I have decided to try and make the switch over to DADGAD tuning. This has taken a bit of thought for me, as I am quite familiar with Orkney tuning (CGDGCD), recorded an album in that tuning, and am happy playing backup in it. But I feel I am somewhat of a simplistic guitarist, only really playing in two positions in Orkney. In the key of C or G without a capo, or in the key of D or A with a capo at the second fret. I like to play backup with a capo at the second fret, but then if i want to flatpick a tune there is no open middle D string. So I end up taking the capo off, and all this switching back and forth messes with my knowledge of the notes on the fingerboard. I feel I am locked into playing my arrangements by muscle memory, and cannot be spontanous or free musically when I play. Of course could be a problem in any tuning.
DADGAD to me seems a bit more versatile, perhaps due to the bass strings not being tuned down so low. It works well for celtic backup, and without a capo the keys of D, A, G, and C are readily available, with Bb and F seeming doable. I can flatpick tunes but also switch over to fingerstyle arrangements.
I am having a good time working through Doug Young’s DADGAD book. Its very insightful and well laid out. I am going to strive and really do the work to learn my chords, scales, inversions, and modes all over the neck, so i can be a more complete guitarist.
One thing that has given me some trouble is with my 2nd string tuned to A it seems to go out of tune as I go up the neck. I use medium guage strings, but am thinking about swapping out the 2nd string for a heavier one. Do folks out there have any other suggestions?
Check out Pierre Bensusan below playing in DADGAD. Humbling and inspiring. I think it certainly shows that DADGAD can be used for a variety of sounds.