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A Simple Guide to Drop G Tuning on the Guitar [2021 Edition]

If you’re curious about drop G tuning for guitar, you’ve come to the right post!

I don’t have alternate tunings all figured out, but I have played the guitar since 2003.

So I thought I’d share a bit about this tuning here on the blog!

Understanding Guitar Tunings

By “default,” most are accustomed to tuning their guitars to the E standard tuning. The good old E-A-D-G-B-E has been around for quite a while. It was likely established back during the 19th century. This was when we got the rough design of the modern guitar.

The standard tuning is in all perfect fourth intervals, except for G and B strings. These two build a major third. This is completely different compared to most of the other string instruments. Their strings usually all form perfect fifths.

However, you can tune your guitar to whatever you want to. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common for people to use tunings other than the E standard. We call these “alternate” or “alternative” tunings.

We could roughly put them into a few different categories. These are:

  • Lowered tunings: They have the same distribution of intervals as the E standard. However, they’re just lower.
  • Drop tunings: The same as E standard and lowered but with the bottom (and/or top) string “dropped” a variable number of steps. 
  • Open tunings: These form a functional chord of some sort. We can divide them into chordal and modal variants.
  • Everything else: The sky is the limit!

Drop Tunings

Drop tunings have a lot of practical use these days. They go way back, even to classical music. But they’re most common in various metal subgenres.

The main trait of drop tunings is that they can form a perfect fifth interval between the bottom two strings depending on the tuning. This presents a huge advantage in some tunings where you can play a power chord with just one finger.

There are plenty of different drop tunings. Take E standard or any of its lowered variants, drop the bottom string by a couple of semitones, and you’ve got one!

We also have some other more experimental variations to it. Like dropping the bottom string more than just two semitones or dropping the bottom and top string. However, these variants are less common.

Guide to Drop G Tuning

The one that we’re interested in here is drop G. However, although it might seem like any other, this one is special. Why? Well, it goes really low. Here we have:

  • G-D-G-C-E-A

Or, more precisely:

  • G1-D2-G2-C3-E3-A3

This is three and a half steps below the drop D. The bottom G1 string is four and a half steps lower than E2 of the standard tuning. That’s nine semitones. And that’s pretty low, isn’t it?

If you tune to drop G, this certainly impacts your tone. This is especially the case with the distortion turned on. Lower tunings tend to add a different twist to the distorted tone.

And just imagine how immensely heavy your sound becomes with a tuning that’s as low as drop G.

Baritone Guitars and Thicker Strings

However, things aren’t that simple. Sure, you can take your acoustic or electric guitar and tune it to drop G. But if we’re talking about conventional guitar models and regular string gauges, it won’t work out well for you.

While you can do it, the strings will be too loose or “floppy”. And even if you can get clear notes out of it, there are two main issues to deal with.

Firstly, a loose string will cause each note to have a “flimsy” pitch. You’ll pick the string and a lot of the stuff will sound a bit sharp since it’s easy to inadvertently bend a string that’s too loose. Secondly, your tuning stability will be awful.

One way to deal with this is to use baritone guitars and thicker string gauges. To those not familiar with them, baritone guitars have longer scale lengths. And scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge. It’s the usable part of the string.

This particular instrument design increases string tension. As a result, things are much more stable with lower tunings.

For comparison’s sake, regular-sized guitars have a scale length between 24 and 25.5 inches. Meanwhile, baritone guitars go between 26.5 and 30 inches.

You also need thicker strings for this. But don’t worry. Baritone guitar strings are readily available on the market.

However, be sure you don’t use baritone guitar strings on a standard guitar.

These heavier gauge strings will put too much strain on a standard guitar and may even warp or break the neck!

(Baritone guitars are designed to support these heavier gauge strings with extra internal bracing among other features.)

Drop G Tuning on 7-String Guitars

However, drop G tuning is more common on 7-string guitars. After all, it’s much easier to get to these lower notes on such an instrument. Drop G on it looks like this:

  • G1-D2-G2-C3-F3-A3-D4

Of course, 7-strings can have drop tunings too. You can see that the bottom three strings form a power chord.

Essentially, this is like a D standard tuning of a 6-string guitar with an added bottom G1 string. You achieve it by tuning all 7 strings one whole note below and then the bottom string down another whole note. 

At the same time, these 7-string guitars should have a longer scale length. In case you’re going that deep, scale length should be 27 inches or more.

Songs Written in Drop G Tuning

As I mentioned, drop G is mostly common in metal music. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of the interesting songs written in this tuning.

  • Born of Osiris – Follow the Signs
  • Born of Osiris – Ascension
  • Fit for an Autopsy – Black Mammoth
  • Fit for an Autopsy – Iron Moon
  • Any Given Day – Endurance
  • Hollow Front – Don’t Fall Asleep
  • Crystal Lake – Omega
  • Within the Ruins – Feeding Frenzy
  • Time, the Valuator – Onryo
  • Alphawolf – Akudama
  • InVisions – Gold Blooded
  • Knocked Loose – My Heroes
  • Wage War – The River
  • Chelsea Grin – Skin Deep

In case you want to find out how to play some of the riffs from these songs, check out the video below:

Drop G Tuning: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you understand drop G tuning better!

Let me know in the comments if you have more questions about it!

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