Many metal/rock songs use dropped D tuning. What reasons are there for it?
Because it's cool.
It's not only easier to play power chords on the low strings, it's also easier to have drones especially in D and A. And as with any more-or-less-open tuning, you have different pitches for the unfretted strings, which means a fuller tone for different notes.
I think of it as a compromise between standard tuning and DADGAD.
It's a combination of lower-sound and easier play.
While playing power-chords is easier... that opens up more complex playing patterns. You can run down a scale and land on a power-chord, which can sound really cool.
It also adds a lot of opportunity for "open" positions while playing in the key of D, which is also really nice.
I play equally in E standard and Drop-D and tend to prefer Drop-D while playing bluesy stuff. E sounds better to me when playing metal though.
Drop tuning is totally trendy right now, every new metal band seems to use it, I tried to cover all the reasons why, because I love to use it as well:
Easy to play
Drop Tuning is very easy to play. It does not only provide the possibility to play most chords with only one finger, but also typical progressions in the metal genre are closer to each other because of the "two-steps-down" tuning on the first string. Genres such as Metalcore become ridiculously easy with a bit of practice and you won't have to slide your fingers on your whole guitar neck to play a basic riff.
Powerchords at the speed of light
The ease to play powerchords in drop tuning can also make you extremely fast, which also gave birth to the Grindcore genre (like metalcore, but above 200bpm). It's easy, it's fast, you can play powerchords like a punk, but it sounds like metal, hell yeah!
Metal is mostly about sounding evil and badass. Drop D already gives you the possibility to play slightly deeper tones on the first string, but Drop C is already in another category. Try Drop B, sounds like a cool soundtrack for your next macabre ritual... (Anything deeper would probably require bass guitar strings, don't try this at home)
What do you do when you want to make your sound even cooler? Every Hardcore/Metalcore/Posthardcore/Whatevercore guitarist will use a breakdown, which is easily explained: Same purpose as a guitar solo, make the crowd go crazy. The main difference between a guitar solo and a breakdown is, solos are fast and breakdowns are slow. I suggest you to read this Article to know more about it (don't take it too seriously though). Most breakdowns are played on the lowest string and you might only smash the first two empty strings most of the time:
|----------| |----------| |-0-0--0-0-| |-0-0--0-0-|
Breakdowns can, of course be more complex, but it also allows you to play something cool while completely sucking at playing guitar. Great bands using drop tuning exist as well, don't worry!
Drop tuning is a good thing and a bad thing. It totally ruins today's new music and is not "true" anymore, because every moron can pick up a guitar and play a breakdown. On the other hand, it's a blessing. A good guitar player can sound even better and the rhythm guitar can finally sound as cool and fast as the lead guitar, who usually got the most attention before. Just try it out, drop tuning is fun :D
It also makes it even easier to play power chords - you only need one finger with drop D!
Yes, but one might wonder: Having to use two fingers instead of one to play a power chord is not that difficult, so why switch to a different tuning just for that?
The main advantage for me is that with only one finger needed for a power chord on the low strings, you have more fingers left to layer more complex patterns on top of that power chord.
On acoustic guitar, drop D is popular because you have a bigger range of pitches while using open-string chords. It doesn't quite give you the ethereal, ghostly sound you get with DADGAD but it's close. And, as others have pointed out, retuning one string is pretty quick; I've tuned to drop-D in the middle of a song, if you have bandmates to cover for a measure it works fine.
I think it's because..
- It sounds "dirty" if distorted, because the lower you go the dirtier the distortion sounds.
- The looser string has a sound of its own; it's a bit more bassey and responds to palm-muting well because of extra looseness.
- It extends the musical range of your guitar by a full tone.
- Some chords are not just easier, they're possible with drop D
- If not distorted, you can get a lovely full sound.
Classic example : "Place your hands" by Reef. That first note = dropped D, a little bit crunchy.
Yum ! Annoying if over-used though, like anything.
