Recently I've been trying to write a song in drop C. However, I'm not a very experienced guitar player. I've been playing for about 11 months and I want to know some basic chords (besides power chords) or any other kind of information I should know so I can write some clean riffs in drop C. Also, what scale should I play in? I was thinking the C minor scale since I heard somewhere that the root note of the scale should be the same as the low E string. Thanks in advance
Okay, first off, to make common chord/scale shapes easier to use, I reccommend that you tune up to D Standard, which is the same as drop C except the lowest string is tuned to D, it makes chord shapes alot easier.

Okay, secondly, how much theory and chords/scales do you know? That'll help me describe the rest of this.
First off, thank you for taking the time to help me out.

Anyways, I prefer the sound of drop C because of the low sound of the E string, but if I have to I will tune to D standard.

Regarding music theory, I'm almost clueless there. I know some basic chord triads and the minor pentatonic scale in the key of A and E, as well as the minor scale in the key of C (for drop C) and in E (for standard tuning).

One more thing. Bands such as All That Remains and Killswitch Engage have some very nice sounding clean riffs. The song "Six" by ATR has a clean part in the middle of the song followed by a solo, but I'm more interested in how the riff was formed and what chord shapes or notes were used (if any) to make the riff. I'm also curious about the intro of "The Arms of Sorrow" by Killswitch Engage. Maybe that will clarify what I'm trying to find here.
Last edited by TheRacistDragon at Feb 18, 2009,
Start learning theory on chord construction and Chord Progressions.
*reported*... twice in one reply!

OH NOES!!! Theowy is scawY!!!
Moveable open position chord shapes (like D Minor, A Minor, etc.) sound awesome with the drone of the dropped low string. Just apply cowboy chord shapes you already know to every position on the neck until you find something you like
Then there's this band called Slice The Cake...

Bunch of faggots putting random riffs together and calling it "progressive" deathcore.
Stupid name.
Probably picked "for teh lulz"

Mod in UG's Official Gain Whores
Okay, first off, that minor pentatonic shape can be moved anywhere on the neck to suit whatever key you're in, at the 2nd fret for F# minor, etc, and the penta in general is good for beginning improv.

As for the tuning, if you like the low C, you could tune the rest of your strings down to C standard to make chords easier, but thats really low, and tuning back up to drop C would be a bitch, so I say just go for D standard for a happy medium of the two.

Anyways, some nice ways to make clean riffs is inversions, I'm assuming your knowledge of basic triads covers the fact that the triad is the Root, Third and Fifth, with the third being major/minor depending on the triad and the Fifth being perfect, flatted or augmented for various triads.

Now, triads are good for strumming type stuff in general, but a nice way to mix it up is with inversions, this means the fifth or third of the triad would be the bass note, instead of the root of the triad, these have specific names, but I'll write those later, first lets work on application.

Heres a simple tapping lick that works with two triads, one is a common E Major, and the other is a C Minor triad, first inversion, this means the third, in this case E is the lowest note, this pattern can be applied to other strings aswell.

The highest note is tapped and the middle note is fretted normally, the low e is pulled off to. This is a very simple lick, but it sounds interesting because of the spacings, the first half is uncommon spacings and therefor sounding very different.

So, basically, work out some inversions of basic triads and try playing around with them.

tl:dr, traids can be rearranged to have the fifth or third on the bottom, ie, the lowest note, these are called second and first inversions respectively.
well, the easiest, most common chord shape for a drop tuning is this.


that's Cm which is of course movable. if you move the high note up a fret it's major or you can leave off the high note, which is the third, and it won't be major or minor, just a really full sounding power chord.

any of the chords you already know that don't use the big string will also work in drop tunings. ie. A and Am movable bar shapes, the bottom four string F shape.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Feb 19, 2009,
Thanks for all the replies. Good explanation on the inversions, after a couple of reads I finally got it . Though I don't like the sound of C standard, way too low for me.
Yeah, C standard is very low, also, I think someone mentioned this, a nice little chord shape in a dropped tuning is the D Major open chord shape, it can be moved around in a drop tuning with the low strings acting as a drone underneath it for an effective melody/bass line from one instrument, listen to the song I'm linking to for a good example of this being used, in the clean part.


