By William Wyman
In the early sixties the Rolling Stones were just a cover band, playing other people's songs. Gradually they began to write their own songs, probably because they realised that if they wanted to be successful they had to have original songs. Nobody ever made much money playing other people's songs in those days.
In those early days they were using standard tuning on their guitars, only later did they add open g tuning (probably around 1969). If you're learning to play guitar then you're almost certainly using standard tuning. All the early hits are played in standard tuning. So, for example, you can play Satisfaction, All Over Now, The Last Time and Not Fade Away (although this has a 12 string guitar in standard tuning). Pick any track form one of the early albums and you'll find that the guitars are in standard tuning.
Honky Tonk women is the first example of open g tuning, followed by Brown Sugar, Tumbling Dice, Street Fighting Man and then on to Start Me Up. You Can't Always Get What You Want is recorded in open e tuning with a capo on the 8th fret, but it too is normally played in open g when played live.
Tuning your guitar to open g is easy enough, here's how to do it:-
To change to open g we only need to detune 3 strings, the 1st (thinnest), 5th and 6th strings. Tune the 1st string down a tone to D - check it against your 4th string (which is a D). Do the same for the 6th string, down a tone to D - check it against your 4th string. Then finally tune your 5th string down to G - check it against your 3rd string (which is a G). Keith usually takes the top 6th string off, so you might want to do that too.
If you now strum the guitar from the 5th string down you have a G chord! No fretting required, which is why it's called open g tuning!
Keith only has 5 strings on his guitar. If you would like to know how to play Honky Tonk Women in open g tuning then go to http://stonesmusic.co.uk/songs/. Next you'll need to learn a few chords in open g tuning, but they're really quite easy to learn. Then you too will be able to play Rolling Stones music in their authentic style!
William Wyman has played in a Rolling Stones cover band for over 10 years. http://www.stonesmusic.co.uk
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