Drop C: C G C F A D

There are a couple of different variations of Drop C, in this tutorial we will be reviewing the most common of these, C G C F A D. These instructions assume your guitar is already tuned to Standard (E A D G B E).

Step 1: Tune Your Guitar to Drop D

Drop C is very similar to Drop D, if you tuned to Drop D and then dropped every string down 1 whole tone down you would be in Drop C. That is why we use Drop D as a starting point. If you haven’t already tuned to Drop D, do so now.

Step 2: The G String (5th)

Now that your low E is a D, place your index finger on the fifth fret of the 6th string. Because you are in Drop D, this fret is now a G note, the same not we want for the fifth string. Keep your finger on that fret. Now pick the fifth and six strings in together or in turn, loosening the fifth string tuning peg until the pitch of the two strings are the same.

Step 3: The C String (4th)

Place your index finger on the fifth fret of the G string. That’s a C note. Tune the 4th string to that.

Step 4: The F String (3rd)

Place your index finger on the fifth fret of the C string. That’s a F note. Tune the 3rd string to that.

Step 5: The A String (2nd)

Place your index finger on the fourth fret of the F string. That’s a A note. Tune the 2nd string to that.

Step 6: The D String (1st string)

Place your index finger on the fifth fret of the A string. That’s a D note. Tune the 1st string to that.

Step 7: Tune the thickest string to a C

Okay so now your tuning from top down should look like this D G C F A D – the one final step is to drop the thickest string (D note) down to a C. Use the forth string open as a reference tone to do this, plucking them in turn or together until the pitches sync up. You can test if you got it right by playing a D Major Shape, which is now a C Chord.

The below chart compares the tone differences between Drop D and Drop C.

String #Drop DDrop C
6DC
5AG
4DC
3GF
2BA
1ED

How to Remember

Once you have leaned the above, you may well realize that there is good way to remember how to do this tuning when you don’t have a tuner on hand and have to do it manually.

Once your 6th string is a D, you can use the fifth fret of that string as reference tone to get the next string into tune.

As you tune from the thickest to the thinnest string your guitar will automatically create the pitches you need to get into Drop C, just by following the Standard Tuning Pattern reference tones (5th fret, 5th fret, 5th fret, 4th fret, 5th fret) all the way down the guitar.

The one last step is to tune the 6th string down to a C.