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alternative tuning

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Paolo, Oct 4, 2002.


  1. It' possible to tune a normal bass as a tenor bass (ADGC) ?
     
  2. Yes. The only thing you may run into a problem with is the nut. The slots may (probably will be) be too wide for the much smaller guage strings.
     
  3. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The nut slot probably won't be a problem but it's worth making explicit what
    ChaosGwar implied:

    use a new set of strings

    I'd hate you to assume that it's just a matter of tuning up your existing strings to the right pitch - you'll need lighter gauges. You'd probably get away with it if your strings are Extra-Light (say 30 / 50 / 70 / 90) but anything heavier is likely to snap before it reaches pitch and even those ones would feel radically different.

    Of course, you may not have planned on using the same strings but it's good to make that clear :)

    Wulf
     
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This is more setup related as it stands.


    Watch the closing door....
     
  5. It's possible to tune a bass with a normal set of strings ?
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It's all to do with the string gauges you use. The thicker the string, the more tension you have to put on it (stretching it by turning the tuning mechanism) in order to reach a given pitch.

    When a string manufacturer refers to a set of strings as heavy, medium or light they refer to how they feel when tuned to standard pitch. Strings don't know what note to produce - you 'program' them by applying appropriate tension.

    If your G string is really light (ie. it feels almost floppy on the fretboard and you can easily bend it) it's probably going to be about 30 gauge and you'll probably get away with tuning it up to C - although it will feel much tighter (higher tension). If your highest string is only 20 gauge, it will reach C with no problems and will probably be almost unusably floppy if tuned down to G. If you G string is fairly heavy to start with (say, 45 gauge), you'll probably hear it snap as you reach somewhere round about Bb... not recommended.

    As I recall, during the past 15 or so years of playing, I've only broken about 2 strings... both through (inadvertantly) tuning up too high.

    So, in answer to your question - you can use normal strings as long as they are extra-light gauge in reference to standard tuning; if in doubt, see if you can get a pack of strings gauged for tenor bass.

    Wulf
     
  7. flacko

    flacko

    Dec 6, 2001
    Surrey , UK
    Normally , yes.

    Why not try to set up a standard 6 string guitar to accept this tuning on the bottom 4 strings. I suspect you would still need the top 2 strings fitted , and tight, to balance the neck tension and nut seating plus stop the bridge saddles rattling.

    You could raise the action (truss rod as well as bridge height) , raise the pick-ups, shove some heavy jazz flatwounds on it and give it a go , maybe on a guitar that is disposable if things go wrong. If it sounds good you could probably fit a new nut with a more appropriate height and slot size.

    A long scale length on the guitar would probably help.

    I really don't want to suggest a guitar based solution but .....

    Good luck.
     
  8. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Of course, if you really want to get that tenor bass sound, you'd have to adjust flacko's guitar with a custom 34" neck and a custom bridge designed to take four strings rather than six. Probably change the tuners for something beefier as well. Oh my... we're back at a bass! :D

    You could detune a guitar but the point about a tenor bass is the sound produced by the length of the strings and the way you can play it with the spacing between the strings.

    Wulf
     
  9. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    couldn't you just buy a new nut, get a pack of 6-string bass strings and string only the top 4?
    the nut might not even be a real problem...unless you tend to bend the string then it will probably slide out...thats happened to me before...but its no biggie, jt pop it back in.
     
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You really don't need the nut adjusted. Usually, there is enough downforce on the nut that the string won't rattle. Unless you're putting bigger strings through the nut, it's really a nonissue.