Playing around in Drop-D tuning

Lesson #162 • Jul 20, 2018

Video Overview

Print-friendly Song Sheet

This is one of my few lessons that doesn't have a printable song sheet / PDF available. If you'd like to request I make one, let me know... it's always great to hear which lessons have the most interest.

How to tune to Drop D

In summary, you’ll need to tune your thickest string from an E down to a D. Here’s a video I made previously showing you how to do this very quickly:

Basic chords in Drop-D

First, understand your common I-IV-V chords in D will be played like this. Note the G, which requires you to get a bit creative compared to the common 320003 shape. Likewise, the E-minor requires a slightly different position as shown here.

E –––2––––3––––0––––0–––
B –––3––––0––––2––––0–––
G –––2––––0––––2––––0–––
D –––0––––0––––2––––2–––
A –––0––––x––––0––––2–––
D –––0––––5–––––––––2–––
     D    G    A    Em

Moving up the neck of the guitar

One of my favorite things to do in drop-d is to play triad chords up the neck (on the thinnest 3 strings), while leaving the thickest three strings open.

Here’s 3 different ways to play the D-Em-F#m progression, which I demo in my video lesson for this practice log:

E –––2––––3––––5–––|––5––––7––––9–––|––10–––12–––14––
B –––3––––5––––7–––|––7––––8––––10––|––10–––12–––14––
G –––2––––4––––6–––|––7––––9––––11––|––11–––12–––14––
D –––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––
A –––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––
D –––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––
     D    Em  F#m     D    Em  F#m     D    Em  F#m

Similarly, here’s two different ways to play D-G-A:

E –––2––––3––––5–––|––5––––7––––9–––|––10––
B –––3––––3––––5–––|––7––––8––––10––|––10––
G –––2––––4––––6–––|––7––––7––––9–––|––11––
D –––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––|––0–––
A –––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––|––0–––
D –––0–––––––––––––|––0–––––––––––––|––0–––
     D    G    A      D    G    A      D

The idea with these triads, is to learn & memorize the chords – esepcially the “D” positions as they serve as your home base. Once you have them figured out, enjoy moving up and down through the other positions. Try to play around and make up progressions using these building blocks.

Bluesy riffs in drop-d

Finally, here’s how to play a very bluesy sounding sequence in the I-IV-V chords of D-G-A. Once you have these simple sequences memorized, you can assemble them in all kinds of ways (12 bar blues, etc).

E –––––––––––––––––  E –––––––––––––––––  E –––––––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––––  B –––––––––––––––––  B –––––––––––––––––
G –––––––––––––––––  G –––––––––––––––––  G –––––––––––––––––
D –––––––––––––––––  D –––––––––––––––––  D –––––––––––––––––
A –––0–––0––2–––2––  A –––5–––5––7–––7––  A –––7–––7––9–––9––
D –––0–––0––0–––0––  D –––5–––5––5–––5––  D –––7–––7––7–––7––
     D                    G                    A

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Hey there! My name is David Potsiadlo, and I'm the creator of the 400+ weekly lessons here at Song Notes, going back to 2013. Here’s my guitar story »

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