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.