The Down-Tuning Experiment – Rob Scallon Gets Low

Rob Scallon is famous by now for his various Slayer covers on the banjo and ukulele as well as his awesome Binary Metal video taking down a whole subgenre of metal with the legendary Fluff. He’s the naturally inquisitive type, one of those guys who’s always thinking “I wonder what would happen if I…” the … of which is always an excellent/trainwreck fun to watch kind of idea.


This week, he’s taken the quandary posited by Fluff in the video Does De-Tuning Make You Heavier? and put it under the microscope in the name of science. His control is the riff, played the same every time, each time a half step lower than the previous tuning. This means he is continually upping the string gauge every couple tunings, and actually drilling out his tuner posts to fit the larger gauge strings.

I can’t help but wish he hadn’t jumped from F# to Drop Q so quickly, but his guitar must have not quite been able to handle much lower. There’s a whole world of gnarly below F#, but of course matching the bass part to guitar tunings that low becomes a challenge all its own.

Isn’t science fun?

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As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.

Latest comments
  • I wouldn’t say it got heavier, but it got mushier around B. By G it was so muddy on the low string it was almost useless to try and distinguish the notes.

  • It was not a goods setup for this purpose. With a larger scale and a humbucker it would have sounded better. Still a very informative video. Concerning tunings lower than F#: There’s nothing to match the bass to below a low E. There just isn’t. Most people outside the music industry have never seen a speaker up close that can accurately represent frequencies around 20hz and below. Also: It’s barely still a musical note by then.Tuning lower than F# is impractical for most equipment and applications.

    • What, you don’t have custom speakers for your amp with a fs around 3Hz? All you need is about 2000 watts to make that note audible, though I believe it’d be classified some form of torture at that point. Also I agree that below f# it’s pointless, but its getting there around B. True different scale length and pickups would help some, but I believe that you’ve reached a point where the mud is just too much. Unless you play drop Q, then carry on.

  • Sounded best on D.

  • I started playing guitar because I wanted to play guitar… I like the way guitars sound. Turning a guitar down to a bass makes it sound like a distorted bass.

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