In the world of alternate tunings, some tunings are more suited for certain genres than others. Just like Open G tuning was perfect for Keith Richards and The Rolling Stones, Drop B Tuning is perfect for all forms of metal.
Let’s get to it!
Drop B Tuning And Chords
What is Drop B Tuning?
Drop B Tuning is an alternate guitar tuning in which you detune the standard guitar tuning of E – A – D – G – B – e, and lower it to B – F# – B – E – G# – C# or B – Gb – B – E – Ab – Db.
How To Tune Your Guitar To Drop B Tuning
Drop B is what is known as a drop 1 tuning. Essentially, you tune a standard tuned guitar down a minor third. Then you will tune the low E down another whole step to C#. This tuning is extremely popular in various forms of metal music, however, from time to time it will make an appearance in other genres, like The Presidents of the United States of America and Anberlin.
- low E to B
- A to F#/Gb
- D to B
- G to E
- B to G#/Ab
- high e to C#/Db
When you are tuned correctly to Drop B the strings will make a B chord when strummed open.
Why Use This Tuning?
As we mentioned above, some tunings are more suited to specific genres than others. Because of how loose the strings on your guitar will be in Drop B, they will give you a much lower, almost growl, of a tone. Pair this with a good distortion or compression pedal, and you have a perfect heavy sound.
Open up your creativity
All of us, at some point or another, either have or will suffer from a creative block. We will get bored with strumming the same old chords and playing the same old licks (no matter how much fun our favorite solos can be).
Using an alternate tuning like Drop B, or Open G, DADGAD, Open C, etc, can cause you to have to think about how you approach the guitar again. Instead of muscle memory kicking in and you playing the same things as usual, you will be forced to focus on what you are playing.
This renewed focus can open up new avenues of creativity that you have not accessed before.
It’s easy to learn
It’s an easy tuning to get used to. You can play most major chords (rather 5 chords) with just a single finger, with some others using familiar chord shapes.
Drop B Chords
You are likely wanting to learn chords for this fun alternate tuning. Look no further! We have compiled a short, no where near comprehensive, list of chords to get you started on your metal journey.
Single Finger Chords
Let’s start with the basics. You can play any major chord with a single finger, starting with the top 3 strings played open while muting the bottom 3. This works the entire length of the neck for any chord.
Since each chord technically only includes the I and V notes, the I is repeated, they are technically 5 chords. But just like with power chords in standard tuning, they perform the function of major chords perfectly well.
Drop B Minor Chords
Minor chords are almost as easy as the major, or %, chords above. They can all be played using the standard tuning Am shape (or Bm barred shape). We included some other versions in the chart below to give you some variety.
Drop B 7th Chords
We all know 7th chords make things sound a little better. Here are some to get you started; in both major and minor.
Drop B Minor 7th Chords
Drop B sus4
Sometimes our chords need just a little something different. That is where sus4 chords can come in.
Drop B Tuning Chord Progression
You know the chords, now it’s time to use them in some progressions. Here is one we came up with which should give you a good feel of the tuning. Try this out with some heavy distortion and a liberal dose of palm muting.
Sliding from the 5 chord to the major chord further up the neck let’s you hear some of the higher tones available in this tuning. Have fun with this and see if you can come up with some of your own too.
Artists That Use Drop B Tuning
There are a ton of artists that use Drop B tuning. Most of them fall into some form of metal or hard rock, but the list goes on and on. Here is just a small sample. You probably will recognize some of them here.
- All That Remains
- Alter Bridge
- Art of Dying
- Asking Alexandria
- Bullet For My Valentine
- Cannabis Corpse
- Coheed and Cambria
- A Day To Remember
- Demon Hunter
- The Devil Wears Prada
- Fear Factory
- Five Finger Death Punch
- King’s X
- Lamb of God
- Limp Bizkit
- Linkin Park
- Of Mice and Men
- Papa Roach
- A Perfect Circle
- The Presidents of the United States of America
- Rob Zombie
- Stone Sour
- Theory of a Deadman
- Three Days Grace
- Under Oath
Drop B is a fun and easy alternate tuning to learn. It’s quick to start with but can take a while to master it. That will give you plenty of room to explore your creativity as an artist. Hope you enjoy this one.
Until next time, time to get back to playing!