Tune Guitar With Alternate Tuning Methods

No discussion is complete without a method to tune guitar with an alternate tuning. Let's just have a quick chat about these because at this point in your learning, you're probably not quite ready to test these out too much. You should be pretty comfortable with standard tuning, how the scales and chords are played.

Of course, maybe you want to write your own stuff or your favorite band uses a particular alternate tuning. So throw out what I've said and do your own thing. I guess my point is that until you recognize what chords are supposed to sound like with standard tuning, it might be more difficult to play using an alternate tuning.

Up until recently, I had never considered using anything except standard tuning. I knew that musicians would write songs using a different tuning, but I never thought much about it. I didn't see a reason to leave the "comfort" of standard tuning.

As my taste in music has changed and I want to play some different styles, I've had to expand my playing techniques to handle some of these other tunings.

Drop D Tuning

Anyway, I promised we would tune guitar using some alternate tunings. So let's at least cover the Drop-D tuning, as this is very popular in rock music.

Drop-D Tuning

It's really not too difficult, because the only change from standard tuning is to tune Low E down one full step (two frets in this case) to D. Just match the tone one octave lower from the fourth string.

Obviously, you're gonna have to adjust some of your chord fingering, especially for the barre chords, but Drop-D will give your playing a heavier, punk/metal sound - cool!

Half-Step Down Tuning

Half-Step Down Tuning

If you want to tune guitar like many rock guitarists, try dropping a half-step on all strings so your tuning becomes Eb (E flat), Ab (A flat), Db (D flat), Gb (G flat), Bb (B flat), eb (e flat). When you're trying to learn songs and your chord placements on the neck seem off from the normal positions, it's probably because the song was recorded using this alternate tuning.

You can try these and many other tunings with the online guitar tuner tools I covered here. If you want to go straight over to a very complete list of alternate tunings, check out the many ways to tune guitar with this alternate guitar tuning chart. They've updated their online tuner since the last time I was over there. Good stuff!

Feel free to check out the Drop D chords you can play with this tuning.