D Standard Tuning (aka Whole step down tuning) is an amazingly versatile guitar tuning most associated with genres like pop, country, grunge, and heavy metal. Guitarists love this tuning as it produces a low-end, growly, and husky tone that sounds great when played either on a clean channel or on a distorted amplifier.
An essential skill for any guitarist, this tuning gives you the flexibility to play everything from heavy metal riffs to country licks and pop chords.
If you are looking to learn more about this tuning then this page will be very helpful for you.
In this lesson, you will learn:
- How to tune your guitar to Standard D Tuning
- Benefits of playing in Standard D Tuning
- Chord Shapes in Standard D tuning
- A List of songs in Standard D tuning with chords and tabs
How to tune your guitar to D Standard Tuning?
To change the tuning from the Standard tuning to Standard D tuning, all you have to do is tune all the six strings down a whole step ( by 2 semitones). This means, to tune your guitar to standard D tuning, you have to lower each string down a whole step ( by 2 frets ) from the regular Standard Tuning.
Here is a step-by-step instruction.
Step-by-Step Tuning Guide for Standard D Tuning
- Start by picking your 6th (E – lowest) string then turn the tuning peg while picking it, until it shows D in the tuner. Make sure to turn gently.
- Now, do the same thing with the 5th (A) string. Turn the peg while plucking it until it shows G in the tuner.
- Similarly, take the 4th (D) string and tune it down a whole step to C
- Then tune the 3rd (G) string down a whole tone to F
- The same thing with the 2nd (B) string. Tune it down a whole step to A
- Lastly, take the 1st (E) string and tune it down to D
That’s all! We are now tuned to Standard D tuning.
Things to keep in mind when changing your tuning to D Standard
Always remember to keep a tuner handy while changing the tuning of your guitar strings. This will ensure that the new tuning is as accurate as possible.
Once done, go back and check the tuning again. Since we are tuning down a whole step, it may take one or two minutes to make a few adjustments until the guitar neck adopts the new tension.
One more thing you need to keep in mind is that when switching to lower tuning make sure to replace your regular guitar strings with a heavier gauge string set. If you are using 9s then I suggest going up to 10s or 11s. This will provide sufficient tension and prevent the guitar strings from getting floppy.
Why Play in D Standard Tuning?
One of the main reasons guitarists love to play in Standard D tuning is that it allows them to achieve more aggressive, heavier, darker, and richer tones that may not be possible to achieve in Standard E tuning. This is one of the main reasons Standard D tuning is most associated with hard rock and heavy metal music.
One more reason is, it is easier to sing in Standard D tuning compared to Standard E because all the notes are now dropped by a whole step, making it easier to hit the high notes that seemed impossible in Standard E tuning. This way your voice will get much more relaxed which will eventually improve the overall performance of your singing.
Another great thing about Standard D tuning is that the chord shapes and the fingerings remain the same just like in Standard E tuning but they will be just transposed to a whole step lower.
This means, G major chord in Standard tuning, will become an F major chord in Standard D tuning ( a whole step lower ). Similarly, D will become C, C becomes B, B becomes A, and so on. The same applies to scale shapes.
This is a plus point because everything is similar in both standard and D standard tuning but a whole tone lower. Here is a chart that shows all the transposed chords from Standard E to Standard D:
|Standard - E||Transposed to Standard - D|
List Of Songs in Standard D Tuning
Now, that you are aware of the difference between Standard and Standard D tuning, let’s look at some songs that are recorded in this tuning.
1. Come As You Are by Nirvana
Written by Kurt Cobain, ‘Come As You Are’ is probably the most popular song in Standard D tuning that might tempt you to tune your guitar to standard d and play it right now. This song is known for its iconic opening riff that goes on for complete eight seconds until the band kicks in for the verse.
The cool thing is, this riff uses only the two thickest strings of the guitar, E and A. Apart from this, it has a really cool guitar solo that is based on F# minor pentatonic scale and is super easy to pull off on an electric guitar.
