How to Use Drop D Tuning on Heavy Metal Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to use drop D tuning in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


Alright, we're talking about Drop D tuning. The first time I ever heard Drop D tuning was one of my favorite guitar players, Eddie Van Halen, on the tune Unchained. It was just one of the heaviest sounds I'd ever heard. He also had the whole guitar tuned down a half step to begin with. Since then Drop D tuning has become a standard tuning in a lot of heavy metal.

The whole idea behind it is you have your standard tuning. You take this low string, alright, that's your E string, and you just tune it down to an octave of the D string. Check it out.

Okay. Now, it's best to use a tuner and make sure you're exactly in tune. I'm going to do that right now. A little flat. Okay.

Now I have Drop D tuning. So when I play the low string, the sixth along with the fifth and fourth, I get this power chord. Right. It's a very low sounding power chord.

One of the fun things about this is I can take my index finger or my third finger and just play straight across the fret and move that chord. So it's quite simple.

You can also have a lot of fun by taking a chord and sliding it. I could slide from the third to the fifth fret, or the third to the first fret, and alternate with the low string which is not tuned to D. Okay. To demonstrate I'm going to do a little bit of all those things keeping a groove using Drop D tuning.

Alright. I added in a couple of things that I didn't speak about earlier. You can do single notes. I was doing these notes right here alternating with the low D string, and then throwing in some chords. I was also doing high power chords, the D string and the A string, fifth fret. See, that gives you the octave of the low D, and you can play around with that and alternate.

I hope you've enjoyed this lesson on Drop D tuning.

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