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Drop B Tuning: An Alternate Tuning For Heavy Metal & Grunge

Are you a fan of artists like Slipknot and Skillet? They play their deep power chords with drop B tuning. We explain what it is and how to use it.

Are you someone who likes artists like Slipknot, Papa Roach, and Skillet?

Do you notice how they seem to sound different than what you normally hear on a guitar?

Well, that’s because many of their songs use an alternative guitar tuning called drop B tuning.

Want to learn more?

Keep reading.

Check out our other guides to alternate guitar tunings:

What is Drop B tuning?

The Drop B tuning was invented by Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin and was used a lot in the grunge rock era of the 90s.

It’s primarily suited for heavy metal and grunge rock music and has two different variations, both popularly used.

The most popularly used variant of the drop B tuning is an alternative tuning for a 6-string guitar where you tune your strings to BF#BEG#C#.

We’ve gone into the exact detail of how to tune your instrument to drop B tuning later in the article but note that it uses the same fingerings as all other drop tunings.

Drop B tuning helps you do three things to the sound of your instrument.

  • Causes your bass to be much stronger.
  • Helps you play barre chords such as B and C# with open strings.
  • Makes power chords more intense with a haunting tone.

Like all other drop tunings, such as drop A and drop C, drop B tuning makes your guitar sound deep and powerful.

Drop B tuning is common with heavy metal and grunge rock for its ability to play awesomely deep power chords. (Source)

When to Use Drop B Tuning

Any 6-string guitar can be tuned to drop B, but not every guitar is an ideal fit. It works best on guitars that meet two criteria:

  • Extended scale
  • Thicker strings

(The latter you can put on any guitar.)

Longer scales make lower notes more defined, and that’s the entire reason to use drop tuning.

How to Achieve Drop B Tuning

Drop B tuning is a little more complex than other drop tunings. Starting from the standard EADGBE, do the following.

1Play the 2nd fret Low E string and the A string open.Retune the A string to match the 2nd fret Low E string.
2Play the 5th fret A string and the D string open.Retune the D string to match the 5th fret A string.
3Play the 5th fret D string and the G string open.Retune the G string to match the 5th fret D string.
4Play the 4th fret G string and the B string open.Retune the B string to match the 4th fret G string.
5Play the 5th fret B string and the High E string open.Retune the High E string to match the 5th fret B string.
6Play the 12th fret Low E string and the D string open.Retune the 12th fret Low E to match the D string open.

There’s a second form of drop B tuning where you treat drop B as a modified standard tuning. Instead of all the steps above, you drop the B and leave the other strings almost the same as the standard tuning. The result is a BADGBE tuning.

When To Use Drop B Tuning

Drop B tuning is great for guitarists who love playing metal and want to cover songs by prominent artists such as Linkin Park, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, and many more. It sounds especially amazing when it’s played in a ginger manner, according to its creator Victor Griffin, but the sound it produces is heavy nevertheless and perfect to rock out to.

Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about the origins of drop B tuning, how you can tune your guitar to it, and the kind of music you can play with it. Good luck, and keep practicing!


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