DADGAD, or Celtic tuning is an alternative guitar tuning most associated with Celtic music, though it has also found use in rock, folk, metal and several other genres. Instead of the standard EADGBE tuning, the six guitar strings are tuned, from low to high, D2 A2 D3 G3 A3 D4. Tuning to DADGAD from standard is accomplished by tuning the first, second and sixth strings down a whole step (two frets). The result is an open D suspended fourth chord (see suspended chord). Being suspended, the open tuning is neither intrinsically major nor minor.
DADGAD was popularised by British folk guitarist Davey Graham. Inspired by hearing an oud player in Morocco, Graham experimented with detuning some of the guitar's strings from standard tuning (E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4), arriving at D2 A2 D3 G3 A3 D4 or "DADGAD". He employed the tuning to great effect in his treatments of Celtic music, but also the folk music of India and Morocco. The first guitarists in Irish traditional music to use the tuning were Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Dáithí Sproule; today it is a very common tuning in the genre. Other proponents of the tuning include Andy Mckee, Russian Circles, Mike Dawes, Rory Gallagher, Luka Bloom, Stan Rogers, Jimmy Page, Artie Traum, Pierre Bensusan, Eric Roche, Midnight, Laurence Juber, Tony McManus, Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson, Dick Gaughan, Alistair Hulett, Imaad Wasif, Mark Kozelek, Jeff Tweedy, Masaaki Kishibe, Paul McSherry, Acle Kahney (uses a 7 string variations that is Bb F Bb Eb F Bb Eb), Sevendust (although downtuned), Kotaro Oshio, Ben Chasny, Al Petteway, and Trey Anastasio. English folk musician Martin Carthy now mostly uses a related tuning, CGCDGA, whose explicit evolution from DADGAD he describes in his book.
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The suitability of DADGAD to Celtic music stems from the fact that it facilitates the use of a number of moveable chords which retain open strings. These act as a drone on either the bass or treble strings, approximating the voicings used in traditional Scottish and Irish pipe music.
- Bensusan, P: DADGAD Music: Compositions from Spices and Wu Wei, page 8, John August Music / Mel Bay Publications, 1996 ISBN 0-7866-1452-8
- Bensusan, P: The Guitar Book, HAL Leonard Publishing Corporation, 1985 ISBN 0-88188-620-3
- Bensusan, P: The Intuite Guitar Book, DADGAD Music (France), 2003
- "Clint Lowery & John Connolly Talk About Tuning". Fret 12. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Carthy, M: A Guitar in Folk Music, New Punchbowl Music, 1987.