Introduction To Dropped Tuning

author: negativcreep187 date: 03/23/2009 category: for beginners
rating: 6 / votes: 1 
Contents
    I.Introduction/General Overview
   II.History
  III.Fret Board
   IV.Examples
    V.List of Tunings

I. Introduction/General Overview

This lesson is written as an introduction to the usage of Dropped Tuning. Dropped Tuning is an alternate tuning used quite frequently by guitarists that play music such as metal, emo, hardcore, Metalcore, and countless other genres. This style of tuning the guitar is an adaptation of the standard form of tuning. It's not impossible, but it would be easier to understand if you fully understand Standard Tuning.

II. History

The most basic form of Dropped Tuning, Drop D (low to high: D A D G B E), was developed from a tuning commonly used by folk musicians, D Modal Tuning (low to high: D A D G A D). Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin was occasionally known to use D Modal Tuning on songs such as Black Mountain Slide and Kashmir. The more popular Drop D tuning was popularized for the same reasons D Modal tuning is used, but Dropped D is much easier to achieve. Dropped D was occasionally used throughout the 70's and 80's, but it first reached popularity in the 90's when it was used by bands such as Alice In Chains, Pantera, Nirvana, Deftones, and the majority of the Nu-Metal bands, among countless others. Lower variations of the tuning have been used by Throwdown, Sepultura, and the majority of Metalcore bands.

III. Fret Board

The fret board of a guitar is divided into 20, 21, 22, or 24 frets, depending on the guitar. Each of these frets is a half-step, and every two frets is a whole step. In any form of Dropped Tuning, the low string is lowered an additional whole step, from E to D, from D to C, Db to B, etc., etc. Therefore, Drop D (low to high: D A D G B E) is the most standard form of Dropped Tuning, as it is the same tuning as standard tuning (low to high: E A D G B E) except that the low E string is lowered a whole step down to D. The reason so many artists choose to use Dropped Tuning is because it has a darker sort of tone to it and makes power chords easier to play. This may make it seem that it's only used by lazy, non-talented guitarists, but several talented bands use Dropped Tuning, such as Lamb Of God, Slayer, Children Of Bodom, Pantera, Trivium, and various others.

IV. Examples

Standard Power Chord shape in Standard Tuning
     X X X X 
 _ _ _ _ _ _
|@| | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |      * - root note
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| |O| | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
Standard Power Chord shape in Dropped Tuning
     X X X X 
 _ _ _ _ _ _ 
|@|O| | | | |         @ - root note
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
Note that in Standard Tuning, it is a two fingered chord, while in Dropped Tuning it is a barre chord. Inverted Root/Fifth Power Chord shape in Standard Tuning
     X X X X 
 _ _ _ _ _ _
|O|@| | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|     @ - root note
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
Inverted Root/Fifth Power Chord shape in Dropped Tuning
           X X X X 
 _ _ _ _ _ _ 
| |@| | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|      @ - root note
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
|O| | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
Octave Shape on the low E and D strings in Standard Tuning
   X   X X X 
 _ _ _ _ _ _ 
|O| | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | |O| | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
Octave Shape in Dropped Tuning
   X   X X X 
 _ _ _ _ _ _
|O| |O| | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
| | | | | | |
|_|_|_|_|_|_|
Now that you know the basic chord shapes, here are a few riffs. Message In Blood - Pantera Chorus Riff
PM--------------------------------------------------------------|
   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E 
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---5---3--|
D|5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---5---3--|

PM-------------------------------------------------------------------|
  E    E   E   E   E    E   E    E   E   E   E    E   E    E   E   E 
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|10---9---5---9---10---6---10---9---5---9---10---6---10---9---5---3--|
D|10---9---5---9---10---6---10---9---5---9---10---6---10---9---5---3--|

PM--------------------------------------------------------------|
  E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E   E  
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---5---3--|
D|5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---3---5---5---5---3--|
Rain - Trivium Intro/Verse Riff
    PM--|    PM------------------| 
   E SSSS S S SS   E S E SSSSSSSS
e|---------------|----------------| 
B|---------------|----------------|
G|---------------|----------------|
D|---------------|----------------| 
A|-5------6-3----|----------------|
D|---0000-----00-|-0-0-0-00000000-|

     PM--|    PM-----------------|
   E SSSS S S SS   E S E SSSSSSSS 
e|---------------|----------------|
B|---------------|----------------|
G|---------------|----------------|
D|--------5-4----|----------------|
A|-5-------------|----------------|
D|---0000-----00-|-0-0-0-00000000-|
Forever - Throwdown Intro/Verse
    E E E E E E S     S    E E E E E E S     S 
C#|---------------------------------------------|
G#|---------------------------------------------|
E |---------------------------------------------|
B |---------------------------------------------|
F#|---------------------------------------------|
B |-6-0-0-6-0-0-6b-(rb6)---6-0-0-6-0-0-6b-(rb6)-|
My Own Summer - Deftones Intro/Verse
   E E  E  E  E E E E E E E E E E 
Eb|---------------------------------| x8
Bb|---------------------------------|
Gb|---------------------------------|
Db|---------------------------------|
Ab|---------------------------------|
Db|0-11-12-0-11-8-0-8-0-8-7-0-8-5---|
Dam That River - Alice In Chains
 E E E E +E  E E E E E E E  E E E E +E  E E E E E E E 
eb|--------------------------|--------------------------|
Bb|--------------------------|--------------------------|
Gb|--------------------------|------------------------%-|
Db|--------------------------|------------------------%-|
Ab|3-4-5-0-(0)-5-6-7-6-5-3-0-|3-4-5-0-(0)-5-6-7-6-5-3---|
Db|3-4-5-0-(0)-5-6-7-6-5-3-0-|3-4-5-0(0)-5-6-7-6-5-3---|

V. List of Tunings


Drop D low to high: D A D G B E

Drop Clow to high: C G C F A D

Drop B low to high: B F# B E G# C#

Drop Alow to high: A E A D F# B
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