Drop d Tuning and Open d Tuning

The first question that you may ask when talking about drop d tuning is; what is it? And why should I do it? Before we answer these questions let’s first look at the many different types of this tuning. There are at least three types of this type of tuning.

There are simply drop d tuning and there is the open d tuning. I know that I said there are three types and there is, even though it appears I have only mentioned two. Two of these types are for the same purpose and you tune your guitar slightly different for each type.

Let’s compare one type to the standard tuning so that you can see that there is only a one string difference as opposed to the standard tuning. Look at the standard tuning first and then below it is one type of the drop d tuning. Starting from the left is the low E string or bass string, and then on to the right are your higher strings. The 6- 5- 4- 3- 2 and 1st strings.



Now, as you can see here we have only changed the 6th string and this is one form of tuning. It is not much different than the standard tuning but it still serves its purpose and changes the sound just like if you get the 3rd string out of tune using standard tuning and strum the guitar it will not sound right.

Changing this one string; changes the standard tuning altogether. Before we move on to the open d tuning let me just tell you why you would want to tune in this fashion. The greatest reason is that most guitarist use the drop d tuning to play power chords.

Power chords are used in a lot of rock guitar as well as folk and country. Many people use this tuning to play slide guitar. Sure you could play slide guitar in standard tuning but this drop tuning provides better sound and more grungy sounds.

The bottom line is; you can play power guitar chords tuned to standard but dropping the notes makes one finger power chords easier to play without moving too far down the neck of the guitar. The most common power chords are using two fingers and the three finger methods.

Here is the second drop d tuning, it looks a bit different than the first illustration that I have showed you because you drop the 6th and the 2nd string for even a more different sound for the same purposes that I have described earlier. Let’s compare this type to the first one.



Looking at these two you can see that there is only one note difference, and that is the 2nd string. Naturally the changing of the strings tune will make a difference comparing the two types of tuning, but one isn’t really greater than the other it just depends on what kind of sound you are looking for.

Let’s take a look at the third tuning which is the open d tuning. The reason for the open d tuning is that when you tune your guitar to this type, as you strum all of the strings without pressing any; it gives you the d major chord.


The number symbol is actually a sharp. So it is DADF (sharp) AD and hopefully I didn’t confuse you writing it out this way. This is the open d tuning and this type is actually better for slide guitar. Guitar chords come in a lot of variety so you definitely won’t get bored.

We won’t go into it now but there is more to tuning that the standard tuning and the drop d tuning. There is actually drop A, heck you can drop them all for that matter – it all depends on what type of sound you and your band are looking for.

Try them out in many different ways and you can play whatever type of music it is you want, but if you don’t care for all of these drops then using standard tuning is fine and nothing wrong with it.

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