Standard D Tuning on Guitar

In this lesson we’ll take a look at standard D tuning on the guitar. This particular tuning is quite popular in country and metal, although I’m sure you’ll find it used elsewhere as well.

Standard D tuning is quite simply dropping standard E tuning by one whole tone on each string. It produces a lower, more growly sound, which can be really cool on the guitar.

There are hundreds of alternate tunings for the guitar, so when you’re deciding which one to use, you really need to consider what you want to do with it. One of the big benefits of standard D tuning, as opposed to some of the open tunings, is that all the same chord patterns you’re familiar with still work. You’ve only just dropped things down by a whole step.

Keeping that in mind, in standard D, if you play an open D major, that will now become a C major. Likewise, G becomes F, A becomes G, etc etc. Definitely something you’ll have to think about, unless you’re the only person playing.

For quick comparison here’s E Standard Tuning: E A D G B E

And here’s D Standard Tuning: D G C F A D

One thing you might want to consider if you’re using a lot of alternate tunings is to setup a guitar just for that tuning. It allows the guitar to settle into that tuning, and also allows you to tweak the action and string gauge specifically for that tuning. For instance, with many of the drop tunings you’ll get a better tone out of a heavier gauge string. Of course, if you play mostly in standard tuning, you may not want a heavier gauge string on there all the time. So that’s something to have a think on.

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  1. good know stuff,I have been staying in standard tuning pertty much of the time, mainly because all I have is one guitar and figured pretty much that moving tunings around can be hard on a single guitar and noticed that many big time guitarist have more than one guitar for those purposes.

  2. D standard tuning is awesome. I play a Taylor 114e and the thing is that during summer time the action is hard but when it's winter it's easy to play. I like D standard because it is easier to play, the strings are looser so I can do more blues and it provides different chord shapes. Works pretty well! I love the sound when you capo 2 in the D standard version.

  3. I own 5 Guitars and i only have them tuned to A#, D#/Eb, and D standard. Im mostly influenced by old school florida death metal bands and find those tunings are perfect for old school death metal. They give you enough clarity, Brutality in tone for grinding riffs and all you basically need from it.

    I have these:
    Ibanez RG7321 (7 string) tuned to A#
    Bc rich Ironbird tuned to D#/Eb
    Bc rich Warlock tuned to D standard
    Jackson V tuned to 6 string A#
    Ibanez RG370DX tuned to D#.

    For all those tunings(except the Jackson V) are mostly influenced by Morbid Angel, my main influence and reason i started playing guitar. The Jackson V 6 string A# influenced by Cannibal corpse.

    Those tunings in my opinion are the best ranges of tuning.

  4. I have done this on a classic guild guitar which I would like to keep in d tuning, but it sounds out of tune. How do I solve this and what is intonation?

    1. Intonation is making sure the notes are in tune all over the fretboard not just the strings in tune. Its really easy to adjust yourself at home if you know how to and have a tuner. Alltogrther it should take you less than 5 or even 4 minutes to do. Also depending on the style of bridge you have.

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