Drop D Tuning (Guitar Lesson)


What are you waiting for? Get your membership now!
Jim Deeming

Drop D Tuning

Jim Deeming introduces drop D tuning. Drop D is a popular alternate tuning used in many styles of music including rock, fingerstyle and blues.

Taught by Jim Deeming in Basic Guitar with Jim seriesLength: 25:25Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:30) Musical Introduction Jim kicks off lesson 22 with Tommy Emmanuel's fingerstyle arrangement of "Old Fashioned Love Song" by Three Dog Night. This particular arrangement is played in an alternate tuning called "drop D" tuning. How does this tuning effect the overall sound of the arrangement?
Chapter 2: (07:37) Intro to Drop D Tuning Jim explains one of the most commonly used alternate tunings. This tuning is referred to as "drop D." In this tuning, the pitch of the low sixth string is dropped a full step down to the note D. Drop D has a wide variety of applications that are used in almost all styles of music. Jim provides an introduction to the possibilities that drop D tuning provides.

Tuning to Drop D

1. When tuning to Drop D, first tune your guitar to standard tuning. Within standard tuning, the open strings are tuned as follows:

6th string: E
5th string: A
4th string: D
3rd string: G
2nd string: B
1st string: E

Make sure your guitar is perfectly in tune with Jim's before proceeding to the next step.

2. Tune the sixth string down to the note D. This step can be accomplished by three different methods. Experiment with all three methods to determine which yields the best results for you. Most guitarists begin with one method. Then, a second method is used to check tuning accuracy.

A. Method 1

Match the pitch of the open sixth string to the open fourth string. Remember that the open fourth string produces the note D.

B. Method 2

Match the pitch of the note played at the 7th fret of the sixth string to the pitch of the open A string.

C. Method 3

Match the harmonic played at the 12th fret of the sixth string to the harmonic played at the same fret of the fourth string. The harmonic at the 12th fret of the fourth string produces the note D. This method tends to yield the best results for most players.

Chord Shapes in Drop D

Typically, most pieces in drop D tuning are played in either the key of D major or D minor. When playing in this tuning, the fingering for many chords must be altered due to the tuning of the sixth string. Jim explains the adjustments that are made to the I, IV, and V chords in D major. Respectively, these chords are D, G, and A.

D Major

The D major chord that you have learned in past lessons utilizes four strings. However, this chord can be played with all six strings in Drop D tuning. This is possible since the lowest string is now tuned to D, the root of the chord. The open fifth string produces the pitch A. This note is the fifth of a D major chord.

G Major

When playing a G major chord in drop D tuning, some fingering adjustments need to be made. In standard tuning, the root note is fretted on the 3rd fret of the sixth string. In drop D tuning however, this fretboard location now produces the note F. As a result, the root note must be played two frets higher.

Use the third finger to fret the root note of the chord. Fret the high root note on the first string with the first finger. Since it is almost impossible to fret the B note on the fifth string, lightly mute the fifth string with the third finger. Consequently, the third of the chord is no longer doubled.

The pinkie can also be used to fret the low root note. This enables the other fingers to play melody notes lower on the fretboard.
Chapter 3: (03:41) Drop D Chords A Major and A7

The V chord in the key of D major can either be played as an A major triad or an A dominant seventh chord (A7). The voicings for these chord remain unchanged in Drop D. However, if you apply an alternating bass line to either of these chords, some adjustments must be made. The fifth of the chord, E, is played at the 2nd fret of the sixth string. In standard tuning, this location produces the note F#. In drop D however, this note is now E. The E note can either be fretted by bringing the thumb over the top of the neck or by simply using the first finger. If you choose to fret this note with the first finger when playing an A major triad, the second, third, and fourth fingers must fret the remaining notes in the chord.

C Major

When playing the open C chord, Jim typically omits the lowest string. If you desire a six string sound with this chord, you can bring the thumb over the fretboard to play the note E. This changes the lowest note to the third of the chord. Consequently, this chord now becomes C/E.

E Major

Many players use the thumb to fret the low root note. In drop D tuning, E is located at the 2nd fret of the sixth string. Other players prefer to use the second finger to fret this note. Consequently, the third and fourth fingers must be used to fret the notes B and E on the fifth and fourth strings.
Chapter 4: (07:35) Playing in Drop D Once you have mastered the chord fingerings that Jim explained in the previous lesson, it is time to start playing some chord progressions in drop D. Apply an alternating bass line to a I IV and V progression in the key of D Major. Remember to alternate between the root and fifth of each chord.

