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Stevie Wonder "I Wish" - GRRR!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jaywa, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Song is in Eb... bass is a 4-string in standard tuning... band doesn't want to take it up a half step.



  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Play it an octave up to annoy them?

    Or just like, tune a half step down for the song, maybe just the E will suffice.
  3. odarellmc


    Jul 8, 2012
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yeah... I thought about bringing a 2nd bass tuned down a half step but for just one song in a 3-hour show hardly seems worth it. And de-tuning my bass in the middle of the set would be weird and cause too much down time.

    So right now I'm just learning it with my bass in standard tuning but it requires some pretty hellish stretches and weird position shifts. It's probably making me a better player but it ain't a lot of fun.
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  6. Holdsg

    Holdsg Happy to be Mrs. Holdsg's pompatus of love Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    If I recall correctly, having played this in a band a bout a year ago, the song may be in Eb but the lowest you have to play is the second note of the riff, and I believe that's an F (or F#) which is 1st or (or 2nd) fret on the E string. Play the first note on the A string. I never had a problem playing this song with a 4-string bass in the key on the record. If I had my bass with me right now, I could confirm that, but I never had to detune.
  7. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Detuning the low E a half step should be real quick like done by ear. I don't actually know the song but maybe that is already enough to make it playable, and a compromise worth considering?
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yeah I play the first note (the Eb) in the upper octave and then drop down to the low F#. But that still either requires Eb on 1st fret D, or as you said 6th fret A (and a position shift to get back down to the low F#).

    Right now I'm playing the Eb on 1st fret D string and that allows me to play the entire verse ostinato in one position (albeit with nasty stretches on those wide frets), and then I have to shift position for the pre-chorus.

    Dropping just the E string a half step is something I hadn't considered. Maybe I'll experiment with that.
  9. RFord04


    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    Holdsg is right. No need to down tune. The bass never drops below that low E.
  10. aproud1

    aproud1 Don't surround yourself with yourself. Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    Cincy, OH
    Real easy on a 5 string.... :bag:
  11. qervo


    May 18, 2011
    I could understand wanting to keep it in the same key if you had a horn section. Other than that I see no problem playing it a half step up. I always played it on a five string so I feel for you 4 string guys.
  12. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    Invest in a 5 string. The only time I use my 5 is when I go below E. Other than that I use my 4.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    5-string won't be happening for this cat. I've played 4's for 32 years. The couple of times I tried a 5 it was a disaster.

    No offense to any who use 'em, but that's not a viable option for me.

    I've become pretty adept at playing in drop D (another reason I've never gone the 5-string route), but on this particular song that actually makes things worse.
  14. That's how Nathan Watts does it :)
    There is a video out there in the ether somewhere that he says that. That he plays a detuned bass (Eb Ab Db Gb) with Stevie.
  15. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    That's what I remember too... Nathan Watts playing a 4-string but detuned a half step since so many of Stevie's songs are in flatted keys.
  16. qervo


    May 18, 2011
    Best thing to do is stay in standard tuning and just start the Eflat on the A string as stated above, shouldn't be that tricky
  17. pedro

    pedro Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I don't get it why is this a problem?
  18. pedro

    pedro Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Exactly. I haven't listened in a while but am pretty sure it was played that way.
  19. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
  20. Yeah it would be better in Em concert. You'd use the open A and D strings a lot too, and that will help a player to get the same phrasing and fluidity as Nate Watts had on his bass tuned Eb-Ab-Db-Gb.

    It works better in Em.

    But you can still play it in Ebm, or in Dm or in any other key without de-tuning. The one finger per fret helps out, as well the open strings whenever possible. *

    Unlike say "Superstition", you're not really required to pound out the low root fundamental (ie Eb1 at 38.9Hz), so this can be fine if the band insists on Em.

    * EDIT: actually "I Wish" can work pretty handy without open strings if you can comfortable playing Gb-Ab-Bb-Ab on the E string and the D string with a rolling 1-2-4 motion in the right hand. Then you can easily move it to any key.
  21. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Cool, thanks for all the perspectives. That's why I hang out here...

    Definitely a few different ways to tackle this so I'll see which works out best for me.

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