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Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Lesson 6 of 18

Proper Drop Tuning Setup

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

Guitarist's Tech Workshop

Kurt Bloch, Ben Verellen

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Lesson Info

6. Proper Drop Tuning Setup


  Class Trailer
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2 Problem Areas of Maintenance Duration:14:08
3 Proper Stringing Techniques Duration:04:31
4 Proper Standard Rock Setup Duration:34:10
6 Proper Drop Tuning Setup Duration:39:49
7 Electronic Maintenance Duration:22:11
8 Electricity Basics Duration:24:06
9 Reading a Schematic Duration:06:53
10 Using a Multimeter Duration:10:20
14 Preamplifier Circuit Design Duration:28:25
15 Power Amplifier Circuit Design Duration:10:36
16 The Phase Inverter Duration:03:58
17 The Power Supply Duration:15:03
18 Final Q&A Duration:08:44

Lesson Info

Proper Drop Tuning Setup

Let's, check this out lose now that's almost the worst thing you could possibly have because if you notice that it's loose tighten it up doesn't matter whatever it takes to get you know any rich or anything like that just don't leave it lose because if it gets much looser than this then you can't tighten it up in the thing will start it won't it won't grab into the thing and it'll just keep turning and and the next thing you know this never fall off and you plug the guitar in the jackal push into the body and then you have to take it apart and that will be bad because it always happened like, you know, five minutes before your show so let's keep that nice and tight and we'll string this up with what some low with some heavy low strings and to that I think we're going to go to a drop see which is low, you know, it's it's right down there so, you know, we could complain about cutting these awful like this, but somebody could turn like this. I don't think this is going to be a problem wit...

