In the realm of blues and rock guitar, there are few things more satisfying than playing in open E tuning. The balance and depth of sound produced by this tuning create a unique canvas for guitarists to paint aural landscapes. The rich, warm tones can make the guitar sound like a brand-new instrument.

From the classics to the contemporary, countless iconic songs have been written in open E. In this article, we explore the magic of this tuning as we delve into some classic tunes that guitarists of all tastes and levels can enjoy.


“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” – Eric Clapton

As we dig through the archives of open e songs, we can’t help but admire the raw blues power of this classic Clapton tune. With its mournful lyrics and soulful guitar work, this track embodies the essence of what makes open e such a rich and dynamic tuning.

The gritty simplicity of the chord progression and the haunting melody are nothing short of captivating, drawing listeners into a world of heartache and longing.

It’s no wonder that “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” remains a beloved classic, beloved by blues aficionados and casual listeners alike.


“Love in Vain” – Robert Johnson

One of the highly revered songs in open E tuning, this classic piece from the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson is a true masterpiece. The intricate guitar work and soulful lyrics of “Love in Vain” have inspired many artists and continue to resonate with audiences today.

With its melancholic tone and heartfelt delivery, this song is a true gem in the world of open tuning blues and an absolute must-listen for any blues aficionado.


“Statesboro Blues” – Blind Willie McTell

One noteworthy tune in open E is taking the form of a traditional blues in Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”. With his agile fingers picking out the distinctive guitar riffs, McTell’s song is a standout among other songs in this tuning. The melancholic tone and impressive technicality make it a challenge for even the most skilled guitarists out there.


“Rollin’ and Tumblin'” – Muddy Waters

This tune from legendary bluesman Muddy Waters is a prime example of the power of the open E tuning. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” features a driving, rhythmic riff that is both simple and infectious, providing a solid foundation for Muddy’s soulful vocals.

The raw, untamed energy of this song is representative of the Delta blues sound that emerged out of the Mississippi Delta in the first half of the 20th century, and it continues to inspire musicians to this day.


“Cross Road Blues” – Robert Johnson

This intensely evocative and emotionally charged blues track, infused with raw energy and technical precision, is a hallmark of open E tuning and a testament to Robert Johnson’s unparalleled musicianship.

With its haunting vocals and hauntingly beautiful fingerpicking, it’s easy to see why this song has endured as a timeless classic – an unyielding testament to the enduring power of the blues, and a testament to the sheer virtuosity of its creator.


“Dust My Broom” – Elmore James

Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” is a quintessential blues jam in open E tuning. James’ slide guitar work over the simple yet driving chord progression is nothing short of mesmerizing. The song’s sparse lyrics speak to the way James dealt with a break up, using the idea of sweeping away remnants of the past as a metaphor for moving on.

The tune’s influence can be felt in many later blues and rock classics, a testament to the staying power of the delta blues and open E tuning.


“Walking Blues” – Son House

Track number seven on the list is a fabulous acoustic blues number that showcases the expressive, dynamic playing that comes from open E tuning. The song features a raw, gritty energy with a driving rhythm and haunting vocals that bring the listener into the emotional depths of the blues. The haunting melody leads to an unforgettable experience that stays with the listener long after the song ends.


“Come On In My Kitchen” – Robert Johnson

One of the most famous tunes to be played in “open E” tuning is a mournful yet beguiling, country-blues number which features a complex fingerpicking pattern and rests heavily on the disposition of the thumb.

Tinged with a sense of lonely melancholy, this particular track truly embodies the emotive power that one can extract from a simple collection of notes while in “open E”, making it an essential inclusion for any list exploring such subject matter.


“Hellhound on My Trail” – Robert Johnson

This song is a soulful and eerie tune that is well-known among blues enthusiasts. It features intricate guitar work and powerful vocals that evoke a sense of melancholy and despair. The use of open E tuning gives the song a distinctive sound that is instantly recognizable to fans of the genre.

The lyrics are shrouded in mystery, touching on themes of loss, regret, and the struggle to find meaning in a world that can often seem senseless. Overall, it’s an intense and emotional piece of music that showcases the power and versatility of open E tuning in blues music.


