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Tags >> alternative tuning


Jan 19, 2010


Dropped D is the easiest alternative tuning that you can use.

You get into it by just dropping the E string down one tone to D. Even though its a small change it changes the character of the guitar quite a lot.
If you have never done this then try just fingering a D chord and strumming done all 6 strings. The effect is startling. Normally a D chord chord is a bright but thin sounding chord due to using only 4 strings. Now it becomes a much deeper richer sounding chord.

A real advantage of Dropped D is that it gives you two D bass strings. This allows you to play an alternativing bass on the two open strings. This frees up the left hand much more than normal and allows you to play up and down the neck more freely.

The only fingering changes that need to be made is that whether the high E string is played, it has to be played 2 frets higher.

There are two target songs which use Dropped D.
Embryonic Journey and Dear Prudence (and Still you turn me on which I haven't tried)

I'm busy learning Embryonic Journey but one of the sections is coming along really slowly and I have to play this much slower than the rest of the song. Maybe one day I will be able to post this for review.

Dear Prudence. This should be easier as it uses pattern picking, but it gave me a lot of trouble. I just seemed to muck up every chord change. I haven't played it for a while and it seems to have dropped off the radar.

Other songs I know in Dropped D are
The water is wide - A traditional tune and good to play

Death comes creeping - An old blues tune. I find this really good to play it and then have a go at improvising while keeping a steady alternating bass going. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it falls apart completly.

A couple more tunes from the book Progressive Open tunings by Brett Duncan

Tribute to Lonnie Johnson (or alternatively called the assassination of John Fahey).
This is slow blues and I've always wanted to play it as soon as I first heard it. It's by Stefan Grossman. It seems he had a somewhat love hate relationship with John Fahey so hence the title.
I find it a difficult song. The timing of the licks is very complex and I've had to change them around quite a lot to try and get my playing in time.
There's a few versions of this on youtube and every one seems to do quite a diffent version of it.
Anyway here's my version.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this video

Sorry it's so long, I must have got carried away.