If playing or listening to songs that are played in Open G is something you are interested in, then this is the place you want to be. Below, you will find 15 songs in Open G. After you have listened to those songs in Open G maybe one day you’ll be playing them too.
If you have no idea what Open G is, well, here you go: Open G tuning is an alternative tuning of a guitar that allows the guitar player to strum a G-Major chord on all six strings without needing to use a left hand or capo.
1. Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood And The Destroyers (1982)
If you have watched a movie since the 80s. you have probably heard this song. The open notes are a classic song to play when bad guys wearing leather jackets show up to cause trouble. While this 1982 song did not have a lot of initial success, its use in movies and TV has made it a cultural touchstone of the blues-rock genre.
This song is a classic early 80s blues-rock song with fantastic use of the slide. This song mainly stays on just one chord, the G chord. Which makes it the perfect song for beginners on the guitar to start rocking out to. Once you get the hang of playing the riff, you can start to play with the Open G. which would add some great licks to your rendition of this classic song.
2. Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones (1981)
This classic hard rock song by The Rolling Stones, off of the band’s 18th studio album “Tattoo You”, was originally written as a reggae song. Obviously, things changed and rock and roll history tells the rest. “Start Me Up” does exactly that, it is a perfect song to pump you up and get a crowd excited and full of energy.
It’s no wonder that it keeps being used at the start of sporting events, inspirational speeches, campaign rallies, and really anywhere else you might see a crowd full of energy. More than any other Rolling Stones song, it has stayed relevant in the modern cultural Zeitgeist.
The song itself uses that classic open G tuning that Keith Richards loves to use to give Rolling Stones songs that unique sound that makes them so popular.
3. Daughter by Pearl Jam (1993)
This famous alternative rock song by Pearl Jam. off of the band’s 2nd studio album “Vs”, is one of the more recent great examples of a song utilizing Open G tuning.
Expert Tip: To be more precise, this song utilizes an alternative version of open G tuning. The song begins with a rather incredible C add9 arpeggio. This intro add9 melody like arp is played just the one time throughout the whole song before the drums start and the song begins to take off.
With this alternative version of Open G tuning, it can be a little difficult for newcomers to this style of tunning to master, but once you do you will start to be able to play some truly incredible sounding songs.
4. That’s The Way by Led Zeppelin (1970)
“Led Zeppelin III”, the third studio album by rock band Led Zeppelin, was a huge departure from the band’s usual body of work. While the rock influences were still very much present, the album was more focused on folk and acoustic songs.
In fact, many of the songs on the album are in open tuning with “That’s The Way” being one of the songs in Open G As great as hard rock Led Zeppelin is. “Led Zeppelin III* has some of their best works.
If you are looking to play “That’s the Way” you are going to have to put your guitar in Open G. The good thing about this Led Zeppelin song, is that the handwork for it really isn’t all that complicated! A couple of rather simple shapes will get you to play this song perfectly.
5. Crossroads by Robert Johnson (1936)
This song is arguably one of. if not the definitive Delta blues songs. Crossroads is essentially a version of a traditional blues song called “Walkin’ Blues” that was performed by many blues performers of the time, such as Muddy Waters and Son House.
Over the years, the song has come to mean many different things to many different people. From the original, and very literal, interpretation of the song being from the point of view of a hitchhiker to other more metaphorical and spiritual interpretations.
Expert Tip: In playing the song, a slide is used to produce a plaintive sound. However, be warned, very few have been able to recreate the exact, emotive sound of Johnson’s original 1936 recording as the guitar is used to create an almost call and response effect to the lyrics.
6. Black Door by The Black Keys (2006)
These days, a lot of rock groups, be it hard rock, alternative rock, garage rock. etc. love to use open tuning in their songs. It helps give them a unique sound to use to stand out in the music scene. American rock duo. The Black Keys are one of these groups. They used Open G tuning on their song “Black Door” off of their 4th studio album. “Magic Potion”.
This song is a great one to learn how to play for anyone interested in getting to learn Open G tuning. The song uses Open G to create that modern alternative rock sound that is really popular right now. Learning how to play this song will help give you great insight into what goes into both Open G and great-sounding modern rock.
7. Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits (1981)
“Romeo and Juliet’ is a rock song by the British rock band Dire Straits, it first was heard in 1980 on the band’s third studio album “Making Movies”. The song was later released as a single in January 1981.
