Q – Can you enlighten an enthusiastic amateur guitarist: What is the Keith Richards tuning you mention in concert? What songs does he use it on? What songs do you use it on?
A – Quotes from Keith I found –
…Anyway I eventually got into open-D tuning, which I used on Beggars Banquet. Street Fighting Man is all that, and Jumpin Jack Flash.
…And then Ry Cooder popped in, who had the tunings down. He had the open G. By then I was working on open E and open D tunings. I was trying to figure out Fred McDowell shit, Blind Willie McTell stuff. So in that year I started to get into that, and the Nashville tuning the country boys use…
The advantage (of the open-G tuning) is that you can get certain drone notes going. It’s an open-G tuning, with the low E-string removed and there’s really only three notes you use. My favorite phrase about this style of playing is that all you need to play it is five strings, two notes, two fingers and one asshole.
– I’ve posted the link to where I found all this.
I’d always heard that Keith played open G with the lowest string taken off, but I guess that was his ‘Start Me Up’ tuning. As you can see above – he uses others too.
I learnt Open D in 1994 or so and realised that you can play a lot of Keith parts in it. Especially Gimme Shelter, which makes no sense in standard tuning (to me anyway).
Open D is (lowest string first) D, A, D, F#, A, D. Sentimental Fool, Lets Get Lost, That Boy, Man on the Verge, I’m Gone – they were all written in this tuning. Sometimes I would tune to E also..
When I play live these days I keep one guitar tuned to Eb and I play all of the E and D songs in Eb – less capos.