Drop G Tuning on Guitar
Learn how to tune your guitar to drop G and start playing your favorite songs in drop G tuning.
By Ben Nemeroff
As you progress along your musical path, you may want to find easier ways to play chords or to experiment with different sounds. Alternate tunings can be a great way to help you do just that!
For guitarists who like to tread a darker path, like a heavier and deeper sound, and opt for the unconventional, drop G guitar tuning is a great way to introduce a bass-like tone to your playing.
In this lesson, we’ll show you how to tune your guitar to drop G, help you to learn more about alternate tunings and why you may want to use them, and talk about a few songs and popular genres where you may hear drop G tuning used.
Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!
What is Drop G Tuning on a Guitar?
If you think drop D tuning is low, you haven’t heard drop G tuning! This alternate tuning can be heard in some of the heaviest of the heavy genres, like hardcore, death metal, and doom metal. Drop G tuning on guitar drops the strings down to a lower register.
To play drop G tuning properly, you may want to consider swapping your strings for a heavier gauge. Because drop G requires you to drop all six of your strings down several steps, the strings may become slack, lacking in tension and making an unpleasant sound making contact with your fretboard.
How to Tune to Drop G Tuning On a 6 String Guitar
Drop G tuning has been most commonly found in heavy genres of music, creating a dark, foreboding sound. While drop B tuning has been favored by heavy metal bands such as Slipknot, bands that fall into the categories of hardcore, grindcore, death metal, and doom metal are the provinces of drop G tuning.
In this lesson, we’ll show you how to tune your six-string guitar to drop G tuning, as well as give you some pointers on how to tune a seven-string guitar to drop G. This alternate tuning can open up new ways to play heavy power chords and lends heft to riffs where you may want a darker, more ominous sound. As mentioned before, if you’re thinking about using drop G tuning on a regular basis, you may want to invest in heavier gauge strings, as well as heavy or extra heavy picks to get the sound you want to achieve.
Let’s get started and compare standard tuning to drop G tuning and show you how it’s done.
Standard tuning for guitar, uses all six strings, from lowest to highest:
• E (lowest string)
• E (highest string)
Drop G tuning alters the pitch of all six strings, making it easier to play power chords in the key of G major. In drop G, your strings would be tuned as follows:
• G (lowest string)
• A (highest string)
Now that we’ve covered the differences between standard tuning and drop G tuning, here’s how to tune your guitar to drop G:
• Start by tuning your low E down string down by four and a half steps to G.
• Next, tune A string down by three and a half steps to D.
• You’ll also tune your D, G, B, and high E strings down three and a half steps -- bringing the tones down to G, C, E, and A respectively.
• Keep plucking the strings until you hear the correct notes.
Pro tip: You can use the Fender Online guitar tuner to help you tune your guitar to the correct note. Use either the Electric Guitar Online Guitar Tuner or the Acoustic Guitar Online Tuner. Or download the app for your phone. Both the web and app versions give you the ability to adjust your settings and tune your strings based on different alternate tunings.
Drop G Tuning On a 7 String Guitar
While drop G tuning is one of the less common tunings, it certainly has its devotees! And there are some brave souls who enjoy experimenting with seven-string tunings using drop G.
The standard tuning for a seven-string guitar is:
• B (lowest string)
• E (highest string)
The strings on a 7-string guitar are the same as standard tuning on a 6-string guitar, only in this instance, the guitar adds one new string. This new lowest string on the 7-string guitar is the low B string, followed by the low E as the second lowest string tone.
While a seven-string guitar has almost the same order of strings as a six-string guitar, drop G tuning on a seven-string has a few key differences from its six-string incarnation. Drop G tuning on a seven-string guitar is:
• G (lowest string)
• D (highest string)
Why Learn Drop G Tuning?
When you play open chords, they tend to have a greater resonance than bar chords. With drop G tuning, you can make greater use of open chords with the most bottom-heavy sound possible (apart from playing power chords on a bass).
Songs That Use Drop G Tuning
As mentioned before, some of the heaviest of the heavy genres and bands use drop G tuning to achieve a deeper, more bottom-heavy sound that creates an aura of menace.
On “I, Dementia,” deathcore band Whitechapel uses drop G tuning to complement singer Phil Bozeman’s visceral vocals. During the song’s breakdown section midway through, if you listen closely, you can hear the looseness of the strings before giving way to a super-charged guitar solo. The band also uses drop G tuning on their 2014 song, “The Saw Is the Law.”
One of the bands that Whitechapel claims as an influence, legendary metal band Pantera, has also used drop G tuning. On “The Underground in America,” guitar icon Dimebag Darrell tunes his guitar down to drop G to create a brutal riff that chugs throughout this ode to calling out fake people and raising musical mayhem.
Metalcore band Born of Osiris also uses drop G tuning on several songs, including “Follow the Signs,” “Ascension,” and “Free Fall.” And if you think drop G tuning on a 7-string guitar is extreme, it’s worth noting that Born of Osiris guitarist Lee McKinney sometimes plays an 8-string guitar!
Check Out Fender Play Guitar Lessons
When you’re first learning to play guitar, learning to play songs in standard tuning may be one of the easiest ways to develop your ear. However, as you discover more about your instrument and want to experiment with new songs, learning alternate tunings like drop G can help you open up to new sounds that show you just what your guitar -- and you -- are capable of playing!
By practicing drop G tuning, you can expand your guitar repertoire to incorporate new sounds, tones, and genre styles of Learn more songs, chords, and guitar techniques with a free trial of Fender Play today.