Is Drop D Tuning Bad for Your Guitar?

Drop D is a versatile guitar tuning used in a variety of genres. 

It consists of tuning the lowest E string to D and leaving the rest in standard. 

That way, one acquires significant differences in sound, tone, and even playability. 

However, many people believe that drop D (and all in all, every alternative tuning) damages the guitar. 

Luckily, that statement is nothing but a myth.  

Drop D tuning doesn’t damage the guitar. In fact, no alternative tuning affects the instrument. In any case, strings could break but only if you tune them higher. Thus, drop D won’t hurt the guitar at all. 

We have dissipated the main doubt. 

Now, let’s find out more about this particular guitar tuning. 

Can drop D tuning damage your guitar?

The good news is that it is impossible that a guitar tuning will damage your guitar. 

Thus, Drop D tuning cannot harm the instrument in any way. 

The only problem that you could face is finding that your sixth string goes flat (or fourth string if you are a bassist). 

This, however, is not a problem related to the tuning itself. Instead, it has to do with the way you tune the guitar. 

See, it is recommended to tune up to pitch, not down. Doing the contrary leads to strings going flat after playing for a certain time. 

In other words, they could detune. 

Therefore, the solution would be to tune down your string, and then tune up until you reach the desired note. 

For example, the sixth string goes all the way down to C or C#, then tune up slowly until you reach D. 

All in all, this inconvenience has to do more with a change of friction at the nut. It is not related to the tuning. 

So, you can play without worries knowing that you won’t face any issues. 

Can changing between tunings constantly damage your guitar?

Regular tuning changes cannot harm your instrument in any way. 

Worst case scenario, you break a string. Fortunately, this occurs only with tunings that go higher than standard. 

After all, too much tension could break the string. 

Now, since in most cases alternative tunings go from high to low, you won’t face this problem at all. 

Also, consider that strings are easily replaceable. Sure, they cost money, but they are cheaper than any other repair. 

Lastly, be aware that on some rare occasions, the guitar will need a setup. 

After tuning, you may find the string produces too much vibration and has tuning issues. 

Again, this is not common, but it is worth considering. 

In any case, you can still find solutions. 

If you want to find out more about this interesting topic, check this article. 

Why do some people believe alternate tunings are bad for your guitar? 

There is no real answer that explains the origin of this misconception. 

It is nothing but a wrong belief, probably related to the detuning issues mentioned before. 

Also, it might come from the fear of producing neck bending. 

People might believe alternative tunings exert too much tension on the instrument, thus, leading to neck bending

Of course, this is not possible, especially if you use lower tunings. 

Truth is, neck bending is a result of other factors, including heat and humidity, but never alternative tunings. 

Guitars are tougher than you think

It doesn’t matter if we are talking about electric, acoustic, or bass guitars. All of them are tough instruments. 

Indeed, certain conditions drastically affect the instrument. Heat melts the glue that links the different parts of the guitar, humidity cracks the wood, and cold temperatures generate neck wrapping. 

Nature is dangerous for the guitar, but if you take the proper safety measures (leaving the guitar inside a guitar case, avoiding direct sunlight, etc.), you can expect a lifetime of effective playability. 

Other than that, guitars are designed to take string tension and still function properly. 

Should you set up your guitar for drop D tuning? 

Drop D is a fantastic tuning. It adapts to plenty of sub-genres, mainly derived from Rock. 

Whether you are playing hard rock, modern metal, grunge, alternative rock, nu-metal, or blues, you can be sure a drop D tuning will suit it perfectly. 

Plus, lots of classic songs are played in drop D, including Moby Dick (Led Zeppelin), Everlong (Foo Fighters), Killing In The Name (Rage Against The Machine), Evenflow (Pearl Jam), and Schism (Tool), just to name a few. 

Thus, beginners will have lots of fun learning their favorite songs with this tuning. 

Nonetheless, there is yet another reason that this alternative tuning is the go-to for beginners: it makes it easier to nail power chords successfully.  

In drop D, guitarists can make chords with the three lower strings (6th; 5th; 4th) on any fret. So you can play a chord with just one finger! 

If you haven’t done it yet, give drop D a try. 

Do you need thicker strings for drop D tuning?

There is no need to get thicker strings to play drop D. 

After all, you only need to tune a single string lower. 

Not to mention, D is only one full step away from E standard, so there is really not that much of a difference. 

Simply grab the first guitar you have at hand and start playing. You’ll realize how good of a tuning drop D is.