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Metal Tunings - Which to use?

Discussion in 'Musicians Discussion' started by JesterRace, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. JesterRace

    JesterRace Member

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    I know there have been countless questions about how to detune your guitar and what's involved, but I'm more curious as to why bands use certain tunings than how. When I first started playing electric guitar I was in standard tuning, which I'm assuming is how everyone got started. But as I broadened my horizons and got into all different kinds of rock and metal I started running into alternate tunings and downtunings from my favorite bands. So naturally I wanted to try to play those songs in the right tuning. Obviously the lower you tune the guitar, the less string tension there is, making it necessary to get higher gauge strings and to make adjustments to the bridge/neck accordingly. The result is I have four guitars in four somewhat ordered tunings: Eb, C, B, & a 7-string in standard tuning dropped a whole step to A. When I pick up a guitar at a music store I have great difficulty adjusting to the comparatively tiny strings in standard tuning considering the heavy gauge strings I'm used to playing on... Yet I can never really decide what tuning to use. I put one of my guitars in C to play along with In Flames because they're one of my favorite bands (hence my name) and I know just about every note from every song. Then I wanted to play some Soilwork tunes, who tunes down to B.
    Now, it seems to me that the lower you tune, the more clarity you seem to lose in your sound. Especially if you don't have a guitar properly adjusted to deal with the low tuning. I like the sonic distortion a B tuned guitar puts out, and even in clean it sounds better to me partly because it sound so much different. You can run through the same chord progressions as you did on a standard tuned guitar and they sound darker and heavier than they ever did before. Even a palm muted power chord riff that would sound somewhat cheesy in standard can sound cool downtuned to give it that different chunky heaviness.

    But if you look at Children of Bodom, they tuned their guitars only a step down to D (C# on something wild, possibly C now on Hate Crew, not sure) and it should be undisputed that they play some powerful music. They seem to rely on the melodic impact of their chord progressions and scale runs than churning out low end chunk power chords. I read in an interview with Alex Laiho how he really bangs on his guitar, his pick attack is clear AND loud.. with sick sweeps that boggle my mind. So although you could play one guitar part for a song from them, it wouldn't really do the song justice as the added atmosphere from the dual guitars and keyboards/synths make CoB what they are.

    So.. inverse relationship between being really melodic and being really heavy? Obviously melo-death strives to be both, but it seems to me that if you got your guitar tuned down to A that your not going to be playing as much melody. Actually one song that's tuned that low that's still extremely melodic is Hypocrisy's "Reversed Reflections" I believe its called on their self titled album. Armed with a 7 string tune down another whole step to A, their tone seems perpetually heavy even on slower songs. It's just so low that when they thrash out some notes really fast its difficult to hear the transition.. which is probably one of the main problems of tuning down so low.

    What do you guys tune to? Any suggestions?
     
  2. Krigloch the Furious

    Krigloch the Furious Pants full of poo

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    I started off in E. Then started playing some slayer and noticed that I liked it a little bit lower so started to play in Eb. Then I said "shit, might as well play in D." So now im in D making an attempt to play CoB songs and failing. heh. I think Im gonna stay in D, I really like the way it sounds. so there...
     
  3. Lord of Delusions

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    I think ultimately its a matter of personal taste and playing style. I have heard some really heavy songs done in standard tuning. I think its Ernie Ball that makes some hybrid strings that have heavy lower and light upper. I tend to use these quite a bit (so you would think I would know who makes 'em). I have been known to go from E down to dropped C in the same night, on the same guitar (I only have one). I also only replace my strings when they break, one at a time. Old strings seem to have a darker tone to them.
     
  4. Colonial Boy

    Colonial Boy Havenless

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    I'm learning a lot of Opeth at the moment so its standard or drop d. I use to play in CGCGCE but its more of a slide guitar tuning and doesn't suit my style. I think tuning in D is the best compromise as it sounds heavy but doesn't require excessively heavy string gauges.
     
  5. Pita Bread

    Pita Bread Obscurity

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    The tuning a band uses often has a lot to do with the vocalist's range. In Flames used to only tune down to D, until Anders joined the band during Jester Race. Their previous vocalists had higher pitched screams, and Jespar could get away with tuning down minimally, but with Anders's low roar, In Flames had to tune down to C. Children of Bodom also works well in D, because Alexi's voice is pretty midranged.
     
  6. Krigloch the Furious

    Krigloch the Furious Pants full of poo

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    ok so im playing in D and im using 10 - 46 strings. anybody using different strings for the D tuning??
     
  7. Lord of Delusions

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  8. fadingessence

    fadingessence All is Lost

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    i've used 10 1/2's all the way down to C, doesn't bother me at all.

    I use C# a lot for heavier riffs, maybe the dark tranquillity influence. Other then that mostly Eb or Standard because opeth just doesn't sound right in any other tuning but E. I find Eb to be an awsome metal tuning though, Katatonia, Iced Earth use it...emperor/enslaved sounds fine with it.

    I think Bodom, with the exception of some Cradle, is the only thing I ever play in D. And bodom is, for the most part, way to complicated to spend time learning. I love it, its just....damn Alexi hehe.
     
  9. Mournful Death

    Mournful Death To Die A Beautiful Death

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    My favorite tuning is D, as I can get that special darkness without sacrificing clarity. If I want to write a particularly dissonant sounding riff I tune to C. Standard tuning I have to admit I haven't played in for fuckin' ages.

    Mournful
     
  10. Opus(sy)2

    Opus(sy)2 Dead and dripping

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    I have one guitar at D and the other guitar at B. ;)
     
  11. Serge...

    Serge... That guy you're not

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    I have 2 guitars, one in standard tuning, and one in D. I mainly use the one in D for my band, because we're basically power/death type stuff so the tuning suits us well. The guitar in standard tuning is what I play for fun, because I do a lot of shredding and I think that works pretty well in E, seeing as how you really don't need to detune to be heavy as a shredder, it's all in the high notes.
     
  12. Ravenous Enemy

    Ravenous Enemy hell alive

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    I like tuning to C for heavy metal and heavy rock (like Arch Enemy/ Spiritual Beggars), but you do lose clarity as you tune down. Obviosly if you're a really melodic band then to hear the melody clearly it has to be higher up, therefore there'sno point downtuning. The fact that Alexi Laiho etc don't dontune to much and pick really clearly means you get a much less mushy sound wich to me is more powerfull, hoewever dispite Opeth not tuning down so far they still have quite a mushy sound, but the bass (bass guitar) is very strong, how it should be and therefore handles the lower range. Most of the time I tune to E or Eb.
     
  13. genocide roach

    genocide roach DOOOOOOOOOOM

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    i like B standard. but i play a 5 string bass and 7 string guitar. i dont get the squirly feeling of detuned strings, but still a big chunky sound. plus, i use all my strings, unlike alot of bands. so it adds a very nice range while having a thundery sound.
    ~gR~
     
  14. TekChef

    TekChef Thrashing Chef of Doom!

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    my guitars are tuned to E and Eb

    As someone said, you pretty much tune to meet the vocalist really. If your singer is low to mid ranged, a bit of tuning down is necessary.
     

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