PHOTO (Victor Griffin): Jordi Vidal | Getty Images
Victor Griffin is widely hailed as the guitarist who created drop-B tuning: (low to high) B A D G B E.
But according to Griffin, who plays guitar with Pentagram, many guitarists who use the tuning are doing it wrong.
Griffin says that, rather than using heavy-gauge strings, players who tune to drop B should “play it gingerly.”
“People think that if you tune it down you have to go to heavier gauge strings, but I don’t,” he tells Premier Guitar.
“I use custom lights, from .009 to .046. We only tune a half-step down for our standard tuning, so a .046-gauge low E-string tuned down to B is really not that bad.
“But you do have to play it gingerly. You can’t play it really aggressive like you would a standard tuned guitar, because it will vibrate out of tune before the vibration slows down, and then it will fall back into tune.”
Though Griffin appears to pummel his strings when he performs, he says he’s not hitting very hard at all.
“The music drives you to want to play hard, but you have to restrain yourself.”
Griffin says he learned the more standard drop-D tuning from listening to early Black Sabbath. From there, he took his tuning several steps lower.
“One day I was feeling creative, but also feeling kind of blocked,” he notes. “I sat around with my guitar and thought, There must be another tuning besides just dropped D.
“As I began to play around with the low E string, I kept down-tuning to see what would happen when I would make a fifth chord on the 6th and 5th strings. When I finally got it down to B and hit a fifth shape, it was octaves, and I’m plugged in and cranked up, and was just blown away by the thickness of it. You’re only dropped on that sixth string.”
For more, visit Premier Guitar.
Here’s a video of Pentagram playing “Forever My Queen” in Koln, Germany, in 2012.