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Any Tips for playing in drop C?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cc9191, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. cc9191


    Sep 11, 2012
    I've got to play in drop C for a new band i've just joined. I used to play a 5 banger but part exchanged it some time ago, and i don't have the cash for a new bass right now.

    So I'm planning on setting up one of my 4 strings for drop C and i have a few questions.

    - I have a bright and zingy sounding jazz bass (alder) & a mellower sounding p-bass (oak) Both passive. which one would be best for drop C?

    - I'm guessing that active basses tend to be better for low tunings? Perhaps i should look into getting a pre amp pedal?I've heard the one by sans amp is good.

    - Detuned with an oldish set of 105 gauge rounds, the string wasn't too floppy, but didnt hold its tuning very well. Any string recommendations? Should i use an even heavier gauge? Are tuning problems inevitable?

    - I play through a 300w ash down mag head w/2x10 & 1x15 cabs. Any tips on e.q, compression, gain settings, effects?

    All feedback appreciated.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Whether you would want a bright or mellow sound depends on the overall band sound (especially guitars). A P bass can sound gnarly though so it's not a bad sound either - if in doubt, use the one you're more comfortable with!

    I've found that active/passive made no difference per se when it comes to downtuning. A passive bass can certainly handle it.

    You may want to use heavier strings, somewhere between 120 and 125 for the C is what I'd try. You may need to work on your nut to accomodate the heavier gauge strings. And of course all other things you'd need to set up like intonation yada yada.

    Hard to say how to dial in your tone from behind a screen. Experiment a bit.
  3. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Bear in mind you don't HAVE to tune the same as the guitars. You probably don't need to play the one finger power chords, which is overwhelmingly the reason guitarists like to drop tune.

    It's completely valid to stay in standard tuning, as you already have a low c at your disposal. Or you could tune up a half step if the music requires an open string pedal point. Don't worry about your fretting matching the skinny stringers.
  4. In my former band we played in drop c#, since that was the key our female singers voice was in. We played moderate to heavy rock n roll, I was weary at first, worried about being too floppy etc. I played (still do) a Fender Jazz, actice 4 string. The only modification I made was to switch to nickel strings. NEVER had a problem sounding bad, tuning issues etc. Im also a purist type player...no effects at all. I like to plug n play. My advice would be to just drop tune, get with your band and see how it sounds before you "tweak" anything.
  5. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I thought he doesn't have a fiver anymore? At least that was my impression reading the OP. If he stills has one, either stay in B like you say or tune up a half step...
  6. Ifriff


    Feb 7, 2011
    I play four string passive for the band I'm in. Drop C# and a few songs drop C. I use Ernie Ball Powerslinkys. They're pretty good in C# but get kind of floppy at C. Still playable. Just have to use a soft touch.
    I also do use a SansAmp BDDI which I think sounds great with my Shuttle 6.0 and BRX 2.10
  7. cc9191


    Sep 11, 2012
    Thanks for your input! To clarify, i no longer own a 5 string.
    I'll get hold of some 120 gauge strings as advised and try them out on the p bass I've seen some heavy gauge cobalt rounds in a local music shop, alledgedly they're designed for metal, might give them a try!
  8. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I would continue to play in standard tuning; a C note is a C note, not a position.
    Would you retune if a horn player sat in?
  9. JGbassman


    May 31, 2011
    I have a p bass with a detuner and use this bass for stuff with a low c#. I used a 105 for the "e" string and never had an issue.
  10. Halvorsen


    Mar 7, 2008
    I've got a 4 string Peavey Foundation tuned to C standard. I've had good luck with a set of heavy gauge GHS Boomers. They have a 115 E String. I don't think passive or active really matters at all. The Foundation is passive and it sounds HUGE.
  11. Bigfoot92


    Apr 23, 2011
    My guess is he's going to play in a metal or heavy rock band of some kind, so he needs the low C. A higher tuning would probably work, but with a much lower tuning than C (Meshuggah is the perfect example, low F tuning for the guitars with the bass tuned up to match them). And some riffs would be really uncomfortable to play in C on a standard tuned bass, regardless of the music you play.
  12. Ifriff


    Feb 7, 2011
  13. twc1313


    Oct 28, 2013
    Pittsburgh, Pa
    My band does all kinds of detuning and dropped c stuff ....ala Queens of the Stoneage. I stay in standard and I find it makes me write more interesting parts (because I know the fretboard better that way) and tone wise I add a nice contrast. Detuning that low might just give you pure sludge...but if that's what you want, take the other's advice!
  14. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    I would use the jazz for dropped tunings, just tune down the same as the guitars. The open notes sound heavier that way when played in unison. I like a 110 or 115 gauge for that. C# is ok for the 105, but you can hit it out of tune pretty easy. I don't like heavier than the 115 personally, but if you want to get custom circle k has stupid thick gauges.
    You don't need a pre, but imo active pickups are better detuned, they get more of the note and don't fart like passives. You really just have to play around with your setup and find what the bass will tolerate and what you like. Then just go with it.
  15. taylor16


    Dec 25, 2012
    Check out Stu Brooks' tone/technique from Dub Trio. C-G-D-G, if I'm not mistaken.
  16. metlman72


    Jun 29, 2011
    Long Island NY
    My original band plays in C# standard and drop B. I use a Peavey Fury (P-bass) with .100-.045 strings. I have no problems with intonation or staying in tune. I use EB slinky strings and my action is set lower than .060 on all strings. I would say use the P but that is personal preference. Your bass may feel loose at first but i'm sure you will adjust quickly. My only issue was finding a stompbox tuner that would work well with the Drop B. The TC Electronics Polytune works great for me.
  17. bassmachine2112


    Mar 23, 2008
    Remember drop C can also be raised up to C
    C is C or any other drop tunings,why do you have to drop ?
    Maybe going up will give you a space in the mix.
    It will be different to the herd
  18. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    I prefer standard tuning when possible, but at the same time with fast riffs it is improbable to play certain pulloffs without open strings. My solution is to play a custom tuning I call "drop cello". C-G-D-G. This keeps my D and G strings in standard tuning, but the first few strings are tuned in 5ths like a cello. This allows for the usual pedal-tone doubling with the ringing open string, but the midrange does not get too sloppy. My lowest strings match the guitars but I get the full benefit of my theory knowledge and muscle memory on the upper strings.

    I have trouble with this tuning on my scrawniest bass, an Ibanez Soundgear, but the rest of my basses handle it fine. (So perhaps the P-bass will be better than the jazz?) I don't feel the need for special strings - I like the sound of a .105 tuned low.

    Two of the bands I'm in switch from standard tuning to Drop D to Drop C (Drop D one step down). The band that does this the most uses three guitars per gui****. Live I'll use one bass for standard and Drop D and another for Drop C but in rehearsals I use one bass only. It's easy to tune the A string to G by matching the 12th fret harmonic with the open G string. Then tune the E to C by matching that same 12th fret harmonic with the E-string 7th fret harmonic.
  19. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I'll be damned if I would do all that. I no more need to be tuned the same as a guitar than I do a mandolin, or a horn, etc...
  20. A usual case of TB making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    it's very simple:

    1- tune to drop C
    2- play in drop C