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detuning a five string by a whole step

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Thunderbird90DB, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Thunderbird90DB


    Dec 29, 2008
    hey all, sorry to be at the downtuning a five string thing again! but im just wondering, ive seen a few posts about tuning all strings a full step down, and im just wondering how to keep the low B in clarity, ive tried to tune it down to A but its sounds so awful. any hints?
  2. D Rokk

    D Rokk Banned

    Feb 19, 2009
    Delta Quadrant
    i've never had a problem, there is some metallica stuff out there with a low A (no leaf clover is one of them) and nikki sixx uses a low A in his band Brides of Destruction..

    that doesnt help at all just saying
  3. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Use a heavier guage of string maybe? With less tension when downtuned, the heavier string won't flop quite as much as a string with a lighter guage. It's tone, however, is highly subjective, so you'd still have to try it to see if it's an improvement. What is your bass' scale length?
  4. Does take higher quality strings.. something that vibrates balanced.
  5. Double Agent

    Double Agent Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    What kind of strings are you using? Using strings with a hex core (DR Lo-Riders, D'addario XL) will give you better tension than strings with a round core (DR Hi-Beams, Ernie Ball Slinkys). Make sure you are also using a thick enough gauge. I use .130 and tune my 5er down to A#.

    Also, make sure your saddles are set high enough. You probably need to raise them a little higher for tuning to A than tuning to B.

    If none of those options do the trick for you, you might consider a 5er with a 35" scale. Schecter, Lakland, Spector, and ESP all make affordable 5ers that are 35" scale and it really helps tighten up the low end. No big deal IMO at standard tuning, but when you start drop-tuning I've found that the extra inch of scale length starts to make a big difference.
  6. jarrod cunningham

    jarrod cunningham

    Apr 24, 2007
    sylacauga alabama
    spector basses
    works best on 35 scale basses with large gauge strings and high string set up ... or higher than i like ...
  7. Doodaddy


    Jan 11, 2005
    West Monroe, LA
    When I've down tuned like this, I've noticed the muddiness I receive from it is more cab/tuning related. When I go down that low, I really have to cut the lows because the cab simply cannot produce such a low note well. I'm not saying this is applicable to all cabs, but look into adjusting your settings and what you're using.
  8. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    It's a big fat instrument thingy IMO. I've tried to downtune my tribute 5'er and my Ibanez 6'er and neither could handle it. Tried heavy gauge strings (a lot of them), different setups, different amps, even direct. Nada! Mudville; zero clarity. Granted, they both were 34" so I'm guessing a 35" would do better. I do believe it's an instrument quality thing. I could be wrong.
  9. EB Power slinkies are the only strings I've found that sound good on my 34" scale basses, but they DO sound good!
  10. Thunderbird90DB


    Dec 29, 2008
    Thanks again guys! :) I honestly would be so lost without your help!
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I found the same thing ... anything below a low B flat becomes hard to hear ... to do that you may need a 35" scale bass and a .135 B string.
  12. xikbastard


    May 7, 2007
    i dowtune to A and the rest is on drop C on my wick which is 34", got issues with clarity but i cut the bass by a fair bit and boost the mid and high to balance out the tone and got a compressor to help balance things up.

    i've used DR black beautiess 130. set.
  13. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Tapered .135, .140 or .145 - IMO
  14. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    I'm satisfied with .135 and my 34" scale bass. I've tried it on other basses with mixed success. It has taken a lot of trial and error to find the right amp and cabs. I'm a short scale person, so extra long scale basses are not feasible for me.
  15. jruberto


    Dec 23, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Staff Producer / Audio Engineer: Blue Tower Studio, Denver, CO & Mighty Fine Productions, Denver, CO
    taper core. 35". play it pretty gently. it really helps if the rest of the band is playing that chord; played by itself, low A can sound more like rumble than pitch, but if it's supporting an ensemble it can sound godlike.
  16. Ska


    Nov 20, 2007
    Agreed - it will take some getting used to, but you'll get better clarity and less buzz if you jack the saddles up a bit from where they were before. Shoot, anytime I downtune something (and it happens a LOT), that's the first thing to do - bust out the allen wrench and fine-tune it.

    Of course, the 35'' would be best, but saddle adjustments can be a band-aid fix for now. ;)
  17. I have one tuned down to A, but it is 35-inch scale. No clarity issues. I have a 34-inch 5-string that is tuned down a 1/2 step; any lower and the growl would turn into an 'oomph.' Not good.
    So, I'm thinking scale length may determine how far you want to tune down.

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