At 02:30, Jim demonstrates another common chord progression in D major. This progression features the I, bVII, and IV chords. Respectively, these chords are D, C, and G. Notice how he plays the G chord with B as the lowest note. This produces a G/B chord.

Note: Tablature and notation to these progressions can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.
Chapter 5: (05:59 ) Alternate Chords and More Drop D Advantages of Drop D

1. Expanded Range

The range of the guitar is expanded into a lower register when drop D tuning is applied. This allows you to play bass lines such that are not possible in standard tuning. Jim provides an example of such a bass line at 03:30 in the lesson video. Countless Elvis Presley songs feature this bass line.

2. Chord Voicings

A variety of new chord voicings can be played in this tuning. For example, Jim demonstrates two new voicings for a D major chord. The three lowest strings are played open in both chord grips. The first version he demonstrates is played in fifth position. The second version is played in tenth position. The combination of low open strings and high fretted notes gives these chords a very bold sound.

Note: Fretboard diagrams of all of the chords discussed in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

3. Power Chords

Power chords become much easier to play in Drop D tuning. A power chord can be formed by barring the first finger across the sixth, fifth, and fourth strings. This basic chord shape can be transposed anywhere on the fretboard. Jim plays the main riff from Heart's "Barracuda" to illustrate this concept.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


DaveJB4662DaveJB4662 replied on February 7th, 2016

video 4 freezes around 3:38.but i see everyone else has mentioned this to you.

DeseratDeserat replied on April 21st, 2015

The cool progression that is cut short in video four is not in the supplemental material as stated in the video.

DeseratDeserat replied on April 21st, 2015

Video stops working at 3:58 or so......please fix.

DeseratDeserat replied on April 21st, 2015

On vide four.

tone-88tone-88 replied on January 26th, 2015

This sequence is not functioning at about half way in. Video just stops while the course continues.

DeseratDeserat replied on April 21st, 2015

Video four, that is.

orangeloverorangelover replied on December 26th, 2013

Fantastic stuff and much appreciated, Jim.

echochickechochick replied on December 22nd, 2011

Just completed Phase 1 and couldn't be happier, thanks Jim! And can't hardly wait to begin finger-picking in Phase 2 - but first a quick observation....... the two lessons in this series on drop-D tuning seem to be out of sequence? Lesson 22 (Drop D Tuning; 25 min) is an in-depth study and comes before Lesson 24 (More On Drop D; 6 min) which is a short overview. I don't think it really makes any diff' but i thot i would mention it :)

prestopickoprestopicko replied on August 12th, 2011

Hey Jim. I don't consider myself a novice player. I've been playing 5 years, and I play every day for a few hours. I wanted to get a change in my sound from flat picking to finger style. I worked on you lesson on Travis picking, and am still practicing. But I decided to go back to your beginning lessons and move up to the Travis and keep going through all your lessons. I really enjoy your picking style. I went back to the Red River Valley lesson and have now also done the Drop D lesson. I've got to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the lessons. Thanks Preston

artistartist replied on January 16th, 2011

I don't understand what you mean by the 1, 4, 5 position.

drapeupdrapeup replied on January 7th, 2011

My God Jim you are no joke

dewhonourdewhonour replied on December 27th, 2010

I found that a spider capo can simplify Drop D tuning. I capo all the strings except the 6th at the second fret. This is not a true Drop D tuning. It's a Drop E tuning in the key of A, but it is very rewarding. The Em chord is the only one requiring a change, but it's so easy. I enjoyed watching this video all the same. ;-)

andyandy replied on September 21st, 2010

Is the song Old Fashioned Love song coming up soon ; thanks Jim

restrummerrestrummer replied on May 10th, 2010

good stuff. I really like the open voicing options you are presenting. Can you recommend a brand of a thumb pick or a type of thumb pick that isn't a heavy gauge. I am used to using mediim to thin picks and when I strum with a thumb pick it sounds clunky. Thanks

TangletomsTangletoms replied on May 1st, 2009

amazing - really makes sense the way you explained it jim! I'll be busy now!!! :)

jaymosley79jaymosley79 replied on April 8th, 2009

great job Jim.

