Drop-D tuning is one of the most convenient tunings for metal and genres with a heavier sound. Because of the tuning, power chord fingerings on the lowest strings can be played with 1 finger.
But what if Drop-D tuning isn’t low enough to deliver the bone-crushing tones you’re looking for? In this instance, you’ll want to try and experiment with the Drop-A tuning.
You’ll find that Drop-A tuning is used very frequently in metal and various offshoots of the metalcore genre. With that being said, you’ll likely fare better using this tuning with a 7-string guitar.
Nevertheless, Drop-A can be easily applied to a standard 6-string guitar. You’ll need to detune the strings an interval of a 4th, with the lowest string being detuned to a 5th.
You’ll find that, like Drop-D, Drop-A tuning provides the same convenient fingerings suitable for heavy music. Take your chances at learning some of the following songs to build up your playable repertoire in the tuning.
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“Recreant” by Chelsea Grin
Chelsea Grin is almost sort of like The Temptations of the deathcore scene. None of the founding members remain in Chelsea Grin’s current lineup.
The song, Recreant, comes from Chelsea Grin’s debut album and does feature its original members. This track is classic deathcore in all of its stylings, with plenty of growling scream vocals.
For the most part, Recreant features some fairly easy rhythmic passages throughout the entirety of the song. It’s recommended to play the song with a 7-string but can be easily adapted to the 6-string.
There’s also a sweeping melodic section in this song that will require some adept technical skills. Aside from that, this is a fairly straightforward heavy rocker that anyone can handle.
“No One Loves Me And Neither Do I” by Them Crooked Vultures
It was a shocking surprise to the music world to discover that a supergroup called Them Crooked Vultures had formed. The band’s lineup is almost unexpected, but considering the members does make sense.
For starters, the group’s trio hinges on the already-established relationship between Josh Homme and Dave Grohl. The two had previously played together on Queens Of The Stone Age’s monumental album, Songs For The Deaf.
Them Crooked Vultures’ wild card mystery member that took everybody by surprise is John Paul Jones. You probably know of him as being the bass player for the legendary rock group, Led Zeppelin.
While legendary on paper, the band has only produced 1 album in its tenure. No One Loves Me And Neither Do I is the track that begins the journey of this landmark self-titled album.
“You Only Live Once” by Suicide Silence
Looking for an excuse to get yourself a 7-string guitar? You might want to consider trying to learn Suicide Silence’s track, You Only Live Once.
While it isn’t smart to make a YOLO guitar purchase, playing this on a 6-string will require some composition rearrangement.
You Only Live Once is a brutal track that slams right out of the gates. There is plenty of intense rhythm parts mixed in with a wicked solo that will test your patience.
Although this song seems like a frightening experience, You Only Live Once has a positive message. It’s all about taking chances in life while you have them because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
“High Road” by Mastodon
Mastodon had to learn how to take the high road when their song, High Road, had a Grammy nomination. The band ultimately lost out to Jack Black’s group Tenacious D, which is essentially just a comedy group.
Sure, maybe awards from major outlets aren’t worth much of anything. But it does have to sting when your artistry is overlooked by something not technically in the same genre.
High Road is classic Mastodon, featuring a tilt more towards the stoner-rock riff world of metal. For the most part, the song should be relatively easy enough for any intermediate to learn slowly.
There are plenty of galloping rhythms to be had, but much of it repeats throughout the song. Isolate and master each individual part separately and you’ll have this song learned in no time.
“Solar Flare Homicide” by Emmure
There’s a good swath of metalcore fans who consider Emmure to be one of the peak bands of the genre. If you know you’ll be playing in front of Emmure fans, it’s best to know at least 1 song.
The track, Solar Flare Homicide, came from the band’s 4th album and draws elements from different sub-genres. Perhaps the most striking resemblance is the song’s relativity to nu metal bands like Slipknot.
Regrettably, the album was received ridiculously poorly by most critics who have an opinion to give. But for staple fans, this song should fit well into that familiar wheelhouse.
