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Adjusting scale to make semi-piccilo bass?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Bassplayer222, Dec 6, 2011.


  1. Bassplayer222

    Bassplayer222

    Jul 21, 2011
    I sometimes play with a capo at the 5th fret, essentially making a tenor tuned bass. Is it possible to make a 4 stringed instrument tuned A D G C that will still have notes my capoed bass would have? IE: A D G C, but 12th frets would be E A D G. Stupid question probably, but that's the area I stay around when playing solo bass
     
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Not sure what you're asking. Twelve frets above the open string will equal twelve semitones above the open string, equals one octave above, or the same notes an octave higher, obviously.
     
  3. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Only if you use the western equal tempered scale, which I imagine he does.

    The fifth fret on a 34" scale bass is about 25.5" from the bridge, which is about the same as a Stratocaster (and many other guitars). You could always buy a used Squire and convert it to a tenor "bass" to see if you like the idea.
     
  4. Bassplayer222

    Bassplayer222

    Jul 21, 2011
    I guess I was wondering if it was possible to build a bass that has a length of string redirected somewhere else and then automatically fretted at the instruments "0" fret such that the open notes of the bass would resonate as A D G C, instead of having 24 frets as a bass normally would, It would have a 19, such that the 12th fret would resonant a fourth higher than the open strings.
     
  5. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    If you stick with the 12 semitone/octave, equal tempered scale (which is what most every Western music is written in), no.

    Each note is 2^(1/12) higher or lower than its adjacent note. The frequency of twelfth fret is {2^[(1/12)^12]} = 2 times the frequency of the open note.

    If you didnt want to relearn the notes relative to the fret markers, you could just put the double dot (usually reserved for the 12th fret) to the 7th fret. Your dots would be on 2,4,7**,10,12,14,16,19**. Then when you looked at the fretboard, the ** on the low string would be an E (like your regular bass), but the open string would be an A (as you want).
     
  6. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    I think I know what your're getting at.

    Yes, it's possible, but the "12th fret" would no longer be #12. If I'm understanding you right, imagine taking a regular bass neck, cutting off the area behind the nut, cut it off at the 5th fret and glue the headstock back on. Your open strings would be ADGC and it would feel just like your bass with a capo on the 5th fret. Just be sure to put the "double dots" which normally mark the 12th fret at the 8th fret.
     

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