Anyone tried the BEAD tuning with CAPO on 5th?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Honch, Nov 16, 2017.


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  1. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Now, since it's been a while since I dropped this bomb about tuning, playing with a capo on bass, I thought someone else would've tried this idea. Some people fed up with 5 strings are going "back" to 4 strings. Still a number of people, and ever changing musical style genres drops even lower than lowest B.

    Cover bands plays Eb tunings to fit horn arrangements, and people are installing HipShot Drop D tuners by dime and dozen.

    Now is there anyone who've tried "my" method? I tried to google it and sure thing, internet would be able to find someone else coming up with this idea, before me, I am sure, but I can't find it. So:

    1. Has anyone dabbled with a 4 string BEAD tuned bass, and used a Capo on 5th to produce "regular" tunings, and then when "tuning" down, just moved the capo back and forth?


    It is advisable on fanned fret or longer scale basses. But still 4 string.

    In my book, it works a charm, and I don't ever have to retune, manually, or usting Hip shot tuners, or bringing different basses tuned differently to a gig.

    Anyone at least tried it ? Borrowing a capo from your gtrd friend and so on ? I am more than interested in hearing someone go ..."meh ... not at all for me". But at least did an empirical research.
     
  2. I've never tried it but it sounds like it would work perfectly fine. You could put the capo at the 4th fret for the Eb tuning as well! As long as the bass is setup to play nice when capo'd and the capo fits on the bass neck

    I prefer a fiver since I don't have to change anything when bands play in a million different tunings. At the most extreme, I might have to downtune the B-string to Bb or A but it's pretty rare.
     
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  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Sure, it works fine. I keep one of my basses in this tuning all the time. The tone will be a bit different, of course. Generally speaking, do you like the sound of short-scale basses? I do! :)
     
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  4. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    I've been using a capo on bass for decades, mostly for high-end power chords (I've played in a ton of bands with 2 or more bass players), sometimes with both basses - low & high - using capos.

    The one problem was that not all capos are great at maintaining tuning on a bass neck - you have to be really careful when you put them on, and even then, they can slowly bend notes out of tune if they're not able to apply pressure evenly, depending on the capo design and the neck width/thickness/radius.

    That said, you wouldn't need to be putting the capo in lots of different positions, for songs in different keys ; you'd only need to have the capo on the 5th fret.

    That means you could buy a capo that can be adjusted, and set for a specific position.

    Although, unless you're playing power chords, or require open drone strings in standard tuning, I'm not sure I see the need for the capo in your situation.

    Give it a whirl though, you can pick up a simple capo dirt cheap.
     
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  5. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I've experimented with a capo on bass before, and I also used similar logic on guitar before: I played in a band that mostly used drop D tuning but sometimes went down another step to drop C, so I would tune the guitar to drop C and use a capo at the second fret, which I would just remove when we went to a song in drop C.

    However, at this point, if I am in a band that requires a low B, I would just tune the bass BEAD and leave it there. IMO the capo basically just gives you open EADG strings at the expense of all of the notes below the capo, which I wouldn't consider to be a worthwhile trade unless the band was using riffs/passages that were incredibly difficult to play without access to those open strings.
     
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  6. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Granted, the capos that fits are not existing dime a dozen. The clip on Kyser that is made for 12 string guitars works the best IMHO. But there are others. One crucial feature is that you really have to have this quick adjustment capos. Shubbs or those with these rubber or weave that you have to wrap around isn't really going to cut it. Kysers 12 string capo is slightly widers and a firmer pressure. And has fast clip on/off changing incorporated.
    61V%2BOrP%2B-xL._SX355_.jpg
     
  7. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    The most situations, I used it for during one single gig, are 5th 4th and 3rd frets (which means "drop D" sort of) or totally off. Very rarely I play with it in first fret, or second for drop C or even drop C#. We did "Born Under A Bad Sign" which is C# but that one works better with the capo totally off so you can "backdrop" and switch between B and C# notes down low. I use mostly 5th fret OR completely off. SRV, Hendrix and horn numbers at drop Eb at 4th fret. Very occasionally drop D.

    As I said it's just when you need open pedalling and open string low notes. But more often than not, Those "Drop D" tunes are utilising that open drone note a lot, and a 5er tuned regularly just doesn't cut it. Hey even Dingwall 5ers comes hipshot d-tuner still placed at the low E string.

