Drop D Tuning – 10 Famous Guitar Riffs

Drop D Tuning is likely the most popular alternate tuning for guitar. It is often associated with modern hard rock bands and easy one-finger ‘power chords’. However, in the following guitar lesson you will see that this tuning has been used by well known band for decades and has more to offer than just rock chords.

To tune to Drop D is very easy. Simply lower the pitch of the 6th string down a whole-step from E to D. The pitch of your guitar strings from lowest to highest is now DADGBE. The 6th string harmonic at the 12th fret should now match your open D note on the 4th string.

10 Famous Guitar Riffs in Drop D Tuning – Video Guitar Lesson

Here are the sheet music examples from the video.

10 Famous Guitar Riffs in Drop D Tuning

“Moby Dick” – Led ZeppelinMoby Dick Guitar Riff

“Dear Prudence” – The Beatles



Dear Prudence Beatles Guitar Riff

“Everlong” – Foo Fighters
Everlong Foo Fighters Guitar Riff
Everlong Foo Fighters Guitar Riffs

“Slither” – Velvet Revolver
Slither Velvet Revolver Guitar Riff“Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden
Black Hole Sun Soundgarden Guitar Riff

Learn Guitar Online - Step by Step Beginner's Guide

“Killing In The Name” – Rage Against The MachineKilling In The Name Rage Against The Machine Guitar Riff

“Your Body Is A Wonderland” – John Mayer
Your Body Is A Wonderland John Mayer Guitar Riff

“Last Resort” – Papa Roach
Papa Roach Last Resort Guitar Riff
Papa Roach Last Resort Guitar Riffs

“Higher” – CreedHigher Creed Guitar RiffHigher Creed Guitar Riffs

“Animals” – Nickelback
Animals Nickelback Guitar Riff

Drop C# Tuning

A lot of bands use a variation of Drop D where all strings are tuned down an additional 1/2-step. We will cover these in an upcoming members guitar lesson.

Until then, keep rockin’ the Drop D tuning.

Storm Stenvold


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16 Comments on “Drop D Tuning – 10 Famous Guitar Riffs”

  • Rui wrote on 25 July, 2010, 12:21

    now i know why black hole sun sounded bad when i played it lol

  • Storm wrote on 26 July, 2010, 11:16

    @Rui – That’s funny! The same thing has happened to me, too. Now when looking at transcriptions I first take notice of alternate tunings and capo use. Otherwise, if you’re playing from tab, you’re doing everything right and it still sounds off.

  • CTJ wrote on 16 August, 2010, 23:38

    Hey storm, wanted to say thanks for the video on the nails. Believe it or not I had noticed how nice some guitar players leave their nails long. So I was thinking about mine and then I saw your video and was playing my guitar later and decided I am going to cut my nails and sure enough made a huge difference. So Thanks.

  • MJK (Mike) wrote on 17 August, 2010, 11:01

    …you make it look so easy.

    But I would like to add that knowing how to tune the guitar to Drop D sounds a lot easier now that you have explained it. Now, I just need to practice the songs\riffs now.

  • Rui wrote on 26 August, 2010, 13:04

    i lerant that the hard way storm

  • robert r. robertson wrote on 18 October, 2010, 23:17

    what kind of box are you using to get that sound I would like to get my brother whatever you are using so he can get the same sound….faze, or what…..

  • Ruben wrote on 23 July, 2011, 21:37

    “Spoonman ” by Soundgarden is also very easy to play in drop d.

  • josh wrote on 11 October, 2011, 1:03

    higher by creed:best song ever not like all this other disco crap thats comin out

  • akhan wrote on 21 October, 2011, 12:35

    good stuff…now i can tune 1 guitar to drop D and one with normal tuning

  • Anon wrote on 14 December, 2011, 17:09

    Home by Dream Theater….superior to most bands on here

  • fred wrote on 15 April, 2012, 22:28

    Also using drop D is the Authority Song by John Mellencamp (Drop D, G, and A),,,I just now figured that out.

  • PK wrote on 24 October, 2012, 9:59

    Many others!
    Dem Bones by Alice in Chains and Fat Bottomed Girl by Queen are two of my favorites.

    If you drop both E strings to D then you can play Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young), Ohio (CSNY) and some others I can’t think of right now.

  • fatcat5000 wrote on 25 June, 2013, 10:12

    Cool lesson, just one nit-pick: the rhythmic notation for “moby dick” and “killing in the name” could be a little more reader-friendly. It would be easier for us knucklehead guitar players to follow if each full beat was visible (i.e., not covered by a dotted note or falling on the second half of an eighth note).

  • Guitar Tuner wrote on 26 June, 2013, 16:46

    Gotta loving the drop tunings. Creating new ones is sure to bring a new riff idea


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