You may have already heard about Drop B tuning, especially if you’re into metal or hard rock music from iconic bands such as Slipknot, Machine Head, Lamb of God, and many others. Playing your guitar in Drop B tuning is an excellent way of drastically dropping the overall range of your guitar. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at Drop B tuning and take you through a step-by-step guide on how to tune your guitar to Drop B, some easy-to-play chords, as well as 23 awesome songs in Drop B tuning that you can learn right away.
What Is Drop B Tuning?
Drop B tuning involves you having to ‘drop’ the tuning of your 6th string from the low E, as it is in standard tuning, all the way to B which is a drop of two and a half steps. This tuning has two different variations. One in which only the tuning of your 6th string, with the rest of the strings still in standard tuning. However, in this article, we will focus on the 2nd and the more common variation in which all 6 strings are tuned down.
To refresh your memory, the following are the respective notes that each of the 6 strings is tuned to in a standard E tuning:
- 6th (fattest) string: E
- 5th string: A
- 4th string: D
- 3rd string: G
- 2nd string: B
- 1st (thinnest) string: E
However, once you tune your instrument from standard E to a Drop B tuning, the individual notes for each of the strings will look like the following:
- 6th (fattest) string: B
- 5th string: G♭
- 4th string: B
- 3rd string: E
- 2nd string: A♭
- 1st (thinnest) string: D♭
Who Uses Drop B Tuning?
Since Drop B lowers your instrument’s overall range by a whopping two and a half steps, it lends a dark and heavy sound to your guitar playing – making it ideal for metal and hard rock genres. It also lets you chug on the Drop B string for a sludge metal effect.
Drop B tuning is pretty easy for guitarists across skill levels to master. Another great advantage Drop B provides is the ability to play power chords with just a single finger barring. This tuning has a gritty, low-end sound that lends a nice rumble to your tone.
How Do I Tune My Guitar to Drop B Tuning?
If you’re starting out from a standard E tuning, then Drop B tuning requires you to lower your 6th string down by two and a half steps, and lower the rest of the 5 strings by one and a half steps. Want a step-by-step guide? You’ve got it below:
6th (E) string: Turn your 6th string’s tuning peg down slowly from E all the way till it reaches the B note. Keep plucking the string to ensure that it accurately matches the B note in your guitar tuner.
5th (A) string: Pluck your 5th string, and tune it down from an A by one and a half steps – till you reach the note G♭.
4th (D) string: Similarly, tune down the 4th string from the D note by one and a half steps – till it reaches the B note.
3rd (G) string: Do the same for the 3rd string – slowly tuning it down from G all the way to reach the E note.
2nd (B) string: Tune down your 2nd string from B till you reach A♭- one and a half steps down.
1st (E) string: Finally, tune down your 1st string from an E by one and a half steps to a D♭.
What To Keep In Mind When Tuning To Drop B
Here are a couple of things you should keep in mind while tuning your guitar to a Drop B:
- Use A Tuner: While some alternate tunings require relatively minor tweaking from standard tuning and often only a few strings, Drop B will have you changing the tuning of all 6 of your guitar strings. To ensure that all 6 strings are perfectly in tune with their correct notes, using a physical or an online guitar tuner app can be of great help.
- Tune Slow: When changing the tuning drastically, as is the case with Drop B, always turn the tuning pegs slowly – this will alter the tension of your strings slowly and not suddenly – preventing any damage to your guitar or strings. Also, make sure you’re turning the tuning peg in the direction that reduces the string tension, and NOT increase it. Increasing your string tension all of a sudden could damage your string or guitar.
- Thicker Strings: Tuning your guitar strings down by two and a half steps can drastically lower the action of your strings and cause annoying fret buzz. This is why you should consider switching to thicker strings that will be easier to play in such low tunings, and also consider getting your guitar set up by a luthier to have a proper setup for Drop B tuning and for the thinker string should you choose.
Here Are The 23 Best Songs In Drop B Tuning
1. Duality by Slipknot
Who better to kickstart the list than one of the bands that popularized this tuning in the metal genre! “Duality” by heavy metal giants Slipknot is just one of the many epic songs that the band has played in drop B. The track opens with frontman Corey Taylor’s surprisingly soft vocals and a melodic piano. Close on the heels of the mind-blowing intro is fast and adrenaline-pumping guitar work by Thomson and Jim Root.
