BbFCG Tuning On My Epiphone Viola Bass

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Lucky Eastwood, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone! I have my Epiphone Viola bass sitting around with my other basses and I’m wanting to do something different with this one. As it has a viola shape I though of tuning this baby like a 16th - 17th century bass violin (essentially a whole step down to the modern cello to accomodate the scale of the bass). I’m planning on getting roundwound strings.

    I’m trying to figure out what would be the ideal gauges of string to get for the BbFCG tuning.

    (I mislabeled the tuning as B#CGD in the earlier version of this post).
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  2. "B#CGD"? B# = C, so that would make it CCGD. Is that what you're talking about? I'm confused...
    Eric ER likes this.
  3. Eric ER

    Eric ER

    Mar 22, 2015
    Seattle, wa
    Previous: Dusty Strings harp/dulcimer building
    Isn’t cello is tuned cgda?

    B# is C, so I’m still confused by what you want to do (CCGD?)

    If you want to go down to low C and up to an A like a cello, I would just find a 5 string set that you like and see what works since you could easily tune a B up to C, an A down to G, and the g up to an A on a viola bass.

    Hopefully, that helps.
  4. Yeah sorry, I had a brainfart when typing. I meant to say BbFCG as a whole step down to CGDA
    michael_t likes this.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    At one point I had a short scale bass tuned similarly to what you're planning on. It might have ended up a half step plus or minus, I can't remember. I believe I used an .080 for the low string and an unwound .015 for the high string. The others split the difference pretty equally.
    SamOfzo likes this.
  6. Eric ER

    Eric ER

    Mar 22, 2015
    Seattle, wa
    Previous: Dusty Strings harp/dulcimer building
    Well, if you want it lower than the bass, still use a 5 string set, otherwise, I would use a low a string for the Bb and a G for the F, you can easily pick up a high C string, and then maybe try the .015 that was mentioned. If you have guitar strings lying around, I would look to see if any of the Ds or Gs are long enough to test out.
  7. Eric ER

    Eric ER

    Mar 22, 2015
    Seattle, wa
    Previous: Dusty Strings harp/dulcimer building
    Oh, .015. If that’s the case, look at B strings from a guitar.

    Ideally, maybe you could find a wound G for guitar that might sound and feel a little better. You can definitely get some that are around.022.

    I would get it to work cheaply if possible to even see if you like it enough to buy more expensive (and likely more consistent sounding strings). I have done things like this in the past, and it never stuck too long though it was good for writing some things that were probably different than if I had just picked up a guitar.
  8. I have been thinking of ordering custom bass strings from Stringjoy, though it looks like the length for those are intended for standard scale basses. I guess I could unwind the thicker strings so I can fit the ends in the tuning posts.
  9. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    So the C will be the top C of a 6 string set it seems. Start with choosing that C gauge for the tension you like, then work outwards using the rule:
    2 strings a fifth apart at equal tension will have gauges in ratio 3:2.

    Over many years i have tuned to almost every fifths tuning possible, for cello CGDA (G being a standard bass G) i have used .065 .040 .025 .015p. For your tuning .070 .045 .028 .016p might be good if you want a fairly standard bass tension.

    Since you have a 2+2 headstock a (cheap) plain steel guitar string will be long enough for the top string, just thread a detached bass ferrule onto it to convert it into a bass string.
    No wound string will be able to tune to that top G, it will have to be plain steel.

    These gauges are so small i expect you can use 34" scale strings with no problem.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  10. Thank you for the tip, ixlramp!

    What’s great is that if I want to have the bass in cello CGDA tuning, I can capo the 2nd fret and play it as a cello guitar.

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