33 Best Drop-A Songs
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.
“Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up” by Them Crooked Vultures
Josh Homme is known for his grimy stoner-rock riffs and that gift extends to Them Crooked Vultures. Paired with Dave Grohl’s penchant for off-time swing while playing the genre, the 2 are a heavenly match.
This is especially evident in the song, Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up. There’s some odd timing here but it’s relatively straightforward riff-rock all the way through.
One thing to note here is that this song doesn’t use the traditional Drop-A tuning configuration. Rather, only the guitar’s lowest string is tuned to A, with the rest in E Standard.
There’s a fair chance that you might have some difficulties keeping your guitar in tune while playing this song. Strings of a higher gauge will likely help remedy this outside of getting a professional setup.
“Crack The Skye” by Mastodon
Mastodon became one of the greatest metal bands of our time with their 2006 release, Blood Mountain. The album was acclaimed among a wide swath of music critics and fans alike.
Topping their efforts on Blood Mountain was no small feat, but 2009’s Crack The Skye comes close. At the very least, the album sees the band continuing to deliver on their established formulas that proved so successful.
The album’s title track, Crack The Skye, is very much a blend of prog-metal, stoner-rock, and some psychedelia. In other words, this song will give you plenty of fun, little progressions to learn and play through.
“Another Life” by Motionless In White
Scranton, Pennsylvania isn’t only home to The Office’s fictional business, Dunder Mifflin. The popular metalcore group, Motionless In White also hails from the home of paper sales.
Their track, Another Life, leans more on the side of radio-friendliness with its accessible metalcore sound. The beginning of the track almost seems to take inspiration from something Linkin Park might do.
This is by no means a metalcore track that will crush your bones in brutality. It’s actually quite melodic and almost borders on sounding like some emo music.
“Resentment” by A Day To Remember
Some people hold resentment toward A Day To Remember for making hardcore music full of pop elements. The band pioneered this unlikely combination, which found other bands adopting the sound for themselves.
And, while the industry might have an issue with sound homogeny, A Day To Remember isn’t necessarily to blame. Rather, the group probably should be praised for blazing a trail that was, at one time, unique.
The song, Resentment, will give you a good taste of how A Day To Remember blends metalcore and pop. There is a prominent synthesizer that plays an important role, which almost makes the song too radio-friendly.
“Bones” by Make Them Suffer
Are you a fan of groove metal tracks that incorporate infectious rhythms in the foundation of their composition? Make Them Suffer’s Bones will have you reminiscing Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell for a few minutes.
The main riff is ridiculously catchy, but it’s going to take some time to execute it cleanly and properly. Overall, this song is all over the place, going from that Panera-inspired sound to a radio-friendly choir sing-along outro.
“No Pity For A Coward” by Suicide Silence
You can’t have even a modicum of cowardice in you if you attempt to learn No Pity For A Coward. This Suicide Silence track is classic deathcore at its finest, coming from the band’s debut album.
Much of the song will have you chugging along on some intense rhythmic patterns. Toward the end, you better make sure that your melodic sweep technique is down pat.
If you were in a band around 2006, this song will take you back to those glory days. This is the kind of music that was to be found in every small town across America.
“Jekyll And Hyde” by Five Finger Death Punch
If you’re like me, you probably think Five Finger Death Punch is fairly lame. They are the epitome of radio-friendly rock fused with modern metal music elements.
With that being said, you have to admit that their track, Jekyll And Hyde, has a unique backstory. The entire track uses an actual voicemail message as the lyrical basis of the song.
For a band that writes music for widespread accessibility, this is a move that serious art rockers would employ. Maybe Five Finger Death Punch isn’t as lame as we think they are.
“Lithium” by Evanescence
Evanescence changed the radio-friendly alternative rock scene in the early 2000s. They emerged with a winning music formula no doubt aided by Amy Lee’s powerful voice.
Their song, Lithium, is not a Nirvana cover like you would initially think. Instead, this is a power ballad from the band’s groundbreaking 2nd album.
In this song, you’ll primarily be playing a supporting role with some simple (but effective) power chords. You can emulate the piano’s arpeggiation if you want to dial up the difficulty a few notches.
“Leaders” by Katatonia
If you listen to Swedish prog metal, there’s a fair chance that you’re familiar with the name Katatonia. This band has been a relatively steady enigma in the metal world since the early 2000s.
Their song, Leaders, takes a musical approach that almost sounds very similar to Tool’s work on Lateralus. The riffs are somewhat easy but rely on a repeating hammer-on/pull-off that could be difficult for some.
“Death Becomes You” by Sunn O)))
Sunn O))) is probably the most unique band to be featured in this entire article. Many of the groups featured here fall into similar categories and use the same musical tropes and foundations.
This group chooses to unleash their sonic assault by means of heavy droning and experimentation. In fact, seeing this band live is perhaps the best way to experience their massive sound.
If you have a massive stack of amplifiers with some heavy distortion, consider learning Death Becomes You. The song uses simple 1-finger power chords though the entirety of the song.
“The Incident” by Porcupine Tree
Porcupine Tree might be one of the most underrated prog metal bands of all time. The band has had an illustrious career full of acclaimed hits but is nowhere near being a mainstream radio act.
Of course, that’s likely by design, as anyone who is familiar with the genre likely knows the band’s name. They exist in that sweet spot where they are extremely famous but known at the same time.
For some time, the last album fans were left with was The Incident. The album’s title track is an excellent prog metal song to learn if you’re an absolute beginner.
