Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
 
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Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

I'm confused when a tuning is referring to dropping all strings down vs. just the low E string. Also what is the whole point of drop-tuning a guitar? Other than the low E string where the open position is normally the lowest note you can play.. for the rest of the guitar why wouldn't an artist just write their music appropriately to the notes required?

For example if your song requires you to play a B note on the "A" string, what advantage would there be to playing the 3rd fret on a tuned-down (half a step) guitar rather than just the 2nd fret in a normal tuned guitar?

Sorry for the obvious noob question.. I haven't been taking formal lessons yet, just learning myself as I go. And up until now the whole topic of drop tuning just hasn't *clicked* with me.

Thanks!
Jason
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 02:15 PM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

I think the most common reason for a band to play in dropped tuning has to be that the singer can't hit the high notes. Van Halen played in Eb rather than E for this reason (I think).

But sometimes odd tunings make it easier to play certain songs that were written for a different instrument. For example the Mr. Big song "Just Take My Heart" was written for keyboard, so Paul Gilbert tuned his low E up to F in order to play the keyboard part on his guitar.

I understand where you are coming from tho. I make an effort to not downtune my guitar anymore. I also think that downtuning has sort of become symbolic of metal, ever since Black Sabbath downtuned their guitars. The darker sound has become tied in with lower tunings. Or it could be someones attempt to find the brown note .
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 02:17 PM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

Well, first you have to pick apart two different kinds of tunings, you're mixing them all up.

The first is "Drop" tunings, where you only detune the low E string (sometimes more, but usually just the E). For example, Drop D refers to when you tune down your low E down a whole step to a D. The point of a drop tuning is either to make lower notes more vibrant, allow drone (low D/A/D) to ring out, or to help with different chordal configurations (you can barre the lower three bass strings and play a melody with your remaining fingers on the higher strings). It's actually a lot of fun, and can be used anywhere from neo-classical to metal to blues.

Next, there are "Open" tunings. This is where you detune more than one string so that when you strum all of the strings, you get a chord. One of the more famous ones is, from lowest to highest strings, D/A/D/F#/A/D. Here, you can often barre all of the strings on one fret to change the pitch of the chord. Also, once again, playing melodies can be modified on the higher strings, as the guitar is not set to tuning in fourths (except B in standard tuning, don't worry about it).

Last, there is half-step down. This is where all strings are flatted by 1/2 step, keeping the guitar tuned to fourths (and a third going to B) while allowing different pitches. This can completely change the mood of a song. It's really there for you to use at your disposal in certain cases; if it sounds better, use it.

Everything is used to one's discretion, wherever they feel it sounds better.

The point of all these different tunings is to allow a MUCH wider sonic pallete with which to musically create the sound you want. In other words, it gives you more options.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 05:40 PM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

i used to be completely against drop d, but i started using it years ago and now i love it. i don't do a ton of single finger powerchording (or a lot of powerchording in general), but i find it gives me different options riff-wise that would otherwise be out of my reach. you'd be surprised the difference a wholestep on one string can make.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

Thanks for the responses (particularly CityofBlindingLights). I'm starting to understand.

Why I've been getting frustrated is I've started to collect a few tab books of my favorite bands hoping to learn some songs (starting with some easy parts or easy songs of course), and I'm coming across the alternate tunings quite often. And of course as a noob with a RG20th (which has an edge trem, aka floyd rose style trem), of course my reaction is DAMMIT!! everytime I realize I have to mess with the tuning of my guitar.

I can see why some people might prefer fixed bridges. (perhaps I might even need to consider another guitar purchase so I have a fixed bridge for learning... d'oh.)
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 08:42 PM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

oh yeah, you definitely want to have a separate guitar for alternate tunings if your main has a floating bridge. that was one of many reasons why i ditched floating trems long ago.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

This line of thought prompted me to start this thread earlier this evening:
http://www.jemsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=67177

Gah!... when I start obsessing, I obsess. :-/
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 01:41 AM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inzane View Post
Thanks for the responses (particularly CityofBlindingLights). I'm starting to understand.

Why I've been getting frustrated is I've started to collect a few tab books of my favorite bands hoping to learn some songs (starting with some easy parts or easy songs of course), and I'm coming across the alternate tunings quite often. And of course as a noob with a RG20th (which has an edge trem, aka floyd rose style trem), of course my reaction is DAMMIT!! everytime I realize I have to mess with the tuning of my guitar.

I can see why some people might prefer fixed bridges. (perhaps I might even need to consider another guitar purchase so I have a fixed bridge for learning... d'oh.)
Yeah, it's why I'll never use Floyds. I prefer Fender's bridges, or the Gotoh Wilkinsons.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 04:06 AM
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

I suggest you block the trem for now. Then you can play around with tunings, which can be musically more fun than dive bombs.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 07:05 AM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

NOOOOOOOOOOO

Keep the trem floating and get a fixed bridge guitar to play around on. First rule of guitars is......you can never have too many guitars
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 07:29 AM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

People who drop don't think "B on the Ab string" it's more like 3rd fret of the 2 string. the concept is that you pretend that nothing has changed, you still play as if B is still on the 2nd fret. Personally I can't do it because you'd have to be tone deaf to be able to play like that - like they say singing outof key is really hard for a proper singer.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 12:18 PM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

I used to downtune to C#, because #1 I was learning a lot of BTBAM songs, #2 it was easier to bend with and I felt like I had a better feel of the guitar, #3 harmonics were about 10000% easier to get and were so much clearer, #4 and most importantly I could only sing a high C#. I play in E standard now because my band finally has a proper singer and a keyboardist and with a keyboardists E Standard is just so much easier.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-18-2007, 09:44 AM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

honestly after changing my strings to thicker gauges once i dropped down to C Standard tuning bending isnt any easier and neither are pinch harmonics.

now i too noticed this using normal thinner strings in C or C# when i first detuned yes, but there are too many tonal and picking downsides imo to be using regular strings in something like C or C# over a long period of time. Mainly with very fast picking, the strings dont bounce back fast enough.

but high five on listening to BTBAM :P
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-18-2007, 10:40 AM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

I tune my RG550 so that the fine tuner on the low E has plenty of room to drop to a D and I can go back and forth as I please. and it hardly changes the tuning of the other strings. Fixed bridge or floating it doesn't matter in my opinion, and I can't live without my whammy bar....

As far as live performances 2 guitars work best so you can switch tunings easily by switching guitars
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-18-2007, 11:26 AM
 
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Re: Can someone explain "drop D" or other tuning down scenarios?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rastachild View Post
i used to be completely against drop d, but i started using it years ago and now i love it. i don't do a ton of single finger powerchording (or a lot of powerchording in general), but i find it gives me different options riff-wise that would otherwise be out of my reach. you'd be surprised the difference a wholestep on one string can make.
+1 I find drop D makes it way easier to play 6th string 9th chords and such because the root note isn't so far away.
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alternate tuning , alternate tunings , edge trem , fixed bridge , fixed bridge guitar , floating trems , floyd rose , higher strings , paul gilbert , pinch harmonics , van halen

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