What is Drop G tuning?

Ever wonder how musicians give life to the soul of heavy genres that typically stimulate our desire to rave, such as hardcore, death metal, and drum and bass? Do you find lower registers appealing to the ears? This technique may do the magic for you, guitar players! If you ever think Drop D tuning is already low, then you aren’t prepared for Drop G.

What is Drop G in tuning? Drop G tuning refers to an alternative tuning where the pitch is arranged to G-D-G-C-E-A (or to more specific, G1-D2-G2-C3-E3-A3).

Understanding Drop G Tuning

Drop G tuning is best demonstrated using a 6-string guitar, described to be a fifth lower than Drop D, which has the tuning D-A-D-G-B-E. If you tune down Drop D to a fifth, you will be able to yield G-D-G-C-E-A. The change done alters the pitch of all the six strings in your guitar, which helps you play in the key of G major power chords easier.

The Drop G technique is largely used when using baritone instruments, such as baritone acoustic or electric guitars, to improve playing pieces at lower notes. Note that baritone guitars are characterized by having longer-scale lengths! The usual baritone standard tuning follows the chords B-E-A-D-F-#B, a musical fourth lower than the tuning on regular acoustic guitars.

Baritone players tend to achieve tuning down their instruments by adjusting them two more semitones lower, which recommends improving the instrument by equipping heavy-gauge strings.

The reason why you need heavier strings? Dropping them down several steps can cause the strings to slack, lack tension, and produce undesired sounds. After the adjustment, it is then tuned to the 6th string, and sometimes, the first string, both to G, yielding the tuning patterns G-D-G-C-E-G or G-D-G-C-E-A.

Drop tunings in general help perfect fifth intervals, concerning the bottom two strings, in playing a power chord with one finger only. Open chords in guitars also tend to have greater resonance in comparison to bar chords. Drop G tuning helps to utilize open chords better to play sounds as bottom-heavy as it is, especially for guitarists who want to play their instruments in a bass-like tone.

Here’s our very own teaching what is drop g tuning:

Drop G: Song and Musicians

The use of Drop G has been prominent in rock music, particularly heavy metal, which rose to prominence during the late 1960s in the West. They were largely known for developing thick sounds that are heavily distorted, emphatic beats, and emphasis on guitar solos.

As music has evolved into the recent years, however, the tuning was also used for stylistic experimentation of artists beyond the genre. A notable musical field that uses the technique is metalcore, combining extreme metal and hardcore punk. They are defined by having good instrumental qualities for breakdowns, heavy riffs, stop-start playing, and blast beats.

While Drop G tunings have been rare in popular music, they have been notable for their usage by different bands and artists! American metal band Darkest Hour used the tuning to their songs “Wasteland”, “Attack Attack!” and “Baroness” early in their career. South Korean rock band FTISLAND, known to experiment with the tunings of their songs, applied Drop D to their song “Shadows”. Metalcore and heavy metal bands such as Dead by April and In Flames used the technique as staple parts of their discography and concerts. Pantera’s song “The Underground in America”, from The Great Southern Trendkill, made use of Drop G with a D standard variation.

How to Tune Your Guitar to Drop G

To achieve the Drop G tuning on a 6-string guitar, you must do the following in this order:

  • The low E string should be tuned down to G by four and a half steps.
  • Afterward, tune A should be strung down to D by three and a half steps.
  • Then, strings D, G, B, and high E must be tuned to strings G, C, E, and A, respectively, through tuning them down by also three and a half steps.
  • Lastly, try plucking the strings like how you normally play the guitar in order to see if the desired notes are achieved.

While Drop G tuning centers most on 6-string guitars, the technique can also be applied in seven-string guitars! The 7-string guitar follows a standard tuning of B-E-A-D-G-B-E. It shares a similar pattern with the standard tuning of the 6-string guitar, with the difference being the first B string added to be the new lowest tone.

Drop G tuning is achieved by having a tuning pattern of G-D-G-C-F-A-D. This is a whole step lower than Drop A of a 7-string guitar (A-E-A-D-G-B-E), requiring extra work to be done. Drop G tuning in 7-string guitars share a similarity to a D standard combined with a low G string!

To assist you with the tuning, here is a guide:

The Beauty of Alternate Tuning (Final Thoughts)

The purpose of alternative tunings, after all, is to make playing music more diverse and more fitting to one’s vision or experiment. Not every song or piece can be played pleasantly in any key with standard guitar tuning.

The biggest benefit might be the ease of access to any chord, riff, or key you desire to play. Specifically, under drop tuning, you may be able to play both octave and power chords with more comfort and ease, now that they are closer together on the E and A strings.

Bands prefer tuning down during their performance in order to insinuate a darker, more menacing ambiance towards the direction they are aiming for. Sometimes, they conduct alternative tunings to suit the range of the vocalist without compromising the quality of the instrumentation. Alternative tuning also allows them to get out of the zone of comfort, from playing the same comfortable patterns to achieving musical independence in terms of fingering.

Aside from improving the beauty of performances, alternative tuning also makes the standard impossible, possible. Players of riff-based music may be able to increase the complexity of their pieces. Chord inversions and wider combinations of open and fretted strings become more available due to the change in the overall tonality of the guitar.

Still, as much as you enjoy the expression of playing your guitar on drop tuning, don’t forget to learn them the way they are intended to be played also!