Today’s blog is actually inspired by a question that one of my guitar students James asked the other day. james asked me if the song “Resurrection” (From Halford’s Resurrection album) was recorded a whole step down, or was it recorded in drop D.
The answer is, as I mentioned to James, is that the guitar was tuned a whole step down. Every string was tuned a step down.
The above made me think how some guys out there play songs such as Resurrection or American Metalhead (also recorded with every string down a step), or any other track recorded a whole step down in Drop D tuning. To me this never sounds good.
When I toured with Sebastian Bach and we played American Metalhead in the live set, I had to resort to playing that track in “Drop D” and I did not like it too much. We had to do it, because it was too much to bring another guitar with us to do all these dates we used to do called “Fly dates”. This means that you play a show, go to the airport and fly to another city or country. Then next day you repeat that and repeat that again. Try that for 4 weeks. It’s gruling and all I have to say is to have some good guitar cases. lol.
So with all of these instruments travelling with us on airlines (and, you guessed it – everytime you check in, its $85-100 per guitar), its gets too much.
So, I traveled with only 2 guitars and had to play American Metalhead in drop D. What I did was I had my main guitar in E, had another back-up for it in E and if I had to do drop D song, I’d just tune down my bottom string a step down.
It worked well enough, but there is something that changes when you play D songs in Drop D. Basically, what I think happens is that the song was written with a different energy using different frets and strings to get the riffs out. When you play the track in Drop D – it is true, you are playing the correct notes, but they don’t have to same dynamic as the original track. I am not sure if the audience notices, but as a guitar player you tent to know these differences.
So, just some ideas on this for the future.
As a side note, with the tuning of the bottom string a lot to D, I stopped travelling with Floyd Rose equipped guitars with Baz. As we know, it is hard to down tune Floyd Rose on the spot without adjustment. So, another compromise – but, in return it made me a better guitar player as I had to really work on and concentrate on my vibrato since I no longer had the whammy bar. It was a great lesson!