If you’re curious about drop F tuning and what you can do with it, this post is for you!
I’ve been plucking strings and exploring various tunings since 2003.
So, what’s the deal with drop F tuning?
What riffs can you play with this tuning?
Let’s start with the basics.
The Setup: Understanding Drop F Tuning
On a six-string guitar, drop F tuning is: F1-C2-F2-A#2-D3-G3.
On a 7-string guitar, it is: F1-C2-F2-A#2-D#3-G3-C4.
And on an eight-string guitar, drop F tuning is: F1-C2-F2-A#2-D#3-G#3-C4-F4.
Plunging into the Depths: What You Should Know About Lower Tunings
Guitarists of all genres, from heavy metal shredders to blues enthusiasts, have a special place in their hearts for lower tunings.
And for a good reason!
There’s something deeply satisfying about the tension and release of these sounds.
There are also a bunch of options for alternate tunings.
These include Eb standard, D standard, C standard, drop C, drop B, drop D, and many others.
What’s more, some even go lower, down to A standard, or drop A on 7-string guitars.
However, lower tunings typically sound better on a longer-scale length guitar.
You might be tempted to use a regular-scale guitar for lower tunings, and you can, but you’ll need to arm yourself with thicker strings. However, even .013- string gauge can feel as flimsy as a rubber band in a drop F.
It’s tough to get the tuning to resonate properly without a baritone guitar for drop G or F.
And if you want to explore the baritone sound, check out this baritone guitar from Gretsch on Guitar Center:
Drop F Tuning: How Low Can You Go?
So how low is drop F?
Drop F tuning sends us down to the basement of musical notes.
Compared to the 6th string in E standard tuning (E2), which hums along at about 82.41 Hz, drop F tuning takes you down to the F1 note, almost an entire octave below E2.
That’s a frequency of around 43.65 Hz – think deep-sea diving.
So what does this mean in the world of music?
It’s a descent of 11 semitones below E standard.
The bottom string hits the same note as the 1st fret of the bottom string on a regular 4-string bass.
But, thanks to the magic of specialized guitar pickups, it still sounds distinct from a bass.
Such tuning is usually popular among modern metal players, modern prog and djent in particular.
Subgenres like metalcore also put drop F tuning to good use.
With the distortion on, you get a really big tone in such a low tuning.
However, it’s important to note that drop F can work on both 7-string and 6-string guitars.
In fact, it’s actually more common on the 7-string than the 6-string guitar.
Exploring Drop F Tuning on a 7-String Guitar
So the drop F tuning is essentially G standard with the bottom 7th string dropped.
The tuning on a 7-string guitar goes like this:
But, if you prefer flats, you can write it down like this:
As you can see, the intervals between the strings are the same as with the drop A tuning.
You just go 4 semitones below that.
So how do you get to this tuning?
Well, you take the B standard and go four semitones, or one major 3rd interval, lower.
This goes for all strings.
This way, you get the G standard.
But after that, you further drop the bottom 7th string by one whole step.
Check out this Ibanez 7-string electric guitar from Guitar Center:
Navigating Drop F Tuning on a 6-String Guitar
But what if you only have a 6-string guitar?
Don’t worry; drop F tuning has a place for you too.
It’s not as common as with 7-strings, but it’s very doable.
You’ll just need thicker strings and a long-scale guitar.
And, for a tuning that’s as low as this one, the longer the better.
I’d also suggest using 7-string sets.
You’d just have to remove the top 1st string.
In any case, here’s how it looks for the 6-string guitars:
And for those who prefer flats over sharps, it would look like this:
As you can see, the distribution of intervals differs compared to the 7-string tuning.
So why’s that the case?
Well, the main idea is to keep the same scale and chord shapes on the fretboard.
It makes things much simpler and the transition smoother.
You could also use the same variant that we have with the 7-string drop F tuning by removing the top string.
However, this variation is pretty rare in practice.
Achieving 6-string drop F tuning starts with tuning your guitar up to G standard, which sits 9 semitones below E standard.
From there, detune your bottom 6th string two more semitones lower, and you’ve got drop F.
Pushing Boundaries: Drop F Tuning on an 8-String Guitar?
So 7-string and 6-string guitars work for this tuning.
But what about 8-string guitars?
It works for those too!
Drop F tuning on an 8 string goes like this:
If you’d like to achieve the drop F here, you first need to tune up for one semitone to G standard.
After that, drop the bottom string down to F.
Then it would look like this:
Now, this kind of tuning is achievable.
However, it’s far from a common thing.
Again, we have a tuning that few use.
And there’s rarely any need for it as you can go lower and use the drop E tuning.
However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot use it.
After all, you have the freedom to tune your instrument the way you want.
Just remember that it’s not a common practice.
And make sure to use thinner strings as 7 out of 8 strings will go up one semitone.
As discussed, drop F tuning works wonderfully on a 7-string guitar.
The depth and richness of the lower notes on a 7-string lend themselves particularly well to this tuning, making it a go-to for many guitarists in heavier genres.
However, don’t despair if you’re a 6-string player!
You can still enjoy the benefits of drop F tuning.
You might have to work harder to get there, perhaps with thicker strings and patience, but the payoff is worth it.
Pushing into the realm of 8-string guitars, drop F tuning becomes even more adventurous.
While it’s not a common path, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring.
Embracing the Adventures of Drop F Tuning and the Next Steps in Your Guitar Journey
I hope this journey into drop F tuning has been as exciting for you as it is for me!
With its low, booming quality, Drop F tuning provides a unique sound that’s great for heavier genres and lends a unique twist to any song.
In the guitar world, different tunings open unique avenues of exploration and creativity.
Tunings like drop F add a new layer of versatility to your playing.
As usual, feel free to message me in the comments with any questions you may have about this or another guitar-related topic!