Note that I'm familiar with the post Why Move to a 7-String Guitar? but it doesn't quite answer my question.

My question is can you get to lower tunings such as C standard, drop B tunings without damaging the guitar and getting a good sound for rock and metal music. I was inspired by Kurt Cobains "buying junk" kind of thinking. Basically he used anything he could get his hands on.

What factors are important for this?


A seven string guitar is not needed. There are bariton guitars that are specifically made for lower tunings.

Detuning a normal six string guitar is also very common. Since detuning usually means putting thicker strings on the guitar, one thing to look out for is the nut. The slots might need to be widened to accommodate the thicker strings. Another issue might be intonation. The longer scale on a bariton guitar is to allow for intonation with lower tunings. For normal six string guitars, a Fender type scale of 25.5" is preferable over a Gibson which is 24.75". That said, I have seven string guitars with 24.75" scale where I don't have an issue with intonation.

The tuning machines might not be made for thicker strings either. One can use a small file to increase the size of the holes, or peel away the smaller wire wound around the string in order to just let the core of the string pass through.

So there's nothing stopping you from experimenting with this. The death metal sound of the early 90s is partly due to detuning six string guitars while not changing string gauge, making the strings very loose. If it works, it works...

  • What makes a longer scale length as in Fender preferable over a shorter scale? With suitable guage strings on each, there won't be any difference, will there? – Tim Apr 23 '19 at 10:05
  • @Tim, the difference in gauge makes a big difference in how it feels to play in different tunings. – Meaningful Username Apr 23 '19 at 12:13
  • I understand that - I've been guitaring for 60 yrs! What I don't understand is what difference sgale length will make to intonation, as each neck/frets is for its own particular scale length. The two have to go together. – Tim Apr 23 '19 at 13:19
  • @Tim I'm probably missing your point, but at some point you won't be able to intonate due to the scale length being too short. A1 or E1 for the sixth string would likely be hard on a normal scale. – Meaningful Username Apr 23 '19 at 13:26

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