h something that I know um is the way that you're holding them it kind of protects your eyes protects anything from like, bouncing up in hitting your face, which was one thing that people were saying was like being careful for safety reasons, you know that's a really good point and exactly for that you know, I do that without even thinking about you know because if you just sit there and start cutting stuff you know, one they're going to start flying out and then the other thing is these we're going to start flying out and then you're gonna have strings over there it's the strings some stuff and you know, it's just good did not have that and here's a guitar that somebody has done kind of it not quite the total not of me in but a little bit of twisting around and you know, it just doesn't does make it harder tio harder to get the string off and right here it's not a big deal but if it was at a show and you broke a string and it come around here with your other hand too try to free that not a guarantee you're gonna poke your finger with string and you're not gonna like that either. I wouldn't like it now, but it was being you know that had my neck breathing down by then mates and people like her way out and then you stick a thing in your finger it's like boy not good and even this one is is nodded on their enough that you're really going to need a needle nose to get it off, which is, you know not good if you're actually trying toe get something been quickly and that you know these that g string is always the tough one if you stick that in your finger not good not a good scene it's a bad scene always just tinto wine these up before throwing them away just tend to stay stuck together and you know makes her less mess so once again just check these little guys and make sure you have the right right ranch for the that one somewhere just tighten these up and there they are a little bit loose so that's good these you know you don't want to tighten them you know what a you know break those threads or anything but they could be unreasonable there's no benefit to have them loose and then uh turn the from the tuners that this has a little screw ends on the two news so make sure that they're not to lose and on this guitar when with tuning pegs air really close together it makes it easier for me when restoring it to have them like this like so they're not close to each other because if you start with them like that every time you start tuning in you're just going to get in the way and just a little thing that makes it a little less frustrating tio change the strings we can look at our you know fingerboard we showed you that in the other thing tio clean that off just little stuff on there make it nice this is actually looking pretty good we do have all the strings up so good uh good time to clean up the parts that are harder to clean up when you have all this when all the strings air on wait no here is a fifty four which is probably a little uh could very well be a little burly er than this guitar was meant tio but to have fifty four probably right about on the edge of what's gonna fit good here the bridge looks like it's fine this is this bridge is actually made with slots that air sort of pre cut in there and there stamped into the metal piece so it's they're not individually filed but in this case let's say that this nut slot maybe isn't gonna be big enough because you might have a fifty four you might have a fifty six you know, depending on how low that string is would be what is the lowest people tune their e string too be a maybe I don't know. I mean, you know if you haven't if you're tuned to it a down there you're probably going to be so your strings and the giant will be like a sixty years something like that which you know for sure you'll need tio need to tend to that so let's just look at this string on you don't have to tighten it up all the way or anything but this one you know you want oh see inch and a half of of slack there before doing this the thicker the string it's a little little tougher to get that going on but you get used to it for sure just get that so all the pieces stay on there no, this is a nut file and there's come in in various gauges and it's not something that everybody is gonna have but you know if you're interested in work in your guitar it is really a great thing to have a set of these things and they're you know, there's like eight different each site has a different a different size and what we're going to want to do is we want to enlarge this slot so this big thick string doesn't bind in there but we don't want to make the slot any deeper so you know you could do start tying into it, but if you if you file a nut slot to deep you're sunk I mean, you know you don't want to do that there is there's ways you know, fixing it and stuff but they're none of them are ideal so what you can do just take a regular pencil and get uh get it so you can see the bottom of the threats lot there the nut slut and then take your you're wide edge this is a I think it's a sixty o six o inch file and go in there and the nut is made so that the string breaks right at the front edge of this thing that's that's where the note will be will be generated not anywhere in the middle of it or anything like that so you definitely one of the straight slot that is tilted back towards the killing peg ah slight amount we really want the string to rest in the frets lot so that it's the highest part of the slot is that this front edge so you know you don't I want to do that you want to do it like that so there's just the little little bit on edge there and you wanted to point at the tuning pig word wraps around the tuning pigs so the slot is straight and the string goes across it straight you know that little bit that will be your best idea for getting that slut done now now since you don't want to make this slot any deeper it's really good to go very slowly just take a couple couple cracks at it not pushing too hard to just see how how the file reacts to the nut material go back for just a little bit keep looking because you'll be able to see when it hits the bottom because it will start scratching into your pencil mark there so if you just do it a little bit that's all it took make sure it's a good a good angle there that's all it took to get tow widen it two o six o and not not make it any lower of a of a slot because especially the lower strings they vibrate with a greater greater swath and so the higher strings khun be set lower in the in the nut the heavier strings and if you put on a heavier string it's going to be even lower yet then you know how the guitar was set up to begin with so you don't especially not right from the get go do you want that slot to be any lower than it is already? Um the next string is a forty two so that should be fine we probably don't have to worry about dig in the french or the nuts let any lower for that but let's see how you were what you were doing a rob scene right there's little sea there will put on the rest of the strings and uh see how it all balances out it could changing changing strain gauges and all that sort of thing will totally change your intonation and uh your neck relief and everything it's a it is a balancing act you