Correct 'True' Drop Tuning

I will go over how to correctly tune your guitar for the 4 most commonly used dropped tunings and tell the difference between "true" drop tuning and what the majority use.

Ultimate Guitar
I'm going to assume you already know the number of each string if not then, bottom string to top string is 1-6. And before we get into this lesson, I will also explain "true" drop tuning. It's really simple but I'm surprised how many people don't know it. For example, most people think that "Drop C" is CGCFAD, which really isn't true.

"True" drop tuning is dropping ONLY the low E string while the rest of the string remain the same. CGCFAD is actually Drop D down one step which is the low E string dropped to C and the rest dropped one step. But I think the masses of guitar players would say "Drop C" sounds cooler than "Drop D Down 1 Step." "True" Drop C tuning sounds a little weird so they use CGCFAD because the pitches match, so CGCFAD has become sort of the standard term for "Drop C" So yeah, "true" drop tuning is really dropping ONLY the low E string. Okay so enough of that, to the lesson.

1. Drop D (DADGBe)

My favorite tuning to play in and is one of the simplest. It sounds great and almost every rock band has used it. You just drop the low E (6) string down one step to D.
For Drop D tuning most standard strings that come on a guitar will work.

2. Drop C (CADGBe, or CGCFAD)

Used mostly in metalcore/post-hardcore, "true" Drop C is still pretty simple but the most commonly used version is a little more tricky. What you do is set your guitar into Drop D then drop all the strings down one step.

For "true" Drop C: For the widely used Drop C:
1-e 1-D 
2-B 2-A
3-G 3-F
4-D 4-C
5-A 5-G
6-C 6-C
For Drop C I recommend using a heavier gauge of strings, .010-.052 (if you mainly only use the top three strings) or .012-.052.

3. Drop B (BADGBe, or, B F# B E G# C#)

Again this is used a lot by metalcore/post-hardcore bands. This one is a little difficult. Set your guitar into Drop D then drop each string 1 1/2 steps down.

For "true" Drop B: for the more commonly used Drop B:
1-e 1-C#
2-B 2-G#
3-G 3-E
4-D 4-B
5-A 5-F#
6-B 6-B
For Drop B definitely use .012-.052.

4. Drop A (AADGBE or, A# F A# D# G# C)

I won't cover this one because I don't recommend doing this if you have a 6-string as it's usually played on a 7-string. Using Drop A on a six string is a little extreme and could harm your guitar. (Sorry, I just don't want you blaming me if your strings snap or guitar is damaged trying to do this).

For Drop C and B, you may have to adjust your guitars intonation, and adjust the truss rod.

Well thank you for viewing my lesson, I hoped this thoroughly explained the difference between "true" dropped tuning and what the majority of players accept and use.

