Drop C tuning is popular in quite a few songs whose genres are usually on the heavier side, such as rock, metal, metalcore, and death metal, although it does occasionally lend itself to the blues and bluegrass music. Songs in Drop C tuning tend to be heavier with a deeper sound and an almost gritty feel to the guitar.
What is Drop C tuning?
Drop C tuning is a tuning style that leaves you with a much lower and deeper sound to your guitar than you would normally get with standard tuning methods and requires you to adjust all of your strings.
Expert Tip: In order to achieve a Drop C tuning, you have to tune your lowest string down two steps to C, and all the other strings down one step and then tune it from there. Doing this creates strings that are looser, so bands that do this regularly tend to use heavier strings to accommodate for this.
Whether you are a long time fan of playing in Drop C tuning, or you are just getting into learning it, here are some great songs in Drop C tuning for you to enjoy or even to practice to. If you do not play guitar or if you do not have any interest in learning Drop C tuning, these songs in Drop C tuning are still sure to satisfy your craving for heavier songs with great lyrics.
1. ‘Holy Diver’ by Killswitch Engage
A song almost everyone knows and will jam along to, Killswitch Engage’s cover of Holy Diver by Ronnie James Dio changes the guitar tuning to be in a Drop C tuning for a lower, grittier version of the song with vocals to match that are beloved by many, including the late Ronnie James Dio himself who passed away in 2010.
This cover is not their only song in a Drop C tuning, and as the band is still currently together. it will most likely not be their last one either.
#2 ‘Meddler’ by August Burns Red
August Burns Red is one of the heaviest deathmetal bands in the Christian genre and are known to write a lot of their songs in Drop C tuning. ‘Meddler’ is no most certainly no exception to this, and gives a great set of memorable guitar rifts while having powerful vocals screaming lyrics about the nature of human misery and the need for God.
While they may not sound like it at first listen, the band, and their songs, are indeed Christian and work their belief into the majority of their songs and lyrics, their unique music is still quite enjoyable.
#3 ‘Your Betrayal’ by Bullet For My Valentine
Bullet For My Valentine started their career with all of their albums and the songs inside in Drop C tuning, and ‘Your Betrayal,’ having come out over a decade ago, still features their classic Drop C tuning style.
The song is, as you may have expected, about the betrayal of trust in a relationship and has some really great guitar riffs and a catchy chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head.
#4 ‘Sometimes You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail’ by A Day To Remember
This song written by A Day To Remember is written in Drop C tuning and is surprisingly uplifting in its message. If you are a heavy rock fan having a day where life is just beating you down and you’re just done with everything and every one, this is the song for you to unwind to at the end of the day and let it all out.
The Drop C tuning gives it a unique sound while the lyrics are both vocally impactful and mentally powerful. speaking to the many people who listen and resonate strongly with the lyrics.
#5 ‘Confined’ by As I Lay Dying
‘Confined’ is a song written in Drop C tuning about being someone being trapped in an empty and loveless relationship that they desperately want out of. which may have been a hint at some things going on behind the scenes for the lead singer. The song masterfully combines heavy screaming with clean vocals.
This song came out in 2013, which was roughly a year before the band broke up due to the lead singer. Tim Lambesis, being arrested for the attempted murder of his wife by hiring someone to kill her and received a long prison sentence.
The rest of the band went on to continue making music with a new lead singer named Shane Blay under the new band name Wovenwar. However. band member Nick Hipa left the band in 2020 to focus on his personal life and family.
#6 ‘Right Side of the Bed’ by Atreyu
Atreyu is another metalcore band that loves to use Drop C tuning to get that grittier metal sound from their guitars. and they really sound quite good with it. Their song, ‘Right Side of the Bed’, played with the Drop C tuning, is a song about a guy who starts dating a woman. only to later learn she likes to sleep around and drink a little too much.
When the man finally confronts her, she tries her best to convince him to stay in the relationship. As of 2020, the lead singer of the band. Alex Varkatzas, dropped out and has been replaced by the drummer of the band, Brandon Sailer.
#7 ‘Isolation’ by Alter Bridge
‘Isolation’ is a rare treat from Alter Bridge that is written in Drop C tuning. although the band primarily uses open D5 tuning. The guitar riffs in the song sound great and really mesh with the stunning vocals and the song has lyrics that have been pretty relevant once again in recent times with a pandemic having occurred.
The song is about isolating, about being disconnected from everyone and everything around you. uncertain about what the future holds. Alter Bridge’s future, however, is clear for fans as the band has stated very recently that they are currently workshopping their next album and hope to release it sometime in 2022.
