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Adjust my bass for lower tunings?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Vorak, Mar 14, 2006.


  1. Vorak

    Vorak

    Dec 6, 2005
    Madison, WI
    I'm in the process of joining a band that tunes in C Standard (C-F-A#-D#-G-C) and I'm just wondering what I should do to adjust my bass so I can keep it in that tuning indefinitely. I've always played in standard or drop-D in the past and I would just drop my strings down for a song or to jam if I needed to but I would always tune my bass back to standard. Now I'd like to leave my bass dropped but I'm not sure what will happen, if anything, to my neck with the tension of the strings that loose. Should I just take my bass into a shop and tell them to set it up? Any suggestions would be helpful.

    My bass is a Schecter Elite 4 String, if that matters at all.

    Thanks!

    ps.. sorry if this topic has already been discussed. I did do some searches but I wasn't able to turn anything up.
     
  2. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    You'll want to use heavier strings to maintain tension, but even with your best guess on what guage to use you'll still probably need to adjust the truss rod once the bass settles in. You can easily do it yourself. Assuming you like the way the bass is set up now, just fret the E string at the first and last fret and eyeball the gap at the 12th fret. After restringing give it a few hours, then if the gap is larger, tighten the truss rod 1/8 of a turn at a time .... if its smaller, loosen the truss rod. Rightey Tightey Leftey Loosey and you're back in business!

    If you really wanted to be precise you'd use a capo on the first fret, one hand to fret at the last, and the other to slip a "feeler guage" into the gap to measure it.
     
  3. Vorak

    Vorak

    Dec 6, 2005
    Madison, WI
    How much heavier of a string would you suggest? I kind of like 105 gauge (which I have on now) but I've never used a 110 guage so I'm not sure how exactly that would feel, or if there would be a huge difference.
     
  4. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    A typical low B is .125 to .135 and you're only 1/2 step higher than that. I'd go with the bottom 4 strings of a light 5 string set, something like .120, .100, .80, .60.

    Actually, now that I think about it, thats such a big jump you will probably need to take it to the shop to make the nut slots wider, which will not be reversable.

    Ever thought about going to a 5 string?
     
  5. Vorak

    Vorak

    Dec 6, 2005
    Madison, WI
    I've thought about it but I really don't like the feel of any 5-string I've ever played. They just don't feel natural to me at all.

    Will it hurt my bass if I use .105's or .110's? It played pretty nice last night when I just dropped the strings. The tension was pretty loose but I almost liked it that way. If I tighten the truss rod a bit, would that bring the tension on the strings up enough to prevent any harm or the neck or the bass itself?
     
  6. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Yes, thats fine for the bass if you like that! Same procedure I reccemended on the truss rod adjustment.

    The pitch of your notes won't be as stable unless you play with a really light touch. It'll come sharp when you hit each note, then fall back into pitch.
     
  7. Vorak

    Vorak

    Dec 6, 2005
    Madison, WI
    Well the style of music, as you've probably guessed is metal/hardcore. All I really need to be is loud. My tone will be pretty drained out by two guitarists and the drummer. As long as it isn't going to kill my bass I'm happy. Thanks for the help man. I really appreciate it.
     
  8. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    One more thing, if you stick with a .105 set, you'll probably want a little bit more/ relief in the neck than you started with, to give the strings room to vibrate without fretting out. And you might also want to raise the saddles slightly.

    Good luck, and use mids to punch through!
     
  9. Vorak

    Vorak

    Dec 6, 2005
    Madison, WI
    And on a side note... apparently I'm an impressive bassist and I'm "definitely in the band".

    Sweeeet.