# Determining the name of a certain alternate tuning?

For example if the tuning is

C A D G B E

What is that called? Not Drop C is it?

• They aren't all going to have names Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 20:50
• This is not drop C. Drop C would be C-G-C-F-A-D. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 22:43
• I’d call that drop C but obviously other people would disagree. They don’t all have names and the names that exist aren’t universal. To specify a tuning, the best way is to list the notes of the tuning. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 23:49
• @user1079505 - how do you work that out? Bottom string drops to C, 2 tones, and the others drop 1 tone. Who camee up with that rule?
– Tim
Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 15:22
• A key part of the "Drop D" tuning is that the low three strings form a "power" chord — root, fifth, octave, in this case DAD — making chording easier. I would assume a "Drop C" tuning would have CGC. CAD does not form a useful chord, but you could easily play low melody notes in C up the neck and just drone on the slacked C. I could see this as a useful tuning, but I would never call CADGBE "Drop C" Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 23:10

If drop D is D A D G B E, because the E is dropped to D, then logic says C A D G B E is drop C. Unfortunately, someone (trying to find who) decided that's not how to do it, so make of it what you will...

EDIT: according to Wiki, it is in fact a variation of drop C tuning - just drop low E to C!

• If, starting from "E standard", you move all strings by the same interval, so that the 6th string is X, the name is "X standard". If you additionally drop the 6th string by 2 semitones to Y you get "Drop Y". So Drop D is E standard with the 6th string tuned to D. Drop C is D standard with 6th string tuned to C. I don't know who came up with this, but this seems to be a popular agreement. Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 15:39

Some people understand "drop C" to mean CGCFAD (or, drop D transposed down a whole step). Other people understand "drop C" to mean CADGBE (or, standard tuning, and you drop your E to C). So I would not just call it "drop C".

A somewhat common and less ambiguous name would be "E drop C" - since you are tuning to E and then dropping the E to C. Then the other "drop C" would be called "D drop C", by the same logic.

In writing, I would just write "CADGBE" tuning. It's clearer, more widely understood, and no longer to write out than "E drop C". At the very least, if you want to call it something else, you should start by saying the term you chose to use means "CADGBE" tuning.

So there are two ideas going here and both are correct.

The "drop" on Drop D, I believe, refers only to dropping the string down to D. However, the reason that works so well and is so widely used is because then the lowest three strings form a power chord DAD, which makes playing power chords easier in rock music because you can just lay one finger down and cover all three.

While this tuning could be called Drop C (what determines that is how often that term gets used by musicians and then it just becomes known, it isn't simply a matter of defining it in text book/dictionary sense), it also does not serve a similar useful function on the guitar as Drop D. But ya, you could call this drop C, however if no one knows what you mean by that, what difference does it make?

I think the above discussions show that simply applying a label to it is kind of a moot point unless everyone is on the same page, and since this tuning isn't a very widely used one, you will have conflicting ideas.