Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fun With Drop D Tuning

I wrote awhile back about multi-generation reactions to Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight. While three generations of family members liked it I seem to be the only one enamored by “Given Up”. So, while practicing yesterday I decided to learn how to play it and discovered the benefits of drop D tuning.

I popped the CD into my TASCAM Guitar Trainer and started working out the chords. I had the right pitch but not the crunchy tone I hear on the recording. So I did a quick online search for some tab and learned about drop D tuning (tune your low E string down a full step to D and you end up with DADGBe rather than EADGBe for your tuning). From there I have all the power chords I need by fretting the first three strings, DAD. Jeez, why have I been practicing chords all this time?

This gave me a flashback to when I took my daughter to an Avril Lavigne concert. One guitarist had his axe slung so low it seemed to have the ground clearance of a Ferrari. I was just starting out on the guitar at the time and I thought it must be advanced technique that would allow someone to play a guitar like that. In reality it was drop D tuning; all he needed to do was bar DAD using his thumb and mute the other strings with his fingers.

My first thought (after the thought that there are still obvious elements to the guitar that haven't occurred to me) was that this is like cheating. That was until I cancelled out the guitar on the recording with my guitar trainer and played along with the recording using this tuning; it sounds great! This is where that delightful crunch from metal comes from! Yes, another "should have known" moment but fun nonetheless.