Drop D Tuning Tips

//Drop D Tuning Tips

Drop D Tuning Tips

Drop D tuning is probably the most common type of re-tuning you are going to come across on the guitar, but there are many other ways to re-tune the open strings (this is called scordatura) and they all bring up the same problem. The problem is that once you have tuned the string to the correct pitch it will start to go out of tune quite quickly, pulling sharp or flat depending on whether you tuned the string down or up.

To solve this problem I have provided you with a brief tutorial on how to get those strings to stay in tune once they get there.

If you have your own technique or approach, please share it with the community below:

2018-04-08T15:17:55+00:00 15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Caryl April 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    I’ve been using this trick for a number of years, and it’s a great one. I find that dropping the tuning peg down 9 complete rotations, and then up six almost always lands me on a D in perfect tune. I wasn’t sure about tuning back up to E, no one told me that trick, though you’d think I could’ve figured it out myself. So note to self: up five complete rotations, down two, should bring me back to E.

    • Dave Belcher April 11, 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      Glad to hear, Caryl!

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  2. Richard Palazzolo April 8, 2018 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks, great info. I’ve always avoided changing tuning during a performance. This might make a difference for me. Thanks again.

    • Dave Belcher April 11, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      Glad you found it helpful and I hope you find it useful in your performances, Richard! Thanks for the comment.

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  3. Jim Simpson April 9, 2018 at 5:33 am - Reply

    That’s a really useful tip, thank you. For the scordatura required to play ‘Koyunbaba’, I remember seeing John Williams use a different guitar already tuned to C#m rather than having to deal with the problems of retuning from concert pitch.

    • Dave Belcher April 11, 2018 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Jim,

      Yes, that’s pretty common when I’ve seen that piece performed…otherwise you really have to let the tuning “settle” with a lot of micro adjustments or your guitar will be quite out of tune by the time you hit about the fourth bar! :) Thanks for the comment.

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  4. Paul Petric April 9, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Well done, nice video. The only thing I would add is this; never tune higher than concert pitch standard tuning. When playing around there is a temptation to tune the open third string to G#, don’t do it. The third string is really the heaviest string and the tension incurred when tuned a half step high is considerable and will damage an instrument. I always tell students to remember the term “slack” tuning and always use alternate tunings that go down from standard tuning.

    • Dave Belcher April 11, 2018 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree that it’s at least advisable to discuss acceptable string tension with your luthier (if you are able to ask her or him directly). Some guitars can handle different tensions and an extra semitone might not do irrevocable damage, but your luthier will know best.

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  5. ARMANDO BALTRA April 9, 2018 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    I’ve been hearing about this trick for some time, but never tried it.
    The truth is that I never payed much attention to how many times I should twist down and then up since I decided to switch to a tuner after a most embarrassing experience: I was doing a home recital for about 15 people and I had to go down to D for the next piece. I thought I could do it just relying on my ear. Well, …. somehow I got nervous and I just couldn’t do it! The more I tried, the worse it got. So I decided to skip that piece and go back to the regular E tuning. I couldn’t do that either! From that day onwards I ALWAYS perform with a tuner clamped to my guitar.
    BUT, as a result of totally relying on my tuner, I was losing my ability to HEAR AND COMPARE different pitches. So! Now (with the only exception of a performance) I always tune relying on my ear. When I’m done, I check with my tuner (just to make sure I got it right)
    All this to tell you that I will use the 9 down, 6 up trick and also how to get back to E.
    Thank you so very much for this very useful information

    • Dave Belcher April 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Glad you found it useful, Armando! Thanks for sharing the story and for your comment!

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  6. Jeff Peek April 9, 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Simon.
    This podcast answered several questions for me. I recently started learning a drop-D arrangement and noticed the 6th string would go sharp in a few minutes, Then, when tuning back up to E for scales and regular practice, the E would go flat. And more tweaking did help to settle these at pitch!
    After trying the method in podcast, the D stayed stable overnight and the return to E tuning was stable as well.
    Also, I wasn’t sure whether the problem was with the string or the neck of the guitar was reacting to changes in tension, so that’s cleared up now too.
    -Jeff

    • Dave Belcher April 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Glad to hear it worked well for you, Jeff! Thanks for the comment.

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  7. Bob Vasquez April 11, 2018 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    I liked your explanation, thank you. The one thing that bothers a bit is the referenced “drop D”; just a personal thing. I also don’t care for “broken chords” but, that’s another matter.

    Thanks again, Bob

    • Dave Belcher April 12, 2018 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bob. “6 in Re” may be more common in classical guitar literature (or “6=D”) but “Drop D” has become one of the typical conventions (borrowed from the acoustic world) for speaking about 6th-string-to-D scordatura.

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  8. John April 17, 2018 at 2:21 am - Reply

    Great tips!
    Greetings from Sweden 🇸🇪
    / John

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