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Confused about tuning

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Ishkaga, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Ishkaga


    Jan 19, 2014
    Hi all, this is my first time posting on these forums. I've got a question that's been bothering me for a while now.

    So I own two basses, an ESP AX-104 and an Ibanez SR-105, I got the ESP when I started playing bass about 3 years ago. When I first got it, I tuned it down occasionally and would then eventually tune it back up to standard, which both my basses are pretty much always in now. After a while, I started getting really bad fret buzz so I took it in to the shop and a tech told me that I can't tune down a bass without adjusting the truss rod. Another person has told me I just can't tune down a bass then tune in back up as it will warp the neck. And still others have told me it makes no difference at all.

    Since I got my Ibanez a year ago I haven't touched my ESP much, but I've been wanting to tune it down to C so I have a reason to play it instead of always using my 5-stringer. I am completely confused as to whether or not I have to adjust the neck to tune it down and I was hoping somebody could help. I unfortunately still don't know much about the maintenance of my basses, just the playing, so I'm worried that by screwing with the truss rod I might damage the neck. Unfortunately at the shop I got it, it costs $80 for a neck adjustment (which the tech said I need to tune down) and I can't really afford that. I've also been told the strings matter too when tuning down, I use Blue Steels on both my basses, I'm not sure what they are for the ESP, but on the Ibanez they are 45-128, and they're probably about the same, minus the fifth string, for my ESP.

    I apologize for the long paragraphs but I felt I needed to provide details. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
  2. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    First of all, tuning down may cause buzz because your neck will have less relief (bow) if it has been set for standard tuning.

    Second, if you adjust neck for down tuning and tune back up to standard you'll have more relief. This can cause intonation to be off because you have to stretch the string farther to fret it and you may be sharp.

    If you set up the bass so you have a bit of buzz downtuned, you may get decent intonation when you tune back up. It is a balancing act.

    Thirdly, the idjit that said you'll warp your neck is full of it or has no clue what he's talking about. Never listen to anything he says to you again no matter what the subject unless he has proven expertise in the subject.

    $80 for a setup is ok, you wouldn't want to pay more and you might find it for less. Best to read the Jerzy Drozd guide on the stickies at the top of this forum and learn to do it yourself. It is easy.
  3. Ishkaga


    Jan 19, 2014
    Well I intend to keep my ESP in C if I tune it down, I'm just worried I'll screw my neck up by tuning it down. So if I do tune down, do I want to adjust the neck beforehand, or afterwards if I get fret buzz?
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    After you tune down run through the setup routine.

    Tune down.

    Check relief. Adjust

    Check action. Adjust

    Check intonation. Adjust.

    C is quite low so you'll be using fatter strings likely?

    Ah yes .128 you said.
  5. Ishkaga


    Jan 19, 2014
    What gauge should I be using for C?
  6. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    First of all, tuning down your E to C is not really a good idea. Tuning down more than a full step to D or even C# maybe, but C will cause that string to flop around too much and sound muddy. I agree that any tech that tells you tuning down & up will warp your neck is an idiot. Sounds like a good solution is getting a 5-string bass, so you won't have to keep doing that all the time. $80 for a setup is a bit high, unless your talking about dressing the frets, which sounds unnecessary.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Uh, he has a five string bass. He want his four down there too. He is also using a .128 E. He should be ok with that.
  8. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    Tell that to Dug Pinnick of Kings X or Robbie Merrill from Godsmack. They both use 105 gauge E strings all the way down to C at times.
  9. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I've got an MIM J that was set up for alternate tunings with a set of heavier than standard strings (.115 E) and a little work on the nut for the larger string set. When I got it had a little buzz in it when tuned to standard so I did a setup on it to include new strings of the same size that were on it when I got it and it plays fine now when tuned to standard. I was surprised at how much more low end it gave the little MIM J. Not tons more, but definitely enough to notice. I got to try alt tunings but it was a classic case of old dog and new tricks so I gave up on it pretty quick, but because of it's unique sound I'm keeping it for a while to see if it grows on me.
  10. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    Warping your neck? No. Fret buzz? Possible. Because when you tube down, you take tension off the neck and it will adjust accordingly, i.e., bowing back. This will put the frets closer to the strings and can put them in a weird position. If you set it up to stay in C and make sure the neck is adjusted properly, you'll be fine. Honestly, I go between standard and C on my bass and it works out fairly well, but as someone else said, it's a balancing act.