That isn't a D major shape being used, but it illustrates my point of having moving chord shapes with the low strings as a backdrop drone, some good shapes for this are...


These would have the three open strings below as a drone.

EDIT: Editted the last chord shape, I accidently posted a b5 chord, which usually isn't good.
Last edited by MadAudioMan at Feb 19, 2009,
well honestly I don't play in drop c at all, but "Anti-Flag" has a few songs that are in drop C that you might be interested in taking a look at. Maybe just for a few more ideas to look over and what not.

Quote by Jared R. Boyd
well honestly I don't play in drop c at all, but "Anti-Flag" has a few songs that are in drop C that you might be interested in taking a look at. Maybe just for a few more ideas to look over and what not.


He's asking for CLEAN guitar riffs not simplistic drop-tuned pop-punk crap.


create single note leads add chords here and there, but you might need to study a bit before being able to do that.
*reported*... twice in one reply!

OH NOES!!! Theowy is scawY!!!
Born of a Broken Man has a nice intro, but it's not exactly what I'm looking for. I was looking for something more like this.


About the chords you posted, I'm sort of confused. You wrote:

So If I'm correct, you would play it like this?


And allislost, what exactly do I have to study? Right now I'm working on chord construction (pretty confusing, but I'm working on it!).
If you know your theory, it won't matter what tuning your in.

Learn your
1) major scales
2) minor scales
3) chord construction
4) time signatures

There is way more than that, but you can write a good song with just those. Learn the theory behind these, then learn what your favorite bands do in each area, and your set.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.

Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
Oh, sorry about that, the D was susposed to be a G string, so no, you'd play those chord shapes on the highest three strings, the e B and G, just so we both know what we're talking about. Also, I know that song isn't quite what you were looking for, but I was trying to show my point of playing moving chords and arpreggios with a droning backdrop, its effective for any style if you mess around a little.

As for the intro you posted, heres some pointers on writing similar to that.

Okay, the chord shapes I see alot in that intro are these.


Now, to use shapes like these with a low open C below them, I'd say these shapes would be nice.


Okay, now I'm not going to go into the lengthy discussion of how I got these chords, or what they are, etc, but I'm saying that arpreggiating these chords would low open C notes added can give you a very KSE vibe it done right. Also, these chords are all drawn from C Minor, with accidentals (Out of scale notes). So to make a heavy part to go with some chords like these, you could play in C Minor pentatonic or C Natural Minor, with power chords and such.

Hope those shapes help you make some KSE kind of stuff, also incase you don't know, Arpreggio means playing the chords one piece at a time, lets say you hold a open C and pick the notes in a specific order, well thats a good example of an arpreggio.

tl:dr, read the tab parts and arpreggiate them with low C notes to get some KSE style stuff. If you have powertab, a tabbing software, I'll make an example and show you. Or I'll just tab out an example later.
Haha, I thought those chords sounded a little funny. About the KSE chords, that is exactly what I was looking for. So thanks for being helpful this whole time ^^

By the way, I don't have powertab, but I do have Guitar Pro. Are power tab files compatible with guitar pro?
powertab is free so go get it.

Also, look up some chord progressions containing sus2, sus4, 7th's, 9th's, 11's, 13's, dim chords, basically, you want to learn some progression that are not just minor and major chords.

i go here whenever i want to learn some new progressions...

*reported*... twice in one reply!

OH NOES!!! Theowy is scawY!!!
Last edited by allislost at Feb 20, 2009,
This as an awesome thread, I was about to start a forum on this, but I used the "searchbar" instead, I know what a concept!

Anyways, are ther any good songd where I can learn some chords for drop C, jut just clean but distorted as well
Jackson Rhodes
Jackson Kelly With EMG HZ's
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Sierra 28ce Acoustic Electric
Peavey Vypyr 212 (tube)
Line 6 Floor pod
Ibanez Toneblaster 30w
Custom Bass I built from spare parts
Fender Rumble 60 bass amp