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Can I Up-Tune?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by pkeeg, Sep 28, 2000.

  1. I play a Stingray 5 and the tuning has allways been standard or Down Tuned but next week I'm jamming with some guys who down tune to "C". Instead of making the strings so loose that they whip around grab my wrist and tear my arm off because the E is down 4 semi tones I thought I might take the strings up a semi tone instead ie of B E A D G to C F A# D# G#. Some might say leave the tuning standard because all bases are covered but for the big dumb rock **** I play there's alot of open strings played & getting back to C all the time will be too much.
    Any thoughts or ideas ie will the neck suffer? Also what do "you" do when the guitarist down tune? Thank you.

    [Edited by pkeeg on 09-28-2000 at 01:59 AM]
  2. I kind of like the schloppy sound of downtuned basses. An advantage to downtuning is you can bend the hell out of your strings. In standard tuning it's hard to bend a string even just 1 step in the lower strings. You can do cool superwide vibrato and stuff, too. <p>
    If you get a super light set of strings I think you can get away with tuning up. (temporary only) Not recommended, though. You'll have to do a hell of a setup to get it to work without buzzing and make it have an acceptable action. <p>
    If you really don't want to downtune I would try a Capo. I think one of those capos for wide-neck classical guitars would work on your stingray 5. Or you could make your own with some velcro and a piece of stiff rubber like for a windshield wiper refill or something.
  3. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I kind of like the idea of tuning up the 1/2 step. No, I don't think it'll break your bass unless you use really heavy strings to begin with.

    In my only experience with a band detuning to Eb, I was playing fretless to two acoustic guitars. My setup is really low and touchy, and the music was 80% originals, so I just learned and played everything in like Eb and Ab and Gb. I looked at it as a way to get back in touch with flat keys, and my tone never wavered.

  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i would say you are probably fine, as long as you don't use too heavy strings.

    so in other words, what eli said. :D

  5. MatW


    May 10, 2000
    UK, Swindon
    Well, call me 'Mr. Boring', but I stick to standard tuning only. I'm used to my set up now and I couldn't be doing with the inconsistencies of string tension, action, intonation, etc.

    I guess a semitone would be okay, but there are greater tensions on a bass right? Why not make the guitarist's go down to a 'B' and not a 'C'?
  6. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Yeah. YOU try telling a guitarist how to tune.

  7. I play with a guitarist who uses dropped-D tuning and also, a whole step below that with a low C.

    For the C-based songs I do one of two things. For most of them, I just tune my low B up to C and leave the rest in standard tuning (CEADG). That takes some getting used to, but no more than dropped-D tuning. Try it. For a couple of the songs, it just gets too difficult to deal with the odd interval so I tune the entire bass up a half step (CFA#D#G#). It works great. It can throw you off though so you really need to be conscious of the fact that you're tuned up.

    Either tuning works fine for me. It depends on the song which one I'll use. Other tunings besides standard BEADG I use are ADGCF and A#D#G#C#F#. This all baffles my guitarist of course, who has trouble figuring out why where he only uses three tunings, I use five. I told him to try a seven string and he might understand.

    The choice of tuning I use has everything to do with playability. If it makes more sense to use one over the other for a certain song, then I'll use it. Why kill yourself trying to play in standard tuning if the song wasn't written in it? Sure you could stay in standard tuning and just deal with it, but you don't have to.

    I should also mention that I do all these tuning changes on a Zon whose neck relief barely changes between a whole step down to a half up. On a bass with a wood neck, it is a different story.

    My only problem with this is that I'll need a few more basses, one for each tuning, on stage when I perform.

    [Edited by Brian Gordon on 10-23-2000 at 04:48 PM]
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    ...I've never understood the reasons or benefits of alternate tuning, other than for special effects such as drone strings or slide playing.

    My guitarist plays in a couple of alternate tunings and also uses a capo a lot for open voicings, but to me it's just another key.

    I can see the benefit of dropping to D if you play a 4 string, but thats why I mostly play 5's and 6's.
  9. Embellisher,
    When the guitarist is opened tuned to say C and playes a fast riff like C CC D# CC F#CF C D# C CC D# CF#CF CC D# it's a bitch to have to keep going back to a closed C and sounds crap compared to sounding an open one. This is only one example. It has to do with position and ease of playing.
  10. If the part is written for an instrument (in this case, a guitar) tuned CGCFAD while taking advantage of using open strings and using chords across the bottom strings, it can be a real bitch to play on a 5 string tuned BEADG. You're constantly forced to slide back to hit the low C and the fingerings of riffs get quite difficult. If you try the same thing in one of the alternate tunings I mentioned (CEADG or CFA#D#G#) suddenly the part is MUCH easier to play and you can concentrate on playing it well rather than on shifting all over the place just trying to hit the notes.

    That's why!

    Sure, you could learn to pull it off in standard tuning, but why do that when you don't have to? I've got a nice Korg tuner in my rack and it just takes a moment to retune. I plan on putting a hipshot detuner on my low B so I can kick it up to C in an instant if I need it. What I really need is a 5-string version of the bridge that Zon uses on the Hyperbass. Then I'd be in business!
  11. Get a 5 string and use a capo on the first fret. If you dont have a capo a wood pencil and a rubber will do in a pinch. The pencil go's across the neck and the rubberband around the back of the neck several times. If you are going to use open tunings a five string bass will help.
  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Try telling a guitarist that the bass is a viable instrument!!!

    Or, tell 'em as Jack Bruce once said, "The bass is a real instrument, where the guitar is a bastard instrument!!!" :D:D:D:D:D:D:D

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