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5-string tuning and use questions for a 5 string newbie.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SamJ, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    Ok, I just spontaneously purchased a 5 string bass.. I am told there are a few alternatives to tuning the 5.. for example you can do EADGC vs BEADG.. Are there other tunings that you've used? Also, what diameter B (low) do you buy .130? and why?

    I'd like to know what other 5-string players are doing, and why.. also, I'd like to hear from former 4-string players who've recently gone to 5.. are you finding yourself not playing the 4 much? or do they both serve you differently?

    Those of you who like to post one liners, no prob.. but I'm hoping to get some of the more chatty and knowledgeable types to weigh in..
  2. Groundloop


    Jun 21, 2005
    I tune BEADG, and plan to tune that way on my next 5er (a fretless) as well. I'm using a .125 B string (DR Lo Riders). I play a Lakland 55-02 that has a 35" scale, so the B is still plenty tight, and seems to ring truer (to me) than heavier strings. On my older Ibanez SR series 5, I used to use a much heavier B (up to .135) to get a usable tone.

    My main bass is the Lakland 5, but I still own and use 2 4 strings, which I don't plan on selling. I just don't plan on ever buying another 4 string.

    And calling it a B# or a C is your call.

    I'm going with C.

  3. BassikLee

    BassikLee Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2004
    Deltona, FL
    Owner: Brevard Sound Systems
    As far as tunings go, I find when guys start with low E, they run E/A/D/G/C much more often than the run E/A/D/G/B#. Makes reading and stuff faster........

    String sizes, it depends on many things. What do you use on your 4s?? Are you a 40-100 guy, or a 45-105 guy?? Depending on the feel you're going after, you may prefer a lighter low B, 125 or even 120. The bass may tell you it needs a 130. Kinda depends. Which tuning to use also depends on your style. Are you a "bass soloist"?? If so, starting with E may better suit you. Are you a "groove player"?? Then I'd suggest starting with B. Notes lower than E are best if used sparingly, lest you become known as "the boy who cried wolf" as it were. That said, playing a tune in the key of G and having to go no lower than your 8th fret is kinda cool too. All my 5s are B-G, most have .125/.128/.130 for low Bs. Strings vary, bass to bass. Some of my basses prefer Ernie Ball, some prefer DR, some prefer D' addario (spelling??) and for "quick&dirty" strings, I find the Carvin strings are not too shabby. I think they are LaBella, not 100% sure tho.

    btw, just ribbing you on the B#/C thing, for our purposes, they are the same ( I know, they are NOT, technically). I prefer to think of the interval between my strings as a fourth, not an augmented third or whatever that'd be.

  4. Jehos


    Mar 22, 2006
    DFW, TX
    On my last five I used DR strings, I think the standard medium gauge set. I agree with BassikLee that you should use sub-E sparingly. I almost never found a reason to go down to B, my B string was primarily used to get a full octave under a guitar in dropped-D tuning without having to detune myself.
  5. There are some people that use lower or higher tunings, with low F# strings, or a tenor / piccolo tuning (ADGCF) etc.
  6. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    Good info all... thanks..

    I would not really consider myself a soloist player, but I do like to practice that way.. And since I spend 95% of my time playing alone it would be nice to get a EADGC tuning, if it didn't require me to get a new nut installed I would consider it full time!

    I just picked up some D'Addario ProSteel's .. "SuperBright" strings... They're SS so they'll last longer with my oily hands.

    I picked .050 .070 .085 .105 for the 4, and .045 .065. .080 .100 .130 for the 5.. which I found to be an odd progression, but I wanted to try the smaller strings to make the bass seem a bit less cumbersome to me, as I'm new to 5 string.

    Anyone have a good 5-string (bone head level) site that I can check out on integrating the 5-string into my playing? I am sure the low G will come in handy, but what about further up the neck, anyone use higher notes on the B string?

    Also, Didn't mean to say EADG B#, I meant DGCF Bb, sorry, my bad.. still getting that straight in my head.
  7. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    I have 2 fivers, one B-G, one E-C...