change one thing and you have to go back and look at the rest of them and while we're at it, we'll put a little, uh over silicone stuff in there there's still someone maia a little thing there still plenty on there you don't really you almost don't need any of it just is is little is you can possibly get on there and still have some beyond there what's over the top string up you don't have to tune in to pitch yet, but just getting somewhere in the area be careful of thes ends of these there it's almost like they go out of their way to try to poke it and if you get poked by when it doesn't stop bleeding for a long done top florid would work we're always keeping eye down here to what your strings doing you get it too tight and it's not in its slot then you won't like that you have to go back and loosen it begin just for your sleeves and buttons everything can only make it worse. Bush, forty eight current lawyer working joe jones wants to know is there a rule of thumb for how wide you should have the nuts lots in relation to the stream gauge? It would be awesome if every slot could be, you know, just the little micron bigger than the string actually is, you know, because of what it's on ly the bottom half of the slot has any effect on anything the it's only only that bottom where the actual string touches the slot that matters now if it was exactly the same size is the string it would give you the best contact would theoretically give you contact over fifty percent of the string on the bottom which would be great but it might be a little that might be a little bit too tight and you definitely don't want it to bind um so that would be ideal they don't make these fret files far as I know they don't make every number they don't make you no let nine ten eleven twelve thirteen you know they don't make everyone so you know if you a sk llosa's you can get it is good and if you're going tio if you're going to air on one side or the other it's better to have it a little bit loose um we've widen this one to ah sixty file so it should be good for any low strings up until you know about a sixty or whatever and if you don't if you file it's very close you can sort of finesse the file to make the slot of tiny bit bigger by rolling it a little in the slot you know if you if you just don't have the exact one that you want not everybody has a full set of those things so let's be honest, you're going you're going to need to have a little finesse sometime. And uh cutters police up so the nice and nice like that and I was hold these just so they don't creates less of a mess less likely tio let's like to poke yourself and they're getting on some of these some of these cutters they get kind of worn out and if you do this and it doesn't get string this hold it in an angle and do that and it probably will not every you don't always have exactly everything that you want whatever you really want is the one thing that you will forget thes back to poke anybody okay let's bring these up to pitch such mountain steps strict strict script script script let's see our props ceo we tuning everything else regular just leaving the cb the lola no looking step for step okay go g here way you see here we'll see here close good stretch and you might find it necessary to give that thick string and extra stretch because it's khun b lowing in need of a good uh wait don't hesitate stretch it stretch it now, which she did later way what that it was a van halen that would boil his strings to stretch him out or people boiling like boiler bass strings to you know, like cleaning or something you know, whatever, I don't know what the boiling would yeah, I don't know that's a good question that's cool it's calm let's call an old guy up and ask him you boil you hey hey it could have been one of those things that he said just tio make people wonder teo you know imagine like that the strings are new trouble with like oil on him or something and bass strings them being expensive I could imagine taking them off and boiling them to clean you know the gunk out of him deceive yourself thirty bucks a bite and you said I endorse that bythe wait keep stretching until it way tune into the wrong note no one it was wrong what's to be a scene out of the o check the other ones and you'll notice to like if you if you change your tuning during you know if you if you use different tunings on the same guitar like sometimes with these big strings if you change the string pitch like of step for step and a half or something it will change the tension on the neck enough that the other strings will go out of tune there again it's you know this balancing balancing act wait okay so there's a full step down with dropsy unload the low one and this guitar formerly had just regular tens on it and was tuned tio regular tuning so we can pretty much guess that we're going to need tio have a look at the intonation at least on that string probably all of them because everything else will will be thrown off by it. Bell well and curt, we had that question that just came in aren't there serious intonation issues when one uses lower tunings on a guitar with the scale length designated for standard tuning designed rather skill link, you know is in some ways it's designated per tuning, but it is what it is I mean, you know, they make all different scale lengths in in theory, the lower the pitch of the instrument, the longer the scale will be just because to tune the same. If you want a low c on your guitar and you're playing on this scale length, whatever it is say this is twenty, forty three quarters or whatever and then if you get the same pitch on another instrument that had a longer skill, like the string will be tighter, lee maur taught, so it just depends on what you like and what guitar you have. You know, if you wanted to play in a load low tune sort of thing in some ways I mean that's sending the baritone guitar with the extra long string link makes a lot of sense, but what if you don't have that guitar? What if this is the guitar you have and you want to play like this? Well, then the string will be sloppier the heavier the gauge, the tighter it will be and the longer the string like the tighter it will be so depending what note your low string is you khun select a string set of strings that will work good for that this string set is made for this sort of thing it's gotto was just fifty for I think and the next thing is this is a forty two so it's it's it's designed for doing exactly this if you know if if you start playing and you find that this you're low see strength is not behaving the way you want you could substitute a heavier one if it's if it's getting floppy you know you know if you're not not liking it or it's it's stretching too much or you know not if you're not able to intimate it right or something, you know there's there's no there's, no, everything is not guaranteed there's no like saying this is gonna work perfectly. You're never going to have a problem with this or it's. You know, people really weren't necessarily to name a get their guitars that low when they designed these sort of guitars put people meant tuning strings low for a long time I mean there's, you know, there's all kinds of theories about that, so, you know, just