How to tune a guitar to drop C?

Try tuning your guitar in Drop C if you play heavier music like metal and hardcore.

Drop C is a popular alternative guitar tuning that adds depth and dimension to your music. It’s an excellent choice for guitarists who want a heavier sound, extended range, and easier power chords.

What is drop C tuning?

Drop C tuning is an alternative method where the low E string is tuned down two steps to a C note. The rest of the strings are typically tuned down one step each (from lowest to highest): C-G-C-F-A-D.

This is a popular tuning for electric guitars and is often used in heavy metal, hard rock, and other styles of music that require a heavier and darker sound.

What are the benefits of tuning with a Drop C?

Tuning with a Drop C allows you to experiment with your sound and make it unique and distinctive.

The other benefits of this method are:

Tuning with a Drop C provides a wider range

The lower tuning provides access to a wider range of notes, making more complex and interesting chord voicings and melodic possibilities.

Tuning with a Drop C provides easier power chords

With the lowest three strings tuned to C-G-C, power chords can be played with one finger across the strings, making it easier and faster to play riffs and chord progressions.

Step-by-step guide on How to tune a guitar to Drop C

guitar to drop c tuning

There are two ways you can tune your guitar with Drop C.

One is from Standard tuning, and the other is from Drop D.

Tuning with a Drop C from Standard Tuning

In Standard tuning, the strings are tuned from lowest to highest: E-A-D-G-B-E.

Each string has the following frequency:

  • The low E string (6th string) = 82.4 Hz
  • The A string (5th string) = 110 Hz
  • The D string (4th string) = 146.8 Hz
  • The G string (3rd string) = 196 Hz
  • The B string (2nd string) = 246.9 Hz
  • The high E string (1st string) = 329.6 Hz

Now that we have recalled what Standard Tuning is, let’s get into the steps for tuning with a Drop C:

  • Start by tuning your guitar with Standard tuning using an electronic tuner or doing it by ear.
  • Lower the pitch of the 6th string (low E string) to a C.
  • Lower the pitch of the 5th string (A string) to a G.
  • Lower the pitch of the 4th string (D string) to a C.
  • Leave the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings (G, B, and high E) in Standart tuning.
  • Play each string one at a time to make sure that they sound clear and in tune.

start from standard tuning

Tuning with a Drop C from Drop D

The difference between Standard tuning and Drop D is that low E is tuned down to D: D-A-D-G-B-E.

  • If your guitar is already tuned to Drop D – Great! But if it’s not, start by tuning your guitar from Standard tuning to Drop D by using your 3rd string (G string) as a reference tone and drop your 6th string (low E string) to a D. You can use an electronic tuner or do it by ear. Learn more on how to tune your guitar to Drop D.

The rest of the steps are the same as for Standard tuning:

  • Lower the pitch of the 6th string from D to a C.
  • Lower the pitch of the fifth string from A to a G.
  • Lower the pitch of the 4th string from D to a C.
  • Leave the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings (G, B, and high E) in Standard tuning.
  • Play each string one at a time to make sure that they sound clear and in tune.

drop d tuning

How to set up your guitar for Drop C

When you want to use Drop C tuning, you should make some adjustments to adapt your guitar for the lower tuning.

Here’s what you need to set up when you want to tune your guitar to drop C:

Make sure to use the correct strings

If you are using thinner strings, you may need to replace them. This is because, with a drop tune, the thinner strings will lose tension, and the sound will become flat and out of tune.

Thicker gauge strings will compensate for lower tuning. It is best to use .012 to .060 gauge strings.

Some companies make strings that are specifically for drop C tuning.

Adjust the guitar bridge

When tuning the guitar to Drop C, the bridge may lose tension or tilt up or down. It should be parallel to the guitar’s body.

If it is tilted down, you need to loosen the springs, and if it is tilted up – tighten them.

It’s also a good idea to adjust the bridge if you use thicker strings.

Adjust the truss rod

The thicker guitar strings need more room to vibrate when played. Tuning the truss rod will give them more room to sound clear and clean.

Adjusting the truss rod is also necessary when you notice the guitar neck bending more than usual after Drop C tuning or changing the strings.

Adjust the guitar’s action

You need to increase the guitar’s action if the strings create too many buzzing sounds. If you have difficulty pressing the strings, you should reduce the action.

Check the intonation

Finally, check your guitar’s intonation once you’re all set up.

For more accuracy, use an electric tuner if you have one.

Play the sixth string at the 12th fret.

If the tone is flat, adjust the saddle closer to the neck; if it is too sharp, move it further away.

Repeat with each string until you get the perfect intonation.

How to Play Chords in Drop C Tuning

If you’ve played Drop D before, you’ll find it easier to play Drop C. This is because everything is the same, just a whole tone lower.

If you know the fretboard and understand the intervals, you will have no problem with your new guitar tuning.

Scales in Drop C Tuning

Things are not much different here than with chords.

The sixth string is played at the 4th fret, and the other strings are shifted up two frets.

Songs that you can play in Drop C

We’ll wrap up this thread with a few favorite songs you might play on Drop C:

  • Killswitch Engage – My Curse
  • System Of A Down – Chop Suey
  • Disturbed – Stricken
  • As I Lay Dying – Through Struggle
  • Three Days Grace – Animal I Have Become
  • Rammstein – Mein Herz Brennt


It may take a little time to get used to the Drop C setup, but it’s worth a try. It allows you to create powerful riffs, chugs, and palm mutes to make your playing sound more intense and distinctive.


Is Drop C the lowest tuning?

Drop C tuning is not the lowest tuning. It’s possible to tune your guitar lower than Drop C, depending on your preferences and the gauge of your strings.

Can you play Drop D songs in Drop C?

Each Drop tuning makes the power chords easier and gives them a more metal and rock sound.

So, the answer is Yes. There’s no problem with playing Drop D songs in Drop C.

What other types of alternate tunings are there?

Other alternative tunings similar to Drop C are:

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