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How To Play Blues Guitar in Dropped D tuning

To start off this short study of the use of drop D tuning in acoustic blues guitar finger picking, I play a short interpretation of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”. It’s not too much like the original, except for the tuning, but it does demonstrate how we can adapt picking techniques to our particular style.

Dropping the bass string two steps down from E to D completely changes the flavor of the music and also gives us some flexibility in chord fingering. For example, we don’t have to fret the bass E when playing a D major chord, which frees up fingers for more interesting work around the other strings.

The dropped D note also gives us a low, low note to punctuate the blues sound and counter balance the melody. Done in the right way, it has a powerful effect and has also been used extensively in traditional and modern folk songs by many well known artists.

willir mctell - 12 string dropped d guitar kingWe can hit the bass string and let it ring, use a monotonic thumb technique (where we just strike one bass with the thumb) or alternate our thumb strokes and damp the basses in a Travis picking style. Whichever style we play, it’s necessary to adapt the chords in some cases. For instance, when playing G7 it sounds discordant if we hit the bass E open, or if fretted on the 3rd fret like we normally would, so we just don’t hit it at all.

We could also move up the fret board to form a G and fretting the bass E on the 5th fret – its just a matter of choice and depends upon the style of the song you are playing. (These chord variations are shown in the video at 1m:40s.) We can play any A chord shape we like, but without hitting the bass E note.

At 2m:50s I play an instrumental in dropped D tuning taken from the playing of Stephan Grossman – it’s interesting as the basses walk up and the trebles walk down! At 3m:34s I show how to drop other strings to form open D and then play a low down blues by Blind Blake ‘Down The Country’.

Tips For Playing Dropped D Tuned Guitar


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A lot of brand-new players discover and stick with basic tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E). Other tuning arrangements, such as Drop D Tuning, offer a distinct harmonic sound, streamline some chord types, make really quick power chord developments possible, and present something brand-new into your creating and playing. Why not attempt it?

The majority of individuals who utilize this alternate tuning approach alter the pitch of the 6th string just, the low E, from E to D. In addition, dropping the E string 2 actions to D indicates that you can play power chords with one finger.

Due to the fact that you actually drop the tuning of one of your strings to the pitch of D, the factor this specific tuning technique is called Drop-D is. That is, you drop the pitch to D. Your guitar is now tuned to D-A-D-G-B-E. Make good sense?

Quick Reference!

Frequently Drop D tuning includes tuning just the 6th string (low D) down to D.
Lots of Rock, Heavy Metal, or tunes with a dark tone usage this alternate tuning approach.

Utilize an electronic tuner, or re-tune the E string by ear utilizing the D string (3rd string).

The resulting power chord is called after the note played on the 6th string. At the very first fret, it's D # 5, at the 3rd fret, it's F5. For tunes blues-rock tunes that utilize a lot of 5 & 7 power chords, such as those made popular by Chuck Berry, Drop D tuning permits you to play those 7 chords as though they were regular power chords.

Getting It Done

DADGAD tuning can be utilized to rapidly and quickly play a variety of small and significant chords. This tuning is typically utilized with acoustic guitar, however has actually been utilized for a variety of Rock tunes, most significantly U2 tunes.

Tuning the E string down 2 actions is quickly made with an electronic tuner. Start with basic tuning (E-A-D-G-B-A), then just loosen up the 6th string till the note revealed on your tuner is D (keep in mind to tune previous D, to Db or C#, then tune back up to D to make sure correct tuning).

The factor this specific tuning technique is called Drop-D is due to the fact that you actually drop the tuning of one of your strings to the pitch of D. The majority of individuals who utilize this alternate tuning approach alter the pitch of the 6th string just, the low E, from E to D. For tunes blues-rock tunes that utilize a lot of 5 & 7 power chords, such as those made well-known by Chuck Berry, Drop D tuning enables you to play those 7 chords as though they were typical power chords.

To utilize double Drop D tuning, merely tune both E strings (the 6th string and the very first string) down to D. If you are going to do this, you may also attempt DADGAD tuning too, where you likewise tune the 2nd string down 2 half-steps to A.

Tuning the E string by ear is likewise relatively simple. Pluck the 4th string (D) and then starting loosening up the E string up until the 2 notes sound comparable.
Double Drop D Tuning And DADGAD.

To find out more on Double Drop D or DADGAD tuning, browse the Internet and you are specific to discover various short articles.

I'm getting ready to move on from dropped-D, so I'm just taking a quick look at some great songs written in this tuning, finishing off with a bit of tuition explaining how Sam Chatmon played Brown Skin Woman in dropped-D.

Please note: The tab might not be perfect - I'm just trying to give a way of approaching this wonderful old stuff, and working towards our goal. What is our goal? Well, to have fun, really.

Happy Pickin'
Cheers
Jim


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