Axe of Creation: Exploring the Harmonic Realm of Dropped D

What’s going on everyone!? Welcome to another installment of Axe of Creation here at the wonderful Gear Snobs. This month we will be exploring the ever popular Dropped D Tuning! This is a fantastically fun tuning to play in and very simple to move around easy, yet powerful chord shapes. I’ve always found that while playing in this tuning, it sounds great to let that open D5 ring out and play or explore all the flavors available to us. So let’s jump in with the Key of D minor to set up our explorations…

Taking Shape

Before we really jump into it, let’s take a look at some of the basic chord shapes that we will be exploring. As you can see below, we start with the power chord and these can be played with only one finger! Next, we’ll see everyone’s favorite Sus chords, which really add a nice touch. The last two are the shapes of Major or Minor chords. I love these chords because they’re simple to play and have some many applications, these notes should be played with your pinky finger. I’ve kept all these examples on the 3rd fret so we can see the shape.

April_GS_DropD_Part 1_3

The Saddest Key…

Our first stop will be the land of power chords, don’t worry, we’ll quickly add a note to these to add some new flavors. We are in the key of Dm, though even though we are not playing major or minor chords (for now), you can still hear the push and pull between the notes. The notes within the ( ) are just extensions of the power chord. This way you can play some full, thick five string power chords. The second part of this example adds the 3rd of each chord, creating Major or Minor chords. **Technically the Em should be a b5 or diminished. Though in this context your ear just fills it in as a big E note.**

April_GS_DropD_Part 1_1

Crank it Up!

Let’s kick it up a notch and put some of these chords to work! Here is a simple progression (at its foundation) that I’ve embellished with some connecting scale work between the chords. The progression is Dm (i) – F (III) – Gm (iv) – Bb (VI) – A (V). I’ve placed the Roman Numerals so you can see what relation they have to the Tonic (Root) Dm. You can reference my Chord Scale lesson from last month for more.

April_GS_DropD_Part 1_4


That wraps up the first part of this month’s lesson. Moving forward we will be exploring many different chord voicings all over the fretboard. We’ll also touch on modes while we explore our harmonic backdrop.

***BONUS QUESTION: The last chord in the above example is A/C#. Where does this chord come from? And why does it work? Send in your answers and I’ll send some Cleartone strings and others things (picks) to the name of random choosing. ***


Gregory Arthur is Axe of Creation, a Gear Snob, and a Father of Two. He challenges you to become uncomfortable with yourself in attempts to gain a new perspective. Never give your energy away to what you’re not. Focus on what resonates within you and bring forth in creation. 

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