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5-6 string basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dolphin_wank, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. hello, having played a 4 string for quite some time now, i'm considering upgrading to a 5 or 6 string bass, but having never played on one or seen one in the flesh, i'm confused as to how the tuning would work

    when i checked some websites i was told the normal tuning for a 6 string bass would be c-e-a-d-g-b, and as a guitarist as well, that sort of tuning would toss my head right up. are 6 string basses (namely the warwick thumb) able to be tuned to the standard e-a-d-g-b-e so that i could get the higher notes? or are strings available/will the bass be able to take it, or do i need a special one or something

    and also, if i was to go for a 5 string, most of them seem to be c-e-a-d-g, is e-a-d-g-b possible? do you need a certain type of bass to do this or will any 5 string support this?

    hope someone can understand what i'm ranting about and apologies in advance if it sounds stupid as ****, i'm just rather clueless on such matters

    cheers, bren
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Interesting tunings. :eyebrow: Most 5 strings are BEADG, and some are EADGC. I imagine that you can tune a bass any way you desire.
  3. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    I don't know who's been tuning those basses but Woodchuck is right and I'll add that a 6 string most of the time is tuned BEADGC.
  4. gambit0714


    May 19, 2004
    Suffolk, VA

    OK, Thats is some interesting tuning.

    I play both 5 string and six string. Personally I tune my 5 string BEADG and the 6 String BEADGC. It seems to work in all applications for me. IMO what ever work for ya.:D
  5. Yeah, you've got it backwards I think. The standard tuning for a 5-string bass is with a low B. BEADG. If you want to put a higher string on instead, then it's usually a high C. EADGC. And for a 6-string you would normally put on both. BEADGC.

    If you want to tune to EADGB, well you could. But people will probably make fun of you for being a 'failed guitarist" :p . Most bassists stick to tuning in straight 4ths, makes more sense when you're not doing full chords all the time like a guitar would. It's up to you though ;)
  6. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Sounds like guitar tunings.
  7. yeah i got those mixed up..

    ok i'll just rephrase my question

    would i be able to get a warwick thumb 6 string and tune it like a guitar
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Normally, the 5 string adds one lower string tuned to B, a 4th lower than the low E string, so the intervals between the strings are still all the same (5 frets). That would be BEADG. Pretty much any 5 you run across in a show will be tuned that way.

    Some people prefer to have the extra string be a higher one, so they have a high C (again, 5 frets up) instead of a low B--EADGC.

    6 strings normally add both an extra low string and an extra high string, so that would be BEADGC. There are a few instruments like the Fender Bass VI, which are more like guitars tuned down an octave (EADGBE), but those are usually though of more like "baritone guitars" than extended range basses.

    Obviously, though, you can tune a bass however you like if you put the right strings on it!

  9. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    What about DGCFEA?
  10. F and then an E string above it? That doesn't make much sense at all. You could do...

    D G C F Bb Eb

    ...which would be two higher strings put on instead of a lower tuned string... then the whole thing tuned down a whole step.
  11. yes.

    i tuned my 6'er EADGCF, and i didn't have any problems with it, i doubt that tuning the top two strings down a half step would cause any problems
  12. not sure how clear it was but yes you can string it this way. DO NOT tighten a BEADGC bass up to E-E. You need to purchase new strings. Easiest is to just but a 4 sting set, then purchase a high C and high F. You can still tune them to B E. Might need to mess with the nut if the strings wiggle around to much, but it's case by case basis.
  13. so essentially, its down to the strings and not the bass?
  14. Yeah, this is the same on a guitar tho too, humidity and changing the strings (string tension, different tunings change tension of course) will cause your bass neck to bow one way or another typically. Most basses (read 98%) have truss rods so that you can adjust this rod so your bass neck doesn't bend a way u don't want it too. So when u change the strings, u'll most likely need to adjust the truss rod too. I also can't tell u how many times this topic has been covered, check the search button here, in the strings forum, and in setup; you'll find a rediculous number of posts on this. Good luck.
  15. Sure, you can tune it that way if you want. As others have said, just get the right strings.

    Don't worry about the "guitarist" comments.;) EADGBE is a perfectly sensible tuning for a 6 string bass, if it allows you to do what you want to do. I use BEADGB myself, and if I could do without the low B I'd probably tune it EADGBE too.
  16. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    You could tune your 6 stringer that way. It would probably increase the tension on the neck quite a bit. Warwick necks are like oars (as opposed to something like an Ibanez) so maybe you dont have much to worry about.
  17. No, not necessarily. If you used the same strings, then yeah, but not necessarily otherwise. It will depend on the string gauge.
  18. I prefer the six string to be tuned as:

    B - E - A - D - G - B

    to be able to play all chords (especially the minor ones) smoothly on the upper four strings.
  19. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    im on B - E - A - D - G - C and i dont have problems with chording on upper strings... i do barre sometimes tho.

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