Drop D Tuning Basics
Drop D Tuning Basics – This alternate guitar tuning is widely used in virtually all styles of music. While used mainly in Rock, Metal, and Grunge – Drop D tuning is also used in Country, Blues, and even classical music. The main appeal with this 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).
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).
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).
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).
Or simply get out your electronic tuner and tune your E string to the D string setting.
How does Drop D tuning affect the 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.
Here are Video Clips and Handouts of Regular Chords in Drop D Tuning: (Many of the chords are not affected by this Tuning but some chords have changed – each has a Handout included).
Here is an example of a chord progression in Drop D tuning.
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).
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.
Here are Video Clips and Handouts of Power Chords in Drop D Tuning:
Here is an example of a chord progression using “Power Chords” in Drop D.
Here is another example of a chord progression using “Power Chords” in Drop D.
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. This 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 information is intended to get you started with this basic “alternate” tuning, and increase your guitar knowledge – good luck.