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Do any of you use a different tuning than your guitarists?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Squidfinger, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I've been talking to this guitarist at my school who is in a metal band that is looking for a bass player. He wants me to audition and gave me a CD with 3 of their songs on it. I didn't discuss a timeframe with him but I'm ass-uming I have a week, maybe two, to learn the songs. Thing is they play in C# while I've been hardwired to standard for years now (I play metal as well but view downtuning as unnecessary). The other big problem is I currently only own one bass, a Skyline Glaub w/ TI jazz flats. As some of you can probably guess the TI's aren't the best strings for downtuning. I tried it and it was buzz city (I also had terrible visions of my neck warping). I'm just gonna have to learn to play the songs in standard. :help:

    I would like to know if any of you play in a different tuning from your guitarist, why you do it, and how has it worked out for you.

    Appreciate the help guys!
  2. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    ahhh, you will want to tune down if they are a heavier band...

    the band I was in before my current one played in Drop D, I got away with playing in standard but there were still a couple songs where they played open strings a lot and when I went down with them and drop D'ed my bass, the low end sounded sooo good.

    1.) invest in a beater / project bass use that for this band (if $ is an issue)
    2.) buy a second bass (if $ not an issue)
    3.) tune down your current bass and give it a setup to handle it. (if no $ hehe)

    I have found it better to invest in a couple basses... It is a pain when your best bass is used for some wierd tuning JUST for your band but you cant help it because it is soo nice...

    I currently have 4 basses: one in CGCF / one in EADG
    one in: BEADG and one in ADGCF

    I get all my musical needs out of these setups
  3. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    You could just toss some money into an Essex and put some decent high gauge strings on it. That way, should it actually become necessary, you have a backup bass as well for what you're doing.

    To be honest, I don't think I could handle changing anything about your setup if I were in your position. I've played a couple Laklands and I used TI Flats for more than a year. I couldn't even begin to comprehend how good that would sound. Don't change it.
  4. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    If it works out, just pick up a cheap 5 string and your problem is solved. An SX would probably do the trick for now. ;)
  5. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    One neck on my bass is tuned CGDA. I've used it without problems when playing with guitarists in standard tuning and in drop C tuning. The only trouble with the latter was that they kept referring to C as E or sometimes D, depending what string they were on... a little confusing.

    I've played DB in standard tuning with guitarists using various open and Celtic tunings but that's of no relevance to you. A little closer to your situation, I've also played DB in standard tuning on songs with electric mandocello (also tuned CGDA, though an octave above my bass). That worked but I was playing only arco (with the bow).

    You will want to tune down so you can spend lots of time in your lowest register and the band can sound heavy. However, for audition purposes std. tuning might be OK, especially if they don't have a lot of other bassists they're auditioning.
  6. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    My band's guitarists use C G C F A D, I use B E A D G which keeps my fretting hand in shape as I can't use any open strings in any song. It's perfectly doable as we don't play ridiculously fast riffs.
  7. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    A lot of bands nowadays use drop tuning, but when I jam to their stuff at home for fun, I just have the whole bass tuned to that tuning...it keeps the same fingerings as standard tuning.
  8. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    Yeah, it does sound pretty awesome.:p

    Good news though, I talked to the guy and he said they have an old Ibanez beater bass that I can probably borrow for a while. I still don't know though. I kind of like the challenge of not being in the same tuning as them (and I like the presence standard tuning has). I'll play around with it more today to see how it works out.
  9. If they are tuned down, your basslines won't be as heavy if you have to higher to match the key. Playing tuned down gives you another dimension as a musician. Don't "not" try something new because it challenges your comfort zone!

    That said, my band tunes down a half step but I play a five string - primarily for that purpose. Honestly, I can't understand why anyone would mess with tuning up, down, up, down when they could get a fiver and not worry about it. But if you are using four, I would tune down and get comfortable with it!:cool:
  10. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA

    Yeah, you're probably right. But first I'm gonna experiment with thickening up my tone by using some chorus. Have to see how that works out.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I play only fretless fours, so this can be a real issue for me. I've spent 30 years learning to expect certain pitches at certain positions, but I can manage with Eb tuning if I absolutely have to. I have only one recurring band situation that requires that, and I've actually tried to bail a few times, but somehow the gig keeps coming back to me.