Running just over 4 minutes, “Duality” has somewhat of a nu-metal vibe, especially with Taylor’s spoken, rhythmic verses. You do hear some of his signature screams, but they only show up before the chorus and in the breakdown. This 2004 release ended up becoming the band’s biggest hit on the charts and is crowned as their greatest work by the fans. If you want to play the edgy, down-tuned riffs like the ones in “Duality,” don’t forget to tune to drop B.
2. Whispers in the Dark by Skillet
Released in 2006 by the Christian Rock band Skillet, “Whispers in the Dark” is a drop B song that earned itself quite a bit of popularity on Christian radio, having being played 4,505 times in 2008. It did pretty well in the mainstream, too, becoming a platinum-certified that sold over a million copies.
Heavy riffs and an insane solo drive “Whispers in the Dark.” It’s played on guitars tuned to drop B with a capo on the 2nd fret. The track has some awesome guitar playing going on, paired with incredible, raspy vocals by John Cooper, who also happens to have written this song. According to Cooper, the lyrics revolve around affirming the presence of God around us even when we feel alone. As the solo in this song can be somewhat challenging for new learners, we suggest you start off with the main riff and go from there.
3. Don’t Need You by Bullet For My Valentine
Iconic heavy metal band, Bullet for My Valentine usually goes with drop C tuning. But we’ve come across a fantastic composition of theirs that’s been done in drop B. Part of their sixth album, Gravity, “Don’t Need You,” is a dark and incredibly fast-paced composition that showcases the band’s quintessential style. Matthew Tuck’s pained, angry screams are backed by heavy down-tuned riffs and hooks that keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!
As the title suggests, the lyrics fume at people who are fake and take advantage of the person they are in a relationship with. Tucks’ screamed vocals tell one such selfish individual that they are no longer needed in his life. To arrive at the tuning used in this song from the standard one, you’ll have to tune down the low E string two and a half steps to B and all remaining strings down one and a half steps. This is one of the more popular drop B tuning songs on this list!
4. Overcome by Creed
“Overcome” by the famous rock band Creed is an excellent song in drop B to add to your guitar repertoire. Powered by ripping guitars, not to mention a spectacular solo by the supremely talented Mark Tremonti and Scott Stapp’s dramatic, signature vocals, this track is old-school Creed all the way.
Lyrically, it gets dark and gritty, focusing on fighting one’s inner demons and moving forward by overcoming struggles in life. The song also happens to be Creed’s first release in eight years. After splitting in 2004, the band reunited for their 2009 album Full Circle, of which “Overcome” is a part. The single debuted at number 8 but managed to breezily climb its way up to number 4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.
5. I Worship Chaos by Children of Bodom
Most of the ninth album by Finnish melodic death metal band Children of Bodom features drop B tuning, so explore it to get more familiar with how this unusual tuning is used in metal songs. Released in 2015, “I Worship Chaos” became the band’s first album after the departure of their guitarist Roope Latvala. The group played as a four-piece band, with the frontman Alexi Laiho doubling up as both a vocalist as well as guitarist in Latvala’s absence.
All tracks are pretty good, but the one we are going to talk about is the album opener. Being heavier than what the band usually plays, “I Worship Chaos” truly stands out. It’s intense, teeming with super speedy guitar and brilliant keyboard riffs. The strong guitar action and prominent keyboard are backed by explosive vocals by Laiho. We quite liked the song’s catchy chorus. All in all, it’s not a track to be missed.
6. Don’t Stay by Linkin Park
Phenomenally successful rock band Linkin Park’s second album Meteora was a massive hit! With over 16 million copies sold across the world, it became one of the biggest selling albums of the 21st century. The thirteen tracks chart-topping collection had one track that stood out in terms of tuning. “Don’t Stay” was one of the very few songs by the band that was not tuned to their favorite drop D; instead, they played it in drop B.
“Don’t stay” on the whole mirrors Linkin Park’s iconic rapped verses, angry lyrics, and bouncy chorus. Together with the 13-second foreword, the song made for a perfect starter to the ground-breaking Meteora. We loved the energetic and catchy opening riff that’ll have you reaching for your guitar before you know it! Just remember to tune your guitar to B-F#-B-E-G#-C# before you get started.
7. Straight For The Sun by Lamb of God
Powerful, slow, and sludgy best describes the opening track from heavy metal band Lamb of God’s sixth album, Resolution. “Straight For The Sun” is perhaps the doomiest sounding track by the revered metal band. The way it rolls in with lead vocalist Randy Blythe’s hard-to-miss gasp that’s followed by him unleashing a long and terrifying scream is simply astounding!
