40 Best Drop D Songs For Guitar (Updated 2023)

Published Categorized as Acoustic Guitar Songs

Are you just getting around to learning how to use drop-D tuning and want a handy repertoire of songs in drop-D tuning to get you started? Think you might have heard a song in drop-D before but want to make sure that you were right all along? Simply curious about how your favorite artists have used this tuning over the years to better their songwriting craft?

Then join us today as we explore 40 of the best drop-D songs in the popular cultural pantheon!

1. “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles

Being one of the most common alternate tunings, it’s no surprise that a band as big as the Beatles should eventually have come around to experimenting with it in their heyday. On this album, the so-called White Album, they spread further into disarray, though never at the expense of the song.

Dear Prudence (Remastered 2009)

2. “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young

Before he acquired his miserly reputation by taking a resolute stance against streaming services, Neil Young was one of the greatest American voices and songwriters of his generation. This tender ballad is no exception and has been the soundtrack to many last dances. For such a moving song, the chords are altogether rather simple, though the best ones often are.

Harvest Moon

3. “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana

This was the lead single from Nirvana’s third and final album In Utero, a song titled and inspired by a literal heart-shaped box that Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend Courtney Love gifted him while locked away in rehab.

Heart-Shaped Box

4. “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against The Machine

Given their bold counter-cultural politics, it is quite a shame how this band has just been gobbled up by the capitalist entertainment matrix, many simply not hearing the revolutionary lyrics or choosing to hear them as a reason to go to bed later than mom says so.

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5. “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden

The late, great Chris Cornell was a much-revered and admired songwriter and lyricist who spearheaded arguably one of the most overlooked grunge bands of the original grunge era. Here is one of their most iconic tunes paired with a most bizarre music video.

Black Hole Sun

6. “Jump Into the Fire” by Harry Nilsson

As far as songs in drop D go, this is easily one of the most driving. For someone so capable of beautiful songwriting, this is about the most proto-punk you could imagine him, with a near-krautrock anthem complete with power chords, all in drop D tuning.

Jump Into The Fire

7. “Testify” by Rage Against The Machine

Again, with lyrics that are so on the nose and a video that ties it all together, it really is a miracle how their message fell on so many deaf ears.

Testify

8. “Spotlight” by Gnod

This band finds themselves equally unwelcome from the realm of metal songs as they do from the charts. They strike a stance uniquely their own, both long and droning in equal measure, all with a dash of heart-rending intensity that you can only admire. Metal bands: beware!

Spotlight

9. “Town” by Gnod

Here, Gnod turns their sights to the working man, capturing in this intense rock song the feeling of dull monotony usually reserved for machines. There is, indeed, something incredibly machinic in the dull, hypnotism that this drop D song and many others by the band possess, mirroring the sleep that all of the technology around us seems to induce…

Town

10. “Regimental” by Gnod

Want to learn how drop D tuning can wake you up from a long and dark cosmic sleep? How about this stark, sharp tune by Gnod, arguably the best rock song to bring us back to consciousness since the progressive rock band Tool and their many opuses?

Regimental (Single Edit)

11. “BYOB” by System of a Down

And now, we have a song from everyone’s favorite Armenian boys next door. The exhilarating guitar riff on display here might even convince you that there’s no one playing guitar at all – rather, it is pure energy itself coming to play.

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12. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by the Slits

There are of course many, many different versions of this tune – even Marvin Gaye’s version wasn’t the original – but this one will no doubt speak the most to the residual punk within us all. These three girls shook the foundations of the patriarchal music institution for all who were listening when they teamed up with dub-reggae legend Dennis Bovell and recorded one of the greatest debut records of all time. So, tune down that low-E string and search this debut album for this iconic song.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

13. “Mr Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan

I bet you didn’t think you would be seeing a song by Bob Dylan on this list, eh? In this way, it has to be one of the most famous songs to use the tuning.

Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan Cover)

14. “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against The Machine

Boy, these guys sure love a bit of drop D tuning, huh? It’s almost like they don’t know how to tune a guitar any other way. This song features, yet again, more drop D tuning used to devastatingly political effect.