“Malted Milk” – Robert Johnson

One track that’s sure to get fingers flying in open E tuning is a blues classic that’s been covered by a ton of artists over the years. Known for its intricate acoustic fingerpicking and slide work, this tune features a mournful vocal from a legendary bluesman and tells a story of lost love and unrequited longing.

With its haunting melody and evocative lyrics, it’s no wonder this song is a staple of any serious open E player’s repertoire.


“Key to the Highway” – Eric Clapton

One of the standout jams in open E, this track from the legendary bluesman remains a popular choice for guitarists looking to explore the tuning’s potential. Featuring Robert Johnson’s signature slide guitar style, the song’s hypnotic rhythms are sure to leave your ears begging for more

. With its deftly executed fingerpicking and soulful vocal delivery, this track is a testament to Johnson’s mastery of the form and his ability to create timeless music that continues to resonate with listeners.


“Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)” – Robert Johnson

This tune exhibits remarkable sonic facets and instrumental virtuosity that transcend the boundaries of typical blues music. A haunting vocal delivery coupled with an intricate fingerpicking style creates a raw and powerful soundscape that grips the listener with an unyielding grip.

The intense rhythm and aggressive starkness of the acoustic guitar work provides an inescapable prison from which you can’t resist. It is a must-listen track for anyone wanting to experience the raw and undiluted essence of open E tuning in blues.


“Sweet Home Chicago” – Robert Johnson

This track, originally released in 1936, remains a definitive example of the slide guitar tradition in open E tuning. The rawness of Robert Johnson’s vocals and the haunting melody of his guitar work together seamlessly, leaving a deep impression on anyone who takes the time to listen.

“Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” – Robert Johnson

This fierce blues number, by the late great Robert Johnson, showcases some truly captivating slide guitar work in open E tuning, making it a must-listen for any fans of this particular tuning.

While the subject matter of the song might be somewhat grim, with Johnson singing of his lover’s unfaithfulness and his own plans for retaliation, the powerful guitar playing will have you tapping your feet and nodding your head in time with the beat. It’s a true testament to the emotional power of the blues, and to Johnson’s incredible skill as a musician.


“Phonograph Blues” – Robert Johnson

“Phonograph Blues” is a notable tune in the genre of delta blues, which is played in an open E tuning. With its intricate fingerstyle playing and hard-driving rhythm, this song is truly a standout among other songs in this tuning. The contrasting mix of slide and fingerpicking is truly unprecedented and bewildering, which makes it a popular choice among guitar enthusiasts who enjoy the challenge of mastering intricate tunes.


“Terraplane Blues” – Robert Johnson

One unmistakably iconic blues tune, with its distinctively tight riff and raw, earthy vibe, must always be included when compiling a list of songs in open E: a devilish track that howls with pain and unrelenting desire, Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues.”

This spellbinding number showcases Johnson’s uncanny ability to weave dense poetry through his poetic imagery and bluesy guitar work, promising to evoke the listener’s deepest emotions.


“Stones in My Passway” – Robert Johnson

The tuneful number “Stones in My Passway” plunges the listener into the depths of Robert Johnson’s emotive world. Playing in Open E tuning, his fingertips effortlessly glide through the strings, producing haunting noises that lure you into a realm of shadowy sentiment.

The song encompasses the raw, tormented essence that Johnson is renowned for. Every note reverberates an unbidden ferocity that remains unmatched in the music industry.


“32-20 Blues” – Robert Johnson

The mesmerizing and earnest “32-20 Blues” is an evocative exploration of the power and dynamism of the open E tuning. With its driving guitar riffs and hauntingly intricate melodies, this song showcases the raw emotional energy and expressive potential of this tuning in a way that is both exhilarating and deeply thought-provoking.

From its soaring highs to its wrenching lows, “32-20 Blues” is a masterclass in sonic variation and tonal exploration, inviting listeners to embark on an unforgettable musical journey.


“Me and the Devil Blues” – Robert Johnson

“Me and the Devil Blues”, a Robert Johnson classic, is a tune played in open E tuning, featuring haunting Delta blues riffs and Johnson’s signature eerie vocals. The song’s dark lyrics describe a deal with the devil, adding to its mystique and making it a favorite among blues enthusiasts.

