Part of what makes the guitar so fascinating is that the instrument is an open platform. It is up to the player to apply their own unique vision to the instrument to impart a personal touch.
With this is the ability to tune the guitar in multiple tunings, including Drop-B, which is popular with metal groups. This tuning has a couple of variations and, because of this, it’s sometimes murky for beginners to understand.
However, Drop-B primarily utilizes E Standard tuned down 1 1/2 steps, except for the low E string. Getting that low string tuned to B will require lessening the pitch by 2-1/2 steps.
Of course, some groups keep the guitar in E Standard and only lower the 6th string’s pitch. Nevertheless, you’ll find both featured in this list of songs, with the former variation being the most prominent.
“Before I Forget” by Slipknot
Slipknot is arguably one of the most famous nu-metal bands to grace the genre. This group epitomizes many of the themes inherent in the genre, though unique in its costumed imagery.
As a band, Slipknot had a fairly quick rise to the mainstream shortly after its debut, self-titled release. By the time they went to record their 3rd album, Slipknot had the credibility to work with producer Rick Rubin.
The track, Before I Forget, comes from this 3rd album, and was one of many songs to achieve mainstream success. Slipknot is a major proponent of the Drop-B tuning, so you’ll see a few songs scattered throughout this article.
“Bad Company” by Five Finger Death Punch
Five Finger Death Punch is perhaps the poster child band that epitomizes 2000s radio-friendly hard rock. As such, you’ll often find that audiences are polarized between full-fledged fandom or they avoid the band altogether.
With that being said, Five Finger Death Punch did put their own spin on Bad Company’s hit single, Bad Company. Interestingly enough, the group released the song in honor of the US armed forces.
Now, as someone who grew up listening to the original, I never once related the song to the armed forces. Strangely enough, I don’t think that the English group, Bad Company, wrote the song about the US armed forces, either.
That statement isn’t meant to detract meaning for those who have taken the song to mean something specific. Rather, it’s just interesting how a song can be taken into a different context altogether.
“Pray For Plagues” by Bring Me The Horizon
Bring Me The Horizon’s Pray For Plagues plays like a classic screamo track from the early 2000s. The guitar employs several things that have become staple aspects of this ever-present genre.
For instance, the beginning of the track has some fierce riffing complete with harmonic squealies and a heavy breakdown. If you have a vocalist that can pull this off, be sure to add this 2007 track to your repertoire.
“Carrion” by Parkway Drive
Metal is not commonly associated with Australia, but Parkway Drive is a band that changed that. This group rose to prominence during the heyday of Myspace, eventually touring on the Vans Warped Tour.
Their 2nd album, Horizons, managed to chart surprisingly well for an Australian group. Carrion comes from this spectacular metalcore album and is one that any serious fan will be familiar with.
“Duality” by Slipknot
Rick Rubin does seem to have that magic touch with almost everything he’s ever worked on as a producer. It could be said that his presence helped to shape Slipknot’s Vol. 3 album into such a potent banger.
Most serious Slipknot fans are probably familiar with the explosive nature of the track, Duality. This Drop-B song is sure to get any audience fired up and jumping around.
Perhaps the best thing is that you’ll probably also be able to jump around while playing the song. It’s fairly easy enough on the technical side of things that just about any intermediate player can manage.
“Halo” by Machine Head
Even if you’re only vaguely familiar with 90s heavy metal, Machine Head is a name you probably recognize. The group has been persistently active since about 1991, and they haven’t been afraid to experiment in that time.
Their 2007 release, The Blackening, went on to eventually garner some of the highest critical praise possible. It’s on this album that you’ll find the track, Halo, which is full of carefully-crafted guitar lines.
“Send The Pain Below” by Chevelle
Chevelle is usually categorized as nu-metal, but they teeter more on the hard rock side of things. Take the song, Send The Pain Below, for instance, which comes from their famed 2nd album.
In this song, you’ll hear fairly tame guitar parts that are played in more of a melodic fashion. You’ll also hear full-on singing as opposed to any sort of screaming that you would hear with other groups.
Send The Pain Below is one of those alt-rock songs that found regular radio play upon its release.
“Don’t Stay” by Linkin Park
Groups like 311 and Rage Against The Machine had been incorporating rap into rock long before Linkin Park. However, anyone who was alive and cognizant in the early 2000s knows that Linkin Park was a cultural phenomenon.
It doesn’t matter how old you were, you probably knew at least 2 people who owned the 2003 album, Meteora. This album produced some of the group’s most iconic tracks.
Don’t Stay wasn’t officially released as a single, but is one that any owner of the album is familiar with. It makes for a surprising crowd-pleaser when you’re playing in Drop-B.