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15. “Come As You Are” by Nirvana

Providing one of the more memorable vocal melodies in 90s rock music, it’s still hard to imagine such a relaxing rock song existing in mainstream channels of distribution.

Come As You Are

16. “Du Hast” by Rammstein

What are those crazy europeans like, with their heavy metal music and intense leather bondage?

Du hast

17. “Kafka” by Bug Teeth

When called upon to think about drop D and the music made with it, it’s not often that someone from among the fray pipes up and says that they think of ambient dream pop inspired by krautrock. Yet, this is just such an occurence. Coincidence? We think not.

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18. “Antidepressants” by Gnod

Since it might feel uncomfortable to venture forth from tried and tested ground into altogether too ambient and dreamy country, why don’t we return to a sound that we know and understand? Here, Gnod use their powers to explore the concept of a doped-up populus with their tongue firmly pressed into their cheek, using the power of word association to bring together self-medication and prescription until they are fittingly one concept.

Antidepressants

19. “Did You See the Words” by Animal Collective

Now you are comfortable, let us jettison you without prior notice into the realm of freak folk wherein the droning drop D key is all that we have to grab onto, though here are the chords for extra comfort.

Did You See The Words

20. “Bros” by Panda Bear

Closely related to Animal Collective – and also named after an animal – Panda Bear’s epic 12-minute opus is entirely based in the key of D, so you can easily drop that low-E to a low-D and get funking.

Bros

21. “Everlong” by Foo Fighters

If anyone had any doubts that Dave Grohl could carry the rock flame on without his buddies from Nirvana, then this song and the album that it’s from was the antidote. Though he composed it by a complete accident to remedy a break-up, it clearly did him some favors in the long run.

Everlong

22. “Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin

It’s not hard to see why this behemoth of a track was named after the colossal titular character from Herman Melville’s nationality-defining seafaring epic Moby Dick. The drums alone are mammoth in size, as always with John Bonham, and the long improvisations that he would perform on this song live are much akin to the flights of fancy that Melville takes the reader on throughout the novel. Every so often, the guitar chimes in as the omniscient voice of reason, just as Elijah does in the book.

Moby Dick (Remaster)

23. “New Born” by Muse

Everyone surely remembers where they were when they first heard this track by the world’s greatest Radiohead cover band? Whatever your opinion, they doubtless revitalised the repertoire of chords in drop D.

New Born

24. “Uprising” by Muse

Here, why not have another, just for the sake of it?! Never before has the idea of taking conspiracy for truth sounded so limp.

Uprising

25. “On A Plain” by Nirvana

Even the throwaway tracks on Nevermind have something about them that many just can’t help but return to – this one included!

On A Plain

26. “I’m The Man Who Loves You” by Wilco

Carving out a space on their much-revered magnum opus Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, this gem of a track sees Jeff Tweedy bearing his heart in only the way that he can. Always preferring to do things their own way, Wilco ended up releasing this album for free on their website after their label didn’t approve of the direction they had taken.

I'm the Man Who Loves You

27. “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac

What better way to celebrate getting this far than an anthem from everyone’s favorite cocaine-doused group of swingers? It’s a wonder any of the members even remember recording or being alive during these sessions – their intake probably meant that they weren’t really there…

Never Going Back Again (2004 Remaster)

28. “Ashes of American Flags” by Wilco

Try to name a more beautiful rendering of the times after apocalypse when all that’s left are the so-called ashes of the the flags you so resolutely stood by and saluted, we dare you.

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29. “Bat Country” by Avenged Sevenfold

Though probably better known for other songs, this tune sticks in the memory as one of their more inspired, taking notes from the bat country featured in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Bat Country

30. “Schism” by Tool

Though popular in their time, the band Tool’s reputation and critical acclaim has grown over the years as people have come to respect them as artistically as they once did commercially. It is in this light that we can once again appreciate Tool for all they have done for heavier music’s more conceptual branch.

