Today we are highlighting the best drop D acoustic songs to demonstrate the variety and unique vibe those lower notes bring to a track.
Many songs across different music genres are recorded in non-standard tunings.
It gives them a tonality all of their own.
A very common non-standard tuning is drop D.
It requires only a small tweak, taking your low E sixth string down to a D, but changes the musicality of a piece dramatically.
Now there are hundreds of examples of electric guitar songs in drop D but far fewer acoustic choices.
We have rounded up the best drop D songs for acoustic guitar and some in standard d tuning as well.
Here they are in no particular order.
1. “Everlong” by Foo Fighters
It is a fantastic track by the Foo fighters that has that dissonant sound that complements Grohl’s lyrics so well.
The chord sequence is interesting; the bass notes of the chord change but share an urgent, unrelenting, almost droning high note.
Grohl himself says that stripping this one back to the acoustic drop-d song that it began life as gives it more meaning.
2. “All Apologies” by Nirvana
In one of his most memorable performances for MTV Unplugged, Kurt Cobain gives us a heartfelt recital.
The melody line of this one is beautiful, the guitar parts are intricately woven together and that dropped tuning gives it such depth that the lyrics scream with all the more emotion.
3. “On A Plain” by Nirvana
We are sticking with Nirvana for the moment as the MTV Unplugged performance was simply iconic.
For many fans, it was one of Kurt’s best performances and albums retrospectively.
So, we also have to make mention of “On A Plain” which also features drop-d tuning (actually it’s tuned to an open Db) and sounds amazing with the addition of their touring guitarist Pat Smear.
4. “Sober” by Staind
Stained give Homage with their 2006 live acoustic performance of Tools’ early 90’sAlt-metal track tackling addiction and artistry.
It’s a great tune to have in your arsenal if you are exploring alternative tunings.
It follows a very similar chord progression to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir and has an ethereal feel.
Now the original recorded by Tool was electric, but this acoustic performance by Staind is simply beautiful.
That low D string rings as though from another world.
5. “Black Hole Sun” by Chris Cornell
This is a glorious Soundgarden track, but much like Kurt’s stripped-back versions, this acoustic solo rendition brings a vulnerability with it that showcases Cornell’s voice.
The chord progression is picked with the drop-D tuning used at the start of each arpeggiated section.
The chords ring with an almost medieval feel in places.
The outro riff is weighted and the flourishes that he adds with this softened version are delicious to play around with.
6. “My Own Prison” by Creed
So you have probably already taken note that many of our suggestions are acoustic versions.
That’s because it is often heavier genres of music that use drop-d tuning, punk, rock, metal, and alternative music.
But they also use electric guitars with heavy effects.
But these stripped versions are equally as impressive if not some of them more so.
Creed’s acoustic performance of “My Own Prison” has an almost country feel when you pay attention to the run-down riff.
The low notes give it underlying tensions of sorts, it’s a powerful track that sounds pretty full even when stripped back.
7. “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback
So this one is sort of everybody’s favorite love-to-hate song in drop D.
It sounds great acoustically, and whether you’re a fan of Nickleback or not it is a good chord progression to learn to play around with in several genres.
It’s considered the band’s defining song, we aren’t sure if that’s necessarily a good thing or not.
Whatever your opinion, this one has had over 1.2 billion plays and will go down in history as Kroegers’ signature song.
8. “There There” by Radiohead
In this one the drop-d has more of a folksy feel, the chord progression choice helps to break the tension, and there is less dissonance than those we have mentioned so far.
It’s a great song to try and learn as in the live acoustic performance Thom Yorke uses the guitar in place of the track’s percussion.
So the rhythm and strumming pattern are as interesting as the picking later.
This song also has the subtitle “The Boney King of Nowhere”, the title of a Bagpuss episode to which the accompanying stop-motion video plays homage to.
9. “One” by Ed Sheeran
Another track that offers a lot of interest in its picking and pattern choices is “One” by Ed Sheeran.
He achieves a uniquely textured sound by down-tuning into DADGAD tuning and then using a capo at the second fret.
This might sound senseless but it gives this lay-it-all-bare love song the percussive edge it needs to impress.
10. “I Won’t Give up” by Jason Mraz
Drop-D tuning is less common in modern pop but not non-existent as Ed Sheeran has already proven.
But he may have been following in the footsteps of Jason Mraz who recorded this number in drop-d three years before.
