ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Guitar Lesson, Playing in Drop D

Updated on January 21, 2022

Guitar tunings overview

My new hub Guitar Tunings looks at the most useful tunings, and contains more info on Dropped - D tuning.

Drop D tuning

I've noticed that guitarists, especially beginners, are very reluctant to change the tuning of their guitars, mainly because they are not confident about getting it back in tune, or maybe breaking strings. So, Drop D tuning is a good first step, and it has some good applications anyway. Don't worry about breaking strings, with the low 6th string it'll never happen, and you can use a Snark tuner to make life easier.

Starting from standard tuning as shown in the diagram, lower the 6th string down to D - you can use the open 4th string as a reference for this.

  • Some good songs that use this tuning include some James Taylor songs, like Country Road and Machine Gun Kelly.
  • John Martyn used it for some songs too, Fine Lines is a good example. The first two chord grids show the voicings used in this song, which is not as well known as it deserves to be. Other songs in this tuning probably include Spencer The Rover, and May You Never. They certainly sound right in this tuning. Check out the clip below, and it's easy to find other songs on Youtube.
  • Shawn Colvin uses drop D on Polaroids - see my hub Guitar songs - Shawn Colvin for the chord shapes and a video. If you don't know her material, she's a great guitarist, singer and writer.
  • Beatles songs - whether or not they originally used Drop D - some did - many songs such as Norwegian Wood, Dear Prudence, Here comes the Sun sound better with Dropped D.

As the tuning is almost the same as standard, you can play any of the chord shapes that you would normally use, but raising the low 6th string note by two frets, compensating for the tuning change. It makes sense to use the key of D, and what was once a weedy chord becomes a mighty champ with the low D added, with much better bass response, especially on an acoustic guitar.

Although it's not shown here, the dropped D tuning is also good for songs in Dm.

The other chords are all from the key of D, apart from the C add9, which is also frequently used in a Drop D context.

Dropped D tuning

John Martyn

John Martyn, Drop D song

Other guitar tunings

I've got several hubs dealing with guitar tunings. It's one of the cheapest and easiest ways of getting new sounds out of your guitar. Here are the most useful:

Open G: Used by The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Ry Cooder

Open D: Joni, Ry Cooder

DADGAD: Irish music and Irish-influenced music.

The first two are very good for slide playing, the last one is associated with Irish and Celtic music, but is also widely used for solo guitar.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)