If you’re curious about drop F tuning and what you can do with it, this post is for you!
I’ve played guitar since 2003, and I have experimented quite a bit with alternate tunings since.
So what is drop F tuning exactly?
- on a six-string guitar, it’s F1-C2-F2-A#2-D3-G3
- on a seven-string guitar, it’s F1-C2-F2-A#2-D#3-G3-C4
- and on an eight-string guitar, it’s F1-C2-F2-A#2-D#3-G#3-C4-F4
I’ll discuss these more in the following sections.
Going Low: What You Should Know first
Plenty of guitar players prefer lower tunings. These are either standard or drop variants. You can just lower all strings, or additionally drop the bottom or top string.
So there are a bunch of options for alternate tunings. These include Eb standard, D standard, C standard, drop C, drop B, 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 long-scale guitar. Whether that’s a 6-string or a 7-string, anything that has a scale length of 26.5 inches or more should work for lower tunings. These are also known as baritone guitars.
You can technically use a regular-scale guitar for lower tunings. But in that case, you should use much thicker strings. But even .013-gauge strings can feel like rubber in something like drop F.
Honestly, for drop G or drop F, it’s hard to get things to work properly without a baritone guitar.
Drop F Tuning
So how low is drop F? Well, the 6th string in the E standard tuning is E2. This is roughly 82.41 Hz in the A440 standard. But with the drop F tuning, the bottom string is F1. This is almost an entire octave below the E2. So in the A440 standard, the F1 note has a frequency of 43.65 Hz.
This is pretty low. That’s 11 semitones below the E standard. The bottom string equates to the 1st fret of the bottom string on a regular 4-string bass. But the specialized guitar pickups make it sound different than 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.
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.
Drop F Tuning on a 6-String Guitar
However, you can achieve the drop F tuning on a 6-string as well. 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.
You could also use the same variant that we have with the 7-string drop F tuning. However, you’d just remove the top string. Either way, this variant is far less common and I’m not sure if it’s even used in practice.
But all these things aside, how do you achieve the 6-string drop F tuning? First, you need to tune up to G standard. This is exactly 9 semitones below the E standard. After that, you detune the bottom 6th string two more semitones lower. And you get to drop F.
Can You Use 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?
Well, what’s considered to be a standard with 8-strings is F# standard tuning. It 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, just 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 I’m not sure if anyone uses. And there’s rarely any need for it as you can just 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.
I hope this post has clarified drop F tuning and how to use it!
As usual, feel free to message me in the comments with any questions you may have about this or another guitar-related topic!