“We’re doing this because Black Sabbath did it. Neil Young did it. Van Halen did it. Are you going to tell Eddie Van Halen he wasn’t playing guitar properly?” Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil recalls his battles with drop-D trolls

Kim Thayil
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

While it came of age in the ’90s, drop-D tuning was around long before the grunge explosion made it a rite of passage for guitarists. The Beatles’ I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick and Van Halen’s Unchained all slackened the guitar’s lowest string for extra muscle.

But in Seattle, whisperings of this mystical gateway to heavier, more sinister riffs spread like wildfire, and the alternate tuning soon became a staple of the city’s premier musical exports – although as Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil recalls, not everyone in the wider guitar community was thrilled with the development.

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Michael Astley-Brown
Editor-in-Chief, GuitarWorld.com

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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