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Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

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Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Wed May 06, 2020 10:52 pm

I’m getting my Tele guitar set up after lockdown for drop C but until then I’d like to tune it to drop D (DADGBe) and currently it is set up for E standard.

If I leave it in drop D for a month or two (maybe longer) without getting it set up will that be bad for the guitar? I hear the tension difference is only 4%!
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby zenguitar » Wed May 06, 2020 11:13 pm

Sorry, the answer is 'maybe'.

If you are using the same strings tuned down a full step it will reduce the tension. That might result in a slight back bow. However, if your guitar has slightly more relief than it needs it could result in a slightly better action.

The good news is that trying it won't do any damage to the guitar. If you do get a slight buzz, just tune back to normal tension. Then after we come out of isolation you can get your guitar set-up for drop C.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Wed May 06, 2020 11:16 pm

zenguitar wrote:Sorry, the answer is 'maybe'.

If you are using the same strings tuned down a full step it will reduce the tension.

Thanks Andy!

At least I know it won’t damage my guitar to leave it without noticing a difference but is still true when drop D is only tuning the low E one step down? The rest of the strings are unaffected
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed May 06, 2020 11:19 pm

I switched between standard and drop D on various acoustics and a Strat for years and now stick to drop D. For me there was a barely noticeable, possibly imagined, difference in feel across the fretboard.

I gradually moved to heavier strings, ending up with d'Addario ej17 PBs which were the heaviest I could reliably get my hands on. I didn't really need to as the lighter strings worked perfectly well for drop D but I was looking for an excuse to go heavier anyway.

To cut a short story long I found the heavier strings definitely warranted a setup but in comparison the difference between tunings was negligible.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Thu May 07, 2020 6:25 am

shufflebeat wrote:To cut a short story long I found the heavier strings definitely warranted a setup but in comparison the difference between tunings was negligible.

So what you’re effectively saying is I likely won’t need a setup to tune to drop D for a couple months but any sizeable change to string gauge will?
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu May 07, 2020 7:52 am

I play in a couple of bands, one of which tunes a semitone down (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb eb). Over the last couple of years I’ve tried maybe half a dozen different guitars in the lower tuning. When I first joined the band I was tweaking the set up for Eb and even increasing string gauge, now I don’t bother. Sometimes I’ll drop tune a guitar just to try it (the First World problem of ‘which of my many guitars do I use tonight?’), sometimes it will stay tuned that way for months. It’s only a semitone but I play with a very low action so, in theory, I should be more susceptible to a straightening of the neck.

As Andy said, you’re not going to do any damage. A guitar leaving the factory could end up being played strung with 9’s or 13’s, tuned to E or to D. It’s all a matter of setup.

I would suggest learning to do more setup activities yourself. Any guitarist should be capable to learn how to;

Change strings
Set intonation
Set string height
Adjust truss rod
Adjust trem springs

It’s the truss rod that seems to frighten people the most. Maybe it’s seen as something that doesn’t need to be routinely adjusted? The key is very small tweaks and patience.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Thu May 07, 2020 7:55 am

So it sounds like I should be safe to leave it in Drop D without a set up! Thanks everyone and correct me if I’m misunderstanding that

I do know it’s important for guitarists to do their own set up but I really doubt I’m capable. I’m clumsy, shaky hands, and usually strip screws with the most basic of screwdriver use.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 07, 2020 11:01 am

garrettendi wrote:I’m getting my Tele guitar set up after lockdown for drop C but until then I’d like to tune it to drop D (DADGBe) and currently it is set up for E standard.

If I leave it in drop D for a month or two (maybe longer) without getting it set up will that be bad for the guitar? I hear the tension difference is only 4%!

I think, in this case, Dale means "drop D" to mean the low E srting only retuned to D not the whole guitar two semitones lower which makes much less difference to the overall tension.

You talked in your 'Slightly tarnished' thread of tuning the whole guitar down to D or even C, i.e. two or four semitones which may be the cause of the confusion. Referring to drop D meaning DGCFAD is common but most of us older, folk/blues/etc (and non-metal) guitarists still automatically think of Drop D as meaning DADGBE.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Thu May 07, 2020 11:04 am

I apologise for the confusion!

By Drop-D I meant DADGBe, and by Drop C I meant CGCFAd

So Drop-D, just the low E tuned down a whole step, and by Drop-C, the whole guitar tuned down a whole step except for the low E tuned down two whole steps to C.

EDIT: So to clarify, I am tuning to Drop D as above now without a setup for a few weeks, and Drop-C as above after lockdown once setup.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 07, 2020 11:16 am

It all becomes clearer :D

No need to add to the advice that has been given though, all good stuff from trusted sources (especially Andy ;) )
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu May 07, 2020 11:19 am

garrettendi wrote:I do know it’s important for guitarists to do their own set up but I really doubt I’m capable. I’m clumsy, shaky hands, and usually strip screws with the most basic of screwdriver use.

Mate, if you had ever seen my DIY efforts! 'Bodging' doesn't even come close. I'm also the most impatient person that you are ever likely to meet and no one has ever described me as someone who pays attention to detail.

I have the most basic of tools. Screw drivers, Allen keys, truss rod spanner (for PRS), capo, feeler gauges and one of these;

Image

I should really learn how to reprofile frets and cut nut slots but, for now, I'm happy to leave that to a proper Guitar Tech.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Thu May 07, 2020 11:20 am

Sam Spoons wrote:It all becomes clearer :D

No need to add to the advice that has been given though, all good stuff from trusted sources (especially Andy ;) )

Yeah soz about that.

Ok, I'll detune to Drop-D this weekend and not get it setup for now, unless I notice an issue with the neck, in which case I will leave it in E-standard when not being used.

Also need to get those drums done for Drew!
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby garrettendi » Thu May 07, 2020 11:21 am

Thanks Music Wolf, I'll have some careful thought on that
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby ManFromGlass » Thu May 07, 2020 12:05 pm

I have my el cheapo frankenguitar which I’ve used for experiments for many years now - mostly pickup changes, messing with the trem, installing odd electronics.
I’ve left it tuned down a fifth for a couple years now just because I could and it inspires me differently sometimes. I’ve never touched a truss rod (yup scares me!) or made any neck or bridge adjustments.
Perhaps I dodged the bullet but it plays fine down there, no fret buzz or other problems. The low E string doesn’t stay in tune if I do extreme bending, but the guitar has really cheap tuners.
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Re: Do I need my guitar set up for drop D?

Postby zenguitar » Thu May 07, 2020 12:35 pm

ManFromGlass wrote: The low E string doesn’t stay in tune if I do extreme bending, but the guitar has really cheap tuners.

These problems are very rarely the tuners, although they are often blamed (most diagnoses of slipping tuners are made by shop sales staff who see it as an opportunity to sell something). The first cause is poorly fitted strings, the second cause is failing to tune the string up to pitch and instead over tuning and then dropping down to pitch (there is always a little backlash in the tuner gearing and there is always a little more in cheap tuners which is why they are often blamed). But the biggest cause is the string sticking slightly in the nut, either the slot is too tight or most likely poorly finished leaving too much friction.

Andy :beamup:
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