Sludgy, heavy guitar riffs and aggressive drum work dominate “Straight for The Sun” along with Blythe’s insanely awesome growls. The frenzied guitar riffs and muted power chords that show up in verse are all played on guitars down-tuned to Drop B.
8. Warriors by Papa Roach
Fans of the nu-metal genre will love this track! “Warriors” by popular American band Papa Roach is an upbeat composition with mind-blowing riffs a hefty dose of hip hop thrown into the mix. The single was included in their eighth studio album F.E.A.R. that managed to extend the band’s reach in several countries where it charted for the very first time. In most of F.E.A.R, Papa Roach can be heard experimenting with electronica, but there are some tracks that take you back to the band’s rap-rock roots like “Warrior.”
The opening bit might seem a tad EDM-esque but then comes a roaring riff that simply knocks your socks off! “Warriors” features well-known rapper Royce Da 5’9 from supergroup Slaughterhouse. The cameo adds snazziness to the single, given rise to a hard-hitting combination of heavy riffs and catchy hip hop. Played in the alternate tuning of drop B, “Warriors” is a great song for those who are just getting familiar with the tuning. It’s beginner-friendly and heaps of fun to play.
9. Before I Forget by Slipknot
One of the biggest metal bands of all time, Slipknot’s has received Grammy nominations ten times but has only once. Incidentally, the track that fetched them their only Grammy win is a drop B marvel. The third single from their 2004 album Vol.3: (The Subliminal Verses), “Before I Forget,” is a raw and powerful gem that is often touted as one of their best creations to date.
The intro riff has some genius-level guitar playing in the unusually low tuning of drop B. Interestingly, the guitar riffs were reworked from an old track out of an unreleased demo of theirs. In “Before I Forget,” Slipknot manages to strike a perfect balance between aggressive and melodic quotient, giving it a wider reach than their other singles. This is one of my favorite drop B tuning songs.
10. Imperium by Machine Head
Heavy metal giants Machine Head have been highly influential in the American metal scene since the ‘90s. They experimented with a variety of sub-metal genres, including groove metal, thrash, and nu-metal, selling over three million records all over the globe. In Machine Head’s 2003 album Through the Ashes of Empires, you’ll hear them going back to their groove and thrash metal roots.
Most of the band’s guitar work, as well as this album, features alternate tuning. But let’s talk about the brilliant album opener “Imperium” which is six minutes of pure riff-fest in drop B tuning. The track is heavy, brimming with thrash riffs, fiery vocals, and ample ideas to keep the listeners thoroughly engaged. To play “Imperium,” some basic knowledge of techniques such as palm muting, natural harmonics, and pinch harmonics would go a long way.
11. Side Of A Bullet by Nickelback
“Side of A Bullet” is an emotionally intense tribute by rock band Nickelback to the legendary heavy metal guitarist Dimebag Darell. Part of their fifth album, All the Right Reasons, the single was only released to U.S. rock stations, peaking at number seven on Billboard US Mainstream Rock. The lyrics have been penned from an enraged fan’s point of view, struggling to cope with the ghastly murder of the iconic Pantera and Damageplan guitarist during a stage performance. An unfortunate event that left the entire music community shell shocked.
One of the heavier songs by the band, “Side Of A Bullet,” features aggressive riffs in drop B tuning and frontman Chad Kroeger’s heartwrenching, roaring vocals. For the solo, Nickelback was lucky enough to source an unreleased riff by Dimebag, which they gladly pieced together and used in the song.
12. Gasoline by Audioslave
American rock supergroup Audioslave’s debut album was also their most successful album release to date that charted at number seven US Billboard 200 and sold more than three million copies. Their self-titled album also made it to Rock Hard magazine’s book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time. To play the third track “Gasoline,” Audioslave tuned their guitars unusually low all the way to drop B. And that’s why the groovy track deserves mention on our list.
“Gasoline” is powered by former Soundgarden’s frontman Chris Cornell’s smashing vocals. The guitar work is also pretty incredible, featuring Led Zeppelin-style down-tuned riffs, energetic chorus, and an infectious rhythm. If you haven’t heard the track, check it out, for it will make a great pick to add to your drop B repertoire.
