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C# tuning is a very popular tuning among metal bands, but bands from other genres have also used this tuning from time to time.
Two tuning styles can be utilized with C# tuning. The first, which most of the songs on this list use, is Drop C#. The tuning for Drop C# is as follows: C#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D#.
The other style, which the last two songs on this list use is as follows: C#, F#, B, E, G#, C#. Also known as C# standard.
As you can see, the tunings are very similar, with the only difference being the 3rd and 4th strings. Both of these tunings produce some really cool (and heavy) sounding songs.
Throughout this list, I will provide a bit of history and a short explanation of what to expect from each song. However, if you would rather listen instead of reading, you can check out the entire playlist on YouTube here or head over to Spotify and listen to the playlist:
Let’s dive in!
1. Avenged Sevenfold- Hail to the King
First up on our list comes from one of my all-time favorite bands, Avenged Sevenfold.
Avenged Sevenfold writes in various tunings, including several songs in Drop C#. Hail to the King is the title track from the band’s sixth studio album, released in 2013.
This album is noteworthy as it marks the first album released after the passing of longtime drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan (Nightmare, the band’s fifth album, was also released after his death, but he had recorded and contributed some to that album before his passing).
Hail to the King departs from the familiar blazingly fast guitar style for which Avenged Sevenfold is most known and features a very catchy but simple rhythm guitar riff. The lead guitar part and the solo are still tricky, as is common with any Synyster Gates songs.
You can check out the tabs to Hail to the King here.
2. Avenged Sevenfold- Almost Easy
The second Avenged Sevenfold song on our list comes from their self-titled fourth studio album, released in 2007. Avenged Sevenfold is well-known for their ever-evolving music style, and no two albums sound the same.
However, the 2007 album saw the biggest departure from their heavier roots, with many more experimental-sounding tracks. The album was initially met with mixed reviews but has since become one of the band’s highest-selling albums to date.
Almost Easy, written by drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, is the album’s second track and shortest on the album, coming in at just under four minutes in length.
The song is blazing fast and begins with a 3/4 time intro before moving into standard 4/4 when the main riff kicks in, making it challenging for those not familiar with switching time signatures mid-song.
The main riff is not overly complicated, but once again, the Synyster Gates solo is very challenging but is a great song to practice your hammer-on, pull-off, and sweep-picking techniques.
Follow this link for the tabs.
3. Avenged Sevenfold- Scream
Scream is the third Avenged Sevenfold song on our list and the second from their 2007 self-titled album.
Scream is not nearly as well known as the other Avenged Sevenfold songs on this list, but it deserves more recognition.
The song features one of the more unique drum beats featured on this list, and it is full of traditional metal riffs, bends, and string-hopping licks, allowing guitarists to work on many different skills.
The song is 4:48 in length and is of moderate tempo, but it has one of the more challenging solos on the list, beginning around the 2:50 mark and lasting about forty seconds.
Apart from the solo, this song is relatively simple and suitable for many ability levels to practice their skills.
Check out the tabs to Scream here.
4. Trivium- In Waves
Trivium has been a household name in metal for the last two decades, and a few of their songs are featured in another article I wrote; metal songs in standard tuning.
In Waves is the title track from the band’s fifth studio album, released in 2011.
The main riff of the 5:02 song is about as simple as you can get, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to play. Overall, In Waves is one of the easier Trivium songs to learn, and the main riff is an excellent song for aspiring metal guitar players to learn.
Further, for Trivium standards, the solo is not overly complicated, but it will still take some serious practice to master.
Check out the tabs to In Waves here.
5. Trivium- Strife
Strife is from Trivium’s sixth studio album, Vengeance Falls, released in 2013 and is considerably more complex than In Waves.
Strife is a high-tempo song that relies heavily on palm muting throughout the song and is a great song to practice along with another guitarist as the lead and rhythm guitar parts complement each other in a very cool way.
The solo is one of the most challenging on this list, beginning at the 3:23 mark and lasting for about thirty seconds. It is filled with numerous hammer-ons and pull-offs, making it a great choice to practice this important technique.
Check out the tabs to Strife here and get started today.
6. Trivium- Blind Leading the Blind
Blind Leading the Blind is from Trivium’s seventh studio album, Silence in the Snow.
Blind Leading the Blind is a much more melodic than the other Trivium songs on this list. It is full of intricate picking and lots of palm muting, all at a blazing speed.
Most Trivium songs are difficult, but Blind Leading the Blind is right at the top of that list, and it will take some serious practice to get it right.
Check out the tabs to Blind Leading the Blind here.
7. Lamb of God- Ghost Walking
Lamb of God has been at the pinnacle of the metal scene for the last two decades, and with the recent release of their 2020 album “Omens,” they do not seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
While most songs are written in Drop D, Lamb of God has several songs in alternate tunings, including drop C#.
Ghost Walking is from the 2012 album Resolution and is a bit unique for Lamb of God songs as it features an acoustic intro before moving into a more traditional style for the band.
