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Old 02-03-2016, 04:21 PM   #1
arvarna
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Pot Why is everybody down-tuning nowadays?

I've been jamming with different metal/rock bands lately and they always ask me to down-tune to drop Eb, D, C and most recently B. I get it if you want to cover a song with the same tuning but for writing originals I don't see why it's become almost a necessity to drop everything.

I play bass so maybe it's because it makes it easier for the guitarists to play their chords, but it feels like people think by tuning lower you're automatically 'heavier' than the other bands. There are so many metal bands/songs that sound waaay heavier than your average american using just standard tuning, so why the sudden trend in down-tuning? Why do you down tune?
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:25 PM   #2
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It's not a sudden trend. It's been around since albums like Hell Awaits and shit. If you are playing in bands who desire to sound like Slayer or Sepultura or even Incantation, you are going to have to downtune.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:36 PM   #3
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It sounds different. Some people prefer it.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironic Maiden
It's not a sudden trend. It's been around since albums like Hell Awaits and shit.


Psh. Way longer than that.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by theogonia777
Psh. Way longer than that.

I know, but I was speaking more about when it became popular, which to my limited knowledge would seem to be around that time and a little earlier. I mean yeah, Black Sabbath down tuned and whatnot, but not everybody was downtuning right after Black Sabbath came around.

Hell Awaits was also just the first album to come to mind.

Did Possessed downtune? I've never really listened to them enough to tell.

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Old 02-03-2016, 05:29 PM   #6
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I always enjoy the Standards, so Drop tunings are a bit of weirdness still to me. However, I can say that downtunes have their certain appeals and advantages and such. Personal preference, perhaps, on the best and biggest reason?
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ironic Maiden
Did Possessed downtune? I've never really listened to them enough to tell.


Pentagram did on a few of their demos I think. Their self titled didn't come out until like 84 anyway, but their 70s demos did. A lot of the proto-metal guys like Zep and Jimi Hendrix had tuned down at points as well. Blues and jazz guys had been doing it forever as well.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:39 PM   #8
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Well standard vs drop tunings are two entirely different categories. I used to think drop D was just for spamming power chords as quickly as possible, but it actually allows for a lot of unique phrasing and chord voicings.

That being said, even down tuning to D standard can give a cooler vibe in some contexts. I tend to think of it as reverse-capoing.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:42 PM   #9
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Fair enough, fair enough. I group Drops and Standards in essentially the same group if they are similar enough (Drop D and E Standard, for example) because of a subtle, but noticable, key difference in playstyle.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:46 PM   #10
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I tend to think of it as reverse-capoing.


That's practically what it is. A capo lets you play in different keys with less effort, and it affects the tone and the feel quite a bit. Downtuning does the same.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:22 PM   #11
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I don't see many reasons not to downture actually. It extends your range and gives some different sounds for rhythmic parts, with little to no disadvantages (seriously, how often are you hitting that high E on the 24th?)

My favorite solution is to play a 7 string with a low B/A and keep the other 6 string in standard tuning. That way you have the low tones AND the regular tuning

PS: for an historical reason for that trend, my bet would be that it is heavily linked to the arrival of mass produced 7 strings in the 90s (ibamez/Steve vais/Korn)

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Old 02-03-2016, 06:40 PM   #12
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PS: for an historical reason for that trend, my bet would be that it is heavily linked to the arrival of mass producced 7 strings (ibamez/Steve vais/Korn)


Not at all.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:40 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by theogonia777
Pentagram did on a few of their demos I think. Their self titled didn't come out until like 84 anyway, but their 70s demos did. A lot of the proto-metal guys like Zep and Jimi Hendrix had tuned down at points as well. Blues and jazz guys had been doing it forever as well.

Jazz guys never tune down lmao

But yeah, I was just speaking about it being common practice. A few bands tuned down WAY earlier but it wasn't nearly as common then as it was post-Hell Awaits/albums like Hell Awaits (as far as I'm aware).
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ironic Maiden
Jazz guys never tune down lmao


Jazz musicians apparently pioneered everything from 7 string electric guitars to blast beats to double bass to everything.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:47 PM   #15
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Jazz musicians apparently pioneered everything from 7 string electric guitars to blast beats to double bass to everything.

