Band tunes in drop C, I have a six-string - what do I do?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Stealth, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Here's the deal, gentlemen, a newly formed metal band that was created from the remnants of the old prog band we were in now has two guitarists instead of one, and they both opted for drop C tuning for the sake of heaviness and whatnot. Normally I'd use my headless (which I know can handle the low tuning well) and tune it to CGCF, but it has a truss rod malfunction and needs fixing at the local luthier's.

    As an alternative I figured I'd just get my six-string to work, but the fact it's in BEADGC worries me a bit. I know the reasoning behind their tuning (easy power chords, heavier sound), but if I follow the drop-tuning scheme, that doesn't leave me with any open strings to work with, and I'm used to the bass being tuned in fourths. On the other hand, I'm wary of up-tuning because I know it can mess up the neck worse than down-tuning.

    So, the options I know I guess I can work with are:
    • Remain in BEADGC and just deal with the lack of open strings
    • Up-tune to something that's complementary to their tuning (CGCFBE - yipe!)
    • Down-tune to something that's complementary to their tuning (ADGCFBb?)
    • Alter-tune and use a partial or full capo (tested it and it works as the neck is very thin)
    • Something else

    Xentonum likes this.
  2. Jodaka


    Jun 28, 2001
    Riverview, FL
    How long are you planning on being w/o your headless? If acquiring a new/used bass in the meantime is not an option, remain in BEADGC and just deal with the lack of open strings...
  3. fenderphil


    Sep 1, 2006
    Houston, TX
    •Down-tune to something that's complementary to their tuning (ADGCFBb?)
  4. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Up tuning will not harm your neck as long as you keep the string tensions where they are now. Circle K and D'Addario have tension charts that will let you estimate where you are now, just use the strings they make that most closely match what you use. Circle K and BassStringsOnline will both sell you custom sets so if you design yourself a new set they can make it up for you. If you want to run in drop C and keep the rest of the strings tuned a fourth apart it would be C-G-C-F-Bb-Eb. There is no reason you can't do that safely.

  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Tune your B up to C and just one string it...
    gebass6 likes this.
  6. Oneirogenic


    Nov 10, 2009
    GCGCFBb could also be a viable tuning option but you would likely want thicker B and E strings if not the whole set thicker.
  7. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    Convert them to drop B for the "sake of heaviness", their string sets are cheaper.
    collins81 likes this.
  8. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I don't get the "lack of open string" ... you can play in different keys even if you are tuned in C ... :eyebrow: because if you play a song in C and you are tuned in standart ... all your open string are valid ...

    Learn to not follow the guitar :bassist: is my advise.
    gebass6 likes this.
  9. Warfender


    Oct 25, 2009
    +1 or just ask them to only detune to b until you get your bass back.
  10. kr0n


    Feb 4, 2009
    When the gui****s keep hammering the open C as the root "chord" in every damn song, you get tired of pressing that C all the time. Oh and they always play in minor too.
  11. Tune to A standard or drop A.
  12. Depends on the Genre, if its a riff based metal band who have a lot of intricate riffs involving jumping from open C to other notes quickly then playing in standard becomes a right pain in the arse!

    If it was me I would probably stay in standard fourth tuning but drop all strings down 2 steps so that the E string on your 6 string becomes a C string. You'd probably need thicker guage strings and to have your bass re-set up though!
  13. odin70


    Dec 26, 2007
    Get a four string for that band and tune it to C G C F
  14. LouieV2


    Jan 9, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Ive done the whole metalcore/hardcore drop c/drop A# thing. Had a six string when I started out in that scene, let me tell you right away why it wont work well for many reasons.

    1. The tuning issue. It gets pretty annoying not having the ease of being able to pound on the low C like you would want to.

    2. I dont know how much you move around, but when youre trying to be very precise as to hit the c rather than the lower string on your 6, moving around is harder than if you just had a 4 tuned down to C and you didnt have to think about it. It may sound ridiculous but I promise you its true.