“Blooddrunk” by Children Of Bodom
Since the early 2000s, Children Of Bodom has been an ever-present enigma in the metal genre. In fact, you could say that, if Dethklok was a real band (minus the violence and ridiculousness), it might resemble this band.
The band’s tenuous career is full of classic albums that never fail to deliver what metal fans love most. This is all the more evident with the song, Blooddrunk, which came out in 2008.
“Locust” by Machine Head
Are you looking for a metal song that provides an opportunity to play with another guitarist? Machine Head’s 2011 track, Locust, is worthy of learning.
This song will school you in playing riffs that alternate between sets of strings. It will also give your drummer a workout by having the play a non-stop double-kick drum throughout the song.
Locust feels very anthemic and you’re sure to get an audience brimming with anticipation when playing this.
“Dance With The Devil” by Breaking Benjamin
Breaking Benjamin was another band that seemed to be an ever-present enigma in the early 2000s. The group’s brand of alt-rock seemed to fit right alongside many of the groups that became popular at the time.
Their 2003 album, Phobia, contains some of the most signature aspects of what Breaking Benjamin is known for. It’s on this album that you’ll find the song, Dance With The Devil.
No, this doesn’t play like a Mötley Crüe song. Rather, it’s a fairly melodic and somewhat-moody, downbeat heavy rock track.
“All I Want (Acoustic)” by A Day To Remember
There is just something infectious about a heavy band stripping things down to an acoustic performance. While music is almost always inflected with emotions, acoustic versions only amplify this effect.
The Unplugged albums of Nirvana and Alice In Chains are perhaps the most iconic examples of this. A Day To Remember gave their fans a special treat on the 7” vinyl single release of All I Want.
“Moving On” by Asking Alexandria
Dubai is probably one of the last places anyone would guess when asked about Asking Alexandria’s origins. This band’s name is recognizable to anyone who was a frequent lurker in Hot Topic stores in the early 2000s.
If you’re into rock music that employs distorted guitars defined by crispy-clean production, Moving On is worth learning. The song has a few surprisingly melodic solos, bordering on pop.
“Wrong Side Of Heaven” by Five Finger Death Punch
For many people, Five Finger Death Punch represents to rock what modern pop-country artists resemble to country. Despite this, Five Finger Death Punch has a massive following.
While mainstream accessibility likely plays the biggest role in this, so too, do the band’s calls to action. Their track, Wrong Side Of Heaven, calls attention (yet again) to the US armed forces and rampant homelessness.
“Hell Above” by Pierce The Veil
Pierce The Veil’s track Hell Above somehow manages to blend hardcore music with vintage video game music characteristics. The song is almost raw from the start, primarily from the delivery of screaming vocals.
However, once the song kicks in, it’s almost as if you’re engulfed in 8-bit flames. Playing the lead melody in this song will require you to get used to some syncopation.
“It’s Not Safe To Swim Today” by Veil Of Maya
In dire need of practicing melodic metal guitar soloing techniques? Veil Of Maya’s track, It’s Not Safe To Swim Today is diverse and has a little bit of everything technique-wise.
This is one of those songs that will likely require a massive amount of hours to master completely. Be patient and tread especially carefully if you don’t already have the song’s various techniques in your skill set.
“Dead Memories” by Slipknot
Somebody recently told me that they were ridiculed because “it wasn’t cool to listen to Slipknot back in the day”. And really, it was only until the last decade that the band was more accepted on a wider spectrum.
However, just because this group is extremely mainstream doesn’t mean that there isn’t something of musical value present. This song has a great blend of easy parts mixed with a little bit of spiciness to keep things interesting.
“Romance Is Dead” by Parkway Drive
The early 2000s were one of the greatest times to be in a band if you played heavy music. This is also the year that Parkway Drive released its debut album full of classic tracks like Romance Is Dead.
Parkway Drive seemed to have decent crossover success with those who were into metalcore and emo. In a way, the group helped to set a precedent formula that many bands would follow and adapt for themselves.
“Comatose” by Skillet
Skillet is one of those bands that always seemed to be on the fringes of mainstream popularity. If you didn’t know any better, you would have never guessed this group played religious music.
The group has always seemed to have relevance, though the early 2000s were especially kind to them. Comatose is a standard rock song for its time, played primarily with basic power chords.
Out of all of the songs on this list, this is one of the easier selections. If you’re more of a beginner, this could be an easier starting point when learning these songs.
“Worm” by Audioslave
Supergroup rock bands are often only good on paper but Audioslave just makes practical sense with results to show. Combining 4 different 1990s alternative rock icons paid off by accenting everybody’s strengths.
Their song, Worm, is a very fun track if you’re seeking a riff-heavy rock song at a reasonable tempo. Because Tom Morello is on the guitar, you should be prepared to use every guitar pedal in your arsenal.
