Drop D Rock Riffs

When it comes to rock guitar playing, tuning to Drop D (D A D G B E) is incredibly satisfying. It provides a darker sound favoured by rock artists such as Rage Against The Machine, Billy Talent and Avenged Sevenfold. In this lesson, I am going to show you four Drop D riffs to add to your rock guitar playing arsenal. By combining power chords, palm muting, a Hendrix style chord voicing and pull-offs, you can create some show-stopping ideas. Let’s get started!

Example 1 – Drop D Chunky Riff

One of the main advantages to using Drop D tuning is it allows access to play a power chord shape using only one finger. In example one I have demonstrated this power chord shape on the 6th, 5th and 4th strings using the D Blues scale (D F G Ab A C). Watch the video and look at the notation to see where I add in palm muting.

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Example 2 – Mixed Powerchords

Now that you have mastered power chords using one finger, you can add in the traditional power chord shape from the 5th string root, and add a droning D bass note. This creates a Metallica style rock rhythm pattern, very popular among modern metal bands.

Example 3 – Hendrix Goes Drop D

Example three uses the “Hendrix” chord of D7#9 with some fills in the D Minor Pentatonic scale (D F G A C). The double-stops seen in bar two will require some attention to get them feel natural at the required speed of 90 beats per minute, so as always make sure you start off slowly and only raise the tempo when you can play each phrase correctly.

Example 4 – Pull-Offs

The final riff in today’s lesson uses pull-offs on multiple strings to create an effective dark sounding rock riff. Use the slowed down version on YouTube to see how I fret each note in this example.

Recommended listening

My personal favourite modern rock band that favours Drop D tuning is Billy Talent. Try listening to the album Billy Talent II, my favourite song being Red Flag.

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