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Anyone know the tunings on ”Flight of the Cosmic Hippo?” (Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck)

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by JonW, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. JonW


    Mar 10, 2009
    I’m a new guy here thinking about trying to learn to play some bass. (I play a little guitar already.) Not sure if I should start with a 4 or 5 string bass.

    One of the coolest bass-centric songs ever, in my silly opinion, is “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. If you’ve got a good subwoofer you can hear wonderful, house-rattling bass. But it’s not just low, it’s really musical. From searching around it seems that the bass of that song is being played by Victor Wooten, using a 5 string fretless bass made by Joe Compito.

    As a new guy I’d imagine that fretless is not a good place to start (ahem). But the playing on that song is as low as I’ll likely ever want to go. So I’m wondering how low he was playing there. Anyone have any idea what notes or string tunings were involved?

    That song might give me perspective on how low I’ll want to play. Which will them tell me what type of bass to get to start out with- 4 or 5 strings, other considerations, etc. Thanks!
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Back in the day, I saw Wooten play this live a few times...I always assumed the tuning as BEADG (Lo-to-Hi).
  3. JonW


    Mar 10, 2009
    Must have been very cool to see that one performed live. :)

    So you think it’s a standard tuned of a 5 string, eh? I ask because it seems to me that some of the low notes in this song are lower than anything else I’ve ever heard come from a bass. I could be wrong on that, though, given that my ears are not trained at all.

    At home I happen to have the benefit of a nice subwoofer on my stereo system. When that song plays, the whole house can rumble in a way that I don’t get with any other music from a bass.
  4. JonW


    Mar 10, 2009
    This link seems to help:
    For this tab it looks as though the lowest note of the song is just a D. I don't yet have a bass to try playing that and see how it sounds.

    So a 5 string bass with the typical tuning of BEADG (Lo-to-Hi) would cover it. I thought it would have been something lower than that. Go figure.
  5. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Yeah, its just BEADG. He does slide down off of the D, however. You might just be reacting to how its mixed, because there is a lot of low-end in that signal.
  6. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Georgetown, Kentucky
    It's bumpin' in my sub too, but yea, I think it's standard.
  7. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    I play it with a drop D on a 4 string.
  8. JonW


    Mar 10, 2009
    Thanks, fellas. So I guess the notes are nothing particularly low. They must have just done a really nice job with the recording (not to mention the playing). That's good to know, though. So if I get a 5 string for my first bass I should be able to play as low as I can image. Playing well is a totally separate issue. :)

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