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Hi , I've been taking lessons for about a year and my instructor said it wasn't a good idea to do a drop "d" or any other alternate tuning on the guitar or it might bend the neck. Am I misreading him? Does he mean it's alright to do it just don't leave it like that?

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Henry,

      Over an extended period of time leaving your guitar in an alternative tuning might require a truss rod adjustment, but unless your tuning is EXTREME, it won't cause any permanent damage to your guitar. Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards, David Crosby and lots of other folks have guitars they leave in altered tunings. I recomend Open G (D,G,D,G,B,D  low to high) or Open D (D,A,D,F#,A,D low to high) for acoustic playing, especially slide. Give it a try, even G-C-D in Open G sounds sounds interesting and fresh.

Had one of my guitars in a Drop D tuning for over 8 years it stayed that way all of the time, so I doubt that is what he meant. He might just be trying to get you not to start playing in a Drop D tuning.ship

Oh and I would discourage any of my past students as one year of playiung is not enough time to understand that its better to learn to play in standard tuning first and become proficent in that first before aqdventuring into something else.

Your guitar will be fine. Mine have been for over 30 years. Maybe he only works in standard and won't be able to coach you in alternates?

I have a couple of guitars that I leave in Open E, and a C#,G#,C#,G#,C#,Db and have had no problems with them.

If you haven't been playing very long, he's probably telling you this to keep you on his teaching path.  My two-cents worth is the earlier you can start with something the better you'll be later on.  Always tune your guitar down when tuning open.  Tune open "d" rather than open "e".  The chords are the same and there's less tension on your neck.  And, to play in open "e" just put your capo on the second fret and there you are.  I wouldn't tell your teacher and just tune open and play to your hearts content.  ANYTHING that keeps you playing is a good thing.  I play in several tunings and their voicings are amazing.  Just do what you want.  Play what you love and you'll never go wrong.  Open "g" is a lot of fun too.  That's how a banjo is tuned.

You probably misunderstood the import your teacher was placing on the physical impact of the altered tuning on the guitar, versus the wisdom of getting into alternate tunings early on in your studies.  There are great guitarists that pretty much started using alternate tunings shortly after picking up guitar, but this is not the typical way of learning guitar.

If you like, you can get the guitar set up to take into account that you are using a specific alterante tuning or a range of them.  That would address the "bending" of the neck. 

Probably 80% of what I do is in alternate tuning. Seven years ago I had two guitars for this... one I kept in cgcgcd tuning, and the other mainly in dadgad or dgdgbd.  I kept medium strings on the cgc tuned guitar and then light on the other.  

For the past 3 years I have dispensed with keeping each guitar in the same relative tuning all the time.  I put medium strings on both guitars and use both guitars for the same variety of tunings, and my range of tunings has expanded.  In the span of playing a 40 minute set I can go from dgdf#bd to dgdgbd to dgdgbe to cfcgce to cfcgaf.  I don't do this every time I play, but I often go through about 3 different tunings in a 2 hour jam session.  At some point a neck may poop out, but in the meantime, I'm having a heck of a lot of fun.

Curtis

Oh, a little altered tuning won't hurt!!! Don't worry too much about what your teacher said. If you leave your guitar in a really crazy tuning for too long, then it might require a little adjusting, but nothing drastic or irreversible. If you just want to play in Drop-D, that shouldn't affect your guitar's neck at all.

If you aren't able to tune by ear perfectly yet, then I recommend using a tuner. On the other hand, I learned to tune by experimenting with all kinds of unusual tunings without a tuner. It's a challenge, but worth it if you get good at it! So go ahead and try altered tunings! They're fun!

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