    3. Once again, if you move around, which is common in the type of music, the weight of a six string might be an issue. whether or not its a big one depends on you. I sure notice a big difference in the way I feel after a show depending on whether I use heavier or lighter basses... But then again its because I jump a lot and whatnot and the weight of the bass is constantly coming down hard on my shoulder due to that. I dont know what your situation is regarding that.

    4. You probably wont ever use the highest string or the lowest string. generally for drop tuned metal (unless you're playing tech death or something) you are either keeping a groove or following the guitar. once again, I dont know if thats your case but just sharing my $.02.

    I would just get a 4 string. It will make life easier. The fact that theres an issue with how you want to tune the bass in the first place would be enough for me to either get the other bass fixed ASAP or get a cheapie 4 for now. Maybe for now you are still liking the 6 for this but it really got on my nerves quickly.

    Its funny, a friend of mine gave me the exact same advice when I was getting a 6 string and playing heavier drop tuned music a while back. it was something along the lines of "if you dont need it, its just going to get in the way. The weight, extra strings, the wide neck.." Blahblahblah is all I heard and obv I didnt listen, but ended up wishing I had just gone with a nice 4 like he had told me, haha. Hope it works out for you. Good luck!!
  15. JamesGoodall

    JamesGoodall Guest

    Aug 29, 2011
    I know your feel. My first band tuned in drop C for A while, and I just followed suit. It was an up-tune on all my strings, which helped the floppy B, and the tension on the higher 5 didnt bother me.

    Then they went to drop A#, which was still pretty easy, and not super hard on your strings, I dealt.

    My NEW band, however, played in drop a for the last 4 months, so I bought a drop-tuned set from circle k, and they felt amazing, and only a little bit more expensive than othe brands (plus thick enough to handle the A), but now they're in drop G, which has me a little lighter feeling than I'd like, and the floppiness just doesnt soun good compared to how tight my A was, but my advice:

    Deal with it. Buy a new heavier set (I recommend circle k because they have strings for anything, specifically the weird tunings) or just talk with them about going to drop A for the sake of "heaviness" because remember, the four half-steps down from C to A, or six from D make it SO much lower ;) (i always tease my guitarists saying that)

    And pay no mind to NachosNDip saying a six isnt good for metal. You can move around just as easy as with a four or five, and if your music has any 'hard' parts, you'll fund it easier to raise your strap. This also keeps it from bouncing on your shoulder and killing you the next day (I play a warwick 'vette 6er, i know what weight feels like)

    and try to utilize the all six strings in atleast one song, just to hush the haters ;) I hate having to, but its how it is
  16. spector_boogie

    spector_boogie No Limit Honky Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2012
    The Woodlands, TX
    if you tuned to drop C (i/we do this), you have plenty of "open" strings to work with?
    "transcribing" downtuned stuff like that only works if you're playing slow stuff or don't have any hammer ons/offs and need the same detuned strings across the board and it's too much trouble than it's worth.
  17. LouieV2


    Jan 9, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Just giving my personal opinion based on my experience with sixers.. no need to shut me down like that!

    I guess in the end it just comes down to what works for you.
  18. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    You don't need to keep hammering the low C on a B string you know some creativity is good and to me it just kills the effect of a well put very low note that add contrast if you constantly hammering low note.
  19. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    When I was in that situation I tuned C-E-A-D-G (5-string; with a 6 string the top C is even better!)

    It was slightly confusing for the first practice due to the asymmetrical tuning, but sounded great and was easy to switch back to normal for other musical projects (change 1 string 1/2 step).
    gebass6 likes this.
  20. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    even then you have to play a riff involving low C and higher note played on the B or E string you can use tapping if you really need to play low C, some creativity can ben good even in a situation like that
    you don't need to always follow the guitar. Or you can play it in the higher register and reserve the low C for a more dramatic effect.
    Or instead of hammering low C and play some notes on the E string ( this is what you talk about in your riff I think ) well why not do chords ? or only play the accentuated higher note and leave the low C and then on the repeat you only play the low C and with the drum it could do a syncopated feel that would be refreashing while the guitar conitnue to play the riff like it should be or something like that.
    gebass6 likes this.