SylviaSylvia replied on December 3rd, 2008

yay! I was hoping you would teach this kind of stuff. :o)

Basic Guitar with Jim

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Fingerstyle master Jim Deeming teaches you the basics of guitar playing. With over 30 years of experience teaching and playing, Jim will definitely start you in the right direction. This is a great series for beginners and guitarists looking to refresh their knowledge.



Lesson 1

Introduction Lesson

In this short lesson, Jim Deeming will introduce himself and talk about his upcoming lessons.

Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Choosing a Guitar

Jim gives his thoughts on purchasing your first guitar.

Length: 7:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Goal Setting

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

Length: 11:00 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 4

Changing the Strings

Jim Deeming walks you through the process of changing your strings. He gives some excellent tips on this important process.

Length: 41:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Meet Your New Guitar

Jim introduces proper playing technique. Then, he explains how to play your first chord.

Length: 52:24 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Learning More Chords

Jim teaches you the 3 primary chords in G major. He also explains how chords relate to specific keys. A great lesson!

Length: 39:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Right Hand Revisited

Jim discusses a plethora of right hand techniques that are essential to guitar playing.

Length: 35:19 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

New Chords and Keys

This lesson provides additional information about chords and keys.

Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Let's Play

This lesson is all about playing. Jim will start you off playing a song. You will have the opportunity to play along with him.

Length: 20:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Alternating Bass and Chords

Jim teaches you a few more commonly used chords. Then, he discusses a technique known as the alternating bass line.

Length: 40:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

A Shape Chords

Jim covers all possible fingering options pertaining to the basic open A chord shape.

Length: 17:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Basic Guitar Checkup

Jim talks about the future of his Phase 1 guitar series and where to go from here.

Length: 4:18 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Notes, Scales and Theory

Jim delves into basic music theory. He starts from square one in this lesson.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Chord Fiesta

Jim Deeming invites you to a veritable chord fiesta. He demonstrates common dominant and minor chord shapes.

Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Movable Chords

This lesson is all about movable chords. Learn the importance of barre chords and other movable shapes.

Length: 40:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Proper Practicing

Jim Deeming explains how to create a productive practice routine. Make sure you aren't wasting needless time!

Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

The Pinky Anchor

Many guitarists use their pinky as an anchor. Jim explains the pros and cons of this technique.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Palm Muting

Jim discusses an important technique--palm muting. He explains how palm muting is used by flatpickers and fingerstyle players.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Reading Tablature

Jim Deeming covers the basics of reading guitar tablature. Knowledge of tablature will help with JamPlay lessons as well as learning your favorite songs.

Length: 21:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Tuning Extravaganza

Jim explains various tuning methods. He provides useful tips and tricks that will ensure that your guitar is sounding its best.

Length: 31:45 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Let's Play: "Red River Valley"

Jim is back with another "let's play" style lesson. He teaches the classic song "Red River Valley" and encourages you to play along.

Length: 52:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Drop D Tuning

Jim Deeming introduces drop D tuning. Drop D is a popular alternate tuning used in many styles of music including rock, fingerstyle and blues.

Length: 25:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Let's Play: "Wayfaring Stranger"

Jim Deeming breaks down the song sections to the classic tune "Wayfaring Stranger".

Length: 29:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

More On Drop D

Jim Deeming takes another, more focused look at drop D tuning.

Length: 6:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Your Friend, the Metronome

Jim Deeming discusses how to use a metronome for practice, skill building, and speed building.

Length: 24:02 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only

About Jim Deeming View Full Biography Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.

Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.

More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.

Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".

Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes JamPlay.com is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.

Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.

The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.


Don Ross Don Ross

New fingerstyle instructor Don Ross introduces himself, his background, and what you should expect in this series.

Free LessonSeries Details
Hawkeye Herman Hawkeye Herman

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

Free LessonSeries Details
David Isaacs David Isaacs

JamPlay welcomes David Isaacs to our teacher roster. With his first lesson Dave explains his approach to playing guitar with...

Free LessonSeries Details
Miche Fambro Miche Fambro

Miche introduces several new chord concepts that add color and excitement to any progression.