That is so far from the truth.

Never heard a Jazz musician do anything remotely close to that. All Jazz guitar plays I have listened to (and transcribed, because I play Jazz) have only used standard tuning, 6 string guitars and no double bass.

Perhaps these innovations come from a later era of Jazz that I'm not as familiar with, but I've never heard of that.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:25 PM   #16
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George Van Eps was using 7 string guitars in like the 30s or something. 40s maybe. Bucky Pitrazelli, however you spell it, was using them in like the 50s or 60s as well. Emmett Chapman, who invented the Chapman stick, was doing all kinds of elaborate polyphonic tapping stuff in the late 60s.

Louie Bellson is usually credited with developing the concept of double bass when he was in high school in the 40s. Nobody knows who invented gravity rolling, but Buddy Rich was supposedly doing it like forever ago and you can dig up some 60s or 70s videos of Tony Williams doing gravity rolls and blast beats and double bass and everything in his drum solos.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:30 PM   #17
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Downtuning can drastically alter the sound your guitar makes. Even from just E to Eb, I notice there's a little more meat in chords. Sometimes its to help match a singer's range better, but other times it's just because there's a certain sound that people want that they just can't get in higher tunings.

These days I mostly play in drop A#. I would gradually tune lower and lower as I was learning different songs that I wanted to play, and eventually I found myself in drop B. When I started writing more music for downtuned guitar, I really liked the way the open A# sounded, so I stayed there. And now a lot of what I write would sound really weird if you tried it in drop D.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:39 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by kumamilesbear
Downtuning can drastically alter the sound your guitar makes. Even from just E to Eb, I notice there's a little more meat in chords. Sometimes its to help match a singer's range better, but other times it's just because there's a certain sound that people want that they just can't get in higher tunings.

These days I mostly play in drop A#. I would gradually tune lower and lower as I was learning different songs that I wanted to play, and eventually I found myself in drop B. When I started writing more music for downtuned guitar, I really liked the way the open A# sounded, so I stayed there. And now a lot of what I write would sound really weird if you tried it in drop D.


It would sound weird to you only because you are used to hearing them in a particular tuning
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:40 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by theogonia777
George Van Eps was using 7 string guitars in like the 30s or something. 40s maybe. Bucky Pitrazelli, however you spell it, was using them in like the 50s or 60s as well. Emmett Chapman, who invented the Chapman stick, was doing all kinds of elaborate polyphonic tapping stuff in the late 60s.

Louie Bellson is usually credited with developing the concept of double bass when he was in high school in the 40s. Nobody knows who invented gravity rolling, but Buddy Rich was supposedly doing it like forever ago and you can dig up some 60s or 70s videos of Tony Williams doing gravity rolls and blast beats and double bass and everything in his drum solos.

Huh, I learned something new today. Regardless, I've still never heard of a jazz guitar player downtuning (7-strings I get because it allows you to improvise a bassline), and I'm not sure that Eps and Pitrazelli really popularized the 7-string (note that I mean in Metal music), even though they used them (which is cool as fuck).

Rethinking my previous statement, the double bass origin actually makes sense. I'm not nearly as familiar with Jazz drummers, so I was a little hasty and speaking out of ignorance.

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Old 02-03-2016, 08:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reages
It would sound weird to you only because you are used to hearing them in a particular tuning


This is true, yes!
But I meant more the tone and timbre of the instrument. There's a certain kind of growl that my guitar makes if you tune it down enough to hit the sweet spot between the strings being too tight and full of midrange to too floppy and muddy. It's a tonal aspect of the guitar that's become part of the foundation of my sound. So even somebody else, if there were to listen to one of my songs in it's original tuning (probably drop A# or B), and then hear another one of my songs but in drop D, they'd probably be confused
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