I have a confession to make. I cannot play a guitar which is tuned to the standard EADGBE anymore.

The gods know I have tried. I can even admit to enjoying it for a wee while - but only when I am in the mood to play along with CDs tuned to concert pitch. I have a wee playlist when I get the urge - ranging from The Trooper by Iron Maiden, Tool’s album Lateralus, Hocus Pocus by mental Dutch band Focus, and Rage Against the Machine.

The problem is that my ears are no longer conditioned for this tuning. As soon as I start to play guitar or try to come up with new riffs I realise that normal tuning doesn’t cut it.

My descent into bowel-shaking tuning started when I first got into the likes of System of a Down back at the tail-end of the 90s. I was more of a punk/alternative fan so I wasn’t as exposed to serious downtuning all that much.

For a good while I kept a drop C tuning as my go-to sound. If you haven’t done so yourself, this involves tuning all six strings a full step, and the lowest string a further step - (CGCFAD).

This is probably the best tuning for the type of rock which balances the heavy bottom end with more melodic upper registers - stuff like Killswitch Engage etc.

Every couple of years I would feel the need to take it down a bit farther - from straight C(CFA#D#GC) and B (BEADGB).

Then came the seven string and the move to straight A (ADGCFAD). Now, with my current band I have reached as low as I can feasibly go with a seven string - drop G (GDGCFAD). I have looked at 8 string guitars, but just couldn’t get my head around it. This need to go lower has spawned some even more extreme guitars - including the custom 11-string. Try a barre chord - I dare you. This is an 11 string bass, rather than a normal guitar, battering out the Mario theme tune. When I got a six string a couple of years ago, it was my intention to keep it in standard. After much umming and ahhhing, I have abandoned that and have dragged the six down to the straight B tuning. In my ears this is still a pretty light sound in comparison.

I can’t wait to play live again. One of my goals is to hit the legendary brown note. I don’t think I need to explain that one any further...