I'm experimenting with the Open C tuning (CGCGCE) in my guitar and I'm facing some problems, namely that the strings don't stay in tune for too long and the sound is "weird". I then realized that maybe I'd have to make some adjustments in the guitar or choose different strings as to minimize the problems and make it sound better. At the moment I'm using D'Addario Nickel Wound .010 strings.

I'd like to understand better how the tension of the strings affects the overall sound and interacts with other parts of the guitar and what needs to be done to effectively use these lower tunings.


The lower you tune your guitar, the thicker you will want the strings. 10's are probably not going to cut it for going that low.

From what I heard at the music shop the other day, you want to go up a gauge for every whole step you go down, which by this formula, would mean you want 12's. Maybe 'Even Better Than Slinkys', which come ready packaged for downtuners.

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  • Interesting, but this begs the question: seeing that not all strings in this tuning are downtuned, 1 and 3 remain the same and 2 is increased half-step, should I still get 12's? – lfzawacki Jan 8 '12 at 18:06
  • You can buy a set, or single strings of the bigger gauge, and only change the ones you are down tuning. Your guitar store should be able to help you find the right ones. – todd Jan 10 '12 at 1:12
  • Or you could by Mixed sets, like the Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom. – Andre Rodrigues Jan 13 '12 at 1:56

It shouldn't go out of tune even at low pitches as long as you have enough wraps on the post and you always tune up into a note (to lock the gears in the tuner).

But thicker strings will be less flabby. If the string guage is too small for the pitch, the act of striking the strings will noticeably change the tension, thus changing the pitch. So a note won't stay in tune with itself.

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  • Yeah I know about tuning up into the notes and that should not be the problem. In fact sometimes I observed it going out of tune to a higher pitch and I suppose that may be due to the flabbiness you talk about. – lfzawacki Jan 8 '12 at 18:10

There may also be issues with the intonation. I tried to turn a Tele into a baritone, and I could not get the saddle for the low string back far enough.

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