Fingerstyle Rock in Drop-D Tuning

Drop-D tuning has been popular among many influential folk and Celtic players

Drop-D tuning has been popular among many influential folk and Celtic players. One example is Scottish folk guitarist Bert Jansch, whose arrangement of the traditional Irish tune “Blackwaterside” uses a fingerstyle lick similar to Ex. 1. Jimmy Page adapted Jansch’s arrangement to D A D G A D tuning, calling his solo guitar version “Black Mountain Side”—a popular acoustic track for Led Zeppelin.


Drop D guitar tuning lesson music notation

Techniques from other instruments are also sometimes transferred to guitar in alternate tunings. The banjo, for instance, is played in tunings similar to some alternate tunings on guitar. Lindsey Buckingham took banjo-roll patterns and turned them into alternating-bass fingerpicking patterns on guitar for songs like “Never Going Back Again,” which he plays in drop-D tuning. Ex. 2 is similar to what Buckingham played on that Fleetwood Mac track.

Excerpted From Acoustic Rock Basics.

Andrew DuBrock
Andrew DuBrock

Singer-songwriter Andrew DuBrock was the music editor for Acoustic Guitar from 1999 to 2007 and wrote the popular book + video guide Acoustic Rock Basics.

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