Two-finger acoustic blues in Drop-D Tuning

Lesson #163 • Jul 24, 2018

Video Overview

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson I’ll show you a warm-up exercise built around simple blues riffs in drop-D tuning. This uses only 2 strings – and is easier to play than its standard tuning counterpart. If your guitar is regularly in drop-d, this is a great little exercise to pick up and play to get the blood flowing.

Simple blues riff

After tuning your thickest string down from an E to D, start with these foundational riffs. Accent the 1st and 3rd counts in each 4-count sequence.

E –––––––––––––––    –––––––––––––––     –––––––––––––––      
B –––––––––––––––    –––––––––––––––     –––––––––––––––      
G –––––––––––––––    –––––––––––––––     –––––––––––––––      
D –––––––––––––––    –––––––––––––––     –––––––––––––––      
A ––0–––0–2–––2––    ––5–––5–7–––7––     ––7–––7–9–––9––   
D ––0–––0–0–––0––    ––5–––5–5–––5––     ––7–––7–7–––7––      
    D                  G                   A                

And for each chord below, play the corresponding riff one time. E.g., begin by playing the D sequence four times in a row, then move to the G sequence four times in a row (etc).

D  D  D  D     G  G  G  G     A  A  G  G     D  D  A  A

Here’s the same sequence, written out as a full tab. Make sure you count with a consistent rhythm! e.g., “One-and-a, two-and-a, three-and-a, four-and-a” and so on… the idea being 3 sub-beats per each quarter note.

E ||–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B ||–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
G ||–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
D ||–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
A ||–0–––0–2–––2–0–––0–2–––2–|–0–––0–2–––2–0–––0–2–––2–|–5–––5–7–––7–5–––5–7–––7–|–5–––5–7–––7–5–––5–7–––7–|–
D ||–0–––0–0–––0–0–––0–0–––0–|–0–––0–0–––0–0–––0–0–––0–|–5–––5–5–––5–5–––5–5–––5–|–5–––5–5–––5–5–––5–5–––5–|–
     D           D             D           D             G           G             G           G
     1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a   1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a   1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a   1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a

E –|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
B –|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
G –|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
D –|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
A –|–7–––7–9–––9–7–––7–9–––9–|–5–––5–7–––7–5–––5–7–––7–|–0–––0–2–––2–0–––0–2–––2–|–7–––7–9–––9–7–––7–9–––9–||
D –|–7–––7–7–––7–7–––7–7–––7–|–5–––5–5–––5–5–––5–5–––5–|–0–––0–0–––0–0–––0–0–––0–|–7–––7–7–––7–7–––7–7–––7–||
     A           A             G           G             D           D             A           A
     1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a   1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a   1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a   1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a

Jack Johnson-style riff

Very similar is this riff, which I demonstrate in the video. Here, you’ll only press your additive finger down on the 3rd count of each sequence (and be sure to accent that count). Also, there’s a transitional walkdown sequence that is used when going from the A to the G (which I mark as “A*”). Watch my video for context.

E ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––          
B ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––          
G ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––          
D ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––          
A ––0––0––2––0––  ––7––7––9––7––  ––7––7––6––6––  ––5––5––7––5––       
D ––0––0––0––0––  ––7––7––7––7––  ––7––7––6––6––  ––5––5––5––5––          
    D               A               A*              G             

And for each chord below, play the corresponding riff one time. E.g., begin by playing the D sequence four times in a row, then move to the G sequence four times in a row (etc).

D  D  D  D     A  A  A  A*    G  G  G  G    D  D  A  A

The same sequence written out as a full tab is as follows. The main idea here is to emphasize the “2” and “4” counts, if you can – as that’s where your additive note is being played, which adds the distinctive sound to the riff for each chord.

E ||–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
B ||–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
G ||–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
D ||–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
A ||–0–0–2–0–0–0–2–0–|–0–0–2–0–0–0–2–0–|–7–7–9–7–7–7–9–7–|–7–7–9–7–7–7–6–6–|–
D ||–0–0–0–0–0–0–0–0–|–0–0–0–0–0–0–0–0–|–7–7–7–7–7–7–7–7–|–7–7–7–7–7–7–6–6–|–
     D       D         D       D         A       A         A       A*
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   

E –|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––||
B –|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––||
G –|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––||
D –|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––||
A –|–5–5–7–5–5–5–7–5–|–5–5–7–5–5–5–7–5–|–0–0–2–0–0–0–2–0–|–7–7–9–7–7–7–9–7–||
D –|–5–5–5–5–5–5–5–5–|–5–5–5–5–5–5–5–5–|–0–0–0–0–0–0–0–0–|–7–7–7–7–7–7–7–7–||
     G       G         G       G         D       D         A       A
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   

How to practice these

First, understand these foundational chord positions we’ll be using. 5th and 6th strings only for all three chords. For the G and the A, use your left index finger to barre the 5th and 6th strings on either the 5th fret (for the G chord) or the 7th fret (for the A) chord. See my video lesson for a demonstration.

E –––––––            –––––––            –––––––
B –––––––            –––––––            –––––––
G –––––––            –––––––            –––––––
D –––––––            –––––––            –––––––
A –––0–––            –––5–––            –––7–––
D –––0–––            –––5–––            –––7–––
     D                  G                  A

Next, the idea is to add a single note on top of the existing chord positions you know – and to get comfortable going back & forth between the main chord position, and the with-added-note chord position. For the D, you’ll want to add a single finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th fret (left index is fine). For the G and the A, you’ll want to use your left ring finger to play the additional note – while your left index is barring the 5th or 7th fret. Again, see my video lesson for a demonstration.

E ––––––––––            ––––––––––            ––––––––––
B ––––––––––            ––––––––––            ––––––––––
G ––––––––––            ––––––––––            ––––––––––
D ––––––––––            ––––––––––            ––––––––––
A –––0––2–––            –––5––7–––            –––7––9–––
D –––0––0–––            –––5––5–––            –––7––7–––
     D                     G                     A   

Once you have this worked out, you’ll be able to tackle the riffs shown above. Good luck!

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