Learn a 12 Bar Blues Chord Progression in Open D Tuning (DADF#AD)

DADF#AD tuning or “Open D” is a fantastic tuning that many guitarists and resonator players use instead of standard guitar tuning.   You can produce big lush sounding chords that give your guitar style a pleasant change.  Open D is a very convenient tuning and standard for many slide and fingerstyle players. 

Some well-known guitarists including Robert Johnson, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Elmore James, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and more recently, Mumford and Sons (The Cave) have embraced DADF#AD in recordings and on stage. 

How to tune into Open D from standard guitar tuning

Tuning into open D takes some practice, but manageable if you have a guitar tuner.  You will need to adjust the 6th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings lower:

How to tune your guitar to Open D tuning (dadf#ad)

If you are new to this tuning, I suggest you practice going between standard and open D tuning until you can do it with ease.  Gradually wean off the tuner and try it by ear.

Learn a 12 Bar Blues in D with three dominant 7th chords

Let’s start by learning three easy dominant 7th chords before moving on the full 12 bar blues below:

12 Bar Blues Chords in Open D tuning

Three Chord 12 Bar Blues in D with Open D Tuning

12 Bar Blues Open D DADF#AD tuning - Key of D

That wasn’t too hard, was it?

Ok, if you feel comfortable with the first example, let’s move on to the next example of a 12 bar blues in D with a few different chord variations.

12 Bar Blues Open D DADF#AD tuning - Key of D - variation

Open D tuning adds variety to familiar guitar chords and might even spark a bit of creativity. 

Add some 12 bar blues songs to your repertoire

Here’s a shortlist of 12 bar songs you can add to your repertoire.  Some of the chord progressions vary from the standard 12 bar blues progression, but most just have the three chords you learned above.  Search out the lyrics, tune your guitar down and apply the open D tuning to your next gig and jam session.


  • Stevie Ray Vaughan – Pride and Joy
  • ZZ Top – Tush
  • Chuck Berry – Johnny B Goode
  • Eric Clapton – Crossroads
  • Bill Haley – Rock Around the Clock
  • Jimi Hendrix – Red House
  • Robert Johnson – Sweet Home Chicago
  • Led Zeppelin – I Can’t Quit You Baby
  • Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
  • AC/DC – The Jack
  • The Beatles – Rock and Roll Music

Coming November 2020 – The Open D Riffs and Solos Book

Celtic Flatpicking Open D Guitar Tuning

Tuning your guitar to DADF#AD or “Open D” tuning compliments Celtic guitar music perfectly. 30+ Celtic session tunes and songs. Jigs, reels, songs, hornpipes, waltzes, plus useful tips for Flatpicking and ornamentation. DADF#AD chords and arpeggios, Celtic strumming patterns, Campanella major, minor and modal scales, plus a DADF#AD fingerboard chart.

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