    My main fretless has TI flats with extremely low action as well, so that one is out for downtuning. Going to C# would be out of the question with this setup. My #2 has heavier strings and an aluminum neck, so it's no biggie tuning to Eb except for the familiarity factor. MY EUB is the toughest challenge, and I've gone back and forth on that one. Switching tunings on EUB seems to mess with my reading too much when I go back to my jazz band, so I've pretty much decided to stop doing it. I'm about to build a 5 string EUB just to leave more options open.

    Anyhow, we rarely play in E (Eb for me, E for the guitar), so I don't have much trouble coping if I stay in standard tuning. I just re-write all the cheat sheets or transpose on the fly, and pretend I'm in my jazz band playing mostly flat keys. If I were looking to do metal, I'd just get another bass and go with the flow, I think.
  12. Just another side note.

    I play a BEADG fiver in a trib band where more than half of the songs are rooted in Eb and the guitarists tune down a half step. One other reason I do it this way is because I prefer to fret for all but accent notes. For me personally, it gives me more control over my tone and timing.

    If I were using a downtuned four, I would have no choice but to play the low E open. To me, that B string just adds a lot of options and reduces adjustments to time, transposing etc.
  13. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001

    Have you considered stringing your friends "beater bass" with heavier strings for BEAD tuning?
  14. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    That's a great idea! :hyper:

    I'm even already used to that because that's how I had my bass tuned before I converted it back to E. I still have the same set of D'addario chromes. Should work as long the tuners are 4 inline.

    I don't know if he'll let me do it though.
  15. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    i play in two bands...original rock, and a blues trio thingy.
    the rock band's in standard tuning, but the blues geet player tunes down a whole step, but i stay in standard (beadg).
    works for me, and i am used to translating his hands.
    i do understand that a whole step's easier than a half or step-anna-half, though.
  16. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I used to play in a tuned down band patterned after Korn and Sepultura. I tuned down with the rest of the band. Luckily one of the guitar magazines, Guitar World, I think, had an interview with Korn, even Fieldy and they told how they did it. The one piece of advice that helped us most was to buy the heaviest guage strings we could find.

    I had to alter my bass a little. The really thick B-string would jump out of the groove at the nut, so I had to widen and deepen that groove. (Now that I think about it, what a terrible thing to do to a thousand plus dollar Tobias!) Also, the B-string would break at the bridge.

    The sound still wasn't right, though. I guess it was the Bartollini pick ups. So I had an $800 Ibanez four-string, that sounded the best because the pick ups cut through the mud of the down tuning and the B-string. So I used that most of the time. It turned out to be best for recording also.

    For me, it was just easier to tune the same as the band. Also, as the lead guitarist was a talented player but who did not even know the names of the notes at the frets and would have to say, "fifth fret, E-string" etc. Even when we tuned down he still called it the E-string. We communicated better with all of us on the same page, so to speak.

    It's a bother to tune down, I admit. I don't think playing in standard and using chorus would yield the same result. I'm not saying it would be a bad result, but it wouldn't sound like Korndid then. Maybe your band doesn't want to sound like Korn, though. Try it your way and see if they like it.
  17. I just make sure I can play the lowest note the guitarists play.
    I'm working with a band now that drops to C. Their problem is: they somtimes tune to C, sometimes tune to D and drop the top string to C. Anyway, I just learn the songs tuned to CFGbEb so that I don't have to change tunings and fingerings all the time.
    I use a 4-stringer with Schecter Scorpion strings that normally tune BEAD. It takes a little work to get them to fit, but sounds much better than detuning standard guage strings.
  18. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    You mean an octave below that, no?
  19. Yes. The lowest possible note.
  20. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Guitarist in my band played a baritone in dropped B. I played along for a few years with my 7 string, but when I sold that, I only had my fretless 4 left. Just recorded an album in standard tuning - it works. I mean, I guess if your guitarist was doing those riffs that hit the low open power chord of whatever tuning they're in every other note, it wouldn't work so hot, but I really like trying to still "make it heavy" without just doubling the guitar riff, note for note. Sometimes playing a fifth below works.

    I say, keep your bass and your style, at least at first. It will be obvious if you need to change, but maybe your style will bring something new to the group.