Let’s face it; low tuning has a certain feel, a certain quality that sometimes, standard tuning just can’t match.
There is something appealing about that low end growl, that deep, guttural note, and it makes you just want to drop your tuning down low and start playing.
Believe it or not, simply dropping your tuning is actually unhealthy for your guitar.
When you drop your tuning, there is actually a proper procedure to follow. Dropping your tuning means that you are changing the notes of your guitar; this also means that you are altering your guitar’s intonation.
Whereas your guitar was originally intonated for the notes E, A, D, G, B, and E from lowest to highest, you are now changing the notes to, perhaps C, G, C, F, A, and D.
This is a complex way of saying that the notes on your guitar no longer match one another. It also means that you may start experiencing some buzzing on your frets, as your string gauges no longer provide the required tension.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every single time you change tuning you will have to change a new set of strings, but it does mean that you will have to make bridge adjustments.
First off, you will need to readjust your string height. The string height for the tuning E, A, D, G, B, E with a set of .09’s is completely different from the string height for the tuning C, G, C, F, A, D with a set of .09’s.
The strings are no longer providing the same amount of tension, which means that you will need to compensate with string height to re-achieve the proper amount of tension and eliminate that string buzzing. Sadly, there is no perfect answer for this; you will need to slowly adjust your strings to eliminate the buzzing through trial and error.
Next up, your intonation. Intonation is achieved by the distance of a string from the bridge to the nut. Simply put, you will need to readjust each string saddle. To do this, plug it into your tuner.
Play an open note on your low note, which for argument’s sake we will use the note C. Your low C should be tuned perfectly. Now play your low C on the twelfth fret. You may notice that the note is quite a bit sharp, or even quite a bit flat. This is because your intonation is now off.
To fix the guitar problem, you will need to readjust the distance of the saddle from the nut. If your note is flat, you want to bring the saddle closer, sharpening it. If it is sharp, you want to bring the saddle further, flattening it.
In between each adjustment, you must retune your open string, as the tuning will change as your distance changes. You want both notes to be perfect. When you are finished, move on to the next string.
Once you have adjusted your bridge height and intonation, you have properly detuned your guitar. Once you go through the process a few times, it will become almost second nature and you will blow through it in no time!
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