Drop G Tuning (GDGCEA & GDGCFAD): Overview & How To Guide

Drop G tuning is a variation on standard tuning that has gained popularity among guitarists looking to broaden their sonic palette. The sixth string, which is normally tuned to E in standard tuning, is lowered two whole steps to G in this tuning. This modification not only gives the instrument’s timbre a deeper and greater resonance, but it also has a number of musical benefits.

The primary advantage of using Drop G tuning is its ability to produce powerful and sonorous low-end tones, making it ideal for genres such as metal, progressive, hard rock music, and other heavy genres.

Drop G tuning’s popularity stems from its ability to produce chugging riffs, thunderous chords, and amplified harmonic possibilities, all of which contribute to an engaging and distinct musical playing experience that resonates with both players and audiences.

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Understanding Guitar Tuning

Standard Tuning

E standard tuning serves as the foundation upon which most guitarists initially learn to play, where the strings are tuned to E, A, D, G, B, and E, starting from the lowest string.

However, as musicians seek to explore new tonal landscapes and expand their creative possibilities, alternate tunings emerge as a dynamic avenue.

Alternate tunings involve adjusting the pitch of one or more strings, reconfiguring the instrument’s sonic potential.

From open tunings that produce rich, resonant open chords with minimal finger movement to specialized tunings tailored for specific genres, alternate tuning offer musicians innovative ways to craft new sounds, experiment with fresh chord voicings, and create original compositions.

Drop Tuning

Drop tunings represent a subset of alternative tunings, characterized by their distinctive lowering of one or more strings’ pitch.

In drop tunings, at least one string is tuned lower than its standard pitch, often resulting in a heavier, deeper sonic character. Drop tunings are widely embraced in genres such as metal and hard rock, where they enable guitarists to effortlessly access low-end power and evoke resonating riffs.

Drop tunings are marked by their ability to simplify complex chord shapes and facilitate one-finger power chords, ideal for players who seek a balance between ease of execution and sonic potency.

Among drop tunings, Drop D and Drop C have gained substantial popularity for their balance between accessibility and depth, while more extreme drop tunings like Drop B and Drop G tuning offer musicians an opportunity to explore even more robust tonal dimensions and achieve a truly distinct sonic signature.

The Theory Behind Drop G Tuning

Drop G tuning involves lowering the pitch of the top strings and lowering the bottom string even further.

This modification enhances the lower frequency range of the guitar, making it particularly suitable for heavy and aggressive styles of music, such as metal and hard rock.

Mind you this down tuning is extreme, and so baritone guitars are better suited for it because of their longer scale lengths . Still, your can accomplish playing with this tuning on a standard 25.5″ scale guitar but it will require some heavy modifications.

For a 6-string guitar:

  • The standard tuning is E A D G B E.

  • In Drop G tuning, the lowest-pitched string is lowered by 4.5 steps (9 semitones) to G & the other strings are lowered by 3.5 steps (7 semitones).

  • The resulting open string notes in Drop G tuning are G D G C E A.

For a 7-string guitar (assuming you want to tune the 7th string to G as well):

  • The standard tuning is B E A D G B E.

  • In Drop G tuning, the lowest-pitched string is lowered by 2 steps (4 semi tones) & the rest of the strings are lowered by 1 full step (2 semi tones).

  • The resulting open string notes in Drop G tuning for a 7 string guitar are G D G C F A D.

Drop G tuning involves creating a rich and powerful low end by maintaining the familiar chord shapes and scale patterns found in standard tuning while achieving a lower fundamental pitch.

This allows for heavy, distorted power chords and chugging riffs on the lower strings, which are often characteristic of genres like metal.

Overall, Drop G tuning offers a distinctive tonal palette that suits the sonic demands of modern heavy music.

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How To Tune a 6 String To Drop G (GDGCEA)

When attempting this tuning, be sure to start the de-tuning process from the thinnest string first.

Why? Loosening the thicker strings first will add more tension than the higher strings can handle & cause a breakage.

Begin by tuning your high E string down 3.5 steps ( 7 half steps) from E to A.

Next detune the B string down to E, which is also 3.5 steps.

Then, tune the remaining three strings (except the lowest string) down 3.5 steps.

Finally drop the low E string down to G which will be 4.5 steps (9 half steps).

Reference Pitches:

How To Tune a 7 String to Drop G (GDGCFAD)

Tuning a seven string is slightly different than a six string guitar because the downtuning doesn’t loosen the strings as much, but caution should still be taken.

You could start with the thickest string or if you want to play it safe and not accidentally snap your thinnest string, then start with that one instead.

For a seven string guitar, you will lower all the strings by 1 full step (2 half steps).

The low B string will be tuned 2 full steps down (4 half steps).

Reference Pitches:

Considerations For Using This Tuning

Baritone guitars are better suited for this tuning (because of their longer scale length) than a regular 25.5″ scale six string guitar, as you will loose considerable string tension if using light gauge strings.

If using a standard guitar though, we recommend the lowest string of the set to be about gauge 66 to 70. An example would be the GHS “Heavyweight Low Tuned” strings (11-070).

Also with the strings being so large, you will need to take into account the size of the guitar nut slots, saddles, and tuning pegs to make sure they can support the new strings.

Intonation, as well as truss rod & action adjustments will also have to be made in order to have optimal playability & tone. If not familiar with these undertakings yourself, it’s best to take the guitar to a technician or consider looking at some baritone guitars which are better suited for this tuning.

Tips For Staying In Tune

Regardless of the guitar tuning you choose, here’s a few quick tips to keep your guitar playing & sounding its best.

  1. Stretch Strings: Stretch new strings after installation to help them settle and stabilize.

  2. Proper String Winding: Wind strings neatly around tuning pegs to minimize slippage.

  3. Lubricate Nut & Bridge: Apply graphite or specialized lubricant to nut slots and bridge saddles to reduce friction.

  4. Stable Environment: Keep your guitar in a consistent environment with stable humidity and temperature.

  5. Tuning Up: Tune up to pitch, not down, as this helps maintain proper tension and stability.

  6. Stretch During Play: Stretch strings occasionally while playing to minimize tuning shifts.

  7. Gentle Tuning: Tune in small, gradual adjustments to reduce stress on strings and neck.

  8. Avoid Extreme Changes: Minimize rapid shifts between extreme tunings to avoid excessive stress.

  9. Regular Maintenance: Keep your guitar well-maintained with proper setup and string changes.

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Heavy Metal Bands That Use Drop G Tuning

Below are a handful of bands in the heavy genres that have been known to use drop g tuning.

  1. Alphawolf

  2. Born of Osiris

  3. Chelsea Grin

  4. Fit for an Autopsy

  5. Hollow Front

  6. InVisions

  7. Knocked Loose

  8. Time, the Valuator

  9. Wage War

  10. Within the Ruins

Other Alternative Tunings

Drop D Tuning

C Standard Tuning

Open F Tuning

D Standard Tuning

7 String Standard Tuning

8 String Standard Tuning

Frequently Asked Questions

What songs are in Drop G tuning?

Several songs that are played in drop g tuning include:

Alphawolf – Akudama

Any Given Day – Endurance

Born of Osiris – Ascension

For more like this, check out the list of bands above.

What is the most common drop tuning?

The most common drop tuning for guitar is by far Drop D Tuning.

This is because it’s so easy to implement & revert back from when compared to standard e tuning.

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