Music

What Is Drop D Tuning? How to Tune a Guitar to Drop D

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Aug 10, 2021 • 6 min read

In standard tuning for a six-string guitar, the notes progress from lowest to highest pitch, as follows:

  • 1. 6th (lowest) string - E2
  • 2. 5th string - A2
  • 3. 4th string - D3
  • 4. 3rd string - G3
  • 5. 2nd string - B3
  • 6. 1st (highest) string - E4

In other words, the lowest string is tuned to the note E in the second octave, while the highest string is tuned to the note E in the fourth octave. The lower the octave, the lower the pitch.

When reading a piece of music notation, assume your guitar should tuned to this standard “EADGBE” format. Sometimes, however, your guitar must be tuned differently to play a particular piece of music. One of the most popular alternative tunings is known as drop D tuning.