“Blank Space” by I Prevail
Playing cover songs is usually only worth anyone’s time if the performers play the song in their own signature way. I Prevail chose to do this very thing when they recorded their own version of Blank Space (by Taylor Swift).
If you think about it, taking this approach is incredibly smart. By covering a popular song, fans of 2 polarizing genres meet in the middle to share some common ground.
“Don’t Pray For Me” by Asking Alexandria
Asking Alexandria has had a tenuous career full of releases that have become genre classics. For a wide swath of the band’s fanbase, their 3rd album (From Death To Destiny) ranks as the best.
The song, Don’t Pray For Me is one song that seems to be a favorite amongst many. If you can keep a consistent rhythm, there’s a fair chance you might have an easy go of this song.
“Which Will” by Nick Drake
In an article dominated by heavy bands, it’s probably a massive surprise to see Nick Drake mentioned here. If you’re unfamiliar, Nick Drake was active in the early 1970s with a career cut short by his unfortunate death.
While he was only reasonably successful then, today, he’s considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time. The age of the internet has made his music much easier to access, with audiences of generations not originally likely.
His standout album (at least for me) is Pink Moon, which features some of his most honest and meditative work. It also contains some of the most mind-boggling acoustic guitar playing you’ll hear in a singer-songwriter format.
The track, Which Will, is a prime example of what you’ll find on Pink Moon. His vocals are perfectly matched to the lower tuning he has employed here.
If you do attempt this, take note that it utilizes a Drop-B tuning variation unlike anything else in this article.
“Bury Me In Smoke” by Down
Down is one of those groups that probably wasn’t on your radar unless you were looking beyond mainstream metal. Though they are a supergroup of sorts, the band isn’t necessarily as successful as the members’ associated groups.
With that being said, Down has released some classic albums, particularly in the latter half of the 1990s. The track, Bury Me In Smoke is a steady rocker from the band’s debut album.
“The Vengeful One” by Disturbed
Disturbed has been at the forefront of 2000s rock music since the beginning of the new millennium. The band has seemingly always been a presence on mainstream outlets, with a dedicated and loyal fanbase as well.
Disturbed was never the heaviest band, but the use of Drop-B in The Vengeful One adds some gravity. Any beginner will be able to field this track but be prepared to practice your palm-muting.
“Maggie’s Farm” by Rage Against The Machine
If you need proof that Bob Dylan was always ahead of his time, listen to his lyrics. Take the song, Maggie’s Farm, for instance, which just about any person who works for a living can relate to.
Don’t let the examples of working on a farm fool you or think that the song is outdated. Dylan penned these words to transcend the times as well as any song Woody Guthrie ever wrote.
If you needed proof, you can be certain Rage Against The Machine wouldn’t release their own cover of the song. As a band, Rage Against The Machine is all about pointing out things that are too relevant to ignore.
Unlike the original version by Bob Dylan, Rage Against The Machine has put its own spin on this track. Along with the sound in general, one of the notable differences is the usage of the Drop-B guitar tuning.
“These Colours Don’t Run” by Architects
It only makes sense to follow up a Rage Against The Machine track with a song by Architects. The song, These Colours Don’t Run, is about as honest as it gets when it comes to a metalcore band.
When listening to this song, you will be confronted with the travesties of modern society. There are some insane tapping passages as well as a downright brutal breakdown worthy of a hall of fame.
“Fault Line” by August Burns Red
If you want to break beyond traditional songwriting structures, August Burns Red’s Fault Line is worth learning. While the song has traditional-to-metalcore musical tropes, the song plays more like a prog track in its composition.
This song will have you going all over so you better make sure that your chops are up to snuff. You’ll be employing catchy lead riffs and rhythmic breakdown parts all with the intensity of napalm.
“Rocket Skates” by Deftones
Deftones is another group that has had a tenuous career, making a serious impact along the way. For many, the song Rocket Skates was akin to a nostalgic throwback to the Deftones of the late-1990s.
While this song is heavy, Rocket Skates has a surprisingly infectious groove underlying the majority of its composition. Early intermediates could fare well here as the guitar parts are designed to support rather than take center stage.
“Proof” by Tremonti
Let’s face it, Creed was one of the world’s biggest rock acts heading into the new millennium. Somewhere along the way, Creed’s popularity diminished as it was no longer “cool” to be a fan.
Mark Tremonti has had a surprisingly successful career despite the “stain” (if you’d call it that) of Creed. He’s also one of the main reasons that Paul Reed Smith guitars have gone mainstream.
Tremonti still has his chops, as is evident in his song, Proof.
“Alpha” by Sevendust
Sevendust is a band that literally kept their nose on the grindstone, and toured to their success. By touring, they sold over half a million copies of their debut album, which initially only sold a few hundred.
