I had a tune in my head I was trying to play and it had a G followed by a C then Em but the tune goes lower than that. I am pretty new to guitars and music in general so I am trying to keep everything as simple as I can.

  • As it stands, the question isn't clear to me at least. G, C and Em are chords, but you talk about notes (the tune). The lowest sounding note on standard guitar must be E, and the lowest sounding chord, Em. But a D chord can accompany lower notes even though the chord itself sounds higher. – Tim Jun 27 '18 at 5:10

The lowest note in standard tuning is an E. However there is an open D tuning that is common called DADGAD (that's the notes the open strings are tuned too) which will get you an E flat on the first fret and a D on the open 6th string (lowest string). But now you will have to change the way you play all your chords.

You can play chords such as D in standard tuning but the root note (d) would be up an octave (on the open 4th string) Or C with the root on the 3rd fret of the 5th string. This may let you play your song but the bass line in your head might not be exactly as you hear it.

Another option is to transpose the whole song up to a new key. Meaning the lowest note you're hearing becomes E which is the lowest note you can play in standard tuning, and all the other notes (chords) get shifted up. Example: you are hearing d major and then e minor, change that e major and f# (f sharp) minor. It will have the same harmonic properties but now will be easier to play on the guitar.

  • Drop D tuning is also quite common. – Tim Jun 27 '18 at 6:51
  • Could you tune all strings down a tone? Then you could get a low D chord and use all of your familiar fingerings. You would need to either remember that your familiar chords, e.g. G7, would come out a tone lower, F7, or rewrite your music and pretend it was normal. You would have a Bb transposing guitar. – badjohn Jun 27 '18 at 12:04
  • @badjohn you could do that, but i am not sure how common or advisable it is. I do know that it would decrease the amount of tension on all six strings which would cause the neck to move away from the strings a bit. this will increase your action (meaning, the strings will be further way from the fret board) making it harder to play. if you are going to do this long term you may want to get the guitar set up like this. not sure how many people will see this comment, you may want to ask this as a separate question to get more opinions. – b3ko Jun 27 '18 at 13:43
  • @b3ko Thanks. I am not interested for myself. I just wondered whether it might be another option for the OP. – badjohn Jun 28 '18 at 15:59
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    @b3ko: A heavy-gauge string set tuned down a couple frets, or a light-gauge string set tuned up a couple frets, will have similar tension to a medium set tuned to normal pitch. – supercat Jun 28 '18 at 18:48

The question has some ambiguity in it. What do you mean by E and what do you mean by "lowest"? If by lowest you mean that the lowest note in the chord is E but the others can be "high", then there are several options, Emaj, Emin, E7 etc. If you assume standard tuning (and I see many answers have mentioned other tuning) and if I assume you mean that all notes need to be the lowest pitch possible I would vote for the "lowest chord" as being E-11 in the following voicing (E, A, D, G, B, E) = (1, 11 (4), b7, b3, 5, 1). But I think you may be referring to something else. Since your question title did state "standard tuning" I am sticking to this answer.

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