In a documentary by Sky Arts called “Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler”. Knopfler, the writer of the song, picks up his guitar and gives a demonstration of how he hit the now-famous arpeggio lines found in “Romeo and Juliet’ while he experimented with the open G tuning.
Expert Tip: In the song, the instrumentation stays pretty simple during the verses but then moves to a full rock arrangement during the chorus sections, which makes this song really fun to learn how to play.
8. Death Letter by The White Stripes (2000)
Jack White is easily one of the best guitarists currently in the rock music scene and that is very clear in the song The White Stripe’s cover of “Death Letter”, of off the rock duo’s second studio album “De Stijl”. where Open G tuning is used. “Death Letter” is originally a blues song by blues legend Son House.
Jack White uses the Open G tuning on an electric guitar to turn this stable of the blues genre into a hard rock song to bang your head to. While this rendition of the song may seem intimidating at first, you do not have to be Jack White in order to play it. you just need practice.
9. Watch Over You by Alter Bridge (2008)
This 2008 song by the hard rock band Alter Bridge, off of their second studio album ‘Blackbird”, makes beautiful use of Open G tuning. This song showcases some incredibly sounding chords that make use of some rather simple shapes. Open tuning in general can really be amazing when used while playing a song just like this one that has a lot of strumming.
Standard tuning does not necessarily always mesh with songs that require constant strumming, so Open G tuning for this song is perfect. Once you have learned this song. you can experiment around with this style of constantly strumming which can be a lot of fun.
10. Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked by Cage The Elephant (2008)
While some bands may not stay in the public’s consciousness for very long. oftentimes they have songs that do. This 2008 song off of the American rock band Cage The Elephant’s self-titled debut album was an instant classic alternative rock song.
This song makes some great use of Open G tuning to give it that classic blues sound, that you hear in songs from people like Son House and Robert Johnson, while infusing it with that alternative rock energy that was popular in the mid-2000s. While they may not know the name of the band or song, most people, know the lyrics, so learn how to play it and sing along to it with some friends for a guaranteed fun time.
11. Mercy by Duffy (2008)
This soul song released by Welsh singer Duffy on her 2008 debut album •Rockferry makes great use of Open G tuning. This song was released during. and capitalized on. a trend in the music industry of soulful and jazz-like songs with modern flares.
The song was almost an instant hit across the world when it was released. leading to the song being covered by many different types of artists. In your quest to master playing with an Open G tuning, you can be one of those artists to cover the song.
12. She by Green Day (1995)
This pop-punk song was released as a single off of American rock band Greenday’s third album “Dookie.” It would be hard to keep a straight face and say that Green Day is anything other than one of, if not the, most influential band working in the 1990s. especially when you consider that they practically established the genre of pop-punk in the public eye.
Just by simply listening to the song. you can really tell how much fun it would be to play it on guitar, and in Open G no less. This song has so much fun energy to it that you really can’t help but smile as you play it, having finally mastered this great song.
13. Hello, I’m in Deleware by City and Colour (2005)
This song is off of the debut solo album of City and Colour. the stage name of Canadian musician Dallas Green. This song features some soft guitar compositions and some angelic vocals.
The song makes for a great listen to while trying to sit back and relax, and as an added bonus it features an Open G tuning. And, with the original song being completely acoustic, your rendition of it at home can sound almost identical to the original recording! So, it will be much easier to gauge your progress as you learn the song!
14. Perfect by Simple Plan (2002)
Now, emo songs and bands tend to get a bad reputation. but just like in any genre. there are some great songs and bands hidden inside. This song by the emo rock band Simple Plan off of the band’s debut studio album “No Pads. No Helmets…Just Balls” is a great example of that it even gets included in the great songs in Open G tuning.
While it might feel embarrassing at first to be learning how to play a song from this genre while learning Open G, it is in fact a great song at the end of the day.
15. Uprising by Muse (2009)
This song by the English rock group Muse was the lead single off of their 5th studio album ‘The Resistance”, is an awesome song to learn for its use of Open G. For starters, the song sounds absolutely incredible. with a lot of energy and powerful instrumentals.
Secondly, the song has some Open G guitar riffs that are relatively easy to learn, especially when compared to some of Muse’s other songs and even some of the other songs on this list. It really is just a great song to play to inject some high energy into a room that is ready to rock out.
Now that you have heard 15 songs in Open G, you have a proper appreciation for how great it sounds. You can also begin the process of learning how to play songs in Open G yourself.