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Drop C tuning considerations

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tnavis, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hey everybody -

    The new band I'm playing with has a few songs in our set where the guitarist switches from his 7 string in A standard tuning to a six string in drop C; as in the guitar is in D standard with the lowest string dropped an additional step down to C. This leaves me some interesting, and possibly amusing, choices.

    I'm playing a five string tuned ADGCF, so option 1 is to just play in key on that bass, forgoing the concept of an open low C. As this is all new material to me, it's a great ear exercise.

    Option 2 is to bring a second 5 string and drop the lowest two strings, GCGCF. This particualr bass is strung using a Kalium set, so it can probably handle another step lower.

    Option 3 is to bring a 4 string strung CGCF.

    Any thoughts or reccommendations?
  2. You could tune up a half step all the way across on a five string. That's weird, but you'd have an open C lol.

    If I were in your shoes (I'm not quite. Our guitarist writes everything in drop D) I'd tune to E standard and call it a day. I started playing extended range specifically so I wouldn't have to worry about lower tunings. I think the only song I couldn't work around an open D was Slither by Velvet Revolver. Most of the rest of the time I can make it work. With our original material (which is all we play now) there is no trouble at all since I'm developing the basslines anyway.

    I'm lazy though.
  3. This is why I stay in standard tuning. IMO guitar guys that do non-standard tunings do it to make something easier for them or the vocalist. Why should I suffer through all these mental gymnastics? When the song gets complicated as to what key is the tonal center, I ask the keyboard what key they will use and I do likewise.

    No keyboard? I keep a capo chart on the top of my amp and can usually figure out what they are doing from that. If this is live, and I have not played the song before, by the time I figure it out we are half way into the song. Another one bites the dust.

    Course you can run your G string till you find that tonal center note, but, again you are several bars late coming in. :banghead:

    I stay in standard tuning and ask the keyboard.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Option 1 definitely. It will make you a better player to be able to do that sort of transposition.
  5. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    I'd say that Option #1 is possibly the best, work out the songs on your current 5 string.

    Though if you do have a "spare" 4 string available, then Option #3 will work, as you won't have to transpose.

    A lot will depend on what sort of bass lines you play on those songs. Do you follow the guitar or play something complementary but different? What kind of patterns is the guitar using to justify the drop tuning?

    Option #1 not only means you only have to take the 1 bass to gigs/rehearsals, but it will also mean that you will get the "satisfaction" from not only working out the transposition, but playing something that could potentially be challenging to play (frustrating while you work it out, but satisfying when you nail it).
  6. Last time I played with guitars in drop C i used C standard using lighter strings. I’m just used to playing that way though. My main band the main tuning is drop B on Guitar and I use standard beadg and only change when he switches to his 7 strings which are in drop A which I use drop A
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