see what works for you I would say right now the bridge is probably a little high on meth the's should turn fairly easy if you kept them kept them reasonably clean you can also the's kind of players worked pretty good and there's tape stuck on either side of them so that you can get in there and turn the thing without scratching your it's hard and this this anybody can get things and anybody could put tape on him so it's kind of the easiest uh the easiest problem to solve but there is there's little things that are made to hold the bridge up while you tune the thing I thought I had one but not here right now to use the old the old the old fashioned way let's return this and lower the bridge a little bit that's holding its holding its note pretty good and looking at this the uh the crowd seems like it's uh seems like it's working pretty good um you know there again, as in the ads in the other segment we could uh we could adjust it but really it's got just about the right amount of relief in there and maybe for playing strings that air this low you might want to air on the higher side you know, maybe maybe not quite this thick of the thick of a relief if you went from you here when for you there you know, but somewhere somewhere around there just so the string has enough room to vibrate without that hitting the frets always stretching these little guys then we can uh going to check the intonation, see how it plays out and see he's got that weird sound that this pickup is too high. You can tell when when a pickup is too close to the string which you can clearly see it listen to the sound it's kind of it's got kind of weird overtone and what that is it's the magnetic force of one of these pickups that have magnets in them impeding the vibration of this string so the strings trying to vibrate but there's a magnet right by it and you'll find that especially I'm like a stratocaster something that has actual magnets as pull pieces if you get them to close the string, you'll hear that kind of a weird sound no and you think you think oh well we're on this pick up but it's this pickup that's too close to it so it's what's ah vibrating it and so generally to set the pick up is close as you can to the strings without physically touching it or without causing that that weird sound is what you want and you can get it you get when he's home banking pickups pretty close to the string and you know you want oh fred it at the highest note and then check you know and usually will set this pick up so it works good and then adjust this pickup so you get a good balance between the two you might want this pick up to be a little quieter just so when you switch to it if you're playing a cleaner sound on that, it will you know, sound more killer when you switch to that one or you know, maybe you play a lot of lead with this pick up and you want it to be just a cz saying, but definitely personal personal preference there sure, bashar assad, you think we're putting on heavier strings so they will tend to stretch a little bit more when you get up there higher registers s so we can almost bring all of them back a little bit lower this pick up a little bit to when these gonna pick ups counter clock wass will make the pick it be a little bit lower and, uh get in there. And the one thing you will find is that you know, we want this loh ee settler that in this case see suddenly it's goingto tend to want to be a ce far back is it can go because you get the heaviest string you're going to be putting on there now the rest of them are also a little bit heavier than then they were tough to see where it is always try to keep a finger on there just keep from slipping general you know they're gonna want to go back a little bit thestreet little sharp up there still those two are a little bit sharp too light over there grips and ultimately it is great too work on your return in area that you have lights coming from all around even though get used to not having it that way because I really rarely do you have your you're perfect you're perfect scene ah uh still give one to high notes just one little and they're getting certainly you can work on this as long as you can long as you can stand it um so let's get this stretched out and see how it works oh good to know where the tuners air without looking it's an odd one you know if you play open strings as well as fretted notes it's a good way to tell you know how you're doing really s so that's working pretty good and you know there again if you're if you're going to start really digging in on you conceive on the on the tuner on here mom you know and that's how strings react and it sounds kind of killer if you if you don't want to do if you don't want that sound you just have to pluck it a little bit looser and if it if you still, they're hitting it hard and want to get rid of that you might want to switch to with thicker string because it will tend to do that it'll be taught her it'll be tighter for the same note and less likely to borrow before well you're well you're playing you playing your things but that should get you in the ballpark for you know, getting a dropsy tuning going so I have one quick question you kind of wrap this thiss one up ali hassan and two other people wanted to know if you could address in harm menace ity especially in regards to being tuned toe lower tuning such a c standard and dropped b flat or a sharp and then stream gauge recommendations for those lower tunings as well what was the word in harm innocenti harness that like not harmonious? I guess interesting, you know don't don't know in harmonious ity you know, we just I'm guessing that it z the question is when you're when you're playing a you know traditional scale guitar and you're the strings are low, you know are you if if everything said ok, you should you should be still okay, but the strings might end up being very loose and that's the exact opposite of what you want for being ableto play guitar you don't you don't really want the strings to be loose unless you have a very light touch you know, like pete townsend versus jimmy page jimmy page of like, you know, nine gauge strings and pete townsend played with like, thirteen through fifty six in like a standard tuning you know? Because if you're really whacking that guitar it's going to go brown you know, and it's it's tough and you do have to balance it out you know, I don't think that if it's set up right and you have ah proper strain gauge for the different notes but it's it's really a personal preference of matching your strain gauges with what the notes are tuned to and how you play and you know, I'm sure there's there's tons of information about what other people do and you know what gauges people use for tuning to see your b or you know, probably if you're turning down a on your low string, you probably would need longer ah longer ah uh longer neck of an instrument but you know, try it I mean, it doesn't doesn't hurt to try and there are lots of strain gauges I think he came in by single strings. If everything's working fine except your low string, you know, go go to the store and buy a fifty six go buy a sixty and tune into the pitch that you want and see how it see if it secret cures you're in harmonious ity