13. Vitamin R by Chevelle
This well-liked alt-rock band of three brothers loves low tunings as many of their songs feature drop B tuning. We’ve picked Chevelle’s “Vitamin R” as it is one of the easier ones to play. This chart-topping track from the band’s third studio album, This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In), embodies quintessential Chevelle style. Angry lyrics, desperate and passionate grunge-like vocals by Pete Loeffler backed by exciting guitar licks all amp up the tense quotient of the song.
Overall the song manages to strike the right balance between melody, rhythm, and heavy, distorted riffs. Lyrics-wise, it captures a friend’s battle with a botched-up ADHD diagnosis that in turn got him addicted to Ritalin. In “Vitamin R,” you’ll hear infectious distorted palm-muted riffs and a chorus that’s driven by power chords as well as some cool licks. You can play this song by tuning your guitar from low to high: B-F#-B-E-G#-C#.
14. Blunt Force Trauma by Damageplan
Joining the likes of drop-B-favoring bands like Machine Head and Slipknot is ace metal guitarist Dimebag Darell’s former group Damageplan. The heavy metal supergroup was formed in 2003 with a musical style that had elements of groove metal, nu-metal, and thrash metal. Their debut album New Found Power was also sadly their only album. Damageplan’s journey was cut short when Dimebag was killed by a deranged fan during their Ohio concert.
Released in 2004, “Blunt Force Trauma” features a memorable and blazing riff by Dime. It’s pretty different from what he used to play during his Pantera days. It’s jangly. Most of the songs in the album are in drop B tuning. We recommend checking the album out as it will give you a glimpse of all Damageplan could have conquered if Dimebag Darell was still around and the band had a chance to grow.
15. Halo by Machine Head
Next up is a complex ballad from Machine Head’s critically acclaimed sixth album, The Blackening. The only track of the album that was jointly written by all four members of Machine Head, “Halo,” centers around organized religion and its repercussions. A rough version of this song was a part of the band’s 2005 demo. It took them six months to rework the composition, with it going through a ton of lyrical and instrumental changes. The final result was nine minutes of blistering masterpiece featuring epic guitar playing by Robert Flynn and Phil Demmel.
The main solo is a hard-hitting, hypnotic marvel that mirrors textbook Machine Head style. With dueling guitars, intricate dynamics, and melodic chorus, it’s no surprise that “Halo” has become a fan favorite. Played entirely in drop B, the track features a host of challenging guitar techniques that makes it more suited for intermediate-level players than beginners.
16. The Death Of Me by Asking Alexandria
Galloping guitars and explosive screams propel this hit single by British rock band Asking Alexandria. “ The Death of Me” is heavy as a boulder that gets straight to the point! The lyrics are profound and seem quite personal to the band. Guitar riffs are solid, and the chorus is pretty melodic with clean vocals.
You can hear this smashing composition in three different styles! Two of them feature in Asking Alexandria’s third studio album, From Death to Destiny. There’s the classic metal screamed-out heavy version, and then there’s the bonus track that’s a rock mix. In 2014, the band also released an acoustic version of the single via YouTube. Be sure to check out all three and pick the version you want to learn, and use drop B tuning while you’re at it. It’s interesting to note that the band went with a rock and roll version to shoot their music video as well as their stage acts.
17. The Vengeful One by Disturbed
After a hiatus of four years from 2011-15, heavy metal band Disturbed thrilled their fans by releasing a fiery single, “The Vengeful One.” The track became an instant hit, peaking at number one on Billboard US Mainstream Rock and coming in on 8th on Loudwire’s 20 Best Rock Songs of 2015. Even as one of the slower ones on the album, the song keeps the heaviness quotient intact.
Heavy active pickup riffs in low-tuned guitars, pounding drum work, and David Draiman’s intense vocals made “The Vengeful One” well worth the 4-year wait. Lyrically, the song is about the End of Days where the world has become a destructive mess. There’s an entity or a dark messiah that shows up to clean up our acts. This track seems to be the only one played by Disturbed in drop B tuning and, therefore, a great addition to your repertoire.
18. Pray For Plagues by Bring Me The Horizon
British alt-rock band Bring Me The Horizon does not shy away from experimenting with eclectic musical styles. While their earlier work was drenched in deathcore, they gradually started transitioning to more mainstream styles like metalcore and alternative rock. The band also adopted electronica and hip hop in some of their recent releases. You might be familiar with what they sound like now, so let’s take you back to their nascent phase when deathcore was their signature style.
