• OVERVIEW •
Tuning ‘down a whole tone’ lowers overall string tension by around 20%, decreasing volume but allowing for wide bends, subtle vibratos, and an overall ease of fretting. Great for opening up electric-style melodic freedoms on the acoustic guitar – and for reducing strain on the hands.
According to Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, tuning his Les Paul to D takes their Southern rock “down to a sludgy place that we really like. It sounds more primal and scary, and puts the vocals that much above it all. I guess I like the ‘wrongness‘ of it…”.
Pattern: 5-5-5-4-5 | Harmony: Dm7(11) | Intervals: 1-4-b7-b3-5-1
• TUNE UP •
• SOUNDS •
Used on innumerable tracks: e.g. Yesterday (Paul McCartney), Working Class Hero (Lennon), Come As You Are (Kurt Cobain), Walk (Dimebag Darrell), Dogs (Dave Gilmour), Between the Bars (Elliot Smith), Sad But True (Metallica), Budapest (George Ezra), Rats (Ghost).
- Come As You Are – Nirvana (1991):
• NUMBERS •
- See my Tunings Megatable for further such nerdery: more numbers, intervallic relations, comparative methods, etc. And to any genuine vibratory scientists reading: please critique my DIY analysis!
• RELATED •
—Associated tunings: proximities of shape, concept, context, etc…
- Eb Standard (this +1): beloved by Hendrix & co.
- Db Standard (this -1): ideal for sweeping legato
- Full Drop C (this with 6str -2): this tuning’s Drop D
• MORE INFO •
—Further learnings: sources, readings, lessons, other onward links…
- Stringing lower: some ideas on the Steel Guitar Forum, and a GearPage discussion on gauges, scale lengths, etc
- Using D tuning: more from Patterson Hood in a Gibson interview, and a Music.StackExchange chat on going deeper
Browse 100+ tunings: type in names, notes, artists, sequences, words, etc. Also see tags below & the Full Menu.
—Rāga Junglism’s World of Tuning—
Everything you didn’t realise you wanted to know about guitar tuning – fresh perspectives from Ming Dynasty manuscripts to modern psychoacoustics via jazz, Joni Mitchell, Madagascar, & more. Ad-free, open-access multimedia resources, continually updated (‘tuned’) over time. Feedback encouraged!
George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and other global improvised traditions. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them. Site menu above, follow below, & get in touch!
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