stones – Tabs

5. The Headmaster Ritual by The Smiths – Tabs

6. Hurts Like Heaven by Coldplay – Tabs

7. Jumpin’ Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones – Tabs

8. Midnight in Harlem by Tedeschi Trucks Band – Tabs

9. Statesboro Blues by The Allman Brothers Band – Tabs

10. Headlong Flight by Rush – Tabs