    I did one jazz/horn section number once which included a key change at the end of the song. During a one bar drum fill I actually swapped for one fret, and continued playing in the raised key change with open strings. No one noticed, no one in the band either. People don't detect if you "pedal" with open strings or not. It would drive tab transcribers on the internet totally crazy, if there's just a recording of it, and you have done this clandestine and not going out with it. They probably would think it's an edit split with 2 different basses tuned differently.
     
  8. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I don't use a capo and although I have a Hipshot tuner on a couple of my basses I use that only rarely. But that is me and if you like using a capo, you should use a capo! The only issue I see with capoing at the fifth fret is that you lose five frets off your neck which could have you running out of neck when you are playing EADG. If you play classic music written for a 20 fret bass on a 24 fret bass that would not be much of an issue.
     
  9. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    Yeah, I settled on Kyser capos for live work 25 years ago - they're the most convenient if you're having to change key many times in a set (I've done that mid-song change too), and when you're not using them, they can clip on to the headstock (that's what the Rickenbacker beak is for, right?).

    However, in the studio, the Kyser capos should be used with a degree of caution, in my experience.

    The Shubb capo, with the thumb screw, is a much better solution.

    I was under the impression you were talking about either having the capo on the 5th fret, for standard tuning, or not on at all - which was why I was suggesting something like the Shubb - but if you're having to change key, then the Kyser type capo is essential.

    I haven't tried the newer (though they've probably been around for 20 years now) capo that is similar to the Kyser, but has the levers facing backwards. They look like they may be more effective, though the pressure pad on the back of the neck may not agree with a wide bass neck.

    On the one hand, that's not a problem with the Kyser, but on the other hand the fact that it's so narrow is a cause of unstable tuning, and causes the rubber pad to split over time.

    If I were in your situation, I'd probably tune the Bass AEAD, then you've got drop-D tuning with the capo at the 5th fret.
     
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  10. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    But hands to your heart? Do you play that high up even on a regular bass say J or P with 20 or even 19 frets on? At a stretch if you play a capoed 24 fret, you lose ONE fret. I say one. And it isn't only that. The D string high up only goes that far anyway. But all in all it's not that many frets you lose and you can play artificial harmonics if you want to brag and just have to go higher...

    Bass is a range not a musical instrument.
     
  11. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    But keep in mind, there are sure a bunch of songs that aren't written with anything lower than EADG, don't you think?

    Well, all in all, instead of De-tuning and retuning all of the time, I find this thing works better. Of course if you have a regular EADG tuned bass, I would find absolutely no reason to use any capo at all. Well, maybe for rescuing a poorly cut nut...why that now should occur all of a sudden, and tune a half step down and use it on first, just to get rid of something happening at the nut, say a slot is cut too deep and makes open strings buzz. With a capo on 1st it behaves like a zero fret of some sorts.

    My think even with a meticulously set HipShot D-tuner is that the string drifts during the number. Mind you, this is so too with manually adjusting and retuning, and even on headless systems where slack is the least. If I use a drop D then during the course of the song I can hear it wants to go back to whatever tuning it was before. It creeps upwards ever so slowly. Halfway through a moderat length song I'll hear it, and I have to SLAP and TUG the string mid-playing to make it slack down/back again. Even sometimes that won't help either. If you play enough dropped D numbers in a row (but very few of us do) the string settles and has strecthed out, so once you go back to E you will still have to fine tune it again because it wants to go back at D. But it's within 5-6 cent and isn't heard until it gets past a 3 cent difference. With capo you don't change tension on the string.
     
  12. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    The point I was making is that there isn't any difference between using the capo or not using the capo other than the ability to use open strings for the notes EADG. The notes are in the same place regardless of whether the capo is there. Without the capo there is nothing stopping you from playing in fifth position if that is your preference.

    To give an example, I typically keep all of my basses tuned one full step down, DGCF, because I prefer the string tension and the access to a couple of lower notes. I could in theory use a capo on the second fret for a song that was written for a bass in standard tuning, but it's just as easy for me to simply play the parts shifted down two frets, unless the part absolutely requires the use of open strings.
     
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  13. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Do I play that high on a four string some? Yes. A lot? No. Would I miss those five frets? Occasionally. Could someone else in my band cover that range for me? Yeah, sure. Someone could cover the bass line entirely for that matter and they occasionally do when there is no bassist available. Most of the time when I am playing that high I am playing a fiver and so I can go above those five notes if I care to.

