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Drop C tuning

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mantis Tobaggan, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I am trying out with a group I have never met, they have nothing posted online and they say they play rock. I want to check it out and see how it goes. However, the person I am talking to said they play in drop C tuning. I am not sure I like the idea of drop C as I am guessing it sounds like sludge. Anyone have experience with drop C? How is it? I have a P bass that is normally in standard tuning.
  2. are they perhaps a sludge band?

    Sabbath tuned to C and C#, it does not have to sound like sludge. you just need to be smart about your setup and EQ.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  3. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    sounds great with the right gauge strings. you'll need to buy singles to account for the variation in tension in the low C.

    I'm repeating myself from many other threads, but i use:


    Roto steels as they are one of the few brands you can buy singly over here.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Unless you have "perfect pitch" you probably won't be able to hear the difference between E and C tunings. ;) If it's just for an audition then I wouldn't even bother changing strings or anything like that. I use a .086 E string sometimes for drop C and it sounds great! Just tune down to C, jam with the band, and if you get the gig, then maybe think about switching to a heavier gauge of strings.

    Drop tunings are very common these days, so if that's not an appealing concept to you, I bet they'll have no problem finding a bassist who is open minded to the idea.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    That C is a half step higher than standard tuning on a 5, so it will sound fine with the right strings.

    I wouldn't walk in with normal EADG strings and try it without a trial run first. Depending on your strings and technique it could be a rattly mess.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  6. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Once you de-tune it, the neck relief will disappear, meaning you'll probably have fret buzz.
    check the neck relief & adjust the truss rod accordingly
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  7. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I've been messing around with C-F-Bb-Eb and haven't had issues with muddiness. Not sure if I'm the exception to the rule or an EQ genius... :smug:
    LowNloud1 and Mantis Tobaggan like this.
  8. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I have Hipshot D-Tuner on most of my basses. They are all double-stop, so i can tune it down to D and to a C.
    34" scale length, medium gauge strings. It sounds great and it's a lot of fun. I could possibly go down to B but the string get floppy. It's ok depending on the kind of music you are playing but when tuned down to a C it still feels pretty good.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  9. C_Becker


    Mar 30, 2017
    Lots of modern metal is played in drop C. Not necessarily sludge or doom. Listen to Ola Englunds band "Feared" for a great example of modern, tightly-played stuff in Drop C. Or Children of Bodom, also lots of stuff in Drop C.

    Drop C isn't even that low, its just D standard tuning with a dropped bottom string.

    I think you'd have to go up in string gauge if you played that tuning regularily.
    Especially the E (now C) string will be quite floppy, since its tuned down two full steps.
    Intonation might be another issue, as will fret buzz.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  10. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    I think it's one of those things that seems like a great idea in the rehearsal room, but doesn't really translate terribly well at concert volume - I've never seen a band that actually sounded great live, using Drop C.

    Even Queens of the Stoneage : great band, great songs, great records - but live, the songs have the liveliness sucked out of them, with everything sounding veiled.

    The amps, cabinets, and instruments, weren't really designed with that in mind - though I'm all for pushing the envelope, and abusing technology, so long as it sounds good.

    I know this opinion isn't going to be popular ; but personally Drop D is as low as I'm happy going (and that's pushing it), because any lower than that, and it stops sounding like an electric bass.

    At that point, there are any number of instruments (electric, electronic, woodwind, brass, hammered) that handle the really low frequencies much better, and with a much more interesting timbre.

    That's why I won't touch a 5 string bass, when I can just reach for a synth / sampler.

    One thing you could try, is tuning your bass down a whole tone, so that your D string becomes a C string.

    But yes, you can just drop the E string down to C - though you ought to increase the gauge by 1 set per downward step, to retain tension, clarity, and intonation (which may require permanent adjustments to the nut).
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  11. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    It is tricky but not impossible. My band uses two tunings, CGCF and BEAD. What stinks about the drop C tuning is that you either have to deal with a floppy C or order custom strings.
    Currently I use .120 .90 .70 .50 on my drop C bass. A stiff set of .110 strings will work too. It can work on a P bass, bands do it all the time, you may need to adjust your EQ settings a little as now you are producing a lot more low end and clarity is more important. You can also look into certain OD pedals that will enhance your attack.
  12. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I just dropped it down to c tuning. It is really deep but doesn’t sound bad. I will see how this band is tomorrow :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
    Bijoux likes this.
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