Drop D tuning

guitar with Drop D tuningThe Drop D tuning is common in hard rock styles and one is that it allow power chords to be played by placing a single finger over the same fret. Drop D tuning should not be confused with Open D tuning.

Here is how you tune the guitar: DADGBE. Compared to standard tuning, the only difference is that you tune down the lowest (thickest) string a whole step, from E to D. When you have a guitar that delivers more bass in the sound; perfect for some rock styles as already mention, but there are other possibilities as well. There is also the Double Drop D.

Power chords

There are two alternatives for playing power chords in this tuning. Here are examples of chords with both shapes, which obviously are movable.


  • D5 chord diagram


  • E5 chord diagram


  • G5 chord diagram


  • A5 chord diagram


  • D5 chord diagram


  • E5 chord diagram


  • G5 chord diagram


  • A5 chord diagram


The popularity of this tuning depends much on the many heavy and cool riffs that can be easily created by using power chords in alternation with the open D5. A video that demonstrates this.

Chords with alternative bass notes

Power chords with alternative bass notes and suspended chords alike are very useful and can be used together with the regular power chords presented above.


  • F#5/D chord diagram


  • F#sus/B chord diagram


  • Dsus/G chord diagram


  • Esus/A chord diagram

Song example

The song "Everlong" by Foo Fighters uses three of the above chords in the verses:

F#5/D - F#sus/B - Dsus/G - F#sus/B

Open chords

Since only the lowest string differs from standard tuning, many open chords could be played just as normal. Although, rich sounds can be found by include the open strings, especially for D chords. For chords that otherwise use the sixth string, such as E and G, there are some new conditions (E major is by the way not very common in songs using this tuning).


  • D chord diagram


  • Dmadd2 chord diagram


  • Em chord diagram


  • A chord diagram


  • G/D chord diagram


  • C/D chord diagram


Em can be played by using the thumb. An alternative way to play Em is xx1000.

Additional open chords:

Dm: 000231
Dmaj7: 000222
Dm7: 000565
Dm13: 033000
E: 222100 / XX2100
E7: 220100
Em7: 220000
Em9: 220002
Emadd4: 202000
Fmaj13/D: 003210
F#m: XX4222
F#m11(b9): 402000
G: 5X0003 / 550003
Bm: X2443X
A: X02220
A11/D: 002423

Using shapes around the middle open strings

The 3rd, 4th and 5th strings played open forms a D chord. You can create shapes around these three open strings, some examples are:

Gsus2: 500035
G6/A: 700057
G9sus4/F: 300013

Blues chords

In Drop D tuning, some new opportunities for blues guitar turns up. These are some chord ideas for playing blues in the key of D.


  • D7 chord diagram

D7 (II)

  • D7 chord diagram

D7 (III)

  • D7 chord diagram


  • G9/D chord diagram


  • A7/D chord diagram


The shape for G9/D will result in G7/D played as XX0001.

Barre chords

The conditions for barre chords changes when the lowest string is included.

Common barre chords that are played differently:

F: 333211
F7: 331211
F6: 3X3211
Fsus2: 333563
Fm: 313111
Fm7: 331111

If you want to go more into depth of this particular guitar tuning, see the Essential Chords in Drop D Tuning ebook with over 100 chord diagrams.

Chord progressions

Progressions in this specific tuning:

D - C/D - A /D

Dmadd2 - Fmaj13/D - C/D

Aadd9 (777600) - D6add9 (12 12 12 11 0 0) - G6 (555400) - Aadd9/Gb (444200) - Esus4/D (000200)

Although Drop D are especially suited for playing in D major key it should not stopping you from playing in other keys as well, for which new ideas can emerge.

This was an introduction about chords and playing ideas in the Drop D tuning, see also Drop C tuning.