Its raw and emotion-filled sound leaves a lasting impression on listeners, solidifying its place in the pantheon of classic blues tracks written in open E.


“Kind Hearted Woman Blues” – Robert Johnson

This particular tune is a fascinating exploration of the possibilities of open E tuning. It showcases the versatility of the blues genre and the raw power of the slide guitar. The track captivates with its haunting lyrics and hypnotic melodies. It’s a masterclass in how to craft a soulful and unforgettable blues experience.

It’s the kind of tune that will make you question everything you thought you knew about music and leave you wanting more.


“When You Got a Good Friend” – Robert Johnson

This electrifying blues classic, with its raw and hauntingly beautiful melody, showcases Robert Johnson’s virtuosity with the guitar. The melancholic lyrics tell the story of a man seeking comfort from a friend during troubling times, making it a fitting tribute to the hardships of life.

In open E tuning, the song’s distinctive slide guitar work and driving rhythm create a full-bodied sound that perfectly captures the intensity of Johnson’s signature style. It’s a must-listen for any fan of the blues genre, and a testament to the genre’s enduring legacy.


“Travelling Riverside Blues” – Robert Johnson

One track that catches the ear with its striking guitar work in Open E is an eerie and enigmatic number by an old bluesman. It’s a moody piece with a restless shuffle rhythm and piercing slide guitar that slices through the air like a razor.

Its cryptic lyrics, delivered in the singer’s spine-chilling style, are steeped in mythical imagery and occult themes. This haunting tune is a testament to the uncanny power of Open E tuning to evoke a mood of mystery and otherworldliness.


“Last Fair Deal Gone Down” – Robert Johnson

The elusive blues track that sent shock waves through the music industry in open E is nothing short of an auditory masterpiece. The complexities of the notes and the apparent ease with which they flow is simply captivating. The song’s hauntingly beautiful melody is supported by the classic blues rhythm and a strong bass progression. To call this song iconic would be an understatement, as it continues to transcend generations and remains as relevant today as it was when it first graced the airwaves.


“They’re Red Hot” – Robert Johnson

This open-E tune embodies the melancholic-flamenco vibe that Eric Clapton is known for. Its haunting melody and passionately strummed strings are a masterclass in fingerstyle guitar playing. The dynamic range of the song from its subtle whispers to its powerful crescendos showcases the depth and proficiency of Clapton’s craft.

A tune that conveys the complex emotions of love and loss, it’s a must-listen for fans of blues guitar.


“Little Queen of Spades” – Eric Clapton

Blues-rock classic about a gambling queen, “Little Queen of Spades” showcases Eric Clapton’s virtuosity on the guitar in open E tuning. The song features a mesmerizing, repetitive guitar riff that intertwines with Clapton’s soulful vocals to create an energetic and infectious groove.

Its raw and gritty sound is perfect for showcasing the primal, intense quality of open E tuning. Its syncopated rhythms and driving melody make it a must-have in any playlist that pays homage to the power of open E tuning.

“Drifting Blues” – Eric Clapton

This track, penned by the legendary blues guitarist Eric Clapton, is a soulful and bluesy tune that provides a masterclass on how to use the open E tuning to create hypnotic sounds. The melancholic melody captures the essence of Clapton’s signature style, and the way he tastefully interweaves riffs, bends, and vibrato to achieve a sound that is both emotive and spellbinding is a testament to his sheer talent.

Overall, a must-listen for those who want to learn how to wring every ounce of emotion out of an open E tuning.


“Motherless Child” – Eric Clapton

“Motherless Child” is a soulful blues number performed by Eric Clapton in open E tuning. Characterized by a resonant slide guitar, it features muted strings, crisp bending, and intricate fingerpicking that adds depth to its melancholic melody.

The moving lyrics sung with conviction emulate the pain of a motherless individual navigating life’s struggles alone. The song has a haunting aura that transcends the boundaries of time and remains a classic in the realm of blues music.


“Running on Faith” – Eric Clapton

This track, co-written by Eric Clapton and songwriter Will Jennings, is a masterpiece that is practically synonymous with the iconic guitar riff in open E tuning. The track, which begins with a simple, steady rhythm before exploding into a powerful chorus, is an ode to the spiritual and emotional healing power of music.

