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"De-Tuning" a bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tim Schnautz, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    Ok so it's not really uncommon in the big scheme to tune and make a 4 string BEAD. I've done it and have one set that way. I've never tuned one lower like ADGC but I'm sure it's been done. Anybody make a standard tuning lower than that? And if it works. Do you need an active or passive to get a decent result, and do you need a special guage of strings. would it be best to dxo this o a 34 or 35" scale?
    I hope thats not too many questions, but I'm just curious...
  2. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    In metal sludge lows are a trend of late.
    And the occasional use of Uber lows in other forms of music has usually been the realm of the keyboardist.
    People will always try and find a use for things that are extreme. Is it the norm or will it ever be.. I for one doubt it..
  3. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Nothing wrong with that tuning, I like that on a 5 string bass guitar :) It works on both a 34 inch and 35 inch scale length bass, but I'd recommend heavy string gauges. Get yourself a .145 for the low B, it works perfect :D
  4. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    will the .145 work for like a low A tuning...
    ERr... Im not an extremist, but I lke to experiment with things. ...
  5. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Knuckle Guitar Works - extraordinary instruments for extraordinary players
    Letting the bottom drop out...

    Detuning, drop tuning, or intentionally tonally dropping the fundamental notes an instrument plays, is a popular practice among contemporary and experimental musicians. Creatively, it is a wondrous expansion of the limits set by traditional thought and practice. Detuning does, however, have its drawbacks. It can in worst cases rob otherwise good sounding instruments of their tonal qualities.

    The first obvious affect detuning has is to lessen tension on the strings. One of the down sides to this practice is that upper transients are lost. This results in a more pronounced fundamental and a less articulate/bright overall sound. This is problematic as the vast majority of a perceived note is harmonic content and not merely the fundamental note. Additionally, sustained notes have a tendency to drop in pitch from the time they are struck or plucked until they resolve and fade. The duration of sustained notes is also compromised.

    If proper tension, sustain and pitch are desired there are two fundamental solutions; thicker string gauges or a longer scaled instrument.

    Alternate string gauges is by far the simplest and least expensive way to detune your instrument and maintain its proper playability. The lower the fundamental note is dropped below traditional tuning the thicker the string gauge should be. Something to be aware of, however, is that thicker strings reproduce fewer upper transients. They will be a tremendous improvement over detuned thinner strings, but the notes won't be as articulate as they could be. Additionally thicker strings also require a longer intonation depth and may not be able to be set up properly.

    Ultimately the best way to get superior tone from a detuned or drop tuned instrument is to use an extended scale length. Where guitars are concerned, baritone instruments are commercially available that will allow a natural detuning of as much as three half tones. There are a variety of scale lengths to choose from.

    Bassists have options as well though they aren't as plentiful. In general bassists must consider both increasing string gauges and making use of extended scale instruments to drop their fundamental a whole step or more.

    The longer the scale length of the instrument the thinner the strings can be, and the greater tonal range the strings will produce.

    Just because you can...

    The ability to reach F#, low E and beyond puts serious demands on most traditional equipment. The fundamental of the low E hovers at what is considered the threshold of human hearing.

    Fortunately a bass note is comprised of significantly more sound information than just its fundamental frequency - multiple octaves and intervals actually. And most interesting is that the fundamental is only one half (or less) as loud as the octave that lives above it in its normal tonal structure.

    This helps explain how musical instrument speaker cabinets have been able to reasonably do their jobs despite not being truly up to the task. There are very few speaker cabinets that can reproduce 40Hz yet we seem to be able to live with the amplified results. This is because most cabinets are capable of reproducing the octave above the fundamental quite well.

    That we perceive hearing 40Hz and below through speakers that are incapable of it can be attributed toPsychoacoustics, in much the same way that we infer low frequencies over telephones.

    So how does one reproduce these very low frequencies? The best way is to not rely on speakers - go direct. The limitations are then foisted onto recording consoles, house PA systems, or home/car playback equipment.

    For the sake of self-monitoring, rehearsing and performance the best way is to be certain your gear is capable of handling the octave above your lowest note. This seems like a simple solution but it's harder than it sounds. The vast majority of musical instrument speaker cabinets have a difficult time supporting the octave above low B, despite what manufacturer's specifications may indicate.

    If manufacturer's specs aren't to be trusted, then what? Well, if you like the sound that's coming out of your rig then don't sweat it. Just be careful at high volumes as you are flirting with the limitations of the drivers and asking a great deal of your speakers.

    If you want to know specifically what your rig is capable of then take your cabinet(s) to a shop that specializes in sound reinforcement repair to have diagnostics run. They can tell you what your speakers are giving you and you can decide for yourself what comes next.
  6. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I've read similar expressions before, and it blows my mind once again to read your cogent analysis. It's a brave world for purists and also for those who venture beyond standard scales, but for a working bassist the EADG is a full palette.
  7. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    the words are not mine they were lifted as being salient to the conversation. The author is the owner of Knuckle guitar works.. (also a member of Talkbass)
    @bholder another member is searching for proper amplification in this race to the bottom :)
  8. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Absolutely! I use it for a low A

    Tim Schnautz likes this.

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