“Pray For Plagues” from their 2006 debut album Count Your Blessings is a fiery track in drop B that’s also one of their heaviest compositions. Full of fast guitar riffs, fantastic breakdowns, and vocalist Sykes’ growling vocals, this track showcases the band’s epic versatility. Many of Bring Me The Horizon’s songs are in alternate tunings. “Traitors Never Play Hangman,” “What You Need,” and “Obey” have all been played in drop B.
19. Romance Is Dead by Parkway Drive
Australia’s biggest metalcore band Parkway Drive’s hit single “Romance is Dead” is a mosh fest that catapulted the band’s popularity the instant it dropped. This timeless track is also touted by many Australians as the song that pulled them into the heavy metal scene.
Featuring distorted palm-muted riffs, adrenaline-pumping breakdowns, and one of the most phenomenal mosh calls ever, it’s no surprise that this track has become a live staple for Parkway Drive. Every time they play the song, it whips up the crowd into a frenzy! The track was released in 2005 as a part of their debut album Killing with a Smile. Like most of their compositions, “Romance is Dead” is played in the band’s favorite drop B tuning. If you are looking for a band that almost always plays in this tuning, be sure to check out Parkway Drive’s repertoire.
20. The Truth by Limp Bizkit
While scrolling down this list, you may have already noticed that metal bands favor drop B for its heavier, darker sound. But there are exceptions where some mainstream bands have picked this unusually low tuning to experiment with their sound. Prominent American rap rock band Limp Bizkit is one such group. Their 2005 EP The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) has the band in a heavier and more innovative avatar and features an impressive track in drop B tuning.
Their second track from the album is an interesting blend of banging riffs, epic basslines, and industrial sonics. This album also marks the return of the band’s guitarist Wes Borland who can be heard using extreme distortion throughout on a guitar that’s tuned to B-F#-B-E-G-C#.
21. Invisible Enemy by August Burns Red
The song that fetched metalcore band August Burns Red, their second Grammy nomination, is an intense, dark composition that’s fueled by chugging riffs, dynamic drum work, and ferociously harsh vocals. From ABR’s eighth studio album Phantom Anthem, “Invisible Enemy” is a brilliant song in drop B tuning.
The entire album is an eleven-track classic metalcore fest. Released in 2017, it opened to raving reviews from fans and critics alike, peaking at number 19 on Billboard 200. In this Grammy-nominated track, you’ll experience a culmination of all the elements that make August burns Red such a revered band in the metal scene. With their trademark colossal build-up, blistering lead parts, and an insane breakdown, this track is bound to blow your mind.
22. Denial by Sevendust
American alt-metal band Sevendust’s most recognizable song is an absolute gem in drop B tuning! Part of the band’s second album, Home, “Denial,” is an excellent4 mix of powerful vocals, hard-hitting riffs, pounding drums, and great basslines. Lyrically, the track’s about relationships that go awry when people outrightly deny certain events and never share their feelings with the other person. Interestingly, the songwriting credit for “Denial” is shared by all five members of Sevendust.
The track showcases Lajon Witherspoon’s vocal prowess that’s an attention-grabbing mix of aggressive screams and a soulful chorus. In terms of guitar playing, both the lead John Connolly and rhythm guitarist Clint Lowery knock it right out of the park! The crunchy riffing and the stellar bridge is a masterclass in drop B tuning.
23. Nomadic by Slipknot
We’ve dug out a great track in drop B tuning from Slipknot’s 2015 album.5: The Gray Chapter. “Nomadic” is an underrated gem that features arguably one of the sickest solo by Jim Root. Otherwise a classic fast and heavy Slipknot fare, what really stands out in “Nomadic” is the awesome solo.
The band is not really known for their guitar solos, but when they play one, it is quite something, and this track has not one but two ripping solos! The one played by Mick shows up first with a sweep pick arpeggio pattern that might need a certain level of proficiency to learn. Jim’s part on the other hand is relatively easier to tackle, so you might want to start with that one first. Tune your guitar to B F# B E G# C# to play “Nomadic” in the same tuning as Slipknot.
Drop B Tuning Chords
Now that you know how to tune your guitar to Drop B, here is an easy and handy chord chart to help you play several different chords in this tuning – the numbers in each cell denote the fret you have to press, while ‘X’ refers to skipping/muting that string. As you will see, Drop B lets you play plenty of power chords with just a single-finger barring.
Playing with alternate tunings is a fabulous way to expand your guitar playing abilities and source of inspiration as well. We hope this article gives you everything you need to enjoy the heavy gritty awesomeness of the Drop B tuning!
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.