    But I am not the one you have to convince, I use an entirely different tuning which I am happy with but which isn't for everyone. Any time anyone talks about tuning BEAD here they get dumped on by those who swear up and down that they tried it and missed their G string too much. They are the same people who go to great lengths to insist that the Fender V was not the first fiver, because it only had 15 frets and was tuned starting on E. They want those extra five notes and a five string that doesn't give them is not a five string in their eyes. The whole point of the Fender V was to give you back those five notes that you lose on a 15 fret neck and give you them in a way you would actually use them. So Fender must have thought that people were using them but the sales figures for that model suggest that most were not. The Fender V is exactly what you get when you tune a four string Fender to BEAD and capo on the fifth fret except that you don't have the fifth string to give you those notes back. So there are indeed people here who hands to heart claim to use those notes.

    Are they lying? Are they deluding themselves? I couldn't say.

    Bass is a range and bass is a common shorthand for a fairly broad range of musical instruments along with a group of vocalists and bass is a fish.
     
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  14. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Yes and this topic, thread was about... not me. And that I used a capo. I was asking if there was anyone else who've tried it. Not someone that wouldn't even try, and has no interest in doing so. That I use a capo isn't what I was about, and I definitely don't want to force it upon someone else. I just wondered if there was anyone else out there, it must have, because I can't think that I am alone on this.
     
  15. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Well, ok, now that we have talked about this some I remembered that I have actually considered doing this but not quite for the reason or on the fret that you mention. I've pretty much (nothing is ever certain with me!) decided to go short scale. Early on I realized that I could downtune my long scale basses by a full step and capo on the second fret to do a soft conversion of them to short scale. Since then I have just gone out and bought a used SRC6 which I have converted to a five string which makes my SR605 surplus instead of a capo candidate. I don't have a deep emotional attachment to it so I could part with it easy enough. The same is not true of my Fender Reggie Hamilton Standard Jazz. I really love that bass and nothing that I could envision replacing it with would quite do the job. It is true that the new Fender Mustangs have the same pickup configuration and the two that I have had a chance to play do play quite nicely. I have just never liked the look of a Mustang however, and I honestly have tried.

    So maybe this is the answer to my dilemma. I now have a nice short scale "SRC5". It was my Squier VI which got me thinking seriously about short scale so I have that when I want a six -- or a "tremolo". I just very recently got a Squier 51 (which I think is a Stratocaster model, not sure) which I am going to convert to a sub-short scale, semi-1951-Precision-esque bass that will be tuned a little higher than traditional, F or G, haven't decided.

    But instead of selling the beloved Reggie perhaps I should go the capo route instead on that bass. I'd only lose two frets and if I really do need those higher notes I have the SRC. In reality it is the same situation I have between the Reggie and the SR605 right now. Mostly I play them alternately with the Squier coming out occasionally for grins, but when I really could make use of the extra range the SR gets the call.

    Ok, you've convinced me. I will keep the Reggie and capo! Thanks!!
     
  16. mbene085

    mbene085

    Feb 24, 2018
    Whoah, a 5-string 30" scale "SRC5" is exactly the bass I've been hoping they'd release. What bridge did you use to accomplish this? Would love to see that bass!
     
  17. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I used these from Amazon/JD Moon. They are a reasonably nice product but required more modification of the bass than I would have liked and they are too wide, unfortunately. I have a small Sherline milling machine so I was able to mill them down to get the string spacing I wanted, 13.5mm IIRC but that is a deal breaker for most DIY bass modders unless they can get access to a mill. In the end I am very pleased with the result, it is definitely a bass that Ibanez should make and I have told them that. Twice!

    Single string guitar bridges may work, if you can find some that will take bass gauge strings gracefully. The string spacing you need is just a bit below what any bass bridge that I could find can support.
     
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  18. mbene085

    mbene085

    Feb 24, 2018
    That's exactly the challenge I anticipated. I did the math on converting my Bass VI to 5-string and came out with just a hair over 13mm. Too narrow for any bass bridges I could find, and the strings are too meaty for your average guitar bridge.

    Because I couldn't find a short-scale 5-string with tight string spacing, I'm having one made :bassist:
     
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