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I want to know how many drop tunings I can reasonably use with one set of strings. Ex. can I go from E standard to drop C on 11s? For a given size string, how many tunings will be useable, given that E standard has to be the highest one? In the best case, I would like to go down to drop B or drop A. Is that feasible?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It is feasible, yes. Your challenge will come from the low tension you will require on that bottom string. Using standard strings will mean a much lower tension than if you use thicker strings.

Effects of lower tension include:

  • tuning is difficult. Any extra pressure in the string will pull it up out of tune
  • slapping against the fretboard and catching on the edge of the pickups
  • truss rod adjustments required to match tension

Going down to a drop A is a pretty major drop, so I would suggest that unless you like the slappy type of sound and are very light with your fretting hand you will want to go up one or two gauges on this string.

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I already use 11s as my normal strings because I play a lot of metal and like the tight response. Are 11s big enough? – segiddins Oct 11 '12 at 21:23
From my experience 11s are fine for your top five strings (and fine for a drop d) but you will want to go up a gauge or two for your bottom string. – Dr Mayhem Oct 11 '12 at 22:52
See this question that you just inspired:… – segiddins Oct 11 '12 at 23:03
And @Alex's answer is spot on. Just changing one string is much less of an issue. – Dr Mayhem Oct 12 '12 at 6:20

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