It is a beautiful folk-pop ballad that is acoustic to give the lyrics the space to be heard.
It is a good demonstration of the versatility of Drop-D tuning.
Compare the sound of this one to the entries by Creed or Nirvana they are so distinctly different.
11. “Vultures” by John Myer
Another modern offering that has made our drop-d acoustic songs shortlist is “Vulture” with its funky groove.
Now this one is a bit of a cheat as the original isn’t acoustic but there are many acoustic versions that others have made tributes with.
If you want to experiment with dropped tuning but are after something far less dark then it is a great choice because it has a style all of its own.
The groove will make you want to pick up a guitar and start down-tuning pronto.
12. “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young
Neil Young has a couple of tracks which he adopts drop-D tuning for.
It gives them a lower tonality in the bass department.
“Harvest Moon” is a slow country-laced track that plods along dreamily.
The tuning provides a level of interest, the harmonic plucks are beautiful, and it’s a fun track to play around with.
13. “Shine” by Collective Soul
This one features an acoustic guitar in Drop-D alongside the electric guitar that gives it that heavier feel. The riff and picking pattern are great and give it a bit of an edge.
The break riffs between verses are fun to rock out with and have that impressive depth that standard tuning fails to deliver.
It is lots of fun to get to grips with and it’s not too dark.
14. “I’m The Man Who Loves You” by Jeff Tweedy
Down-tuned and capo(d) up this stripped-back delight gives the listener something riveting to listen to.
The rhythm and high-speed strumming sections add to the character.
Acoustic music isn’t always engaging but this one is as compelling as the well-written lyrics it accompanies.
Another great song to give a go if you are trying to get to grips with playing your instrument in non-standard tunings.
15.“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac
This one has a picking pattern that is going to take a while to get the hang of, a challenge for any guitarist.
It is unmistakably upbeat, a bit of a juxtaposition for the lyrical content.
The song could serve as an instrumental, the acoustic guitar playing is intricate enough to stand alone.
The drop-d tuning allows access to those lower notes but doesn’t give the piece an ominous undertone like some we have highlighted in this tuning.
16. “You Lie All The Time” by Beabadoobee
Another drop-d song that sounds better acoustically is “You Lie All The Time”.
Taking the song back to its roots leaves plenty of space for the voice of Filipino-British singer-songwriter Beatrice Kristi Ilejay Laus better known as Beabadoobee.
She uses the Drop-D tuning to her advantage allowing her to play far more open chords and has the harmonics shine through.
17. “All Yourn” by Tyler Childers
We have two Tyler Childers’ entries to present, the first is “All Yourn”.
His acoustic performance again lets his voice lead the narrative.
Country music often has a lot to say in its lyrics and the bare-nones musical accompaniment gives the song more emotion.
The dropped tuning allows the chord progression to travel to lower inversions that give it some substance.
18. “Whitehouse Road” by Tyler Childers
Our second choice has more of a classic drop-D feel.
This acoustic country song has a tonality that most can instantly recognize as a dropped D.
The melody line relies heavily on that 7th note and it has a great twang to it.
The picking isn’t overly complicated but still compelling.
It is hard, to sum up, the sound of a drop-d-tuned guitar but this one sums it up in its opening bars.
“Whitehouse Road” showcases the open-droning well and serves as a textbook example, modern yet classic in style.
19. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan also gets himself a double spot.
Like many of our drop-D meddling artists, he could have had several spots.
Once you start messing around with non-standard tuning you fall in love with it.
One of Dylan’s acoustic drop-d songs worth a look is “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”.
The higher notes of each chord strummed seem to ring out from a separate instrument.
The lower tuning and picking pattern choice make it seem like we have two instruments instead of one.
20. “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan
The far more popular and famous track recorded in drop-d by Dylan is “Mr. Tambourine Man”.
It is a favorite Dylan track for many, those of us who are non-musical might not be able to put our fingers on what it is that is different about it.
But, make no mistake the real call of the piece is its dropped tuning.
Given its popularity, it is another great song to consider learning for your repertoire.
Best Drop D Acoustic Songs – Final Thoughts
Drop D-tuned songs have a character of their own.
It’s amazing the difference that tiny adjustments can make to the overall sound of your instrument.
We are accustomed to standard tuning and so the extra low notes resonate impressively and the music just hits you differently.
Of course, you have to learn a few new chord shapes to take advantage of drop D tuning but it’s well worth it to play some of the best songs in drop D.
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