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(@billyjoebob)
New Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Hey. I've got an Ibanez GSA60 and I've been playing guitar for three years now. During those years I've been playing in standard tuning na dwould now like to get a little more creative by changing the tuning to dropped B. Now here are my problems and questions:

The Ibanez has a floating bridge...so as soon as I lower the tuning the bridge starts to tilt backwards (away from the head) putting everything off. I open up the back and attempt to tighten the springs inside but to no avail and I'm afraid I'll put off the truss rod...summing I'm too scared to tinker with. I'm probably gonna take her in to a shop and let them handle the setup, so I'd like to know what I should ask them to do and how much it might cost (any currency is fine).

Also, if I lower the 6th E string to a B...then as I and anyone else would of expected...it goes really slack and annoying. Would it be a good idea to get a B string for a 7 string guitar and put it on in the E strings place and just keep replacing all the other strings with the next lowest string? eg: B in place of E then E in place of A and A in place of D etc..

I hope I made any sence here :D

Thanks alot


   
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(@shadewalker)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 16
 

Hi.

I use gauges 12 - 56, tuned down to 1½ to C# on my Ibanez SA120. Now, a 7-string guitar also uses a 56 gauge string for the low B, however, from my experience with my 6-string model, tuning lower than C makes it too floppy. I've never played a 7-string guitar, but I would expect much higher tension for the low B than I can set up on my 6-string guitar.

My guitar has a similar bridge to yours, and when you equip your guitar with different strings for a different tuning, you have to set the intonation too. This is where I encountered I problem: I couldn't move the saddle for the low C# string far enough back, due to how the bridge is built, to make it intonate, making the 12th fret ring sharp, and I expect whatever guitar tech to encounter the same problem. What I did, however, was install additional two tremolo springs, the push the floating bridge the whole way towards the body, blocking it, which increased the distance between the nut and each saddle so that I could intonate the bottom string properly. When you replace your strings to heavier ones, the truss rod will need to be adjusted, and the nut will have to be filed so that the strings will fit (if this is not done properly, the first few frets will sound sharp).

I'm not sure how much this will cost, it depends on the time it takes to set up plus a new set of strings. Also, even though it is set up correctly, it might not sound as you expect due to the thicker strings and the way your pickups are designed. A far easier solution is a baritone guitar, which has a larger scale so that the strings are much tighter and ideal for tuning down.

Good luck.


   
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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

You should be loosening the springs, not tightening them.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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(@shadewalker)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 16
 

You should be loosening the springs, not tightening them.

If Billyjoebob insists on using standard gauge strings for B tuning, then yes, but that's not really a good solution.


   
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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

You should be loosening the springs, not tightening them.

If Billyjoebob insists on using standard gauge strings for B tuning, then yes, but that's not really a good solution.

Maybe not a good, long-term solution, but it does answer his current, short-term problem.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Tuning a 6 string guitar this low is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. You need to get a baritone guitar or a 7 string.

Greybeard is right, you need to loosen the springs.

But that is not all. You also need to loosen the truss rod, adjust the intonation, raise the action, use heavier gauge strings, and even lower your pickups a little. This is the only way to setup a standard 6 string guitar for tunings this low.

Do it the right way. Get a baritone or 7 string guitar. I guarantee you that is what the guitarist is using.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@paul-donnelly)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1066
 

Do it the right way. Get a baritone or 7 string guitar. I guarantee you that is what the guitarist is using.
Or put heavier strings on it. The lower six strings from a seven-string set should do it, but you'll need work on the nut for that.


   
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(@billyjoebob)
New Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

okay, I agree dropped B is ridicously low...but I like the sound...thanks for the help though...I think maybe I'll reconsider and use a different tuning...dropped C maybe...dropped D is the easiest but doesn't really seem to cut it for me...and I'm not really good enough yet to make up my own tunings.


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Billyjoebob

First, I forgot to say Welcome to GuitarNoise

Second, I apologize if I sounded a little harsh.

If by Dropped C you mean drop all strings down a whole step, and then drop the 6th string down an additional whole step, this can be done.

This is the tuning groups like System of a Down use.

I have used these tunings and am very familiar with the problems they cause. So, everything here is from experience. I went to great pains to set up my guitars using these tunings. It's a pain, but well worth it.

The problem with these tunings is that the strings become VERY slack.

So, the first thing you want to do is find the heaviest gauge strings you can (I used 11-53s on my Strat). This will give you a heavier tone anyway. It is part of the sound. But as Paul said, these may not fit your nut. Even if they fit they will widen the slots on the nut. So that is permanent.

