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#1
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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#2
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.
#3
It sounds different. Some people prefer it.
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#4
Quote 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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#5
Quote 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.
Last edited by Ironic Maiden at Feb 3, 2016,
#6
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?
#7
Quote 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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#8
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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#9
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.
#10
Quote by BledGhostWhite
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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#11
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)
Last edited by Djaydjay at Feb 3, 2016,
#12
Quote by Djaydjay
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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#13
Quote 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).
#14
Quote 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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#15
Quote by theogonia777
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.
#16
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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#17
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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#18
Quote 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
#19
Quote 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.
Last edited by Ironic Maiden at Feb 3, 2016,
#20
Quote 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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#21
Quote by Ironic Maiden
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.


A lot of the country/jazz and rockabilly guys also liked baritone guitars.

I'm not sure how much it was used by jazz guys. Tony Williams and other guys in their solos certainly used it a lot, but obviously not the same way as metal guys. But it went from jazz to rock (Ginger Baker, Carmine Appice, etc) to metal.

Also interesting thing. Apparently John Bonham invented the heel toe thing by accident because he was trying to copy what Carmine was doing, but didn't realize that he was using two bass drums and so he tried to think of a way to do it on one.
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#22
Quote by Ironic Maiden
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).


I don't know why you keep citing Hell Awaits. It's a half step down. There was plenty of popular music that either tuned to Eb as a rule or to accommodate certain songs (say, No Quarter by Zeppelin). Van Halen, Dio-era Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Hawkwind, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, to name a few, then you have the various bands who either tuned down way earlier or tuned down lower and happened to inspire Slayer (Venom). Slayer was influential for a lot of reasons, but it's not like that album was a line in the sand for down tuning or something.

It'd be like saying death metal bands started tuning to D because Motley Crue did. It was something a lot of people wised up to around the same time because they drew from similar influences.
Last edited by Iommianity at Feb 3, 2016,
#23
Quote by Iommianity
I don't know why you keep citing Hell Awaits. It's a half step down. There was plenty of popular music that either tuned to Eb as a rule or to accommodate certain songs (say, No Quarter by Zeppelin). Van Halen, Dio-era Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Hawkwind, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, to name a few, then you have the various bands who either tuned down way earlier or tuned down lower and happened to inspire Slayer (Venom). Slayer was influential for a lot of reasons, but it's not like that album was a line in the sand for down tuning or something.

It'd be like saying death metal bands started tuning to D because Motley Crue did. It was something a lot of people wised up to around the same time because they drew from similar influences.

I just really like Hell Awaits.

But honestly, I wasn't stressing to really pinpoint when it was popularized, because I think I'm a bit too ignorant on my history to really pin it down (it seems to me it started to really become popular in Extreme Metal around that time to my limited knowledge). I just picked an older album with downtuning to show the OP that this isn't a new trend that just sprang up in recent years.

I also just picked Slayer because in extreme Metal, where downtuning is most common, most bands take inspiration from Slayer in one way or another.
Last edited by Ironic Maiden at Feb 3, 2016,
#24
I think its strange how guitar seems to be the main instrument of choice when it comes to alternate tunings. You rarely hear about a person down tuning or up tuning their piano. And violinist need to read sheet music, so they keep theirs standard as well.
I think electric guitar doesn't really have any standard anything. And it's really common for 2 guitarist to meet and want to jam, but not be able to because their styles are completely different.

There are pros and cons to not having a set standard in a hobby. I mean, some people play for years without knowing what a G chord is. I play standard, 100% of the time.

I think people usually down tune because their favorite bands down tune. And for their music, they might have to down tune. I doubt you'll see a country guitarist tune to D standard.
#25
Something I haven't seen mentioned is the harmonic overtones drastically change when you change tunings. That's a huge aspect of it for me (though I never go lower than C#).

Real trve kvlt elitists tune to 432hz anyways. If you don't know what that is, do a quick Google search, then hop on the YouTube to listen to a favorite album that you are familiar with and FEEL the difference
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#26
Even if it's been used frequently in past decades from my experience it seems like it's become more 'normal' to drop to a particular tuning than to remain standard. I feel like I'm late to the new trend and still playing tuned to grandpa's standards.

I guess it offers more access to alternate chords and can help with singing. Before I thought it was done mainly to sound heavier and cooler than the other metal bands and get a meatier, chunkier riff going, which is just as possible in standard like megadeth's symphony of destruction. I'm mainly pissed that I have to get a 5 string to play that low now with no fret buzz.
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#27
Quote by TwoPlusTwo
I think its strange how guitar seems to be the main instrument of choice when it comes to alternate tunings.


No. Almost all folk string instruments use multiple common tunings. In fact, many instruments need to be returned to play in different tunings, especially those with drone strings or that are not fingered.

Also many classical pieces for violin, lute, guitar, etc call for the instrument to be tuned differently.

I think electric guitar doesn't really have any standard anything.