48 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    I don't know if it's really that Drop-C sounds "cooler" than Drop-D down 1 step, but rather it's quicker and easier to say Drop-C. Plus if you just tune the bottom E down to C, and leave the rest of the guitar in standard, there's no real use for that tuning. Drop-D is used because you can do barred power chords, and Drop-C is the same idea but lower. I can think of no good reason to tune the bottom E down to C and leave the rest of the guitar in standard.
    Totally agree, it would make no sense and I can't see a use for it, which is probably why CADGBe is somewhat redundant.
    The use for CADGBE would be open chords. You can build a lot of chords, using that low string. Yes, you can't play barred power chords. But, really, that's kind of lazy, anyway. If the sole reasoning for drop tuning is "barred power chords", then you're just being lazy.
    But it takes away the option of playing power chords. Personally I'd rather just use an open major/ minor tuning instead, because I still have the option of playing power chords while still having room to make nice chord shapes. Even if I'm playing folksy acoustic stuff it's nice to have the bottom three strings be able to form power chords. Even if I'm just using the lower strings as drone notes it's nice if they match up. I can't think of any uses for the CADGBE tunings that wouldn't be easier in another tuning, but that's just me. If you enjoy it, fill your boots!
    My favourite is Drop C# Or Drop D half-step down
    I tune my guitars to Eb standard, and I have a hipshot to make it Drop Db with a flick of a lever. It's heavenly.
    Sorry to sound psuedo-philosophical here, but is it really "true" if you're the only person who calls it that ? I can see how beginners might be confused about whether to tune just the low E or all six strings to match, but if you're going to try and make a thing out of differentiating, why not call it something like "sixth string drop"? Plus, your "true" drop C isn't something I've known anyone to use...
    I think the "true Drop C" has litteraly been used once by Muse on Map Of The Promblematique
    I think this lesson is wrong from beginning to end :First of all, I don't know where you've heard of those "true drop tunings", but I've never seen any song using a low e dropped to C with the rest of the strings remaining in standard tuning. People usally use standard tuning tuned lower then drop the lowest string (or not).Then, your recommendation not to use Drop A is totally wrong : if the guitar scale and the strings are adequate, there is no harm tuning that low (I think there are even bands tuning to Drop G with long scale guitars).
    Yeah this is a load of crap....we all know what a dropped tuning really is. Dropping just the low string is definitely possible, but definitely comes under the category of hybrid or altered tuning. You need to question where you got this information from, and this lesson should be deleted to save beginners getting confused.
    What is the point in this article? Is it really a problem that people are drop tuning conventionally? You think people who play in Drop A need to play the entire first octave along one string? Man, even having to play the first 6 frets on ones string is unconventional let alone 11
    This article has little to no ****ing point! Anyone who actually gives 2 shits about 'PURE' tunings needs to get a grip on life.
    I know this lesson was pretty much useless now that I see all my mistakes I made. No I didn't mean to say "true" as in i'm trying to say its the only way, I got it from a different source. I was not trying to push my "beliefs" on anybody. Again, i'm very sorry and am working on getting this removed.
    ah chill bro. i havent heard of any of the 'true' tunings, but im planning on trying them out. i actually used to not know what a bass sounded like, and whenever i heard a song in a drop tuning i thought it was the bass doing the heavy riffing lol
    I'm working on getting this removed. If someone would like to message a developer on getting this removed please do, I haven't gotten a reply yet. I made this lesson when I didn't have accurate information and thought it was at the time. Obviously my source was wrong and I've learned that. It was foolish of me to do a lesson like this in the first place. I'm sorry UG community.
    This is really a kind of pointless and annoyingly stupid lesson. You're giving wrong information, the guitar CANNOT take damage if you tune it down any ammount of pitch. It would possibly take damage ONLY if: It happened to don't have a truss-rod installed at all. And the neck has a strong force outwards. And the guitar was manufactured while having string force attached to it, so when you loosen up the strings, which bent the neck to a straight position, the neck breaks! But that is never ever the case nowhere at all, 100%. The strings also would never snap when tuning down. If they did, the have been manipulated at the anchor points at the bridge and/or nut. Or they where so old that they where rusting all along. Regarding your main topic, "True" drop Tunings, the least you could have done when describing them, was adding a few mentions of artists that use some of those "true" drop tunigs. "True" Drop A Tuning: A-a-d-g-b-e MUSE guitarist and singer Matthew Bellamy Check out one of their new songs "Supremacy":
    I can't offer other examples but it's not my lesson anyway. You shouldn't try to inflict your own beliefs on other people if you don't agree with the general population.
    Some of these things are erroneous enough that I wonder if I could pass at writing a column here. I should give it a try! On the other hand though, these are some interesting tunings to try out. Your drop-C reminds me a lot of Pain Of Salvation's tuning they used on much of their "BE" album: C G D G B E, same thing but with the 5th string dropped a full step.
    Pretty much everyone accepts Drop C as Drop the E 4 semi-tones and the rest 2. You're 'true' Drop C the general naming consensus is 'double drop C'
    I disagree. I'm in drop B and i'm using some .14-.64 strings. I was in .13-.52 and it was way too loose. It all depends on how fast you play.
    Actually, it depends more on your guitar. Plus, for some reason, a lot of people want lighter rather than heavier strings. Which doesn't make a ton of sense...because, if you use heavier strings in lower tunings, you're going to get more punch.
    7 string is the way to go honestly especially if your gonna drop and go in anything past drop c in my opinion drop b is really cool sounding but buying thick guitar strings and getting the bridge adjusted on a 6 string is kind of a hassle. With a 7 string you can be tune the 7th string in drop A or A#(better tension/tone in my opinion) and still have the other 6 strings tuned like a standard guitar or half a step up. Its like being in both standard and drop tuning at once and will probably never require you to tune/adjust intonation/tension unless you want to tune all the way down to G or just tune the 7th string back up to standard. Also no thick ass strings required.
    If the scale length and string gauge are the same, a 7 string is no more capable of lower tunings than a 6 string. All other factors being equal, all a 7 offers is extended range. You absolutely need thicker strings if you're tuning ultra low and don't want them mad loose or intonation issues. A 6 string with a longer scale length and/or heavier gauge will be more capable than a 7 with shorter scale at low tunings.
    Sorry, but for me this is BS. Where i live, drop "X" tuning clearly refers to "take any guitar tuned with regular intervals, whatever the key is, and drop the lower string one step lower..." , otherwise it is just called "tuning down X steps" or " E standard with a low X" ( Plus 0.52 for a low c is pretty slinky IMO ... and doesn't bear drop B, unless you play a baritone)
    drop a wont damage your guitar, ive dropped both mine to drop a plenty of tines, it goes out of tune a lot but thats about it.
    If it goes out of tune "a lot", then you probably need to put thicker strings on.
    The only band I've seen that uses one of these 'true' drop tunings (besides drop D of course), is The Safety Fire who play in 'true' drop A.
    Zakk Wylde and Mark Tremonti both use BADGBE as well as a flat version.
    BADGBe is actually a lot of fun. Mark Tremonti uses it a lot in Alter Bridge (Well, BbAbDbGbBbEb.) Soundgarden used it on Rusty Cage, And BLS uses it on odd occasion.
    No. True drop C is CGCFAD because that's what the tuning is called. Nobody uses your "true" drop C tuning. Drop C doesn't refer to only dropping the low E string. It's a drop-D-kind-of tuning, same as D standard is an E-standard-kind-of tuning. It's just the name of the tuning. The tuning came first, then came the name. If the name doesn't make any sense, who cares?. Oh, and how could your string snap if you tune it down? And tuning down doesn't harm your guitar. Otherwise changing your strings would be really dangerous because every time you change a string you need to tune it down.
    I agree with people saying that these tunings aren't 'true'For example, true drop C is not CADGBe, it is CGCFAD, as almost all other musicians here have stated.However, the comments saying nobody uses the 'true' drop tunings listed in this lesson, Muse use 'tru' drop C in Map of the Problematique, Kasabian use this tuning in Club Foot, and again, Muse use 'true' drop A in Supremacy and Citizen Erased. (For those of you who know Muse, yes, Matt Bellamy uses a 7 string live for these songs, but used a 6 string in 'true' drop A tuning for the recording of Citizen Erased)