Tune the guitar to pitch. Now adjust the springs underneath until the bridge floats parallel to the body of the guitar. This will throw the tuning off. So retune. Check the bridge again. Sometimes you have to go through this process 3 or 4 times to find the proper spring tension where the bridge will be parallel and all strings will be in tune to this new tuning.

Next, you will probably have to raise your action at the bridge to prevent fret buzz at frets 1-5. But if you are not getting fret buzz leave the action alone.

If you get fret buzz in the early frets (1-5) even after raising the action quite high, then you need to adjust the truss rod tension. The truss rod is forcing the neck convex (headstock moves down). So carefully turn the truss rod counter-clockwise. Go in small steps, maybe 1/4 turn. Retune the guitar and check for fret buzz. Go just until you eliminate buzz and no more. This is neck relief. The neck should be slightly concave when looking down the neck from the headstock toward the body.

If you do adjust the truss rod, you may be able to slightly lower the action afterward. You want the strings as low as practical without fret buzz.

These tunings will almost always throw your intonation way off. You usually have to back the saddles up (makes the string longer). Carefully tune each string to pitch. Now fret that string at the 12th fret and see if it matches up with the open string. If the fretted note is sharp you need to back the saddle up. If the fretted note is flat (very rare), you need to move the saddle forward. Loosen the string before you make saddle adjustments. Adjusting intonation can be tedious. Just keep making adjustments until your intonation is perfect.

Sometimes with these low tunings you find it almost impossible to get correct intonation. You may not be able to move the saddle of the 6th string back far enough. Get as close as possible. If that happens, you can actually tighten the springs under the bridge to tilt the bridge back slightly if necessary.

After all this, you may need to lower your pickups slightly, especially the neck pickup. Otherwise you may get terrible BOOM on the 6th string. This is a very unpleasant sound you will hear right away. Or you may hear wobble from the strings, especially the 6th. So, lower your pickups slightly to eliminate this boom or wobble.

OK, I've troubled you enough. You may find that you don't have to go through all of this. But you will probably have to do a few of these things.

Hope this helped.

Let us know how it turns out.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@shadewalker)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 16
 

To Wes Inman: excellent post detailing the lower-tuning setup process.

I think I actually misread the original post. As you noticed, there is a different between drop tunings (such as drop-D, drop-C, and even drop-B) and tunings where all the strings are lowered in pitch equally (such as C# like I tune my guitar). Yes, System of a Down use drop-C (drop-C# on the new album), but this kind of tuning requires a different approach. Since the 6th string is a whole step lower than usually compared to the 5th string. Many players play in drop-D, so various string manufacturers are producing "heavy top, skinny bottom" with an extra heavy 6th string (sometimes the bottom three strings) so that you can lower to D without having an increase in gauges for the other strings. If you would like to play in e.g. drop-C instead of standard C, a set of 12 - 56 is not ideal. Instead you'd probably want 11 - 48, then replace the 48 with a 56.
Sometimes with these low tunings you find it almost impossible to get correct intonation. You may not be able to move the saddle of the 6th string back far enough.

Strings can also refuse to intonate due to too much floppyness. In that case, you need heavier strings, 12 - 56 MINIMUM for C tuning. As for the intonation and the 6th string, I've already mentioned this in my first post above: for a string gauge 56 and above, it *will* be a problem (I know this because I have a nearly identical bridge) - read my post above.


   
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(@dayzd)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 138
 

Sry Wes...I'm Billyjoebob...no need to welcome me...forgot to mention who I was :oops:

Anyway...after about 2 pain in the neck hours I've done it!

What I did:

Got new strings...went form a 9-42 guage to an 11-49. They fit in the nut like a glove much to my relief.
I then adjusted the springs in the back of the guitar bringing the bridge parallel to the body...this wasn't too difficult.
Now came the extremely irratating part...intonation...this took me about an hour. Like Wes mentioned...the 6th string didn't seem to want to intonate. I brought the saddle as far back as possible, it seemed close enough to me...so I left it after that. It sounds alright too! The rest all intonated fine.
I found no fret buzz on frets 1-5...and with a sigh of relief I realized I didn't have to touch that truss rod...something that gets the sweat running down my face just by looking at it.

All in all it was pretty basic and all the work really was worth it...especially the satisfaction of having done it all myself!

Thanks for all the help guys! Now I'm gonna go rock out with my new tuning! :D

Cya all!

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung

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<--=-.._DayZd_..-=-->


   
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