Open C Guitar Tuning  -  CGCGCE

I used to play quite a lot in Open C  -  from the bass up: CGCGCE.  It's a particularly lovely tuning, and consequently I found when I played out that I often used to get asked about it.  Because at one time there didn't seem much out there about it except lists of songs that have been or may be played in it, and the odd tab, I decided to pass on such knowledge that I have.

In what follows you're expected to be at the level of a competent guitarist in standard or other tunings, familiar with techniques such as sliding, and hammering on / pulling off.

Two things to note about the tuning if you've never tried it ...

I originally needed a tuning that was good for pentatonic, traditional material and had discovered Open G was quite good on things in G and, capo-ed up, in A, but I found it wanting on such material in D.  Then the big cartoon light bulb came on about transposition between the two tunings, and almost without new learning I transposed a song, Matt Armour's 'The Isle Of May', that I had originally capoed quite a long way up in Open G, to Open C, thereby being able to improve the sound from the guitar and sing it more comfortably.  Open C capo-ed up was an answer for material in D.

While it's particularly good for traditional, pentatonic material, Open C is actually more versatile than that  -  I ended up having accompaniments for Bob Dylan and Mary Chapin Carpenter songs in it as well.

To work then ...

  1. First, I'll simply list the basic chord shapes.
  2. Second, I'll explain how I string some of them together into basic chord progressions.
  3. Third and finally there are worked examples: 'The Mingulay Boat Song' / 'Atlantic Rollers'.