Drop C Tuning for Bass: The Ultimate Guide [2021]

Hey Bassists, I understand if you’re intimidated by alternate tuning. If you’re into rock or metal and want to tune your bass to Drop C tuning, this is the perfect article for you. Whether you never heard of it or just want to get it, I’m here to help you out.

drop c tuning for bass

So, What is Drop C Tuning for Bass?

The tuning of C-G-C-F is considered as a Drop C tuning for a 4-string bass guitar. By lowering all strings one step down from standard E-A-D-G tuning and then dropping the lowest string to C is required for Drop C tuning on a bass. It provides a lower range and makes power chords easier to play.

What is the need for Drop C Tuning?

Drop C tuning is a great way to increase the lower range of a bass guitar which makes it easier for you to play certain riffs and power chords. Also, Drop C tuning allow you to hit the correct notes to complement a singer with a lower voice, to get in sync easily with other instruments, and to deliver a thick and bottom-heavy bass tone.

Basically, Drop C tuning opens up a whole new dimension of musical possibilities for your bass while allowing you to play chords in a new and easy way.

How You Can Tune your Bass to Drop C?

The easiest way to tune your bass to drop c is by using a tuner that allows you for flat tuning like this one (link to Amazon!).

Drop C Tuning (C-G-C-F) on Bass Step-by-Step:

  1. Get a tuner and set it to Bass mode
  2. Press Flat Button (Semitones) four times
  3. Tune E string to E Flat Flat Flat Flat (which is equivalent to C)
  4. Tune A string to Standard G tuning
  5. Tune D string to E Flat Flat Flat Flat i.e. C
  6. Tune G string to A Flat Flat Flat Flat (which is equivalent to F)

In this way, you can easily change your bass tuning to Drop C with the help of a tuner.

How to Check if your Bass is Tuned Properly without a Tuner?

There is one easy trick to check if your bass is properly tuned or not.

The sound on the seventh fret of your thickest C string must match with the open G string. The fifth fret of the G string must match with the sound of the open C string right below that. and then again the fifth fret of the C string matches with the last open F string.

If this is the case, that means, your bass is tuned to C-G-C-F that is, Drop C tuning.

Also Read: What is the drop D tuning on basses?

Will Drop C Tuning Damage your Bass?

The alternate tuning is not going to damage a bass as long as it is reasonable. When tuning a bass guitar to Drop C, the tension in the strings lowered significantly and they start to feel a little loose. Thus, it required a proper setup for correct intonation and string action.

If you try to drop your bass tuning without considering a professional setup, it neither play in tune for higher resisters nor going to feel very nice while playing. Although with a proper set of bass strings you can significantly avoid any damage to the bass neck profile, but to get the most out of it, consider a proper setup.

What is the Best Bass Strings for Drop C Tuning?

It is always recommended to use slightly heavier gauge strings for drop C tuning on a bass guitar. heavy bass strings might feel a little difficult when played with fingers but they can easily handle the drop c tuning.

for C-G-C-F tuning, I recommend for:

  • C (.115 to .120) – Anything more than .120 will be too thick and also reduces the volume
  • G (.090 to .100) – Anything less than .090 seems to be flop and doesn’t provide you nice tone in Drop C
  • C (.060 to .075) – I find this range works perfectly for me!
  • F (.045 to .055) – Anything more than this makes strings too tight and difficult for plucking.

Personally, for Drop C tuning for a bass guitar. I prefer to go with DR DDT-55 Bass Strings that works great for me in terms of stiffness and intonation. But, I also heard, D’Addario EXL170BT strings also perform quite nicely for Drop C tuning.

Can you Tune a 5-String Bass to Drop C?

You could tune a 5-string bass to Drop C by tuning one step up to C-G-C-F-A from the standard tuning of B-E-A-D-G. But, there is no need for Drop C tuning on a 5-string bass guitar as B string already provides a lower range for bass than C.

Drop C tuning on a 4-string bass is C-G-C-F, and if you’re thinking should you add 5th string to above or below:

  • G-C-G-C-F: The low G is pointlessly low here and you might need to set up your nut.
  • C-G-C-F-A#: I don’t know, what to do with this High A#?

That’s why I suggest you keep things simple, either use a 4-string bass for Drop C tuning or simply master the 5-string bass in its standard tuning.

Best Bass Guitar Songs in Drop C Tuning?

  • System of a Down – Toxicity
  • A Perfect Circle – Brena
  • Sleeping with Sirens
  • Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows
  • System of a Down – Aerials
  • The Receiving End of Sirens – Broadcast Quality
  • A Perfect Circle – Judith
  • System of a Down – Spiders

But this list doesn’t end here. If you google it, you’ll find a whole lot of songs that are played in a Drop C tuning. Here’s the one great resource I found, where you’ll also get tabs to practice.

Also, check out this video for my favorite Drop C song:

Click here to access the whole playlist of songs played in Drop C Bass Tuning. (Thank me later!) 🙂

Final Thoughts on Drop C Tuning for Bass Guitar

I hope you find this article helpful and you get the complete idea of how you can go with a drop c tuning for your bass guitar. If you have any doubt or any kind of suggestion to this guide, feel free to contact me or drop your sweet comments right below in the comment section.

Also, don’t forget to share this article on your social handles with your friends and family who love to explore more on bass guitar.

Happy Music!

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