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If you aren't familiar with Drop D Tuning, then you've been missing out. This is one of the most popular tunings of all time. Simply tune your strings down to DADGBE and start playing. This one is a favorite of heavy metal musicians, but also those who play blues and classical. You'll hear it in songs such as "Moby Dick" from Led Zeppelin and even "Dear Prudence" by the Beatles. When playing in Drop D Tuning, you'll notice how rich the open strings sound. For this reason, many guitarists strive to play minimal chords that allow for these open strings to ring out.
Another great tune played in Drop D Tuning is "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden. The lower frequencies in this guitar tuning makes it easy to create ominous musical passages. On the other hand, John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland" shows how Drop D Tuning can also be used in more of a ballad/pop setting. Whatever your style of guitar may be, Drop D Tuning is always there, waiting for you to explore it's sonic landscape. The song "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters is yet another example of this tuning in action.
One common characteristic of Drop D is the drone is can produce. This comes from those open strings and guitarists have learned to weave their way around a song while keeping a few strings open for this effect. Even the band, Nirvana used Drop D tuning in their songs. One the most famous tracks was "Heart Shaped Box" which once again, proves that this tuning really works for darker material.
After some experimentation, you'll be stumbling across some unique guitar chords of your own. This tuning may be best suited to electric guitar, but feel free to try it out on the acoustic too. This is often what it takes to move into new sonic territory on the guitar. These open tunings are truly the last frontier of guitar music. Make an effort to try new tunings on the guitar and if possible, have a second gutiar that is only used for these open tunings like Drop D. Going back and forth from standard tuning to these lower tunings can damage a guitar. Having a dedicated guitar for open tunings will give the instrument a chance to settle into the string tension. Many guitarists use meduim strings for the lower tunings, but each guitar is different so be sure and ask your local luthier to take a quick look at yours.
Written by Ben Long
Ben Long is a composer, sound designer and lover of all guitars, new and used. His music and sounds can heard in countless video games and across every major TV network. When he's not making music, you can find Ben tinkering with technology. Find him on Google+ and say howdy!