This song almost has industrial electronic elements similar to that of Nine Inch Nails.
“Lifelines” by I Prevail
I Prevail’s brand of rap-infused metalcore shines brightly in their radio-friendly pop hit, Lifelines. This track comes from their debut album, which grew to acclaim after the band’s Taylor Swift cover.
Had I Prevail been about 16 years earlier, they could have been one of the biggest acts of all time. Many people feel that I Prevail could have given Linkin Park a run for their money.
Nevertheless, Lifelines is a fairly upbeat bop that has a few moments of get-down nastiness.
“Mammoth” by The Devil Wears Prada
Hardcore music was extremely saturated in the US during the early 2000s. There were so many bands that many of them all began to sound the same, relying on the same formulas.
The Devil Wears Prada began to shift their sound significantly when they recorded their 4th album. Songs like Mammoth provide evidence that the band’s sound had started to mature beyond just being pure, raw energy.
“Remember Everything (Acoustic)” by Five Finger Death Punch
It’s almost a guarantee that if a metal band plays acoustically, those recordings become instant hits. Stripping heavily-distorted songs down to their basic structure will almost always result in potent songs that even non-fans enjoy.
This is definitely the case with Five Finger Death Punch’s song, Remember Everything. The acoustic version in question actually comes from a live recording, solidifying its anthemic nature.
More metal bands would fare well to do something like this. Hey, if it worked for Godsmack, it could work for just about anybody.
“Fairy Fay” by Whitechapel
Whitechapel’s song, Fairy Fay, goes from 0 to 100 in just a split second and never lets off the gas. If you’re looking for a song with speed and intensity, look no further than Fairy Fay.
Seriously, some of the passages in this song are so fast they are almost hard to decipher. It helps if you have a mechanical drummer who can do repetitive blasts of kick drum bursts, too.
For being such a fast song, you will be utilizing some simple fingerings. But, you’ll also need to sneak in some squealies in a discreet and precisely-executed manner.
“Visions” by Bring Me The Horizon
Bring Me The Horizon’s 2010 might have sold fewer copies than others, but it is one of their most potent. Like most bands lasting longer than a few years, this album saw Bring Me The Horizon shifting their sound slightly.
Their track, Visions, is pure octane and keeps the gas pedal to the floor. It’s songs like these that helped this particular album to be considered one of the year’s greatest releases.
“Kill Or Be Killed” by New Years Day
New Years Day is a band that might have missed your radar altogether. However, they are one of many groups who actually gained notoriety during the days of the Myspace social media platform.
Their track, Kill Or Be Killed blends heavy-metal elements with pop to provide a fertile vocal platform for Ashley Costello. New Years Day definitely needs more recognition as a female-fronted group in a genre overwhelmingly dominated by men.
“Siren Charms” by In Flames
Sweden and death metal go together like cheese and crackers, with In Flames being a premier Swedish group. For over 30 years, In Flames has been paving the way while exploring different avenues of sounds for themselves.
Their 2014 track, Siren Charms, sees the band shift gears from the thrash influences they touched on in years past. Siren Charms is like a moody prog-metal track with some heaviness and harmonized guitars thrown in for good measure.
If you know In Flames from their earlier work, you probably wouldn’t guess that Siren Charms is their song. This song feels like it was produced for mainstream radio audiences rather than underground metal heads.
“Empty Room” by Crowbar
Crowbar is a name you might not recognize unless you’re a 90s and early-2000s metal fan. The group has been releasing albums regularly since 1990 but has remained relatively underground compared to their contemporaries.
Their song, Empty Room, was released in 2001 and has elements of stoner doom metal. If you’re a fan of Electric Wizard but wish for more riffs, this might actually hit the spot for you.
“The Outside” by RED
If you heard RED’s The Outside on the radio, you wouldn’t guess that they are a religious band. The group serves up radio-friendly metal tracks just as heavily as some of the Satan-themed heavy metal groups.
This song has an interesting use of short pauses in its riff which hook the listener in with relative ease. Much of the guitar’s parts in the song are locked in with what the drummer is doing rhythmically.
There are really only a few parts to learn here as these sections repeat themselves throughout the song.
“We Were Just Kids” by Emmure
For Emmure fans, the album Eternal Enemies holds are particular place in their hearts. The band was already making stylistic changes, but this would be one of the last albums with a potent lineup.
We Were Just Kids has a melancholic twist to its sound, primarily because of its slightly-dissonant guitar part. This specific part hangs in the ear like a worm, holding the listener’s attention in one place.
“Vilify” by Device
Not familiar with Device? If you weren’t a fan of Disturbed, you probably had no reason to listen to this band.
The reason for this is that the band features Disturbed’s frontman and only produced 1 minor album in 2013. Vilify comes from this album, incorporating seemingly outdated industrial electronic elements with metal.
That’s not to say that the song is bad. Rather, people with specific tastes will probably absolutely love this mechanical metal song.
Most of the rhythm in the song actually relies on the vocal delivery. This is the same delivery that helped Disturbed become the 2000s rock icons they were.
Best Drop-A Songs, Final Thoughts
7-string guitars are probably the best way to go about utilizing the Drop-A tuning. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rush out and buy one just to play these heavy tones.
If anything, this article should have illustrated that your standard 6-string guitar is more than capable of this tuning. You may want to invest in some heavier-gauged strings to accommodate the tuning.
If you plan on using this tuning permanently, a professional setup can optimize your guitar for the slackened string tension. Having a dedicated guitar for this tuning can be extremely convenient when you do need to play in other tunings.
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