Schism

31. “If Eternity Should Fail” by Iron Maiden

This tune drafted in from one of their later albums speaks to the oft-touted truth that Iron Maiden still have and, in fact, never lost it. Any fan of Iron Maiden on a deeper level should be able to tell you that…

If Eternity Should Fail

32. “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

Many music aficionados might think it a faux pas to place Jason Mraz and Iron Maiden side-by-side in a list of this caliber, but would you be so surprised to see that there are more similarities between the two than you first realized?

I Won't Give Up (feat. Jason Mraz)

33. “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters

How does he keep doing it? How does Dave Grohl keep compacting his fingers into the fretboard until he manages to package perfection, every single time?

Monkey Wrench Pt.1

34. “One” by Ed Sheeran

Again, though it might at first seem like a mistake, there is plenty that links both Dave Grohl and Ed Sheeran together. Namely, they are both marketed as being the nice guys of their respective genres. While Dave Grohl is often branded as the nice guy of rock and roll, Ed Sheeran is similarly bestowed with such niceties, being the down to earth indie kid who struck the big time. How’s that for a success story?

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35. “What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park

Has anyone ever actually been to Linkin Park? Does it exist or is it just some greyscale, drab fabrication from the minds of the damaged? Oh well – suppose it doesn’t matter now since the singer committed suicide and took one for the team.

What I've Done

36. “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy

No one could have predicted just how much of a ruckus this band would make in the 2000s, adorning the walls of every damaged teenagers walls with reckless abandon. Now, they are just about to break up, but then it felt like anything was possible…

Sugar We're Goin' Down by Fall Out Boy

37. “Sonne” by Rammstein

Dunk on them all you like, but you can’t fault Rammstein their success. They are, after all, one of the most successful and highest-grossing international metal acts in the world and, though they are from Germany, have broken through into the mainstream in several other countries, something few other Western acts can attest to.

Sonne

38. “Ten Years Gone” by Led Zeppelin

What’s heavier than a Led Zeppelin? A band that doesn’t remorselessly rip off a bunch of their ideas from Black artists before them!

Ten Years Gone

39. “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin

Boy, they really were hitting some kind of stride when they recorded this Physical Graffiti album, huh?

Kashmir (Remaster)

40. “Decode” by Paramore

One of the most interesting things about this band – besides their occasional use of double dropped-D tuning – is the fact that they are all intensely religious. Yet, in contrast to, say, Christian rock bands who make this their whole modus operandi, this is not the case for Paramore who prefer simply to make music, albeit from the perspective of religious people.

Decode

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to attack this topic head on and perhaps even come up with your own songs in drop-D tuning!

FAQs Songs in Drop D

What are drop-D songs?

Drop-D songs are songs that use the alternate tuning drop-D. The name refers to the fact that this tuning is the exact same as standard tuning (E – A – D – G – B – E) besides the detuning of the low-E string down to D. In this way, the lowest three strings then sound out a power chord (the root, 5th, and octave of a key/note) that can be transposed anywhere on the fretboard.

Is Nirvana in drop-D?

Some of Nirvana’s songs are indeed in drop-D tuning – e.g. “On A Plain”, “Come As You Are”, and “Heart Shaped Box” – though, we should be careful where we tread, for not all of Nirvana’s songs are in drop-D tuning.

Who uses drop-D tuning?

Being one of, if not the most popular alternate tunings in Western music, there is no shortage of artists who have chosen to use drop-D for the artistic intent of boosting a song. Even someone like Jeff Buckley used drop-D on his breakout hit “Grace”, the title track from his much-revered album of the same name.

Does Metallica use drop-D?

Sometimes, yes, but, as with bands like Nirvana (see above), we should be careful what we say, for Metallica, like Nirvana, doesn’t always use drop-D tuning. In fact, they are far more likely to just use standard tuning which makes sense considering that they are one of the more old-school metal bands still operating in the genre today.

Is drop-D the best tuning?

While there is no tuning that trumps them all – though standard tuning is clearly giving every other tuning a run for its money – drop-D tuning certainly deserves to be considered near the top of such a list, even if only due to the sheer volume of songs and artists which use the tuning to their advantage.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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