Drop D Tuning

Drop D Tuning Basics

Drop D Tuning Basics – The “Drop D” alternate tuning is widely used in virtually all styles of music.  While used mainly in Rock, Metal, and Grunge – Drop D tuning is also widely used in Country, Blues, and even classical music. The main appeal with Drop D tuning is that is gives a huge sound to the root notes / chords in the key of “D” while allowing you to still use many of the chord shapes from standard tuning – and this tuning makes playing power chords easier (and faster).  This Drop D Tuning Basics menu page will get you started…

 drop d tuning

One of the main reasons for using this “alternate” tuning is to get a fatter, fuller sound from the D major chord (there are thousands of songs that use the D major chord, this alternate tuning can help get a “fuller” sound from the chord if you need it).

“D” Chord in “Drop D” – Video Clip!

Drop D vs. Standard “D” Chord – Video Clip!

Drop D vs. Standard “D” Chord – Handout!

 The second reason is Power Chords – this tuning makes it easier to play power chords. Rock, Metal, and Grunge guitar players use drop D tuning mainly for easier power chord transitions (it allows the chord transitions to be played extremely faster than normal).

Power Chord Example in “Drop D” – Video Clip!

 Power Chord Example in “Drop D” – Handout!

   drop d tuning

Some basics of “Drop D” alternate tuning…

It is really easy to tune for the Drop D alternate tuning since it only will affect the sixth string.  Standard tuning would be E-A-D-G-B-E, and Drop D tuning would be D-A-D-G-B-E – all you do is tune your E string (sixth, fattest string) to a D note. Do not confuse “Drop D” tuning (which is D-A-D-G-B-E) with “Open D” tuning (which is D-A-D-F#-A-D). They are not the same – Open D tuning is another subject altogether, we are only covering the Drop D alternate tuning here…


How to Tune:

The most important aspect of Drop D tuning basics is the tuning part!  Make sure that your guitar is already tuned using standard tuning.  Then simply loosen your sixth string (fattest – E) until it sounds like your fourth string (D).  The sixth string should sound like the fourth string (actually they will sound the same but be one octave lower).

Drop D Tuning by Ear – Video Clip!

Or simply get out your electronic tuner and tune your E string to the D string setting.

Drop D Tuning / Electronic Tuner – Video Clip!

drop d tuning

 

 How does Drop D tuning affect the Chords?

 “Regular Chords” 

Only the E string is being altered so any chord that doesn’t use the sixth string can be played exactly the same when using Drop D tuning.  Any chords using the sixth string will be affected (these chords will need to be altered).  The only chord that may not be easy to play is the “E” and “G” chord shapes, but all the other chords should either be the same, or will take very little effort to play.

 

drop d tuning  drop d tuning 

 Here are Video Clips and Handouts of Regular Chords in Drop D Tuning:

 

* Regular Drop D Chords in “A” VIDEO CLIP – HERE! HANDOUT – HERE!

* Regular Drop D Chords in “B”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Regular Drop D Chords in “C”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Regular Drop D Chords in “D”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Regular Drop D Chords in “E”     VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Regular Drop D Chords in “F”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Regular Drop D Chords in “G”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

  Here is an example of a chord progression in Drop D tuning.

The D – C – G chord progression – Video Clip!


“Power Chords”

Drop D tuning allows for the top three strings (all open strings) to form a D5 power chord “D-A-D” (which is a “Root – Fifth – Root” configuration).

The “D” (Drop – D) Power Chord – Video Clip!

These power chords can now be shifted up and down the fret board easily by using only one finger to barre the three top strings at the different positions.

drop-d tuning
drop d tuning

 Here are Video Clips and Handouts of Power Chords in Drop D Tuning:

 *Drop D – Power Chords in “A”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Drop D – Power Chords in “B”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Drop D – Power Chords in “C”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Drop D – Power Chords in “D”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Drop D – Power Chords in “E”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Drop D – Power Chords in “F”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

* Drop D – Power Chords in “G”      VIDEO CLIP – HERE!      HANDOUT – HERE!

 Here is an example of a chord progression using “Power Chords” in Drop D.  

The E – G – A – E – B – A chord progression – Video Clip!

 Here is another example of a chord progression using “Power Chords” in Drop D. 

The A – D – E chord progression – Video Clip!


Examples of Songs / Bands that used Drop-D tuning:

1.  Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin

2.  Higher – Creed

3.  Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana

4.  Going to California – Led Zeppelin

5.  Country Road – James Taylor

6.  Dear Prudence – Beatles

7.  Optimistic – RadioHead

8.  All Apologies – Nirvana

9.  Take me home country roads – John Denver

10.  Spoonman – Sound Garden

11. The Regulator – Clutch

12. No Other Way – Jack Johnson

As you can see by this short list, Drop D-tuning is used in all styles of music.  Drop-D tuning is not for everyone, but it is one of the easiest “special tunings” to learn (some of the other special tunings can get very complex). This Drop-D Tuning Basics menu page was intended to get you started with this basic “alternate” tuning – good luck.

 drop d tuning