The song is fast, as is most Lamb of God songs, but the overall difficulty isn’t too high. The majority of the riffs are played on the low string (which is typical of Lamb of God songs). However, the solo begins at the 2:57 mark and is filled with numerous sweep-picking and pinch harmonic opportunities.
If you feel like tackling some Lamb of God, check out the tabs here.
8. Lamb of God- 512
512 is the second Lamb of God song to make our list. From the 2015 release, VII: Sturm und Drang. Along with Ghost Walking, it is not one of the band’s most popular songs, but it still deserves recognition.
Similar to Ghost Walking, the song predominantly features Lamb of God’s signature single-string riffing, utilizing lots of palm muting. However, 512 is a bit more intricate, and the main riff offers players the chance to rapidly switch between pam muting the low C# string and playing the notes on the G# string, which can be a very challenging style of playing for beginning players.
512 is an excellent song to practice various essential skills needed for any metal guitarist.
Check out the tabs to 512 here and get shredding.
9. Lamb of God- Desolation
Desolation is a blisteringly fast song utilizing numerous hammer-ons and a combination of open C# string picking with many notes high up on the fretboard in typical Lamb of God fashion.
Desolation is 3:54 in length and comes to us from the same album as Ghost is Walking.
There is not much of a solo to speak of besides some repeated pinch harmonics around the 2:20 mark, so if you are looking for a song that is pure metal with no fluff, this is the song for you.
Desolation is challenging primarily due to the speed of the song. Another challenging aspect is the pinch harmonics, which I still struggle with as a guitar player.
Check out the tabs to Desolation here.
10. Lamb of God- Grace
The fourth Lamb of God song to make our list comes from the band’s 2009 release, Wrath.
Grace is a bit unique as Lamb of God songs go in that it begins with a clean guitar intro that is both fast and intricate, lasting for about thirty seconds before the distortion, drums, and bass kick in.
This song provides players with a chance to work on their clean tone before diving into the fairly complex main riffs, which are again primarily played on the low C# string.
Grace features a challenging guitar solo that bursts into the song at the 2:40 mark after the heavy breakdown.
Grace is the most diverse Lamb of God song on this list and a great pick to work on several playing techniques.
Check out the tabs here.
11. System Of A Down- B.Y.O.B
System Of A Down is known as one of the prominent nu-metal bands of the late 90s and early 2000s, during which time the band was at the height of its popularity.
BYOB is from the 2005 album Mezmerize, part of the double album release, which is currently the last album the band has produced. This politically charged song is one of a few System Of A Down songs to be written in drop C# tuning.
The song has a very high tempo, but besides the fast pace, it is relatively easy, especially compared to many others on this list. The intro and verse riffs are full of single-string palm muting and hammer-offs, while the chorus features fun-to-play power chords.
Check out the tabs here.
12. Nirvana- Heart-Shaped Box
Although drop C# tuning is most often associated with metal genres, it is not only metal bands that utilize this versatile tuning.
Nirvana was one of the most recognized bands that used this tuning from time to time in their songwriting.
Heart-Shaped Box is the third track from the band’s third and final studio album, released in 1993. The song is one of their most popular tunes and has received over 230 million views on YouTube.
The intro and verses are pretty subdued, but the chorus picks up intensity, and you will get plenty of practice strumming away on the power chords during this part of the song.
In typical Nirvana fashion, the song does not have much of a traditional solo, but towards the end of the song, there is a bit of a solo, and overall, it is a fun song to play.
Check out the tabs here.
13. Skillet- Hero
Hero is the second-most popular song, based on YouTube views, from the Christian rock band, Skillet.
Hero is from the band’s 7th studio album, Awake, released in 2009 and contains the band’s most popular song, Monster.
Hero is one of the easier songs to learn and play on this list and is pure and simple rock n roll. The song, which comes in at 3:07, does not have a guitar solo; however, there is plenty to learn and play between the two guitar parts.
If you are looking for a straightforward rock n roll song to learn, look no further. You can check out the tabs to Hero here.
14. Alter Bridge- Addicted to Pain
Some would consider Alter Bridge an underrated band, and I would agree. Formed in 2004 and consisting of singer Myles Kennedy and former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips, they have put out several albums since their inception.
Addicted To Pain comes from the band’s fourth studio album, which was released in 2013. The song is a testament to the genius that is Mark Tremonti. It is a challenging and very well-written piece of guitar music and a great song for any avid guitar player to learn and study.
Check out the tabs here.
15. Linkin Park- Crawling
Linkin Park is another band on our list associated with the nu-metal genre of the late 90s and early 2000s. Linkin Park was one of the more commercially successful bands in this genre, blending synth, heavy guitar, and unique vocal performances.
Crawling is from the band’s debut album from the year 2000. The song is 3:29 and features some of the heaviest guitar work of any of the band’s songs.
The song’s chorus is where the bulk of the guitar playing is featured. Two distinct parts overlay each other, one with traditional power chords and the other with the middle string muted in the power chord, which is a very commonly used technique in songs with drop tunings.
