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Cello tuning on a short-scale bass.

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Swicked, Mar 17, 2013.


  1. If it's a 32" bass, what gauge strings would I need to get to avoid playing with metal spaghetti!
     
  2. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    Easy to tune in 5th's...

    A couple of things you need to know about your specific instrument to maximize your options...

    #1 - String length from Ball End to the Tuning Post of the THICKEST string. This will help you determine if you can tune down to C without any problems.

    Once you have that info you are golden...
     
  3. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    These are the gauges I have used on my four 34 inch basses:

    C 0.126 - 0.145
    G 0.084 - 0.095
    D 0.055 - 0.062
    A 0.035 - 0.040
    E 0.028

    The 0.145 C string may be overkill and I don't see it listed as available on the Bass Strings Online web site anymore (it is a GHS Boomer) anyway. The strings I have used have been GHS Precisions Flats, Pressure Wound Flats, Boomers and one TI 0.136 flatwound C string. At 32 inches you would want to use the heavier gauges above except maybe for the C string. Of course those strings are for tuning an octave below a cello, if you want to actually tune in the cello's octave you will have to go considerably lighter. I assume you have a four string but for the next medium scale guy who may have a fiver, the 0.028 E string I use on my fiver is pretty heavy for that pitch. I would use 0.020-0.025 if I could get them in the Pressure Wounds I use on the fiver but at 32 inches 0.028 would be a better choice than it is at 34 inches.

    From time to time I see a medium scale bass that appeals to me, the Squier VM Telecasters for instance. One reason I don't buy one is that having told you what gauges I use, I have no idea where you are going to get them in medium scale. If anyone can help you with that SLaPiNFuNK can though!!

    Ken
     
  4. matante

    matante

    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    You probably know this but just to be certain: If you want your bass to play the same notes as a cello you'll be tuning up, not down.
     
  5. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    khutch - Actually the .145 C string is not overkill on the shorter scale instrument. Since the shorter scale has a lower tension the numbers come out like this...

    According to D'Addario XL Nickel Tensions:

    34" Scale .145 at C = 46.4757 lbs
    32" Scale .145 at C = 41.1688 lbs

    So regardless of the octave, if doing "Cello Tuning" you almost want higher gauged strings on a shorter scale instrument if you want to experience similar "tension" as you have on a longer scale instrument.
     
  6. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    You may be right, it is overkill at 34 inches in the sense that nothing magic happened when I went from 0.128 to 0.145. I'd have thought the tension increase would be more apparent than it is. You might get by with something a little lighter than 0.145 at 32 inches. On the other hand I did not have any trouble putting a 0.145 on the bass so there is no real reason to avoid it.

    Ken
     
  7. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    It is really a matter of taste and how much modification one wants to make for a couple pounds of tension added.

    I have some customers who ask for cello tuning but want the lowest note to be E. And be tuned E B F# C# basically just fifths rather than fourths. Either way is no problem for any scale... Less modification for E of course
     
  8. mccartneyman

    mccartneyman

    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    Forgive my lack of experience, but what advantage does turning in fifths offer over tuning in fourths?
     
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I do cello tuning (sometimes, not all the time) for 2 reasons:

    1. Expands the range of the instrument by 6 notes (4 low and 2 high notes)
    2. I can play cello music (such as the Bach suites) with as-written open strings, chords, fingerings, etc.

    I also know player who choose CGDA sometimes because:

    3. They play solo bass, and 5ths tuning gives an interesting palette of chords/harmonics compared with 4ths tuning.

    I don't personally switch strings when I change from EADG to CGDA tuning; YMMV.
     
  10. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I made the switch full time but I agree with your reasons. I like getting the range of a five string from four strings although ultimately I got a five string anyway because it is nice to get the range of a six, almost seven, from five strings. If you want to chord a fifths tuned bass look up Mandolin chords, they are tuned in fifths too. Chording is really what prompted me to get a fiver again. I had one four tuned GDAE because the higher voice was nice for chording but I missed the C string too much on a lot of songs and a five gives me both.

    I tried retuning a set of EADG strings at first while I was waiting for a proper set of CGDA strings to arrive from BSO. I found the C string too floppy but tastes and E string gauges vary so if it works for you, great. One could certainly pick compromise gauges between the two tunings but I never switch so I haven't done that. On my very first attempt at trying fifths tuning I decided to drop/raise the inner two strings by half a step and the outer two by a step and a half. That worked great except that the G string snapped somewhere between A and A#. Depending on the strings a G string tuned to A could be near its breaking point.

    Ken
     
  11. Meddle

    Meddle

    Jul 27, 2009
    Scotland
    A wider range of notes without moving positions on the neck. I find blues progressions become impossible (you have to work back down the neck, then jump up, then back down), but other intervals become easy. Chording and unusual voicings jump out as well.
     
  12. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    #1 reason...

    A reason for a bass player to not want to use your bass at a jam session!
     
  13. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    "Your bass was way out of tune, so I tried to fix it for you... sorry I snapped your E string. :("
     
  14. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Even better: the look on the guitarist's face when he gets lost and tries to follow your fingers! :ninja:

    Ken
     
  15. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    That is the most fun!
     

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