Free LessonSeries Details
Danny Voris Danny Voris

Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

Free LessonSeries Details
Orville Johnson Orville Johnson

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

Free LessonSeries Details
Robbie Merrill Robbie Merrill

JamPlay welcomes bassist and founding member of Godsmack, Robbie Merrill. In this short introduction lesson, Robbie showcases...

Free LessonSeries Details
Marcelo Berestovoy Marcelo Berestovoy

Marcelo teaches the eight basic right hand moves for the Rumba Flamenca strum pattern. He then shows you how to apply it...

Free LessonSeries Details
Rich Nibbe Rich Nibbe

Rich Nibbe takes a look at how you can apply the pentatonic scale in the style of John Mayer into your playing.

Free LessonSeries Details
Kaki King Kaki King

In lesson 6, Kaki discusses how the left and right hands can work together or independently of each other to create different...

Free LessonSeries Details

Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.


Billy Sheehan Billy Sheehan

Billy starts his artist series off with a lesson on something he gets asked the most to explain: right hand 3 finger technique.

Free LessonSeries Details
Dennis Hodges Dennis Hodges

Learn a variety of essential techniques commonly used in the metal genre, including palm muting, string slides, and chord...

Free LessonSeries Details
Alex Scott Alex Scott

Find out what this series is all about.

Free LessonSeries Details
Kenny Ray Kenny Ray

Albert Collins brought a lot of style to the blues scene. In this lesson, Kenny breaks down Albert's style for you to learn.

Free LessonSeries Details
Allen Van Wert Allen Van Wert

Allen shows you the 24 rudiments crucial to developing finger dexterity. This is a short lesson but the exercises here can...

Free LessonSeries Details
Brent Mason Brent Mason

Learn Nashville style country guitar from one of the most recorded guitarists in history. Check out rhythm grooves, solos,...

Free LessonSeries Details
John March John March

Take a new look at the fretboard and learn where to find a voicing that works. There are techniques that simplify the fretboard...

Free LessonSeries Details
Steve Stevens Steve Stevens

Steve Stevens shows some of his go-to licks and ideas while improvising over a backing track he made.

Free LessonSeries Details
David Davidson David Davidson

JamPlay interviews Revocation's Dave Davidson.

Free LessonSeries Details
Tosin Abasi Tosin Abasi

Tosin explains some of the intricacies of the 8 string guitar such as his personal setup and approach to playing.

Free LessonSeries Details




Join over 480852 guitarists who have learned how to play in weeks... not years!

Signup today to enjoy access to our entire database of video lessons, along with our exclusive set of learning tools and features.



Unlimited Lesson Viewing

A JamPlay membership gives you access to every lesson, from every teacher on our staff. Additionally, there is no restriction on how many times you watch a lesson. Watch as many times as you need.

Live Lessons

Exclusive only to JamPlay, we currently broadcast 8-10 hours of steaming lesson services directly to you! Enjoy the benefits of in-person instructors and the conveniences of our community.

Interactive Community

Create your own profile, manage your friends list, and contact users with your own JamPlay Mailbox. JamPlay also features live chat with teachers and members, and an active Forum.

Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

Scale Library

Our software allows you to document your progress for any lesson, including notes and percent of the lesson completed. This gives you the ability to document what you need to work on, and where you left off.

Custom Chord Sheets

At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

Backing Tracks

Jam-along backing tracks give the guitarist a platform for improvising and soloing. Our backing tracks provide a wide variety of tracks from different genres of music, and serves as a great learning tool.

Interactive Games

We have teachers covering beginner lessons, rock, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slack key and more. Learn how to play the guitar from experienced players, in a casual environment.

Beginners Welcome.. and Up

Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

Price Per Lesson < $0.01 $4 - $5 $30 - $50 Free
Money Back Guarantee Sometimes n/a
Number of Instructors 86 1 – 3 1 Zillions
Interaction with Instructors Daily Webcam Sessions Weekly
Professional Instructors Luck of the Draw Luck of the Draw
New Lessons Daily Weekly Minutely
Structured Lessons
Learn Any Style Sorta
Track Progress
HD Video - Sometimes
Multiple Camera Angles Sometimes - Sometimes
Accurate Tabs Maybe Maybe
Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
Community
Learn in Sweatpants Socially Unacceptable
Gasoline Needed $0.00 $0.00 ~$4 / gallon! $0.00

Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"
 

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!


Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"
 

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


Bill

"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."
 

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.



Join thousands of others that LIKE JamPlay!