2. Cirice by Ghost
One more awesome song in Standard D tuning by the Swedish rock band Ghost that you may want to check out. It is one of those metal songs that broke into the mainstream and charted at number 4 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart. Not to forget, it also fetched the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
Packed with heavy instrumentation, atmospheric keyboards, and a majestic chorus, this track is a treat for metalheads and must get a place in your repertoire.
Besides this, one of the main highlights of the song is the tone bending guitar solo which comes at the end right after the last verse and according to me, the placement of this solo is on point and doesn’t feel forced.
This song is also the longest among all other tracks from this album but not for a second you feel bored. The song is so good.
Here is another great song in D standard tuning by American Rock Band Blink-182 that you might consider adding to your learning list.
Written by Tom Delonge ( band’s guitarist ) and Mark Hoppus ( vocalist ), this is the third single from their 1999 album, ‘Enema of the State’ which covers the topics like suffering and sorrow.
According to Hoppus, the lyrics of the song mainly reflects on the loneliness that he experienced while on tour and a disturbing letter that he read in a magazine.
Besides, the song is super fun to play on guitar. Driven by clean guitar riffs, palm-muted power chords, and a gigantic chorus, this track should definitely get a place in your repertoire.
4. Budapest by George Ezra
Co-Written by singer-songwriter George Ezra and Joel Pott, here is yet another fingerstyle classic in D standard tuning from George’s debut album ‘Wanted on Voyage’.
Filled with George’s husky voice, amazing rhythm patterns and a simple song structure this tune revolves around just 3 chords: G-C-D but a lot of fun to play.
When in an interview, Ezra was asked why write a song about Budapest, he said ‘It was my first attempt at writing a love song, and I thought it would be hilarious to list the things I didn’t have. So, the first thing that popped into my head was a house in Budapest”.
So, now you know why he wrote this song about Budapest.
5. Walk by Pantera
Backed with razor-sharp guitars by Dimebag Darrell and hard-hitting vocals by Anselmo, this is another classic in Standard D tuning that you must check out. This song was released in 1993, as the third track from the band’s one of the most successful albums, ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ which later became the most beloved song among the Pantera fans.
The main highlight of the song is the opening riff which is played in 12/8 time signature and it is said that Dimebag accidentally composed this riff at a soundcheck during their ‘Cowboys From Hell’ tour.
Besides the main riff, the song also has a guitar solo which is considered one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. This solo is a guitar workout by itself as it is a mixture of catchy licks and guitar techniques like bends, vibrato, fast legato, and alternate picking.
Above you can see the video lesson that you can refer to learn all the parts of this song step by step.
6. Blood and Thunder by Mastodon
Mastodon has grown from basement shows to nonstop tours over the years and that has cemented its status among the world’s most influential metal bands of all time.
‘Blood and Thunder’ is an awesome track by the band’s ‘Leviathan’ album in Standard D tuning that you may like. Filled with intense chugging riffs and roaring guest vocals from Clutch’s Neil Fallon, this track will absolutely blow you away. The intro riff, which happens to be the best part of this track is simply addicting and one can play it all day long.
Apart from this, this song was featured in many video games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Saints Row, Rocksmith 2014, Project Gotham Racing 3, Splatterhouse, and Guitar Hero: Metallica.
Not to forget, this song was also heard in the Oscar-nominated film, The Big Short.
Here are some more songs in Standard D Tuning
- Kickstart My Heart by Montley Crue
- Feet Don’t Fail Me by The Stone Age
- Shepherd Of Fire by Avenged Sevenfold
- Sad But True by Metallica
D Standard tuning is great when it comes to experimenting with the low-end and growly tones that this tuning has to offer. However, keep in mind that detuning your guitar may affect the neck tension, so, do your research before tuning to lower tunings. Now, that you know the basics of Standard D tuning, start experimenting. I hope you found this lesson on Standard D valuable, if you do then don’t forget to check out more such resources that are available on this site.