- Drop D tuning
Drop D tuning, also known as DADGBE, is an alternate, or scordatura, form of guitar tuning — specifically, a dropped tuning — in which the lowest (sixth) string is tuned down ("dropped") from the usual E of standard tuning by one whole step (2 frets) to D.
Uses of drop D tuning
Drop D tuning is frequently used in heavy metal and nu metal, as guitarists in these styles often need extremely fast transitions between power chords. However, the tuning has also been used in many other styles of music, including blues, country, folk, and classical. Due to its similarity to standard tuning, drop D is recognised as a useful introduction to alternative tunings, leading logically to an exploration of DADGAD, open D and drop D drop G (in which both the 5th and 6th strings are dropped a tone) tunings.
The tuning allows for chords with a root or bass note of D to be played with a D an octave lower than with standard tuning, and allows playing of open D chords that include the fifth and sixth strings to allow the full sonority of the guitar to be heard. This can be especially useful for songs in the keys of D major or minor and is particularly effective on acoustic guitar. Drop D also allows fingerpickers to play chord shapes higher up the neck while maintaining an alternating bass. The bottom three strings, if left open, will vibrate sympathetically and, using chord shapes limited to the top three strings, a drone effect can easily be achieved.
The trade-off is the loss of the bass E note in chords or fingerings which the player cannot adjust to include fretting the sixth string at the second fret.
Examples of chords in dropped D tuning
Chords in dropped D tuning are formed as they are in standard tuning, with the exception of the sixth string, which is either omitted or fretted one whole step higher:
Chord Tab A
Note that these chords are not the power chords commonly played in drop D tuning. Power chords generally mute the higher notes rather than the lower notes.
For purposes of making the table easier to read, spaces are provided between each number when the fret number becomes a double digit. Additionally, the highest note in any 5th chord is an octave from the root note so it is not necessary to play it to achieve a 5th chord.
Chord Tabs A5
10 10 10xxx
11 11 11xxx
x8 10 10xx
x9 11 11xx
x10 12 12xx
x11 13 13xx
Relation to other tunings
Drop D tuning is the most basic type of "drop 1" tuning, where 6th string is tuned down a whole step. A large number of other "drop 1" tunings can be obtained simply by tuning a guitar to drop D tuning and then tuning all strings down some fixed amount. Examples are the Drop D♭, Drop C, Drop B, Drop B♭, and Drop A tunings. All of these use the same fingerings as for drop D tuning.
- Drop D Tuning - Song Examples
- Tyrannosaurus X - Guitar Player's Vincent DeMasi interviews Ty Tabor about dropped tunings
- Online Tuners for Drop D, C and B - Drop tuning audio references
- Drop D Picture Reference - Drop Visual Reference
General Downtuned Dropped Open Others
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