While this song is relatively simple to play, it is fun to learn and jam along to and great for all ability levels.
Follow this link to start learning Crawling today.
16. Linkin Park- Numb
Numb is from Linkin Park’s sophomore album, Meteora, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling an impressive 810,000 in the first week, and is one of the band’s most well-known songs.
Similar to Crawling, the song is not necessarily guitar-driven, but despite the song having sparse sections of guitar playing, it is still a fun song to strum along with.
Numb is easy and an excellent song for beginners to start their rock guitar journey with.
Check out the tabs to Numb here.
17. Alice In Chains- I Stay Away
A large portion of Alice In Chains music was written in D#, but they did venture away from that tuning style once in a while, and I Stay Away is a good example of this.
If you are looking for a song to work on your acoustic playing in drop C#, I stay Away is the perfect song for you. While there is a strong electric guitar part including a cool solo starting around the 2:30 mark, the bulk of the song is done with acoustic.
Check out the tabs to I Stay Away here.
18. Alice In Chains- Them Bones
The second Alice In Chains song on our list to utilize drop C# is Them Bones.
Them Bones is the opening track of the band’s second album, Dirt, released in 1992 and is by far the band’s most successful album featuring other hit songs such as Rooster and Would?
The 2:30 song is one of the shortest on this list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a bunch.
From right out of the gates, Them Bones is chock-full of guitar goodness. The main riff is fairly simple and uses a chromatic approach, but despite being relatively easy, it is a fun song to play. Not to mention the solo is one of the most memorable that guitarist Jerry Cantrell ever created.
Check out the tabs to Them Bones here.
19. Van Halen- Unchained
There is little debate that Eddie Van Halen is one of the greatest guitar players to have ever lived. However, what is sometimes glossed over is the fact that he wrote several songs in alternate tunings.
Unchained is not one of the bands biggest hits, but it still features everything people have come to except in Eddie Van Helen licks.
Being a Van Halen song, it is one of the more complicated songs (including a very complicated solo) on our list and not for the faint of hearts to try and learn.
Check out the tabs to Unchained here.
20. Lifehouse- Hanging By A Moment
One of the more surprising bands and songs on this is Hanging By A Moment by Lifehouse.
Founded in the mid nineties, the band found worldwide commercial success in 2001 with the release of their debut album and the massive success of Hanging By A Moment, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and wont the award for Hot 100 Single of the Year, spending over a year on the top charts.
Hanging By A Moment fits right in with other alternative rock bands of the early to mid 2000s, which I am not ashamed to say is one of my favorite periods of music.
The song has a solid blend of clean and distorted tones and is not overly complicated, making it a good song for any level of player to learn.
Check out the tabs here.
21. Paramore- Decode
Paramore writes several of their songs in alternative tunings.
Decode was written for 2008 fantasy series Twilight. Decode is a fairly subdued song compared to many other Paramore songs, but it still rocks and is an enjoyable song to learn and play.
It is quite different from many of the other songs on the list, so if you are looking for a different feel, this is the song for you.
Check out the tabs to Decode here.
22. Black Sabbath- Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the first song on this list to use the C#, F#, B, E, G#, and C# tuning.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the title track from Black Sabbath’s fifth studio album, released in 1973. The song comes in at 5:45 in length and is one of the easier songs to learn and play on this list.
The song features the textbook Black Sabbath sound that is instantly recognizable, due in large part to the unique guitar playing of Tommy Iommi, who suffered a serious injury resulting in the amputation of two of his fingertips.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is a great song for beginning guitarists but is also engaging enough for both intermediate and advanced players to still enjoy.
Check out the tabs here.
23. Black Sabbath- Symptom of the Universe
The second Sabbath song on the list comes from their 1975 album, Sabotage. Both the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage albums have almost all of their songs in C# standard tuning.
Symptom of the Universe, coming in at a lengthy 6:29, is considered one of the biggest influences on the entire Thrash Metal genre that gained traction in the 80s with bands like Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax.
Right out of the gates, you can tell this is true. Symptom of the Universe has a different feel than many other Black Sabbath songs. The main riff playing is much faster than many other songs from the band.
There is a high-speed solo starting around the 3:50 mark, followed by a really cool acoustic breakdown, which adds a whole other layer of feel to the piece and lasts for over two minutes as the song fades out.
Check out the tabs to Symptom of the Universe here.
This list will give any guitar player a great start diving into the fun tuning of C#. However, with such low tunings, sometimes it is a good idea to go with heavier-guaged strings as the very low tuning can make your strings loose and be difficult to keep in tune.
Enjoy this list and keep on playing!
Hi everyone! I have been involved with music most of my life, beginning in grade school with the trumpet. I am a largely self-taught multi-instrumentalist (drums, guitar, bass, and starting the piano and violin). I currently play drums in two rock/folk cover bands and write and produce many genres of music in my home recording studio. I am also an avid guitar and drum collector.