The guitar primarily locks in with the bass and drums, focusing on groove more than flash. All of the staple metalcore tropes are to be found in this song, including some brutally heavy breakdowns.
If the song’s music video is anything close to reality, it reveals one truth that extends beyond common belief. The Fender Telecaster can actually be used in heavy music with low alternate tunings.
It just goes to show that grandpa’s chicken-pickin’ country guitar is more versatile than you thought.
“Glass Hearts” by Of Mice & Men
Are you an intermediate player that needs more easy songs in your repertoire? You’ll want to learn Of Mice & Men’s track, Glass Hearts.
In this song, you’ll primarily be playing heavy, rhythmic guitar parts that support the song. Believe it or not, a good portion of this features open low strings as the song’s foundation.
That means, all you really need to worry about is palm muting and fret hand muting. Connect that with the various picking rhythm grooves inherent in this track and you’ve learned Glass Hearts.
“Supremacy” by Muse
I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s a little comical to see Muse featured here. For me, Muse was the band that blew up in the early 2000s with their patented brand of glam pop-rock.
Does Muse really use the Drop-A tuning like the deathcore bands listed in this article? Well, no, not exactly, as you’ll discover with the song, Supremacy.
Rather than detune the entire guitar, Supremacy uses a guitar where only the low string is tuned to A. This helps to evoke that deep, rich, and fat tone that plays throughout the song.
Just about anyone can play this song with a little bit of time. There are some psych-rock riff influences in the middle of the song that adds spice where it is needed most.
“Cancer” by The Devil Wears Prada
It’s pretty rare for a foundational group to release something that gets critically praised late in their career. However, The Devil Wears Prada proved that they are still as relevant as ever with their 2022 album release.
Really, this is quite an astonishing achievement for a band that has been touring for nearly 20 years. Some genres are prone to bands of long tenure but metalcore isn’t usually that kind of genre.
The album, Color Decay, sees the band tinkering with their sound while still delivering the goods they’re known for. It’s refreshing not to see them go butt-rock in a genre where many bands tend to go that route.
You’ll find a range of songs that just about any fan of any musical background can appreciate. The song, Cancer, is just one of many excellent tracks in Drop-A tuning on this recent album.
“Davis” by Chat Pile
Chat Pile is a band that is sort of a rarity in today’s music industry. The band has garnished a massive underground following despite not being on a major label.
Compared to what you’ll find on the radio, Chat Pile takes more of an artistic approach to its music. In a way, it’s like mixing early 90s grunge with hardcore elements and a tinge of noise-rock.
If you’re playing a basement show, busting out a Chat Pile song will gain you instant street cred. Davis is a prime song to go for as it’s a well-known track from their Remove Your Skin Please EP.
You’ll find that this song takes that aforementioned grunge ingredient and mixes in a hint of math rock. It’s quite a bit unlike your traditional song structure, so take your time learning how it goes.
“Psychosocial” by Slipknot
While Slipknot made their name in the early 2000s, the later 2000s found the band discovering their stride. This has made them one of the most famous groups to hide their identities during performances (aside from maybe GWAR).
Psychosocial is a track that dropped in the summer of 2008 to high acclaim and praise among fans and critics. It has a blend of brutal rhythms, radio-friendly choruses, and a blazing solo to test your technical skills.
The song also has an epic breakdown that will have anyone joining in with its lyrical delivery. Having little moments to connect with an audience during a song will quickly gain you new fans.
“This Is Exile” by Whitechapel
Contrary to what the name conjures mentally, Whitechapel is not a glam-metal band from the 1980s. Rather, Whitechapel is a deathcore group that managed to break into the mainstream in the late 2000s.
If you’ve ever played the Rock Band video game series, you might be familiar with their song, This Is Exile. The song could be downloaded from the store to play in the game.
If you want to impress your friends, you know you’ll have to learn how to play it in real life. Luckily, if you’re tuned to Drop-A, you’re guitar is already primed and ready to play this song.