Clapton’s passionate guitar work builds a soundscape in which the listener can get lost in, showcasing his incredible skill and understanding of open E tuning to create something truly unforgettable.


“San Francisco Bay Blues” – Eric Clapton

This track is an enigma of sonorous intricacies that will leave you bamboozled. With a burst of chords resonating in perfect harmony, the guitar almost takes on a life of its own. The hauntingly beautiful melody is interwoven with an intricate rhythm that creates an inexplicably mesmerizing sound.

The song’s composition allows for an expressive range that can be felt through a variety of playing styles, making it a coveted piece among guitar enthusiasts.


“Tears in Heaven” – Eric Clapton

This hauntingly beautiful Eric Clapton classic serves as an emotional meditation on grief and loss, drawing from the personal tragedy of the artist’s life. Though not originally written as an open E tuning song, the riff and melody lend themselves naturally to the tuning, allowing for expressive slide techniques and depth of feeling in the raw, unadorned notes.

The subdued yet passionate vocal delivery and sparse, delicate instrumentation contribute to the song’s evocative power, making it a standout in the pantheon of songs in open E.


“Layla” – Eric Clapton

The jiving track of unmatched ferocity, featuring an array of guitar riffs in a variety of styles, from blues and rock to psychedelic and jazz, “Layla” is a timeless classic that transports listeners into an ineffable realm of sheer musical genius.

Its signature riff, haunting melody, and dueling electric and acoustic guitars were all recorded in open E tuning, making it a prime example of innovation in songwriting. Its intricate guitar work and memorable lyrics have cemented “Layla” as an all-time classic that continues to inspire generations of aspiring musicians.


“Wonderful Tonight” – Eric Clapton

The tune we’ll be deciphering today is a bona fide classic for guitar enthusiasts. This hit from the late 70s features a catchy melody over a driving rhythm in the open E tuning. Eager to unleash his fretboard prowess, the artist performs soulful lead licks before launching into a fiery solo.

The song’s emotive chord changes provide a perfect backdrop to the lyrics, which reflect on the timeless theme of love and devotion. If you’re a fan of dramatic guitar riffs and epic songwriting, this track is an absolute must-listen.


“Badge” – Eric Clapton

Clapton’s masterpiece “Badge” is a mind-boggling blend of unique guitar riffs with a catchy chorus. The song is stylistically an open E tuning featuring a flashy sustained slide riff with alternating bass notes. The overall groove is bouncy yet intense and features impressive guitar solos that add to the song’s mystifying aura.

“Badge” is a perfect example of Clapton’s mastery of open E tuning and his inventive creativity within the Blues genre.


“I Shot the Sheriff” – Eric Clapton

One jam that’s an essential part of any open E tuning setlist is a tune by the name of “I Shot the Sheriff.” It’s a funky, reggae-infused track that features a distorted guitar and a charismatic lead vocal from none other than Eric Clapton. The rhythms are tight and infectious, with a driving bassline and crisp, percussive beats.

The lead guitar work is all about precision and creativity, with Clapton’s riffs punctuating the track in unexpected ways. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or just starting out, “I Shot the Sheriff” is a must-know tune in open E tuning.


“Bell Bottom Blues” – Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton’s “Bell Bottom Blues” is a soulful blues-rock ballad in open E tuning, featuring the unique and heart-wrenching vocals that propelled Clapton to fame. The song showcases Clapton’s masterful guitar playing with its slow, melodic lead and memorable chord progressions, making it a standout addition to any playlist of songs in open E tuning.

Its emotional lyrics and dynamic instrumentation make “Bell Bottom Blues” a captivating and timeless addition to Clapton’s impressive discography.


“Cocaine” – Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” is a blues rock classic from his 1977 album “Slowhand.” The song features a catchy guitar riff played in open E tuning, which gives it a distinctive sound. Despite its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, the song’s lyrics delve into the dark world of drug addiction, as the narrator struggles with his addiction to cocaine and its effect on his life.

The song remains a fan favorite and a staple of Clapton’s live shows, showcasing his masterful guitar skills and songwriting.