- Drop D tuning for electric bass

Drop D Tuning for Bass

In the modern rock era, Drop D is fast becoming one of the most common tunings for the electric bass. The only difference between Drop D and standard tuning is that you are going to lower (drop) the 4th string from an E down to a D. Everything else will stay the same.

This lesson will assume that you already know how to read tablature, understand basic tuning, understand harmonics, and tuning with harmonics.

Getting into Drop D from standard tuning

Getting into Drop D tablature

Since the only note that is different from standard tuning is the 4th string, here is an easy way to get into Drop D tuning. Play your 2nd string open, which is a D. Then play the 12 fret harmonic on the 4th string (touch the string lightly right above the 12th fret bar). Tune that harmonic note down a whole step so that it sounds like the open 2nd string. When both notes are ringing at the same time, you will then hear them "crash" against each other when they are out of tune. The further those crashes are from each other, the closer you are to being in tune.

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Getting into Drop D tablature

notes are an octave apart

Sometimes bass players will tune the 4th string open to the 2nd string open, understanding that the 4th string will sound an octave lower. Try playing both notes at the same time and listen for the same "crashing" sound that you heard when using the 12th fret harmonic on the 4th string.

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