When I think of drop D tuning, I immediately think of overplayed guitar store music. We’ve all seen that guy sitting in the corner with a Line 6 Spider and BC Rich Warlock butchering some slightly out-of-tune drop-D riffs with the gain and delay on 10, right?
While that type of wankery is a rite of passage in some ways, there is more to drop-D tuning than just barred power chords and a chugging rhythm. Whether you prefer to try the chords in this lesson clean or with some distortion, you’ll be pleased to discover some new variety in your drop-D guitar playing once you implant them in your repertoire.
The cool thing about these chords is that they are movable, meaning the shapes can be moved around anywhere on the neck, which makes them all the more versatile. A quick way to get started using these chords is to take riffs you’d normally play with just your index finger and amend them to incorporate these new notes.
A couple of these chords utilize all six strings, but that doesn’t mean you have to play all the strings when you're writing new music. Emphasizing certain string sets of a given chord shape will allow for multiple sounds in one chord. Different styling and articulation of notes against each other will yield a larger, more organic sound than you might have experimented with before.
While these are certainly not the only chord shapes unique to drop-D tuning, they are the ones I like to use in my own guitar playing. With a bit of finger dexterity and some proper chord intonation, you’ll be creating new and interesting drop-D riffs in no time!
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.