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Detuning all strings 1/2 step and issues related

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lildrgn, May 8, 2005.

  1. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    My new band tunes everything down 1/2 a step. My old band had a gig recently and they tune standard. My MM Sterling had been up to the task. It was in its gig bag until last night. I detuned to practice some songs and found the action was VERY low, especially at the nut, 1st fret area on the D and G strings. So low that I thought the bass was already detuned. A quick check showed that it wasn't so I played on.

    After a bit, I realized that the action was a lot lower than it ever has been and thought about tweaking the trussrod. I searched around TB and found some good tips, but when I tried to turn it using an allenwrench, it wouldn't budge either way. Now, to clarify, I'm turning it perpendicular to the neck, using the wrench as a lever. I was afraid to use brute strength because it simply wouldn't move.

    Would detuning necessitate setup changes? I've been waffling back and forth between standard and -1/2 tuning the past few months. Wonder if it caught up to me...

  2. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    If your set up is real fast, high performance/high maintenance then yes, dropping everything a half can definatly send you back to the work bench.

    A normal action should be able to take a halfstep down without freaking out on you.

    Why the heck do people do that anyway? I did a quick pick up gig last Saturday with a guy who did that. I don't have perfect pitch by any stretch of the imagination but...it just makes everything sound a little wrong.
  3. Hey same here.
    I started in a new band and they all tune ½ down.

    Not mentioned any problems yet... :eyebrow:
  4. This little bit of goofiness started with some blues gu*t*r players who mostly used heavy strings for tone (think SRV) and found them difficult to bend......... so they tuned down to make the strings more pliable under their fingers. Now alot of gu*t*r dorks just think it's cool to tune down their 8's 'cause it sounds "darker" :rolleyes: Even though no one in the audience can tell the difference. IMHO most songs that have been recorded that way also sound fine in standard tuning. :cool:

  5. why is guitar gu*t*r??
  6. Because swearing is not allowed on TB and I didn't want to offend anyone with bad language. :D

  7. timinator


    May 8, 2005
    Wow...unless you're playing a Modulus or something that doesn't really move at all, you're going to have some headaches if you keep switching back and forth. I tried the half step down deal with my old blues band, but I had to keep tuning back up for one thing or another and my action was all over the place. Then I went for an audition, but forgot I was tuned down... Hmm, didn't get that gig. Try to find a way to stay with one tuning or the other and save money on asprin.

    Truss rod trouble: especially if it's sticky, turn in the loosen direction first. If it really needs a gorilla to move it (sounds like it does) get some WD-40 or Liquid Wrench into it. Yes, those truss rods/nuts can break.

    If you keep the bass tuned down, consider stringing one gauge heavier. Looser strings are floppier and less clear, so going a little heavier takes more tension to get the same note. You may find zero difference, but it's worth a try.
  8. naughtry


    Jan 31, 2004
    NYC / D.C.
    Eb standard or 1/2 step down seems the normal for most the rock bands I've played with lately. I was recently searching around for a new band and of the 10 or so I checked out almost everyone was Eb standard or Drop Db.

    SINGERS is the reason most bands do Eb standard and just a half-step down does make a big difference for them.
  9. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    My band tunes a full step down, I hate it. It was actually a battle to get them to tune D, one of the guitarists was insisting on C for a long time. Aside from making setup a b*tch it makes cab choices a nightmare (if you play a 5 string at least).
  10. Please make sure you loosen all the tension from the strings before trying to turn the truss adjuster, ESPECIALLY if you're tightening it. Seeing as the adjuster seems to be stuck, I'd take all the tension off the strings to loosen it as well.
    Once this is done, I'd try to loosen it a bit first (never try to tighten a stuck nut) because that's the direction you need to go anyway.

    You might be surprised at how much just a little (more or less) string tension will affect the neck relief. This is in addition to how temperature and humidity affects it.

  11. Truss rod might be stuck? I had this problem with my Euro Lx, and the tech just used a bit of brute strength to make it work. Plays like a beast now.
  12. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I play bass and am one of three singers in a band that plays a lot of classic rock, country, a little blues, some old ballads and even square dances (we play some dances and wedding receptions).

    Tuning down a half step makes singing a lot easier over the course of a four-hour gig.

    Bass wise, I wish I didn't have to do it - strings feel a bit loose - but I'll gladly make the trade off.

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