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5 String Upright Question

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by agreatheight, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. How do 5 string double bassists tune their low 5th string? I know some bassists tune it to C, but to me it would seem odd to tune the low string to C without retuning the rest of the bass to still play relative in 4ths across the strings. As I play an electric 5 tuned B E A D G it would really freak me out to play a double 5 in C E A D G.

    How do you all tune your 5?

    A) Tune B E A D G
    B) Tune C E A D G
    C) Tune C F A# D# G#

    Interested to hear! Thanks in advance!
  2. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    Option A for me.
  3. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    You could also tune it:

    C, G, D, A, E

    FIFTHS!!! :eek:
  4. Yup most people have C extencions. As far as a 5th string, if it's a low 5th string then it's tuned to B and if it's a hight 5th its a C. EX..
  5. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski Supporting Member

    May 13, 2005
    Many people also tune the fifth string a half tone higher for CEADG. This might not make sense initally but under closer inspection it has its benefits.

    The C extension is the most common means of extending the range of the bass and for a new five string player to tune the lowest string to C creates a very logical transition. In the "standard" orchestral repertoire the only peice that requires a low B is Also Sprach. I would tune it to C if I had one. That way the low Eb is accessible and that note appears far more than the low B.
  6. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    A string tuned one M3rd away from another is not so uncommon either, the guitar is tuned like that too and I think violones have one string tuned at a third, I'm not sure, tho:confused:
  7. Option A works for me, but I have heard of it being tuned (the 5th string) to a low C as well. It does make good sense to set it up like your EBG 5-er if you use the DB to play the same tunes acoustically as you play electrically. I don't have a 5 string EBG and when I switch from 4 to 5 strings and back sometimes I'll hit the wrong string (Oooops!)
  8. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    If I were to have a 5 string instead of my extension, i wouldnt see any problem with just tuning it traditionally to a B. I mean, it keeps things consistent across the board, although I have only seen a B in zarathustra as i saw mentioned already and i think pines or fountains of rome has a B or two as well. beyond that...hrm...maybe a few contemporary pieces by some composers hoping for a lucky break. any other standard piece where anyone has seen the elusive low b???

    p.s.- i'm sure getting a european perspective about the 5 string might be of some use, seeing as how they seem to be more common across the pond...
  9. bassist14


    Oct 17, 2005
    i was a fulltime professional symphony-orchestra bassist in germany for several years.

    in all these orchestras most of the basses are five-stringers tuned
    B E A D G

    PS: regarding the repertoire with a low B: it is not always necessary to have the note written to play it :)
  10. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    I heard about one major piece of work containing a low Bb, might have been Mahler? Not totally sure. Apparently two bassists in the TSO tuned down for that one note.
  11. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005

    Very true...i don't know what i would do with a whole extra half step to play an octave lower at seemingly unnecessary times. Ooooh the possibilities seem endless.
  12. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    Sorry, I'm really interested in finding out any info on this?
  13. jfgsquaredragon


    Jul 18, 2006
    I play with a symphony orchestra, and tune BEADG. I find it especially practical for Strauss tone poems and the Beethoven symphonies, but it works great for Baroque as well. My bass is a particularly large Viennese 5-string with a 44 inch string length, so voice and projection questions aren't an issue.
    As ever, jfg p.s.: I am trying to get a bead on the maker of my bass. Anyone interested in a little detecting? I can send jpegs. jfg
  14. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Tchaik's Romeo and Juliet- the last note would sound great with a low-B!!

    In Rachmaninoff Symphony #2, there is a passage that goes something like E (bunch of notes), D (bunch of notes) C (bunch of notes) then B (climax of the section). It's all written up the octave for us but the cellos have it on their C string with the exception of the last B. Musically the low B would sound awesome.

    There's a passage in Dvorak's Cello Concerto that would sound great with a low-B.

    Any others you 5vers do?
  15. sixbelow


    Jul 15, 2006
    Davis CA
    I've played a 5 string for 10 years. B E A D G for me as well.

    honestly, i'll drop an octave anytime the cellos are playing on the C string and we are doubling by octave.

    There are a few great moments in Brahms 1 to drop an octave and hit that low B....and another piece with gratuitous use of the low B is the Pines of Rome....the whole last page has some low Bs and such.