General Question

dreamwolf's avatar

Possible to tune a guitar 3 steps down from standard tuning?

Asked by dreamwolf (3152points) September 30th, 2011

Curious as to which tuning can be the lowest while using the “standard” chord shapes like Gmajor, Cmajor type chords on standard.

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3 Answers

Neophyte's avatar

You can tune a guitar however far down you want, and the chords will still sound the same in relation to each other.

SavoirFaire's avatar

From the Wikipedia link I gave you previously:

Tunings as low as B♭ tuning may be practiced on an unmodified instrument provided that higher gauge strings are used, although an extended scale “baritone” guitar is better-suited to avoid warping, as its scale length and truss rod are designed for their tension. Many 8-string guitars feature a dual-action truss rod due to the sheer amount of tension from the strings. F and octave down tuning are impractical for a standard scale length guitar, since its scale length is too short for a clear sound and unmodified tuners are not built to admit bass guitar gauge strings.

Strauss's avatar

I was going to say about the same thing that @SavoirFaire backed up with the Wikipedia link. Guitars, especially the neck, are specifically designed to withstand a certain amount of tension from the strings; and the strings are each designed for optimal tone within a certain range of tension. Tuning a guitar too low risks warping the neck.

I have played a 12-string for many years, and there seems to be a running controversy about whether to tune down a step and then capo up two frets. Those who favor such a tuning do so because it places the neck and the face of the guitar under much less tension. I feel that 12-string guitars are generally designed to withstand the tension related to the 12 strings and standard tuning; I also eschew the use of a capo. It’s just another thing to get lost while I’m setting up for the gig.

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