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Can I tune my guitar 3 whole steps down?  

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(@izaak247)
Active Member
Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 10
07/12/2012 4:01 pm  

Ye..?


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(@alangreen)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5345
07/12/2012 5:25 pm  

It's a big downtune and I've no idea why anybody would want to do so.

Your strings are going to flap against the neck like crazy.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@big-lar)
Estimable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 165
07/12/2012 5:27 pm  

I'd think you'd want to go the other way. Use a capo and raise the key 3 steps and play an octave higher. Unless you really need to play way up the neck after that.


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(@noteboat)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4931
07/12/2012 5:42 pm  

You can do whatever you want. But you might need to change strings.

The math is complicated, so I'll skip the full explanation. Basically, the pitch of a string depends on its length, tension, and the weight of the string itself.

Let's say you're using .046 for your low E, and you've got 16 pounds of tension on the string when it's in tune. Dropping it 3 whole steps takes you down to Bb... and it takes the tension down to 8 pounds. It's going to be pretty floppy. To keep the original tension, you'd have to increase the mass of the string by about 41% - which means using a string in the range of 64-65 gauge. You'll have to make similar changes with all your other strings.

My advice: if you really want to play in that range, get a baritone guitar. That's about halfway between a guitar and a bass in scale length - and you'd only need to downtune it by a half step, which won't require changing gauges.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@tinsmith)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 830
08/12/2012 1:52 am  

I've done with a twelve string that had light gauge phospher bronze.
I tuned it down to play Leo Kottke stuff. I believe he does it often but with med strings........
It sound OK on that old beater I have.


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(@derek-wilkerson)
Estimable Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 110
08/12/2012 3:08 am  

just use heavier strings. my band plays in drop tuned stuff all the time

bassist for the cruxRandall RB-125-115 120 watt 15" eminence spk.Randall RBA 5002X Acoustic B115'sPeavey T-40Indiana P-bass


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(@tinsmith)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 830
08/12/2012 2:33 pm  

I also have a regular 6 string Guild D55......I use light Phosphor Bronze EXP's on it & have no problem with tunings like:
Drop & Double Drop D, Open D, DADGAD, DADDAD, Open G.....it works well.
When I was playing Hedges type tunes I was playing mediums & find little difference except playability is better with the light....tone is a miniscule amount better with the mediums, but the playability trade-off is worth it for me...I have crappy hands.


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(@matthewwensor21)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 9
30/07/2018 2:52 pm  

You will be able to if you put thick enough strings on

Mattie, UK based session guitarist and teacher at https://mgrmusic.com/teacher-database/


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