Forget About Down Tuning. Does Up Tuning Sound Heavy?

Guitarists like to tune down to make their metal riffs sound heavier. But what happens to a metal riff when you tune up? Does it end up sounding wimpy?

Guitarist Pete Cottrell decided to find out by tuning his guitar up two whole steps, (low to high) G# C# F# B D# G#.

And yes, he used very light-gauge strings—a set of Billy Gibbons Superfine .007s.

“They’re super-crazy thin, which allowed me to tune my guitar up to a higher pitch,” Cottrell says. “I got two whole tones above E. They were obviously not meant to be used that way, but it’s cool to hear how quickly your ear adjusts to the higher pitch.”

His set-up features a PRS Singlecut guitar, an MXR Smart Gate pedal, and an Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini.

Give it a listen and let us know what you think: Does up tuning still sound heavy?

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.