Drop D tuning refers to lowering the pitch of the 6th string from E to D. This gives the guitar a heavier, meaner sound. Drop D has been used for years in hard rock and heavy metal, so much so that many bands have written their entire catalogs in Drop D.
To tune your guitar to Drop D tuning, strike the open 4th string (D) and the open 6th string together. Gradually lower the 6th string from E to D until the 4th and 6th strings sound “in tune” with each other. These two strings are now both tuned to D an octave apart from each other. You can check your tuning using an electronic tuner to make sure you’ve got it.
Rhythms are extremely easy to play in Drop D because the 6th string power chords are now played with just one finger. Simply barre one finger across the lowest three strings at any fret. You can also play a D5 chord just by strumming the lowest three open strings. Below are three chord diagrams to give you some ideas on how to use Drop D tuning to play chords.
The following rhythm is a popular heavy metal style riff in Drop D tuning using the previous three chords. Play along with the heavy metal bass and drum backing track and get comfortable with the syncopated chord change. Try muting the strings by lightly touching the side of your picking hand against the strings right after the strings come off the bridge. If you move too far away from the bridge, you’ll end up deadening the strings instead of getting the proper muted sound. This technique is called palm muting and is common in rock and metal. After you’ve got this example down, experiment and create your own rhythms and riffs in Drop D tuning.
©2009 - 2013 Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email jm@RockHouseMethod.com