Being used in countless songs, especially in the rock and metal genres, drop-D tuning is one of the most popular alternate tunings around!
It’s also the simplest one to do! This quick guide will show you how to get your guitar in drop-D in no time, so you can play your favorite tunes that call for it or make your own fun riffs.
Tuning To Drop-D On Guitar
Getting your guitar tuned to drop-D is super easy if you’re in standard tuning because it takes one step to do.
If you’re new to playing guitar, I recommend plugging it into your guitar tuner for the most accuracy, but you can also tune to drop-D by letting your D-string ring out and matching the note when detuning your low-E string. They will become octaves once you’re in tune!
With a guitar tuned to standard, consisting of E, A, D, G, A, E, all you have to do is reduce the low-E string down just one whole step.
Once you’ve done this, that lower-pitched E string becomes a D note instead.
Here’s what it should look like if you’ve tuned it correctly:
That’s all there is to it – it doesn’t get any easier than that when experimenting with different tunings!
Benefits of Drop-D Tuning & Conclusion
Due to the pitch being shifted downward, Drop-D gives you access to a couple of lower notes, D and E♭ , respectively, allowing you to create a heavier sound, and it will be one octave lower than the D note that your 4th string is tuned to.
If you tune to drop-D by ear, you can easily use this to your advantage too – as mentioned earlier, hit your D string (make sure it’s in tune, of course) and match the note when tuning your low-E down. Although they are different octaves, they will be the same note; just one’s higher or lower pitched than the other, depending on which string is ringing.
Another cool benefit of drop-D tuning is that you can now play power chords on the lowest three strings with just one finger. Most people will use their index finger for this, leaving their other fingers available to access notes you might not usually play.
Many iconic guitar riffs were created this way, and hopefully, this tutorial on drop-D tuning will help you play new songs as well as inspire fresh ideas for yourself!
I also recommend giving half-step-down tuning a try, too, as this one is also an incredibly common alternate guitar tuning that you might want to get familiar with for similar reasons. Check out my guide to tuning to half-step-down here, which will show you exactly how to do it, just like this one.