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A question about Drop D tuning
26 August 2016
2.17pm
CebeBee13
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So I've been curious about Drop D tuning; most people will cite "Moby Dick" by Led Zeppelin, and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by the Beatles, released two months earlier, as the first songs to use it, and those who are a little more read-up will tell you "Dear Prudence ", written in 1968, but I've noticed that "Act Naturally ", released by our very own Beatles in 1965, actually uses Drop D on the lead guitar, which we could chalk up to yet another Beatles first. So I challenge you, can you name a song earlier than "Act Naturally " that uses Drop D tuning, by any artist?

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WeepingAtlasCedars
26 August 2016
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Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Keith Richards is a long-time fan of tuning his guitar in D, E, ... so I would look in that direction.

(Never thought of "Act Naturally " in that fashion. Will have to re-listen)

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26 August 2016
5.15pm
CebeBee13
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said
Keith Richards is a long-time fan of tuning his guitar in D, E, ... so I would look in that direction.

(Never thought of "Act Naturally " in that fashion. Will have to re-listen)  

I was quite surprised to hear it, especially as Help ! wasn't exactly their most experimental album. If you listen to the first few seconds of the song, you can hear the low deep twang on the guitar, that bottom note is a low D. It's possible that George tuned to D standard, but the tab I read was in drop D and sounded perfect.

26 August 2016
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Skelter
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If they used drop D, wouldn't it be really tricky for them to play the open G chord (the home chord of the song)?

26 August 2016
7.04pm
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HMBeatlesfan
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Skelter said
If they used drop D, wouldn't it be really tricky for them to play the open G chord (the home chord of the song)?  

They would either do a G/D

e|3|
B|3|
G|0|
D|0|
A|2|
D|0|

or a G/B

e|3|
B|3|
G|0|
D|0|
A|2|
D|x|

Maybe you should try posting more.

26 August 2016
9.30pm
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ewe2
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Robert Johnson wrote songs in drop D tuning in the late 30's, and he was a known influence on British blues. But he was just one of many Delta bluesmen to use the tuning, which goes back to its use in classical guitar. So it depends on how you want to define "first" or "earlier" ahdn_george_08

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27 August 2016
2.40am
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Skelter
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HMBeatlesfan said

They would either do a G/D

e|3|
B|3|
G|0|
D|0|
A|2|
D|0|

or a G/B

e|3|
B|3|
G|0|
D|0|
A|2|
D|x|  

I just realised you said lead guitar, which does not really play any chords.

27 August 2016
3.10am
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Shamrock Womlbs
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ewe2 said
Robert Johnson wrote songs in drop D tuning in the late 30's, and he was a known influence on British blues. But he was just one of many Delta bluesmen to use the tuning, which goes back to its use in classical guitar. So it depends on how you want to define "first" or "earlier" ahdn_george_08  

That's very right. They use it a lot in classical guitar, a lot of scores from 19th century and on. Here's an example where you can see the 6th string should be tunned in D

"I Need You by George Harrison"

27 August 2016
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Ron Nasty
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You also have to bring in the influence of Dylan at the time. Aside from standard tuning, on those first six albums that amazed John and George in particular, Bob also had songs in Open E, Open G, Drop D (A Hard Rain 's a-Gonna Fall and Mr. Tambourine Man being good examples of that), Double Drop D and Drop C.

It's always accepted that Bob influenced the changes in how they wrote lyrics. I'd suggest that realising how often he switched to alternate tunings is likely to have as important effect on their songwriting.

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27 August 2016
5.08am
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ewe2
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I should also mention Elmore James, influenced by Robert Johnson and a huge influence himself on slide players, and commonly played in open D tuning, which is the full version of drop D. That's the point of the joke in For You Blue (it's in D).

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27 August 2016
6.58am
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Leppo
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There's a great little guide here about Drop D tuning for any non musical people who are wondering what this is all about. It's a great site too. http://www.justinguitar.com/en.....Tuning.php

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28 August 2016
1.33pm
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HMBeatlesfan
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ewe2 said
For You Blue (it's in D).

Remember, For You Blue is in open D, not drop D.

Maybe you should try posting more.

28 August 2016
11.57pm
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Maybe I don't know the full scope of the "drop D" tuning, but to me it just means you loosen the bottom E bass string so that it sounds D below E.  The main reason for doing this is if your song is in the key of D and you want to hit that low D once in a while.

As for the question above, how would you play a G chord then?  Well, you could play G with a D bass, as someone suggested -- or you can simple stretch your pinky down (or up) to press down on what would ordinarily be the A note on the E bass string but what becomes G when you have loosened the string down to D.

James Taylor has used that a lot -- "Sarah Maria" and "Millworker" among other songs...

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29 August 2016
3.35am
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ewe2
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HMBeatlesfan said

ewe2 said
For You Blue (it's in D).

Remember, For You Blue is in open D, not drop D.  

I know they're different tunings, it's a slide guitar, that's the point of the joke, but thanks for pointing out the obvious. The concept of alternative tunings itself was through people like Elmore and Bob. And that's been passed down, from George to none other than Peter Frampton, from this interview in Guitar Player:

You also worked with George Harrison . In what ways did his guitar playing influence what you do?
I definitely stole a couple of tunings from him [laughs]. He used to have acoustic guitars all over his house that were tuned in various ways and I’d pick them up and say, “What the hell is this?” and then get out my cigarette pack and write down the tuning. I hadn’t really experimented with alternative tunings before that, and he definitely pushed me in that direction. And obviously his slide playing influenced me. The lead riff on “Something ’s Happening” is sort of Harrisonesque.

Do you remember any of those tunings you wrote on cigarette packs?

The tuning that I remember the most is one that I used myself on “Wind of Change.” The low E and Astrings drop down to D, the fourth string remains unchanged, the third string goes up to A, the second string up to D, and the first string up to F# , so there’s a D triad on top and three Ds on the bottom. It’s a very strange tuning, but oh my God , it sounds huge.

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