String tunning question - learning riif - come as you are by Nirvana

Hello there,

I would like to ask you if its good for strings to change tunning, does it affect something? Like strings get damaged if you change tunning or they dont play that good then? Is there any type of faster destroying them? When you loose them and then tight them up cant they break?
I am learning guitar riff “Come As You Are - by Nirvana” and I found out that its not originally played on standard tunning EADGBE, but on standard D (D, G, C, F, A, D). So I changed only EA to D and G, because thats the only strings I need right now.
Asking, because I am practicing this riff, but after this my routine include E, A, D, Emi, Ami, Dmi, C and G… also first fingerstyle pattern and it just does not sound good when I have two thickest strings tunned down for riff. So can I change tunning on strings… every day?

Generally no you shouldnt break strings detuning a little - unless there is a problem somewhere at the bridge or nut etc.

does it affect something

Yes - it affects the tension (and therefore the relief of the neck) and the intonation. Neither will be significant at all though in your example.

or they dont play that good then?

Again E->D isnt much so wont generally cause a problem but you are putting the strings under less tension so this may change how the guitar plays

Often people who downtune a lot will use slightly thicker gauge strings so they need to add back in more tension ( thinner stings = less tension), so I wouldnt try playing madly detuned on a guitar with a set of 0.08’s etc but an acoustic with 0.12’s would be better

Now you DO risk breaking them more if you tune up - but this isnt common


Thank you for such and early reply (its 06:22 am in Czechia). I am gonna keep it on my mind. :slight_smile: In the other hand… my curent guitar has glued “horse” by myself and I think that neck is a little croocked too. so there is probably nothing that would ger worse, but I would like to know this facts before I buy new guitar. :slight_smile: Wishing you nice day and great tune. :slight_smile:

Dude, I thought I was lazy! Just kidding, but you should tune all the stings down a tone, not just the 2 thickest strings.

Wait, are you playing with the 2 thickest strings tuned down and the other 4 tuned normally? It seems unlikely, but that’s what it seems like. If so, I’m not surprised it doesn’t sound good. You need to keep all the strings in a given tuning.

Yeah… I got different tunning only for 2 strings, because whole day I am learning that riff, so I dont need to tune rest for my session, but now I am better and I dont wanna play only this riff all days, so thatswhy I am asking if its OK to tune it more often and only 2. Of course… for chords, fingerstyle and strumming its unusable. :smiley:

You can tune up and down as often as you like, without damaging anything.

Also, you could consider learning the riff without changing the tuning. If you are not playing along with the original, then it doesn’t matter if you play it in normal tuning.


I will try it when I get my tunning back… I did this tunning because it just did not sound same to me but after few hours I found out that problem was in my rhytm and how I play it.

Just to throw a curveball…
If you’re just learning the riff, I would argue that primarily your ear needs to learn the correct intervals. Yes, the correct note is also important but you’re not doing theory.

So, why not keep the guitar at the standard tuning and learn the riff like that?

I don’t know if it is very wrong but that’s what I do. A few of the songs I like are in Eb, but I’m too lazy to get the guitar that’s tuned to Eb out of its case and I practice the riffs I find tricky with the guitar that’s tuned in E. My ears haven’t complained about anything yet.
But then again I don’t know, perhaps from a music theory perspective that’s totally wrong…

1 Like

if you’re worried about the effect of constantly detuning and retuning on your strings, why not leave all 6 strings tuned down to DGCFAD and then when you want to play in standard tuning put a capo on the 2nd fret?


This is really good point. I am gonna think about it. :slight_smile: Thanks.

I was really into having the sound as matching as possible. First I thought there was problem why it does not sound good to me, but then I found out its my rhytm problem, so I made it better. :slight_smile: Right now I am gonna practice it just on standard tunning, but @theoldman66 told me I can use capo and I really like the idea. First of all I have to check which tunning is gonna be better for me to most time.