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Strings for Drop C

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by netgeist, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. netgeist


    Mar 17, 2010
    Western MA

    I recently starting playing with a band that prefers to do everything in drop C. I'm new to drop tuning...is there a string that will do a better job than something standard?

    - netgeist
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I would run .120, maybe .125 for a decent low C. I run a .125 for my B string and it is only 1 semi tone up from there so I would use that as a reference.

    .90-.105 does not make for a very good C, maybe .110-.115 would work but I don't know for certain.

    I would only make the top string slightly larger, I like a very thin G string .40, so I wouldn't want to go more than .5 but you could go thicker if you prefer fat strings.
  3. sunfighter


    Nov 26, 2011
    I used to use heavy gauge GHS boomers.... 50-115 for my band at the time that played in drop d and drop c. Im not sure if they make them but i bet a heavy gauge set of Roto-Sounds would be cool too.
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Drop D (DADG) or standard D (DGCF) can work well with .105s on long scale necks, but are a little loose for the later. A number of companies make a .110 set that is good for tuning one step down, but I've found them insufficient for drop C tuning (CGCF). D'Addario just released their EXL160BT set that they call "balanced" but I think work pretty good for drop C tuning. The gauges are .050 .067 .090 .120, which is a .110 set with a heavier low string. I'm trying them right now on a Lakland and I like them so far. I didn't have to do anything to my nut to make them fit and the "E" saddle just had to be adjusted to correct for the height of the string. I'm pretty sure my intonation is all over the place though. I'll correct that if I decide to stick to them.

    Bass Strings Online (www.bassstringsonline.com) sells singles of a lot of brands, so you could custom your own set if you want. Circle K also lets you make custom sets, but I've had issues with the taper on their strings working for me.
    IngloriousOz likes this.
  5. netgeist


    Mar 17, 2010
    Western MA
    Thanks folks...you've given me a lot of options here. Now I need to keep tweaking my action so there isn't string buzz. Getting it just right is turning out to be as complicated as alchemy!

    Is it bad for a guitar/bass to be left in a drop tuning? Since I am doing CGCF, I'm afraid the truss rod will take damage from not having the correct amount of tension.


    - netgeist
  6. I played in Drop C for many years with .110(roundwound) and .105(flatwound Chromes) and they worked great for me. There should be no harm done to your bass by doing this. Possibly less tension on the neck than standard tuning.

    It's all in the setup!
  7. I used 50/70/90/110 for D standard (rounds), but the 110 is floppy as C so I'd say a 115 or maybe even a 120 for drop C.
  8. I've used Ernie Ball Power Slinkies for the last 2ish years and they work really well.
  9. Trus3683


    Feb 14, 2013
    Connecticut, USA
    I've been planning on doing a nut swap on a bass to convert to CGCF and gauge was one of the first and only questions.

    From what I've found, and know, if you like thicker strings and won't be swapping between D standard and drop C, and will be staying at C,
    .125, .95, .75, .60
    It's a custom set and pretty much what someone above said you could do.

    My personal, general, rule is to move .005 up with every half step down, and vice versa to maintain feel (in string tension).
    The G, C and F strings are .010 up from a standard set because they are a step down (minus the F; personal preference) and the C is .20 down from a standard 105 E. (115 D, 105 E)
    I find a .115 D is very good in feel.

    If you want to switch between C and D, .120 is probably the thickest you can go and you may need to settle for a .115 because D is 1.5 steps up from the designed tuning (B) while C is only a half step.

    If you like lighter strings, and still want to keep tension, the Drop Down .50-115(?) DR set would probably suit you.

    Just keep in mind the strings may feel loose with this set, and also, you run NO risk of damaging your bass, though it may not work as well as it could until it is set up for the gauge and tuning it is in. You may need the nut filed to fit thicker strings. Experiment with the G, C, and F strings first, then start swapping out Low C's once your happy to see what you like best.
  10. netgeist


    Mar 17, 2010
    Western MA
    I'll have to try to some of these out...thanks again.

    I had to set the action so high that the strings clink like crazy. Is that a function of the wrong strings, set-up or working on technique to get used to playing at such a high action?

    - netgeist
  11. Trus3683


    Feb 14, 2013
    Connecticut, USA
    Wrong set up. They're clinking probably because the relief is off, and the neck is bowing back a bit further than ideal causing the string buzzing. You can have a 'perfect' set up in drop C, but it needs to be set up. Action at the bridge shouldn't be the first step. Adjusting the truss rod would probably be. I wouldn't advise you to if you didn't know what you were up to, though.

    If you didn't want to fuss with anything, I'd just step the gauge of string a bit, set the action back to normal, tweak intonation and things would probably play a lot better, but you still may need the nut filed and the bass still needs to be set up for whatever tuning it is in.
  12. netgeist


    Mar 17, 2010
    Western MA
    I figured (and feared) it was setup. I just brought my P Bass in to have it set-up for drop C. Then I got a new bass and would prefer it stay in drop C while my P Bass stay in standard. But I can't afford to do them both...AND have the P Bass re-setup for standard. :(

    - netgeist
  13. I used 105-45 in drop C for a long time, I really like the way it feels if you have your bass setup for the low tension. I've currently got (150)112-43 on my bass tuned GCGCF and it's just perfect.
    If you want higher tension, I would go with 115 or 110 and just remember that only the bottom string is getting dropped two tones, so don't get a set that is going to make playing on the G,C and F strings too hard. I wouldn't recommend anything higher than 120 for C though, even that would be way overkill IMO.
  14. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    If you pull similar tensions on both instruments you can set them both up identically. Then you can switch back and forth and not have issues.
  15. I use the .118 balanced set from Circle K for D standard/drop C. They work well.
    theycallsmecoop likes this.