When the rest of the band tunes down...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Ramiro773, Jan 20, 2014.


  1. Ramiro773

    Ramiro773

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Location:
    Chicago
    One of the bands I'm in plays most of its songs in standard E, but the last song we wrote is played in Drop D, or at least thats what the guitarists tune to. Cause I'm lazy and feel i can't make decent bass lines in drop d, i chose to stay in E.

    I was able to play everything just fine and just played the octave on those low notes. Whats your guys' two cents on this. Is there a specific time you choose to tune with the guitars? A time to stay in your preferred tuning? I like E standard because I feel comfortable with the scales and whatnot (i think about it in shapes more than anything) and i'm probably gonna stay with it. I just wanna know everyone else's opinion.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    If you learn to play in Drop D, then you can make the decision based on what sounds best for the song, not based on your own limitations.

    To answer your question, my old band, the guitarist switched back and forth a lot between drop D and standard E tuning. There were some songs we were both in E, some songs where I switched with him to D, and even rare songs where one of us was in E and the other was in D. It is all about opening up musical possibilities, and ultimately, what sounds good.

    In a social/jam type situation, if somebody has written a song in drop D, and they ask YOU to try the tuning too, it is usually good manners to go along with the group, unless you have a specific reason/limitation not to. If you are getting paid to play, then there is no doubt about it, you do what the boss says. :)
  3. D_Bag

    D_Bag

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2013
    Location:
    St. Joseph, MO
    I always tune the same as the guitars. I prefer a standard tuning, but I haven't been in a band that plays in a standard tuning since 2003.
  4. callofcthulhu

    callofcthulhu

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Play a 5 string. Problem Solved.
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  6. Bow tie

    Bow tie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Seems like it's always alternate turnings, so I switched to a 5 string several years ago and really like it. Can play in drop d on song 1, then standard for song 2.
  7. awilkie84

    awilkie84 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    Nanaimo, BC, Canada
    Yes & no. Try playing some Rage or Tool on a 5 string. Some of the songs are doable, but most of their stuff is written in Drop-D & MUCH easier to play in this tuning.

    I keep a 4 string around just for that.
  8. MrTaff

    MrTaff

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    I only play 5's now so it's less of an issue, but when I played a 4 it would depend on the song, some parts sound ok played an octave higher, others just need that low D.
  9. spaz21387

    spaz21387

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Location:
    Portland oregon
    I only play in drop d while my guitarist mostly plays in e. Theres about 4 songs where he tunes down to drop d and I stay in d.
  10. Bassdude15

    Bassdude15

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Location:
    Nashville
    I am at this point used to drop D. if the guitarists tune lower than that , then I'm in the wrong room!
  11. Ajak

    Ajak

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Location:
    Bern, Switzerland
    The guitar player of the bands I play in tunes to Drop-D. I used to play in E-standard and Drop-D in one band (I have a d'tuner installed on my 4-string) and for my other band I use a 5-string. But while playing in Drop-D worked well, I never really felt free because I couldn't use the shapes and scales I'm used to. That's the reason I got myself another bass to tune to D-standard.
    Playing the d-stuff an octave higher was never an option for me but I guess that depends on the music.

    cheers
  12. groooooove

    groooooove

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    i never tune down. i play a 6 string bass so i never have to.

    i've played some things in alternate tunings, like more love by victor wooten... but thats a totally different thing from playing with a band..

    i just never saw the point to tuning down..
  13. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2013
    Location:
    SEPA
    A Hipshot extender will be way less expensive than another bass.
    If you only want to go down a whole step, it's an easy flip.

    That said, I have a low-B, and don't play any Tool Rage...
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    Location:
    charles town, wv
    Disclosures:
    I'm a Fuzzrocious-aholic. It's been one week since I bought my last Fuzzrocious pedal.
    Start thinking more about music and less about shapes.
  15. Nephilymbass

    Nephilymbass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Fayetteville Ft Bragg NC
    I mainly play 7 string bass with a bit of a whacky tuning (G#BEADGC)
    guitars I play with are in drop B or c# standard. I NEVER change my tuning on the 7. g# is the lowest note I actually need. Ive tuned to f# before but I never actually wrote a bassline that had a low f# or G.

    I have a fretless 4 that stays at home. I mainly got it for fun and if i wanted a fretless sound in the studio, the tuning changes on that bass all the time, from one month to the next it could be eadg, dadg, aadg, or ddgc,
  16. Jensby design

    Jensby design

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Hastings, NE
    I've got two basses tune one EADG and the other DGCF.
  17. Broadstbully22

    Broadstbully22

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    I ran into this allot with my current band. At first I was just retuning quickly but then I bought a hipshot dtuner for my jazz and that helped for most situations. The problem with them is you only change one string and some bass lines shapes become pretty spread out and almost impossible to play. I used to play a five but recently moved away from the direction because it's just not for me. Now my final fix for this issue was my custom mm build I made. It is set up bead with the for lowest strings from a five string set. So the b is not just a e string tuned down and all floppy. I had to file the nut but it's easy. So basically it's a five string without the g string. This is now my back up that I take to every show. It has quickly become one of my favorite basses ever and not just because of its tuning.
  18. pfox14

    pfox14

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    I played with one band that used E flat tuning for every song, because of the singer not straining his voice. I just tuned every string down a half step. For anything below that (drop D or lower), I would play my 5-string.
  19. oysteivi

    oysteivi

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    I use a Hipshot extender to tune to drop d when my guitarist changes to his drop d guitar. Though for some parts I like to play the "d riff" on the regular d string with an octave down pedal, for the effect that gives.
  20. sobie18

    sobie18

    Joined:
    May 5, 2002
    Location:
    RAF Lakenheath, UK
    I second getting a Hipshot.

    On a side note, I heard a rumor that TOOL will be playing songs in other keys than D....
  21. wardak

    wardak Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    East of St Louis, in IL
    DGCF, and on one bass a Hipshot as well to retune the D to C--the C I've explored and practiced but haven't truly needed yet. It's a pretty handy solution that I like, doesn't require a 5, you can keep using it without a bunch of retuning and trying to remember how you're set up. The cons I guess are a little relearning up front, a little translation when you learn new tunes, adjusting to different open strings and if you stick with DGCF, it's probably worth it to go up a string gauge or so and set up your instrument. Totally worth it to me, been doing this for years, give it a try for a while... see how it works for you.

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