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Top Ten Myths About Drop Tuning

Posted by Drop-Tuning.com 9:27PM 6/1/2017

10. Nobody plays in drop tuning.​​
This is not a very common myth, but common enough to make the top ten. Some people will tell you that switching to drop tuning will leave you out in the wilderness with no cool riffs to play. This is a fallacy, and although I have heard similar things said, this is one myth with very little momentum or truth to it. Many guitar players, from all ranges of music, from Eddie Van Halen to Mark Morton and Slash have played drop tuning, many of them exclusively. Even Dimebag Darrell had experimented with it. Tons of people play in drop tuning and if you love rock and metal, then switching to drop tuning may be an excellent choice for you.

Slipknot's Mick Thomson, #7, has played drop B and drop A for most of his professional career.

​9. The change is hard to get used to.
"It will take you months and months to adjust to the change from standard to drop tuning!!" Another misnomer, the switch may take a week or so to master and feel comfortable with your first time through. Once you've done it once however, you will be able to easily switch between tunings and never be taken off guard by drop tunings. Many, including myself, think that drop tuning is the easier way to play once mastered.

8. String gauge means everything.
Another one that I have heard over and over through the years, is that strings are the single most important factor to your success with drop tuning. I don't agree, while strings are a relatively important peice of your setup, drop tuning, especially drop D, can be achieved on almost any set of strings meant for standard tuning.

7. You lose playability on play certain riffs.
I myself used to subscribe to this one, I believed for many years that the single downside to drop tuning, was that certain standard tuning riffs became more difficult, and thus lost playability. I dont necessarily disagree with this notion, but I do know that all standard riffs are still playable in drop tuning, but may require tougher fingerings. For those like me, who find these fingerings are often more fun and challenging, this is just an added bonus to a win-win situation.

6. You need specialty, purpose built gear.
Many people (hipsters), will tell you that switching to drop tuning will require a lot of specialty equipment. This isn't really true, while single coil pickups aren't necessarily ideal, you can try drop tuning on any guitar, acoustics included, and have it be a blast. All you will need to do, is drop the lowest string on you guitar 1 full step from standard E, and voila, drop D tuning.​

 
- Be dubious of anyone whose lower legs look similar to this and may claim that you dont have the correct fuzz pedal for a certain riff...

5. Your guitar will not stay in tune.
Lies and slander! I have found that through the years, my guitars in drop tuning, hold tune better and more consistently than those in standard tuning. This issue has actually been the focal point of an ongoing debate and everyone has their own opinion. Many factors such as guitar body material, or the guage and quality of strings that you use, can influence how well you hold tune. Check out my strings section on this website for my recommendations on the best strings for drop tuning.

4. It is only used for heavy metal.
Not completely true, although not without some merit. Drop tuning can be adapted to play in many different genres with many different playing styles, but is by far most common in hard rock and heavy metal. Many people, myself included, prefer the tone and timbre of drop tuning over standard, to the point that when I learn a new song, even in standard, I will deliberately transcribe it to drop tuning. Much of this is a matter of personal preference because I am extremely familiar with drop tuning, however, which means that with practice, you could be too.

​3. It can damage your neck.
This is a big one, and it's total BS, to the contrary, drop tuning a guitar will typically reduce stress on the neck as a whole. People who say that it can damage your neck, are not only mistaken, but could likely benefit from drop tuning their own guitars. When in standard tuning, the low string side of the neck is under much more tension due to the size of the strings. Drop tuning helps curtail this effect as the lowest, and thus biggest string, has less tension on it than in standard tuning, helping to level out tension between both sides of the neck. This results in the neck staying straighter and in better playing posture for longer. A reversed headstock can also help greatly to maintain the neck of the guitar for longer periods of time.

2. It is more difficult to play with other guitarists.
Playing with other guitarists, if they are leading the song, is no more difficult, however, if a less experienced guitarist is taking his que from you, you being in drop tuning may cause him a good deal of confusion. I only want to dispell the myth that playing with another guitarist in standard, while in drop tuning yourself, is stressful and difficult. It's just not true, in fact, I find drop tuning is so much more natural, that I often have trouble playing guitars that are in standard tuning.​​​

1. It's a lot to learn.
​Learning drop tuning can be a blast, but it can be boring. You should know within one week of playing in drop tuning, if it is going to be right for you or not. As a life long fan of rock and metal, I found it to be a blast as soon as I started playing. I knew then, that I was never going back to standard. However, I have had friends in the past that have tried and they just never hit their stride. It never felt fun or natural for them, and so naturally, I told them they were likely more suited to standard tuning. If drop tuning is for you, you will not need to consider whether it is for you or not.

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