Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

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Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby tommott77 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:10 pm

Started playing around with some slide playing for the first time in 7 years or so over the last couple weeks and picked up a Republic Highway 61 resonator over the holidays and have been playing almost non stop since. As with my first foray into slide blues guitar I started with open G as most seem to feel that is the standard bearer tuning of delta blues. Yesterday I built up enough nerve to jump into open D, and am now a bit perplexed on the merits of open G tuning. I remember coming to a similar conclusion with my first foray with open slide tunings as well.

What, if anything does open G do that open D can't do? I was instantly able to convert all the songs I knew in open G to open D by just moving everything down a string.I also found that with moving everything down one string the high string is now opened up as a root which opens up a bevy of lead licks on the high string that weren't possible with open G. Also with open G I found that I was really only using 5 of the 6 strings, barley ever using the low D save for some pull-offs. With the low string being the root with open D I am almost using it constantly behind the slide to keep my bass pattern with my power and bass than the 5th string with Open G.

So what am I missing.... if anything? Perhaps I am just looking at things from the wrong perspective? I have been playing electric blues for 20 years in standard tuning. Maybe it is just a function of being so accustomed to standard tuning that I find things transfer over so much better to Open D compared to Open G with having the roots notes on both the low and high strings? But then again if I can play everything I learned with Open G in Open D with just moving things down a string, plus all the things that open D opens up I just don't see the point..........unless if you absolutely want to play Open G (or cappoed Open A) songs in the key of A or G.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby rustyslide » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:12 am

I don't have an answer— Vastapol is the tuning for me.

I read in an interview that Bob Brozman is a big fan of sliding into the root at the 5th fret of the first string and he likes that a lot better than having the tonic on the first string open.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby leftyguitarman » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:34 am

I used to slide in Open G exclusively until I tuned to Open D. I think I've tuned to Open G like three or four times in the last two years. I prefer D over G any day.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby OldWailer » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:34 am

I've gone through this dilemma a lot too--and I have no answer--I like the D the best--and it's easy to capo to E without losing too much neck. I hate changing back and forth, so I just keep using D.

Lately I've been getting into some lap style and the same thing pops up--is it better to tune open D or bluegrass G? I don't know--I'm kind of leaning toward the D--just easier because it's the same as bottleneck--but the GBDGBD dobro players sure do play some great bluesy stuff.

I guess the answer is to just try them all and stay with what you think sounds the best. . .
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby tinsmith » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:23 am

Just the sound of the chord structure......I've always loved G...maybe that's because of Keith Richards...I dunno....I've been into D lately for the change & Little Martha & Vigilante Man.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby Old Stella » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:08 am

I played electric for ........hmmm......35 years. Tinnitus ended that and I've been acoustic all the way for a couple years. Now, I'm not saying my way is right. But in the very early seventies, I'd rock on my Japanese Les Paul then I'd slide on my old Harmony. I never wanted to translate anything to one another. I saw them as completely different instruments.
On the subject of G - When you strum open G you automatically sound more 'country' blues and people will light up (they have for me) and say, Now that's the Robert Johnson stuff. G has it's own thing, especially sliding to the root on the high string, and using the low D to come up (and go down) unlike open D.
But I see, and always TRY to see G and D as different. Ya, I've learned the same tune(s) in both, but the beauty is the difference. My advice is to look (listen) for the differences. I play Little Red Rooster in G and for some reason the whole place will come alive. All blues guitars are magic. That I'm sure of.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby rustyslide » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:24 am

I do think of Spanish ('G') as slightly more pleasing sounding and Vastapol as more badass.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby texas blues » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:44 am

What would Muddy play?
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby bottleneckjohn » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:33 am

rustyslide wrote:I do think of Spanish ('G') as slightly more pleasing sounding and Vastapol as more badass.


I agree!
G is more "fun" and D sounds deeper and "darker".. Somehow..
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby The Breeze » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:20 am

I like open G, I love the alternating bass with the 5th on beats 2 and 4 a fourth below the root, very country. I find the voicing better for some songs, especially not having the root on top when brushing the top strings, it's more chordal and less 'rooty'. Sliding into the root on the top string, the bass runs are clearer with more zing. JJ Cale's 'They call me the Breeze' and The Soggy Bottom Boys' 'Man of constant sorrow' sound a lot better in open G.
Open D has three root notes out of 6 on each chord, the 3rd is lost in the middle, you tend to play the flat 3rd/major 3rd interplay on the top string a lot more whereas in G I find myself playing the 5th/flat 7th. Open D I find more immediately bluesy.
In acoustic terms there is a lot of difference because of the voicing of the top two strings, they carry over the sound of the chord better. I find the riffs and double stops I use in G are lost when played on the middle strings in open D which has a different set of riffs and double stops on the top two strings, maybe not true with amplified guitar though.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby allanlummox » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:52 pm

Part of the same thing - learn them both.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby Freeman » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:48 pm

bottleneckjohn wrote:
rustyslide wrote:I do think of Spanish ('G') as slightly more pleasing sounding and Vastapol as more badass.


I agree!
G is more "fun" and D sounds deeper and "darker".. Somehow..


I've always felt the opposite. Other than "Dark was the Night..." almost everything that I play in D is "pretty' sounding - Little Martha, John Henry, Echoing Guilowitz, Watermellon, Vestapol, many songs with lots of harmonics like Police Dog Blues.

There are a few "pretty" songs in G (Kottke's Crow River Waltz and Jesu:Joy of Mans Desiring) but mostly they are loud and nasty (Walkin' Blues, Roll and Tumble) or in your face (Vaseline Machine Gun, Sailors Grave on the Prairie). I keep one reso in each, but it is the metal biscuit that stays in G and the wooden tricone for D, while the spider is usually in dobro G.

I also do the trick of moving open G songs up one string on a D guitar - works most of the time.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby bottleneck » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:13 am

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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby stumblin » Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:21 pm

Some tunes work best in Vestapol, others work best in Spanish.
Both tunings are an essential part of your technical repertoire.
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Re: Merits of Open G (if any) over Open D?

Postby tinsmith » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:17 pm

stumblin wrote:Some tunes work best in Vestapol, others work best in Spanish.
Both tunings are an essential part of your technical repertoire.

I agree.....both are needed
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