#8 ‘Happy Song’ by Bring Me The Horizon
This song is one of the very few done in Drop C tuning by the popular band Bring Me The Horizon. who are known for their even lower tuning. The Drop C tuning for this song works well with an almost upbeat, yet angry rhythm and while the lyrics are anything but upbeat, but they are clearly and most definitely angry.
The lyrics talk very heavily about depression and attempting to plow through it by forcing yourself to sing to happy songs in an attempt to mimic happiness. even if you feel like dying.
#9 ‘So Cold’ by Breaking Benjamin
Breaking Benjamin does not usually use Drop C tuning. but every now and then they put it in a song and it comes out so well and has a much different feel than some of their other songs.
The lead singer of the band, Benjamin Burnley, has revealed the rather simple meaning behind the lyrics, explaining that they are about the cold of the winter months as they left him feeling alone and isolated, cut off from others, and very depressed, and that is translated so well in the lyrics.
#10 ‘Savin’ Me’ by Nickelback
Nickelback seems to get a lot of hate for some reason. but say what you will about the band, you have to admit that they are incredibly talented when it comes to their instrumentals.
‘Savin’ Me’ is one of their few songs in Drop C tuning, but it lends the song a deeper and sadder sound, as sorrowful vocals go through the lyrics, telling the tale of someone whose life has gone down the wrong path and follows them as they desperately beg those around them their loved ones, anyone, to help save them and help them get back on the right track for fear of what may happen if they do not.
#11 ‘Buttersnips’ by PERIPHERY
PERIPHERY is a heavy metal band specializing in the djent genre. If you aren’t familiar with djent. it’s characterized by high-gain sound mixed with low guitar pitches that is meant to feel distorted and can often come across as jarring and discordant if you are not familiar with it or have not listened to anything like it before.
‘Buttersnips’ is one of their songs written with Drop C tuning and gives them some amazing low. gritty guitar riffs that mix a surprisingly melodic voice with heavy screaming to describe the feeling of the fleeting life that is human existence and the memories people make along the way.
#12 ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool
One of the band’s most famous songs happens to be tuned in Drop C and has been widely misinterpreted over all the years, having debuted to the public roughly a month before 9/11 and was banned from being played on radio stations for quite some time.
In the years after, there have been shootings where the perpetrator associated the song with their actions, which absolutely devastated the band Drowning Pool. According to interviews with the band, the song was made specifically as an anthem for the mosh pit.
The song was meant to honor the brotherhood and mutual respect that is forged when one is in the mosh pit. They wrote it as a reminder for everyone that even when you push someone down, usually in the mosh pit, that you need to support them by picking them back up.
#13 ‘Monster’ by Skillet
Skillet usually uses Drop B tuning. but for this song. they decided to use a Drop C tuning instead. which ended up giving them a really nitty-gritty sound, which works so well for the song ‘Monster’ and with the lead singer’s voice.
While Skillet is a Christian band and the song has heavy Christian undertones, it is a song so many relate because the lyrics are both very catchy while speaking to so many about how they may not like how they feel inside or who they are, but that they can still create some control in their lives and change things for the better.
#14 ‘Blew’ by Nirvana
Everyone knows and loves Nirvana. and their song ‘Blew’ is a rare one that features a Drop C tuning, but that tuning doesn’t seem to have any effect on their already deep and gritty guitar riffs that set a new standard in the punk rock genre for so many decades to come.
Millions of people still resonate with the lyrics of ‘Blew’ about how you may not be living up to your potential and that you may have chosen the wrong path in life, essentially meaning “You blew it”, but giving hope at the end that there is still time for you to do anything. to be anything. It is theorized that Kurt Cobain wrote the song based on the events transpiring in his own life at the time and how that made him feel.
#15 ‘Animal I Have Become’ by Three Days Grace
Three Days Grace regularly has songs in Drop C tuning, and ‘Animal I Have Become’ is one that really benefits from the Drop C tuning that gives it that deeper and heavier feeling to accompany the angry and downtrodden vocals about no longer recognizing the person you have become when you see yourself in the mirror and not liking them, feeling as though you no longer know who you are, but you desperately want to fight to get back to who you know you once were.
These popular songs in Drop C tuning are pretty well known, as are the bands that play them, ranging all the way from rock, to metalcore, to Christian death metal. These songs are heavy, full of lower tones. and can sound really gritty, which can be a big change of pace from what you may usually hear with standard tuning.