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A Thorough Guide to Drop B Tuning on a 7 String Guitar [2021 Edition]

If you’re curious about drop B tuning on a 7 string guitar, this post is for you!

I’m not exactly a guitar expert, but I have played since 2003 and know a thing or two about this instrument.

So what is drop B tuning on a 7 string guitar?

It’s B-F#-B-E-A-C#-F# or more precisely, B1-F#2-B2-E3-A3-C#4-F#4.

I’ll unpack this tuning more in the sections below.

But first, let’s talk about 7-string guitars.

7-String Guitars Explained

Some guitarists do well only with three strings. But to some, even 6 is not enough. Modern 7-string electric guitars, as we know them, were developed in the 1980s. They were pretty much a result of a collaboration between Steve Vai and Ibanez.

Of course, the idea existed way before that. But these were custom guitars, hollow-body ones. There was also a solid-body variant offered in the early 1980s. However, these had an additional high A4 string.

7-strings are what we call extended-range guitars. They extend the conventional range with an additional bottom string. The commercial success of 7-string guitars eventually led to other extended-range guitars. Today, there are even 8-string and 9-string guitars as well as other string variants.

The modern commercial 7-string guitar features an additional bottom B1 string. This extends the range one perfect 4th interval below the conventional 6-string guitar. The standard tuning for 7-strings is:

  • B1-E2-A2-D3-G3-B3-E4

Of course, just like with 6-string guitars, we also have various different 7-string tunings. And these alternate tunings almost exclusively go lower.

But, in some cases, you can go higher. This is, obviously, not that common. However, it is possible and some guitar players go down this road. This is exactly the case with Drop B tuning on 7-string guitars.

Drop B Tuning on 7-String Guitars

So how do you get this tuning? Well, you simply keep the bottom B1 string and tune all other strings one whole step higher (or capo strings one to five on the 2nd fret). Then, the tuning would look like this:

  • B1-F#2-B2-E3-A3-C#4-F#4

If you prefer flats, then it looks like this:

  • B1-Gb2-B2-E3-A3-Db4-Gb4

If you’re used to 6-string guitars, then there’s a different way to look at it. Imagine that you tuned all of the 6 strings two semitones higher. After that, you add just one B string at the bottom.

What’s So Special About It?

Of course, just like any other drop tuning, it gives you a simpler way to play power chords. But it isn’t like other drop tunings. With a 7-string, you’d rather expect to see drop A rather than drop B.

Going higher isn’t really that common. Especially not on 7-string guitars. And it’s especially not common to go one whole step up.

Why not?

Tuning up puts extra tension on the instrument and strings increasing the odds of strings breaking.

That said, remember that you can use a capo on the second fret of strings 1 to 5 to avoid this possibility.

Nonetheless, this tuning is pretty functional. Despite being very uncommon, you can easily play it. It comes as a good alternative to drop B on 6-string guitars.

So with this tuning, you actually extend the range upwards as well. Your top string will be F#. That means that you’ll be able to go one whole step higher than usual.

Now, what’s tricky here is that you have to get accustomed to this. In fact, you’d have a hard time playing your usual 7-string songs. But it’s possible, in most cases at least. You’ll just have to adjust your fingerings.

On the other hand, this tuning is great if you want to write something in the key of B. You’ll get easy access to power chords on the bottom two strings. Additionally, you’ll also get tighter string tension. Compared to the 6-string variant, strings won’t feel loose with this one.

What You Should Know About Using Drop B on 7-String Guitars

So now you know that strings will also feel tighter. In fact, things can get a bit unpleasant if you’re not used to such a setting. You’ll probably need some time to accommodate. Bending will also get pretty tricky.

But there are some things that you can do. Firstly, I suggest that you go with regular-scale 7-string guitars. This is 25.5 inches.

There are also some examples of 7-string guitars with shorter scale lengths. Sure, these would actually be perfect. But they’re pretty rare. Having a scale length of 24.75 inches with 7 strings can come in handy here.

Next up, I would advise using lighter strings. The lighter, the better. Sets like .010-.059 are what most consider light. But, if possible, get yourself a set like .009-.056 or anything similar. D’Addario may have some good options. Nonetheless, if possible, go even lighter.

With higher tension, you’ll also get a tighter tone. You may experience more brightness and a stronger attack. This can be really pronounced with single-coil pickups. If you don’t like such a tone, then tweak your guitar’s tone control. It’s way more useful than you might think it is.

Finally, if your guitar has a tremolo bridge, you may experience some issues. With lighter strings, the problems aren’t that pronounced. Nonetheless, you might want to adjust your tremolos.

Your average tremolo bridge has springs on the back. Tightening most of the strings one whole step higher can pull the tremolo bridge towards the neck. If possible, add one or two more springs. This will keep the bridge in place.  

Drop B 7 String Guitar Tuning: Conclusion

I hope this article has clarified how to tune your instrument to this tuning!

As usual, feel free to message me in the comments if you have further questions about this tuning!

And if you want to learn more about extended range instruments, check out:

8 String Guitar History

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