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Downtuning Gibson SG bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by b-bottom, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. b-bottom


    Dec 18, 2006
    Knoxville TN
    I play in a pretty doomy band that tunes down to C# and sometimes drop B.
    Right now I have a MIA Fender P bass that is set up for C# standard and I'm thinking about picking up another bass and get it set up for B standard.
    I dig the Gibson Sg bass but I'm on the fence about picking it up because I am not sure how it will handle and sound in such a low tuning.
    My concern is that it will sound super muddy, mor so than the P bass.

  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Just curious what aspects of the SG bass attracted you to it?
  3. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    The strings will be loose like yarn and it will sound super muddy.
  4. b-bottom


    Dec 18, 2006
    Knoxville TN
    I dug the short scale and just the way that it plays. I like that you have to fight it a bit
  5. b-bottom


    Dec 18, 2006
    Knoxville TN
    If the bass is set up in that tuning the strings won't be floppy. This is what I had done to the P bass.
    However I'm more curious about the sound because I've never heard one of those basses tuned that low before
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    If you use thick strings I think youll be fine. It will be a really full tone without mids I imagine.
  7. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    I own a Gibson SG bass, and IMHO it probably would sound muddy being downtuned. My SG sounds muddy in standard tuning if my amp isn't tweaked really well. Just my opinion.
  8. b-bottom


    Dec 18, 2006
    Knoxville TN
    That's kind of what I was thinking would happen.
  9. DrSpunkwater


    Sep 17, 2012
    I keep my SG bass tuned to Eb and it sounds fine. If you use the BEAD from a 5-string set for B standard, I don't see why the bass wouldn't be able to handle it.
  10. b-bottom


    Dec 18, 2006
    Knoxville TN
    I'm sure that it would handle it. I'm just wondering if the overall sound would be even more muddy than the P bass
  11. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    I've drop tuned an Epiphone EB-0 to drop D before and it was pretty floppy. I don't think I'd do it again, but with the right setup it might work out.
  12. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I use a short-scale Gibson Flying V bass for some songs in Drop C. It is not in any way "muddy." It helps to have a heavier low string -- I use a set of LaBella's with a .110 thickest string. For anything lower than C I would probably get a 5-string set and toss the thinnest string.

    I will say that the bass is short on mids, which means it doesn't cut through the mix with two loud rock/metal guitars as well as my main Carvin bass. I imagine the SG would be similar. But if you're in a "doomy" band, you may appreciate the heavy low end -- I wouldn't recommend it as a primary bass for, say, a thrash band, but it might be right up your alley. A lot of this can be manipulated by EQ as well.
  13. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    I'm not sure what that means. I'm not much on set ups for down tuning, can you explain that to me?
  14. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    I'm not sure what the poster meant, as a setup can't change string tension (much, perceived tension maybe), but if you use a heavy enough string you can tune to sub-audible tunings and still not have floppy strings.

    I play short scales in Eb and find that I have to use at least a medium gauge string to be happy with the tension. If I tuned down any lower I'd consider using a BEAD set and tuning up slightly.

    With the tension sorted out, there's no reason that the bass would sound muddier in a lower tuning.
  15. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I have LaBella 760FM .049-.109 strings on my SG.
    They will do a drop D no problem
    I just tried a C# not to bad, B no way.
  16. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Drop C# on my P or J basses....a bit floppy but not a huge problem with heavy strings.

    The 2009 Gibson SG RI I used to own tuned to C#.... Farts. Seriously....down 3 semitones on a 30" bass just doesn't work for me. Tuning a BEAD set up may work but I never bothered.
  17. DrSpunkwater


    Sep 17, 2012
    By it's very nature, an SG bass is going to sound "darker" than a P-bass. Muddy? I don't know. I play my SG through an Ampeg, and the last thing I would call the tone is mud. It sounds very deep. If you already like the bass, everything should be fine and dandy.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
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    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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