There's a reason why they call it "standard" tuning though. Seriously l. Most guitar-based Western music (can't speak for all non-Western) is played in standard outside of maybe Hawaiian music if that coints as Westetn and most anything slide guitar. Almost all instructional material is written in standard as well excepting only that which is specifically written for alternate tunings.

I doubt you'll see a country guitarist tune to D standard.


Plenty of country guitarists tune to D or use Baritone guitars in order to accommodate vocalists with lower voices. Do you even listen to country?
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#28
Theogonia using objective discussion and examples. Quality posting. More of that type of posting, please.
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#29
I agree on the electric guitar and country music discussion by Theogonia. It's called Standard tuning, to the best of my remembrance (and I might be off on this), because it was typically what was tuned for guitars and similar instruments. Alternative tunings came by later to distinguish from the norm. Neil Young, CCR (Southern Rock, but sort of the same thing to me, really), and a few others were Country/Southern artists who used D Standard tuning or at least D tuning. It's quite simply easier to retune guitar and other stringed instruments than some of the other types, at least for me. That is just me on all this, and I will gladly accept corrections on flaws in logic

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#30
I can only speak for myself, but I simply enjoy the lower tones more. Switched to C# about five-six years ago and stayed there. Probably something about those different harmonic overtones that Proggy mentioned that sits right with me.

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#31
To each their own, I say. Whether that be the lower tunes or higher tunes, as long as it works for the guitarist, it is good to use
#32
Quote by arvarna
Even if it's been used frequently in past decades from my experience it seems like it's become more 'normal' to drop to a particular tuning than to remain standard. I feel like I'm late to the new trend and still playing tuned to grandpa's standards.


I would assume you're talking about the current trend of deathcore bands playing 7 & 8 strings tuned down to G and E, but you referenced tunings like Eb and D, so I don't really get what trend you're talking about.

Did you only play music in in E standard before you joined any bands?

And I personally enjoy C and B standard for my guitars. Just feels and sounds right for me.
#33
Personally, all I EVER used for tuning was E Standard. That was all I ever focused on and what is my main and best tuning to use. Drop tunings are still weird to me, but they are good for what their purposes are. Standards work best for me. B Standard and C Standard, I kept thinking before that the strings would be a lot more flimsier than I intended them to be, so I hardly ever went lower then Drop D/ Eb Standard. I might have hindered myself more than done good with it, but thank goodness for transposition. That's all I'll say on the matter. Sorry I wasn't arvarna to be able to answer directly

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#34
I'd blame all those goddamn scene kids who tune to Drop-A or whatever to make their Nu-Metal/mainstream Hard Rock styled 'Metalcore' sound more 'br00tulz' than it actually is...

Nah, just kidding. While that is one of the reasons, drop tuning can be used to create an atmosphere of doom and gloom that just can't be obtained with E Standard (as is the case with a lot of doom metal bands).

However, you really don't need to drop tune to sound heavy. In fact, to prove my point, I've attached a song from the first album by Beheaded, a Brutal Death Metal band from Malta, which sounds like it was recorded in E Standard. I tune to C# Standard, which I think is the ideal middle point between E Standard and Drop Z type shit. Low enough to sound aggressive, but not too sludgy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdtR4oBz9vA
#35
I know a lot of people on this site don't like this guy, but I do. And I think this video shows some cool comparisons between E Standard and several different dropped tunings. (Warning: There is an offensive hand gesture and I'm unsure if that's cool to post or not. But the comparison is why I'm posting.) https://youtu.be/2M4V2RXMgFE
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#36
Personally, I like him and Rob and a bunch of other musicians that may come across as brash or crude to others. He does seem to make some valid points, even if he is excessively goofy and annoying with them. To each their own, though. I will solely say this: offensive would be a helluva lot worse than that, to me xD again, to each their own

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#37
Quote by GraceByDeath
I know a lot of people on this site don't like this guy, but I do. And I think this video shows some cool comparisons between E Standard and several different dropped tunings. (Warning: There is an offensive hand gesture and I'm unsure if that's cool to post or not. But the comparison is why I'm posting.) https://youtu.be/2M4V2RXMgFE



I think it's a good video to show that down tuning doesn't make you heavier, just lower, regardless of what you think of him and his other videos.
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#39
It's not exactly a recent trend

For me it's not about tuning lower, it's about being able to play things that would be impossible to play in standard.

You know, not just Drop/Strandard tunings

Tunings like DADADD, DADF#AE, Drop whatever with the high E string tuned to whatever, Open G, haha, in one of my songs I actually use a tuning that I never heard of just from playing around with the tuners

Tuning lower or higher I don't care, I use whatever fits the song better

Everything has it's place if it's used well
#40
I may be in my 20s but I feel like an old man on the subject. I don't really feel that super low sludgy sounds make any song "heavier" I can understand half step down, drop D or D standard or whatever but when guys are tuned as low as possible to be edgy or whatever the hell they think they are, it sounds like shit. If all these kid's want to be bass guitarists they should pick one up.

For me I almost always play in E standard on a 6 string guitar. Don't need "heavy" tunings and don't need 8 strings, I have far more then enough to work with.
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