The first thing you may be asking when you see this post is, “What the heck is Drop High D Tuning?”
Well you have probably heard of Drop D Tuning where you tune the Low E string a whole step down to D. So I decided to reverse that and you’ll have Drop High D. Drop High D tunes the High E String a whole step down to D while keeping the low string an E.
I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, but I’m sure it’s been done before. If you try to Google Drop High D Tuning, you will probably find nothing as I just made the term up.
Drop D Tuning – D A D G B E
Drop High D Tuning – E A D G B D
So why would I ever want to use this tuning?
Think of it like this.
You’re going to play a show or maybe you want to go to a jam session. You only have one guitar or you only want to bring one guitar.
You might want to play some slide as well as some standard fretting licks. This tuning makes this easier to accomplish than re-tuning multiple strings back and forth.
Now I’m not saying to abandon Open E or Open G Tuning, but this will give you another option. I enjoy learning new things and while I love Open E, Open G, and Standard Tuning for slide, I really enjoy trying to push the boundaries of what is possible.
Drop High D Tuning only requires that you tune the High E string to D which is pretty easy to accomplish between songs. When you’re ready to move back to standard playing, then just tune that one string back. Simple!
It also allows you to play all the chords you know in standard tuning ( minus the high d string of course ), and get some cool Open G sounds as well due to the G B and D on the bottom 3 strings. This interval combination ( 1, 3, and 5 ) also occurs in Open E Tuning on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings. In Open E that would be E, G#, and B. Same Intervals so some of your open e tuning licks can be played as well with a little change in your visualization.
This is kind of like combining two worlds together in my opinion to have something that has multiple uses. I also think it makes for a very unique sound and I’m all about developing your own slide guitar style.
Another thing I like is that by only tuning down one string, it doesn’t cause a lot of tension on the neck like Open E Tuning does. Open E Tuning will be harder to play regular licks on if you don’t adjust the action and truss rod to your liking.
This Drop High D Tuning should not mess with anything very much due to only the re-tuning of only one string. Open G Tuning de-tunes many strings, so unless you’re using a heavier gauge string, the strings could become slinky and fret out a lot unless you adjust it for the tuning.
These problems don’t really exist when you’re using Drop High D. I’m currently using .011s for playing on my Strat and by de-tuning just that one string, it will also make the guitar just a bit slinkier but not much.
Watch the Video
Let me know what you think of this tuning below. Do you think you would want to experiment with this tuning?