In a recent column, we discussed open tunings for guitar as a great way to and inspiring sounds during the songwriting process and interesting moods and textures for a finished recording. This month we look at another approach to alternate guitar tunings, actually a combination of two of the most popular ones. “Drop D” tuning means tuning the low E string on your guitar down a whole step to D. That means that the three lower strings are tuned to D-A-D, or a good part of a D chord. Drop D can make a song sound thick and moody. See the link at the end of this story to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” to hear how that sounds.
Another often-used alternate tuning is “Eb tuning,” where every string on the guitar is tuned down a half-step from normal tuning. Listen to the link to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy,” also at the end. This tuning can provide a denser, meatier sound because everything is a little lower. It can also allow the guitar player to use thicker strings, which many guitarists believe sound better while allowing easier bending by reducing the string tension. It can also allow the band to set a song in a key that usually better suits the singer while allowing the use of first-position chords.
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