    The best of both worlds!
  8. i run my 5er EADGC, i absolutely love it. I played BEADG for the first few weeks of owning my 5, but since I love to play chords and really explore the entire musical spectrum with my bass, the higher tuning really works for me. If youre an in-the-pocket big booty thumpin bass player, i say stick with the BEADG tuning.

    also, to sort of compromise, i have a hipshot xtender key on my lowest string to drop it down to a D or C. still not the entire range of a 6 string bass, but its close, and i get to keep the 19mm spacing! i love it!
  9. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    Curious, did you replace the nut on your bass? and what size strings are you using for your EADGC? Do you buy a 4-string set, and then add a C string?
  10. Groundloop


    Jun 21, 2005
    I don't know of any 5 string "how to" sites, but what I did (and I think I read this in an article by Roscoe Beck) was initially ignore the B string. Don't touch it except for muting purposes. Just play stuff you're familiar with on the EADG strings until you get the B string muting down. Then, play the same stuff incorporating the B by shifting up (toward the bridge) 5 frets. I got used to the 5 pretty fast this way.

    I started playing a 5 because of an injury that has caused permanent nerve damage in left wrist, so I use the B string mostly to shift all my playing up 5 frets, so now I'm able to get thru a 3 hour rehearsal with only mild discomfort, whereas with a 4 my whole arm would be throbbing after less than an hour.

    Of course being able to fret a low D helps when your playing with 2 gui****ists that aren't sure what the frets that don't have markers on them are for. :D
  11. labgnat

    labgnat Banned

    Oct 29, 2005
    outta this world
    Sell the 5er and get a 6 string BEADGC bam problem solved
  12. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    Groundloop... great advice.. and I'll checkout the RB article. He's a very nice fellow.. I just got a reply to a question I had on the RBIV bass I recently bought from him on his personal forum.. hopping to get him to sign the bass next time he's in Scottsdale.

    labgnat.. heck then, I may as well just buy a 6-string guitar! :D
  13. No, i did not change the nut. So far I havent noticed any negative effects because of it (got my first 5 string in january, and have been stringing it EADGC since february). Ive heard of many bassists running their 5 strings this way without changing the nut with lots of success. This also allows me to switch back to the lower tuning if i ever want to.

    I buy a normal 45-105 4 string set (or as close to that as the brand allows) and then buy a single C string. Im currently experimenting with C string sizes right now, but I seem to like a 35 or 32 over a 30. The funny thing is, buying a 4 string set and a single high c is cheaper than buying a prepackaged 5 string BEADG set.

    i find www.juststrings.com to be a good source for strings.

    www.bassgutiarstrings.us is great, but (last time i checked) it didnt have a great selection of single strings.

    RE playing my 4 string: I dont play my 4 string much anymore, BUT i think this is because my 5 string is a LOT better bass than my 4 string. If my 4 string was just as nice as my 5 string, i would play it more often than i do now, but since im still learning the 5 string, i would still spend the majority of my time on the 5er.
  14. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    Jon.. thanks.. Great info.. when these strings wear out on the 5 (I'd give them 2 weeks max) I'll replace them with EADGC and see how I like that...

    I listened to your work, and you are more of a solo bassist than I (and a talented one at that).. but I still think for my funk/slap style the high C will come in handy...

    Hmmm.... I'm gonna have to run out and get another V now so I can do both the low B and high C... confused0083.
  15. thanks for the compliment, i definitely have the solo bass bug.

    keep experimenting and funk on!
  16. yea, If you were thinking of going lower, F#BEAD, then you would have to most likely change the nut ;-)
  17. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i recently went 5... but it's also fretless. i'm building myself a fretted 4 with some parts, but they'll serve different purposes just cuz of the fret/lessness.
  18. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    I had a nice ebony neck fretless Alembic that I loved! But the band I played with at the time hated the sound... so I sold it for $1500 back in 1995! :cry:
  19. StrangeLilGirl


    Feb 7, 2009
    Hi, I just bought a 5 string, too, on the spur of the moment. Really nice for my first bass - but my tuner just broke. Could one of you guys give me a link to a site where I can listen to the bottom string (I'm tuning to a B)?
    Thanks Xx
  20. I use the standard low tuning BEADG and use a .130 B.

    I like the extended lower range and don't have much use for anything higher.

    Also, I really like being able to do most of my playing at or above the 5th position. I have a 34" scale and being a relatively short guy, it's a bit of an uncomfortable reach for me to spend a lot of time down at the first 2 or 3 fret positions.

    I like the tone and feel of the .130 B (on my Tobias Growler fretless) and I think it's a good match for the medium gauge Elixirs that I use (.045, .065, .085, .105, .130)

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