21 January, 2010

What does drop-D tuning mean?

This question was asked by one of you. First of all, it is important to know what the Standard Tuning for a guitar is. It is EADGBE. The first letter on the left represents the 6th string (the thickest, lowest sounding string), and the last letter on the right represents the 1st string (the thinnest, highest sounding string).

Of course to achieve this tuning, you have to tune the guitar by turning the tuning knobs at the end of the guitar. If you have a tuner, you can use it to help you find the correct note for each string.

For Drop-D tuning, all you have to do is to "drop" the 6th string to a D note. So, Drop-D tuning looks like this: DADGBE. Notice the word "drop"? So, logically, you tune down (loosen) from the standard tuning of E to a D. If you try to tune up to the D (tighten), I am pretty certain the string will snap on you.

There you go, this is what is meant when someone says he/she is using a Drop-D tuning. There are other alternate tunings (that's what all other tunings apart from the Standard Tuning are called), but I'm not expert on that. My advise to all beginners would be to learn how to play the guitar on standard tuning.


Eva said...

hey Daniel, thank you for responding^^ So, when they say drop C or drop b, only the 6th string will be altered? thanks!

daniel said...

hi Eva, the same cannot be said for drop C or drop B. I myself have never played any of the mentioned tunings before. But a quick search over Wikipedia shows that to achieve a drop C and drop B tuning, it's tuned all differently

Eliza Beth said...


There is a piece of music to be played in alternate tunings, could you help me interpret how each string ought to be tuned?
It says:

1. D
2. C
3. G
4. C
5. G
6. C

I am not sure which string the number refers to.
Does "1" refers to the 6th string on the guitar?


daniel said...

Hi Eliza Beth, I am assuming that the site you got it from would refer to 1st string as the thinnest string (highest sounding), and the 6th string being the thickest string (lowest sounding).

If that is the case, then you will have to tune your standard guitar tuning to this:

1. E to D
2. B to C
3. G tp G
4. D to C
5. A to G
6. E to C

You have to tune your 1st string down to D, your 2nd string up to C, your 3rd string stays the same, your 4th string down to C, your 5th string down to G and your 6th string down to C.

Eliza Beth said...

Good day Daniel!

I managed that and it sounds fine! No problems at all. Appreciate that you figured it out, you are a great help! Now I'm on to playing the music.


Anonymous said...

Im trying to use an electric tuner is it still 440 or what does it change to?

daniel said...

Hi Anonymous, I am not sure how to tune Drop-D using the electric tuner. What I usually do is just to listen to the 4th string (D string), and make the 6th string (E string)sound like it.

Make sure that it is tuned DOWN and not up.