Home Tutorials Fingerpicking Guitar in Dropped D Tuning

Fingerpicking Guitar in Dropped D Tuning

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I love playing in the Dropped D Tuning. The guitar is tuned D A D G B E and this allows you to easily play in the keys of D and G. Playing in the key of D is especially enjoyable as having the low bass sixth string tuned an octave below the fourth string can create a powerful alternating bass. Lonnie Johnson was the “governor of blues guitar” in the 1920s and 30s. He played hundreds of blues in a Dropped D tuning. He was able to contrast a fluid melodic line against the low bass. Blues For Lonnie puts together some of these licks and hopefully will give you insight into his musical world.

But the Dropped D tuning also works well for arranging Celtic airs and dance tunes and to move away from the alternating bass. Pretty Girl Milking A Cow features a beautiful and evocative melody. The chord voicings create a lilting feel. Likewise, Amazing Grace works well in Dropped D. The tuning allows the melody to sing in both the treble and bass. Each passage creating its own distinct coloring.

Contrasting against these two slow melodies are The Blarney Pilgrim and The Drunken Wagoner. Both have three distinct sections. The Blarney Pilgrim is an Irish jig and is played in the Key of G. The Drunken Wagoner is an American fiddle tune in the Key of D. Duck Baker arranged this and I learnt it from him. It’s a challenging instrumental with a dynamite first section. The arrangement features various right and left hand techniques.

Midnight on the Water was written by the legendary Texas fiddler, Luke Thommason (father of Benny Thommason). It is a stunning waltz and has been played by many musicians. Duck Baker showed John Renbourn and I his arrangement in Dropped D and we recorded it as a duet. The solo version stands up well and is lovely to play.

So there you have it. Over two hours of music and instruction. Blues, Celtic Airs and Jigs, American fiddle tunes and an English hymn make up this lesson. Hopefully these arrangements will give you hours of challenges and enjoyment.

Titles include: Pretty Girl Milking A Cow, The Blarney Pilgrim, Blues For Lonnie, Amazing Grace, The Drunken Wagoner and Midnight On The Water


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