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Downtuning low B on a 34" scale 5 stringer

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by El Raro, May 17, 2011.

  1. I've heard people constantly badger on about how 34" and 35" scales on 5 stringers ultimately come down to personal preference...but what about if downtuning the guitar? Theoretically, downtuning the low B string on a 34" scale neck would leave a much floppier string than if done so on a 35" scale neck, right? Please do prove me wrong if need be...

    Basically, I want to downtune the low B string to F# to complement my guitarists. I just want to be sure that I can do that on the SR505 without resulting in a floppy and muddy-sounding low B string. I'm literally a phonecall away from ordering the bass before it struck me like a sack of wet tone knobs.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, folks.
  2. boynamedsuse

    boynamedsuse Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    I don't know, but I bet the answer depends on the bass. It makes sense that the 35" (or the 37" you get with a Dingwall fanned fretboard) would give you an edge statistically over a 34" scale.
  3. Hopefully you're not planning on tuning a .130 to F#. I can't see that sounding good.
  4. Bread Knife

    Bread Knife

    Oct 8, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Agreed. I think the soundgear should work, but you will need a significantly thicker string to get F# to play with a useable amount of tension. I think Circle K Strings should be able to provide you with proper string gauges for this task.
  5. No way. I'm going to be using .135 at LEAST for the low B.
  6. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    No- scale length has little to nothing to do with it. My NS-5XL is 34" and I go down to F#/B on my B/E strings pretty often just to try out different stuff.

    Check out some of the downtuning threads in the Strings section- that's going to be your biggest advantage in doing this properly. You'll need more than a .135 for the B to detune to F#, also.
  7. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I use EBMM Slinkies on my EBMM basses... for live playing, my band drops half step only, so I'm not going to F#. But, I still love the B like that. These are 34" scale. For F#, I would certainly think that you'd want a heavier string, though... I'd start with a .150 and go from there. Don't drop a B to an F#... just get an F# string.
  8. Circle K makes a .174 string. Would be perfect for F# tuning.

    Are you only dropping the B down to F# or are you dropping all of the strings?

    They make both drop-tuned and balanced tension sets for either.

    Check em out: Circle K Strings - Standard Balanced 5 Strings
  9. Thanks a lot for the tips guys.

    So basically, I'd be safe to assume that the scale length of the SR505 shouldn't pose much of a problem but rather the string guage, yes? .150 minimum for the low B?
  10. Mikebass6


    Apr 25, 2007
    It's all about the string gauge. The bass will be completely fine at standard scale. Good luck bro!!
  11. Might need a new nut carved if you go with a huge string like a .174 or .182.
  12. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    For a string tuned to F#, I would start no less than .150, but you'll probably be in the .160s or .170s, depending on how much tension you like.
    For a string tuned to B, I like .130.
  13. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    Regarding scale length not having anything to do with tight sounding low notes, how come no one ever tunes their 30 scale mustangs or any other short scale for that matter to B E A D or even D A D G?
  14. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Longer scale will help, as will a thicker gauge string. Don't forget that your amplification may cry momnma as well.
  15. Metal Bassist

    Metal Bassist

    Nov 6, 2010
    Wales, UK
    Remember, you still have F# on fret 2 of the e string, you don't need to downtune.
  16. chubrocker


    May 6, 2006
    This is my belief. I have a TL-5 and its my first 34" scale 5er. .130 minimum for the low B. The B is as tight and focused as my past 35" 5ers.

  17. chubrocker


    May 6, 2006
    What will be the difference in "balanced" tension vs. traditional? What difference would I feel?

  18. Traditionally, the tension of the middle strings is higher than that of the outer strings. The A and D strings have higher tension than the E and G strings.

    Take a look at a standard 5-string set of D'Addario strings:

    Note inches lbs
    G 0.045 42.8
    D 0.065 51.3
    A 0.080 32.9
    E 0.100 36.5
    B 0.130 34.5

    Notice that the B string only has 34.5 pounds of tension, while the D string has a whopping 51.3 pounds.

    A balanced Circle K set looks like this:

    Note inches lbs
    G 0.037 31.8
    D 0.052 34.6
    A 0.072 36.2
    E 0.096 32.7
    B 0.130 35.9

    35.9 pounds vs 34.6 pounds. In this set, the B is actually heavier. It won't feel floppy compared to the D like in other sets.

    Personally I like around 40 pounds of tension for each string.
  19. chubrocker


    May 6, 2006
    I'm gonna have to try these strings. The hybrid nickel/steel interests me too. Can't decide to get the 130 or the 136 set. I'm use to a 130 B string, but wonder if I'll like the lighter G string on the 130 set or the .40 on the 136 set.

  20. Personally I recommend the 136. I jumped straight from a 125 B to a circle K 136 B and was so happy because I actually wanted to use my B string again.

    Plus, the high strings will be less of an adjustment on the 136.

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