Dropped D is mostly used for rock music , metal , alternative rock etc. It's basically means that the Low E string which is the 6th string , minus 2 frets away from the standard E . Or you can match it with your 4th string which is also a D but it is the high D . I usually don't use match the high D . Drop D is fun!!! U can do a power chord just by putting 1 finger on any fret! After you dropped D , this is your tuning DADGBE . D-6th A-5th D-4th G-3rd B-2nd E-1st . For those who don't understand , when you drop D you should be able to hear the fierce sound if you play an open string for 6th 5th 4th . Don't drop to low , it's just two frets away ! Or you can go to. Hope I helped !
as an addition to previous answers, it also makes certain riffs possible at higher speeds that would be extremely difficult without it. A great example of this is BYOB by System of a down, and Beast and the Harlot, by Avenged Sevenfold
It's a trick as old as the hills. There are examples of it at least as early as Led Zeppelin in rock music.
Like other alternate tunings it also changes the relationship between strings. an octave is between the same 2 frets on the 6th and 4th strings. Here's an example from Dream Theater
I play in drop C, the tuning is this, starting from the lowest to highest string...CGCFAD. I absolutely Love this tuning and here's why.
It's easier to play super fast power chords and use slides.
From a power chord you can easily simply add notes on the 4th string that are in the scale to make low minor and major chords. Example, have the two lowest strings on the 5th fret and put your pinky on the 8th fret(Fmin).
Drones, are easily made by hitting the 6th string open and playing notes a melody on the 4th string.You can also play notes on the 6th string and use the 5th and 4th open. If you hybrid pick by using ur middle finger you can make cool sheet:)
You can make another type of low Major and minor chords by using ur pinky and ring finger as a power chord,then skip the 4th string and playing half a step up from your power chord for a Major chord, or a minor chord, by going a full step up from the power on the 3rd string.
Since strings 5,4,3,2 and one full step down from standard E tuning, the are much much easier to bend for lead. Try playing a minor penatonic(blouse scale) in this tuning and bend them strings with better easy and control...you may never wanna play in standard E again...I know I don't.
Finally, the over all sound is much lower than standard E tuning. This makes power chords sound heavier and if you have a clean sound your Majors and minors will have a nice, deep sound. It works great for heavy rock, but could be used well in Country or others styles as well.
In conclusion, you get a nice low sound,faster playing, easier string bending, more unique Major and minor chords,easy drones. It's a great tuning and you can make cool guitar riffs easily if your a beginner, and it gives more advanced players a lot more freedom.
Playing powerchords with one finger does not satisfy me. On second string all powerchords reamain the same like in standard tuning. I would say that it is easier to play lower powerchords with dropped tuning. Many players are able to play powerchords with two fingers without any pain (even me) using standard tuned guitar.
D5 open-stringed is easy to mix any other powechords in any position on freboard. This is frequently used in any metal bands and IMHO this is the best reason for retuning into dropped tune. Even you would try to play this song full tone higher than original in standard tuning it would be hard to slide from E5 to E5 in octave.
Eb|-------------------------------------| |-----------------------------| Hb|-------------------------------------| |-----------------------------| Gb|-------------------------------------|x3|-----------------------------| Db|--------------------------------14/15| |-----------------------------| Ab|--00-13/12-0-10p0-12p10-0-10-00--x-x-| |-0-7-5-0-5-3-0-8-7-0-5-3-1111| Db|--00-13/12-0-10p0-12p10-0-10-00-14/15| |-0-7-5-0-5-3-0-8-7-0-5-3-1111| pm ** * * ** ****
Personally I don't like sound of dropped tuning because It sounds little dirty but I'm not metal fan actually.
You do a full bar and have the power chord ring while you play melody type things on the other strings. The guitarist from Billy Talent does that pretty good.
In classical music you rely heavy on the bass note ringing. So if you drop the E you get an entirely new note that rings and brings a new key to an E centered instrument.