The song, Alpha, is the final track on the 2007 album of the same title. If you have a grasp of rhythmic metal grooves, Alpha should come relatively easy to you.
“Revive” by The Devil Wears Prada
Dayton, Ohio’s metalcore group, The Devil Wears Prada serves up hardcore music like it’s permanently 2006. If you want to revisit the glory days, check out the song Revive, which comes from the Zombie EP.
You’ll want to have this in your repertoire if you play in a multi-vocalist metalcore group.
“Tiny Birds” by Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo is a band that has been a constant presence in the indie-rock scene ever since the 1980s. They are one of the few examples of a group that has only gotten better as time has gone by.
The group’s career began to hit a serious stride in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A few of the albums released in that time period are considered indie-rock landmarks, including the album Summer Sun.
This album is full of classic Yo La Tengo tracks, including the song, Tiny Birds. If you’re primarily used to playing in E Standard, this might be a good one to try out.
Instead of detuning the entire guitar, you’ll actually only drop the 6th string down to B. This song will give you a tiny masterclass in composing melodic indie-rock guitar parts that are simple yet foundational.
“Heavy” by Theory Of A Deadman
Theory Of A Deadman’s track, Heavy, is almost reminiscent of Rob Zombie’s song, Dragula. Yet, once the chorus kicks in, the track has the same pop groove as the country music from 2010-2020.
It seems like a confused song, but it might have danceable merit with audiences that have been hitting the sauce.
“Pig” by System Of A Down
If you’re looking for street-cred with System Of A Down fans, try your hand at learning the song, Pig. This song was never actually released and is from a demo tape from the mid-1990s.
You’ll need to focus your ears to discern what’s happening on the lo-fi recording.
“Carry” by ISIS
If you’re into prog-metal but don’t know ISIS, you’re in for a treat. Learn the song Carry, which comes from their classic 2nd album.
For being a metal track, Carry is extremely meditative, as is much of ISIS’s music.
“Gaia” by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
As far as current bands go, none is more prolific than Australia’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. In 2022 alone, the band released 5 full-length albums, which is a massive accomplishment, to say the least.
The crazy thing is, the band actually had a 5-album year in 2017 as well. What’s really interesting is that each album manages to be extremely distinct and unique.
The smorgasbord of musical genres has helped to make them one of the premier live acts of current times. After over a decade of outputting music like a factory, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is continually selling out shows.
The band is not afraid to experiment with tunings (they have multiple albums featuring microtonal tunings). Their track, Gaia, features the Drop-B tuning in a psychedelic stoner-rock setting complete with interesting rhythmic changes.
“Only” by Nine Inch Nails
In the early 2000s, Trent Reznor proved that Nine Inch Nails still held relevance for the modern millennium. The album, With Teeth, was the first album since the critically-acclaimed 1999 album, The Fragile.
Make no mistake about it, following The Fragile is no small feat because that album really is gold. But, With Teeth served up more of that classic Nine Inch Nails formula.
The song, Only, is an exceptional example of these classic Nine Inch Nails musical characteristics. Listen and you’ll find an irresistible dance groove complete with ambient soundscapes and Reznor’s signature raw lyrical delivery.
Playing this track is relatively simple as the song relies on the use of layers to build its massive sound. Because of this layered approach, each part needs to be simple enough to gel with the other layers.
At the end of the day, that is what makes the Nine Inch Nails music catalog worthy of study. Each song is designed with layering, using simplicity as a strength to build something larger than each individual part.
“Lazy Comet” by Polvo
Out of all the bands featured in this article, Polvo is perhaps the most obscure to mainstream audiences. With that being said, they are also one of the most influential underground groups of the 1990s.
Polvo helped to establish the math-rock genre, often featuring obtuse and unpredictable time signatures. They also have a distinct flair for dissonant guitars, which only makes their music more gripping.
Their album, Today’s Active Lifestyles, remains a landmark icon in the early formation of the genre. It is on this album that you’ll find the track, Lazy Comet, which utilizes the Drop-B tuning.
Keep in mind, if your ears are used to mainstream music, this is going to be a jarring listening experience. Part of what makes it so uncomfortable is the lackadaisical use of a guitar slide, imbuing a disjointed, drunken feeling.
Best Drop-B Songs, Final Thoughts
You’ll probably encounter some mechanical issues with your guitar if you’re primarily used to playing in E Standard. One of the most common aspects you’ll run into is excessive fret buzz from the loosened strings.
Sometimes, switching to a higher-gauge set of strings can help to alleviate this issue. However, depending on if the tuning is permanent, you might fare better in getting the guitar professionally set up.
More often than not, you’ll find baritone guitars being utilized with this tuning due to its longer neck. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your regular guitar to rock out to some of these classic Drop-B songs.