Class Description

Performing a proper setup for your guitar can seem like a dark art requiring a copper chalice filled with incense. Reading a schematic of a tube amplifier can seem like you’re staring at ancient Sanskrit. Guitar and tube amp masters Kurt Bloch and Ben Verellen are here to help.

In this two-part workshop, Kurt and Ben will show you exactly how to get the best sound out of your gear.

In part-one Kurt will teach the basics of setting up your guitar – you’ll learn about:

  • Truss rod adjustment
  • Bridge and nut adjustment
  • String gauge and playing style
  • Guitar maintenance and upkeep
  • Guitar electronics and pickups

Part-two is your primer on tube amplifiers. Kurt and Ben will explain how they work and show you how to keep them sounding great. You’ll learn:

  • Tube biasing
  • Block diagrams and understanding schematics
  • Basic amplifier maintenance
  • Capacitor, resistor, and transformer replacement
  • Speaker repair and power-matching

Kurt Bloch is not only Gibson Guitar’s in-house guitar guru, he’s a legend in the Seattle music scene. He plays in The Fastbacks and Young Fresh Fellows and has a producer credits for his work with The Presidents of the United States of America and Tokyo Dragons. Ben Verellen started Verellen Amplifiers in 2000 and now has a full-time staff churning out hand made custom tube amplifiers for some of the most respected artists in rock and metal. He also fronts Helms Alee, a rock band based in Seattle.

Don’t get caught with crappy tone and blown out speaker – let these two masters show how to take care of your gear and get the best possible sound.


Patrick Marc

This is a fantastic course. I was forever looking up Youtube videos on how to set up all of my guitars for different things, and opinion varies wildly on-line, so it's really great to have these videos detailing the entire process in clear and easy terms. The information on the amplifiers is intensely interesting too. Fantastic!

Alan Williams

Excellent course. Slow start with the guitar set up but Kurt knows his stuff so worth watching it to the end before deciding you don't like it. I came across valves (tubes) at the age of 12 (I'm 66 now) and it was a great refrresher for me. Ben really knows his stuff but he can put it into layman terms that are easy to understand. I definitely recommend this course.

Andrew Synowiec

I bought this course for the amplifier section and skipped straight there. It's fantastic. Right at the perfect level for me, a newbie DIY-er with a few pedals, a kit amp and an Electronics 101 course under my belt. Well done! I'll update my review if I have time to watch the guitar section.