• Low Drop C tuning •



The same pattern as Drop D, but everything is then moved down two semitones. Brings a loose, chaotic, imperfect texture: total string tension is lowered by around 25% – equivalent to a ~40lb drop on an acoustic (total string tension on a steel-string can often top 180lb/82kg…no wonder you need a truss rod).


Possibly my all-time favourite versatile acoustic tuning, allowing for wide bends and fluid articultions while balancing well against smoother instrument timbres (n.b. probably best to jump it up a half step on shorter-neck designs). Also known as just ‘Drop C’ by some…although for clarity I’ve reserved that title for CADGBE.

Pattern: 7>5>5>4>5
Harmony: C6/9(sus4) | 1-5-1-4-6-2




Often found on heavy-strung electric cuts – e.g. Question! (System of a Down), Ill Wind (Jonny Greenwood), Vox Stellarum (Arch Enemy), Radiant Eclipse (Avenged Sevenfold), Nottingham Lace (Buckethead), She Found Now (MBV, -1), most of St. Anger album (Metallica).

  • Question! – System of a Down (2005):


6str 5str 4str 3str 2str 1str
Note C G C F A D
Alteration -4 -2 -2 -2 -2 -2
Tension (%) -37 -21 -21 -21 -21 -21
Freq. (Hz) 65 98 131 175 220 294
Pattern (>) 7 5 5 4 5
Semitones 0 7 12 17 21 26
Intervals 1 5 1 4 6 2
  • See my Tunings Megatable for further such nerdery: more numbers, intervallic relations, comparative methods, etc. And to any genuine vibratory scientists reading: please critique my DIY analysis!


—Associated tunings: proximities of shape, concept, context, etc…

  • Drop D (this +2): higher, tighter transposition
  • Dracula: same 6-3str, slightly higher 1-2str
  • Pink Moon: same 6-3str, much higher 1-2str


—Further learnings: sources, readings, lessons, other onward links…

  • Tracks in Full Drop C: check out the huge list on the Wikipedia article (although it has to be said: its citations are a little thin…and I haven’t heard of most of the artists, who range from Swedish thrash acts to obscure Japanese electronicore)
  • Playing in the tuning: step-by-step basics from Fender, and a Reddit discussion of the 6-string bass equivalent (“…I play a lot of stoner/doom/sludge metal, and this thing is perfect…”)


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rāga: ‘that which colours the mind’

George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and other global improvised traditions. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them. Site above, follow below, & hit me up for…


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Dedicated to Nigel Tufnel – a true tuning connoisseur

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