Open E Tuning Intro

My Open E Tuning Lesson is finally here! Thanks for your patience, as it's been a very long time coming for all the lap steel guitarists who've been asking about it over the years.

We're taking a little break from the C6 tuning that is used in the LIL STEEL series and all of my instructional DVDs with my long awaited E Major tuning lesson Part Uno! At the end of the lesson is a resources section where you can download a bunch more TAB, written by yours truly, plus a link to where you can find strings for your Dobro or lap steel that are perfect for this tuning.


Open E is a solid tuning that's remarkably versatile when you take the time to really stretch its limits.

I'll spell out the tuning here and then go into why this tuning works on many different levels and is called by a couple of names.

Open E Major for Dobros and electric guitars, from Low string to High string:

E B E G# B E

E Major recommended string gauges, see the link in the Resources section below to find out where to buy these strings:

E .013

B .020

G# .024p

E .032

B .042

E .056

A very similar tuning to this is the Open D which is the following from Low To High:

D A D F# A D

...this is basically the same tuning as Open E, except it's moved down a whole to step to the Key of D, so all the exercises and TAB that you see in this lesson can be applied to this tuning as well.

However, in my experience I've found that the string set gauges listed above and below in the Resources section do not lend themselves well to this lower tuning, and makes the strings too "slack" for my taste.

If you have any questions about or this need more clarificiation don't hestiate to ask by using the comment field at the bottom of this page. If more edification is necessary, I will gladly produce more content on this subject.


Something EZ--Open Chords. Strumming all the open strings this tuning produces a full E major chord. For those of you (and I'm pretty sure it's many) who also play the regular 6-string guitar, it's the same notes as the basic E major chord in 1st position.

Ok, back to the lap steel guitar.....

On the fifth fret we have a very important chord in the key of E-the A chord (also called the IV chord or the FOUR chord).

And on the Seventh fret we have the B chord, also called the V chord or the FIVE chord.

With these three chords you can play literally thousands of songs, including a 12-bar blues in E!


In this section we're looking at a particular pentatonic scale pattern that I'm very fond of.

This one's in E minor, and using notes chosen from this scale will provide for easy and satisfying improvisation over a 12 bar blues in E. I encourage you to give it a try!

It starts up at the 5th string, fifth fret and makes its way up the scale in a beautiful ?box? pattern, alternating between the third and fifth frets as you ascend.

The section of this scale that I like occurs right at the transition between the 3rd and 2nd strings. There's an adjacent note pattern that's works well in lots of licks, from country to rock to blues.


The following few measures give you an example of how I use the cross string pattern referenced in the last section. This example is the Blues Scale in E minor to be exact, and will provide you with the best blues and blues/rock phrases.

The first measure of the TAB/notation goes through a great way to exploit the 2nd and 3rd string pattern, using a bluesy/country rock phrase that I wrote.


Lesson PDF I wrote and TAB'd out a bunch more blues/rock licks for this tuning. So if you're interested, click here to view and download all the exercises and more from this E Major tuning lesson.

Where to get Open E Tuning Strings The best place to get your strings for this tuning--or for any steel guitar tuning for that matter--is through the Steel Guitar Forum string resource area.

I use the GHS Open E Major String set, which oddly describes the strings as "Hawaiian"--what a joke. No Hawaiian ever used Open E Major. The other funny thing about these GHS branded strings is that they're described as "electric" lap steel guitar strings, but they work just as well on resonators and Dobros.

I've been getting my strings there for years, the shipping is quick and you're supporting the awesome steel guitar community on the web at the same time! You can't go wrong!

GHS Open E Tuning Strings can also be found here: GHS Open E string set

Video Demo You can check out an old demo I made using this tuning on my Georgeboards 8 string, modified to accomodate the 6-string open E tuning: Quick Open E Demo Video

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