drop a

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Ajak, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    First of all, sorry if this has been covered.

    My band's guitarist bought a sevenstring guitar that he tunes down to drop a. I think it sounds a little muddy, but not too bad. It'd be probably a little better with some thicker strings. But my problem is, that my bass sounds like crap when I tune it down to drop a. I play a Cort Action VA-5 through a Ashdown MAG 300 115 combo or a Ashdown MAG 600H with a MAG 410t deep.
    With this setup the bass drowns out completely and everything turns into mud. My question is: is it the amps, the bass or the strings that causes this?

    I know the MAG 410t deep doesn't really go that low very well, but I never noticed that on the 115 combo (although I rarely played that one with my fivestring).
    I will sooner or later have to put on a thicker low a string, but I'm hesitating since I want to use this bass for jazz also.
    If the bass is the problem a 35'' scale bass would do better, right? Or something with different pickups? :help:

    thanks in advance
  2. It will probably not sound good on itself; the goal is to add bottom end to the drop A guitar riffs, correct? Does it sound good when you play in the band with the guitar? What if you play up an octave (in unison with the guitar)? What if you cut the bass control on your amp and boost the mids? Have you had your bass set up since changing the tuning (take it to a pro or check the setup sticky threads)?

    Also forgive me if I'm stating the obvious but: the bass doesn't necessarily have to be in the same tuning as the guitar; the goal is to find a bass line that sounds good for the song, in whatever tuning. :)
  3. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    In this band I double most of the riffs an octave lower, which was the low d until now. I think it would be kind of weird if I went up an octave for certain songs. I'm thinking of using standard tunings anyway since I feel more comfortable playing in standard tuning than I do playing drop tunings.

    And the band doesn't sound good at all, nobody really hears what's going on while jamming. :/ I have to say that I'm not really a fan of playing lower than the low b. But that might be because my gear can't really deliver it.

    I think about buying a 35'' scale 4-string that I would tune either AEAD or ADGC.
    I could also imagine using a eq pedal (parametric if possible) for our a-songs.
    But I wonder if amps can even deliver a clear low a. I'm thinking of maybe a Peavey TVX 410?
    What do you think?
  4. If the band sounds bad, you can't fix it with new strings or an EQ pedal. :)

    IMHO it's not about finding an amp that can accurately reproduce low A (heck, our ears can't even really hear that note) but rather about cutting the lows and boosting the mids (as I recommended above) so you get the "growl" of the harmonics rather than the "mud" of the fundamental.

    Also I highly recommend you work with your teacher on technique. For example if you haven't yet mastered proper muting techniques, playing in drop tuning will tend to emphasize this deficiency in your playing. And of course your instrument must be appropriately set up for the drop tuning.

    But it sounds like in this case, the problem is your guitarist. Is switching bands an option? :D
  5. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    I thought I'd use an eq pedal to do what you descrribed, cutting the lows and boosting the mids, so it doesn't sound that muddy. I want it as a pedal, because we'll still be playing our old songs in drop d (or d standard or whatever).

    My technique is fine!!! ;) No really, as for muting, I haven't had any issues or complaints. About the setup, there is a little more fret buzz going on as with standard tuning (obviously), but I think the setup isn't really a problem. It's very floppy but I don't think it affects the tone a lot. A thicker string would probably help though.

    The guitarist is a great guy and very reasonable when it comes to volume and tone. Until now. The guitar does sound pretty good but I'm not sure whether it will ever work in a band situation. He seems quite obsessed with it, which I don't really understand. I also don't understand why he'd want a drop tuning on a sevenstring, which is not the point of a sevenstring in my opinion... but that's kinda his decision.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Before you buy an EQ pedal, try cutting the lows and boosting the miss in the amp. You might be surprised at how good it sounds for all of the songs.
  7. Your amp doesn't have bass and mid controls?

    Your technique is perfect with no room for improvement?

    Your bass doesn't need a setup (even though it sounds bad, the strings are floppy, and you're getting fret buzz)?
  8. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    I see how bad I look now.

    Of course I'll try it on the amp first. But I have to say that I invested a lot of time in experimenting with the eq and my overdrive and I am perfectly happy with my fourstring tone. I really can't imagine anything better. Just with the drop a it sucks. And I don't have my lows very high, actually the bass knob is lower than any of the others. The speaker isn't farting out or anything and there isn't just a huge boom. The lower I play the more I lose low end and the less I notice a difference between the notes. The low a, bb and b sound are even quite hard to distinguish. :/ I probably forgot to mention that.

    Of course I'm constantly trying to improve my technique, but at this point I have to say that I don't see any problem with muting. No ringing open strings or flageoletts that mess everything up.

    I don't want to change the bass setup, because it's absolutely fine for standard tuning, which is what I use the most at the moment. I will soon get another fivestring (a used Spector), that I'll use for metal and I will try a drop-a setup with that one. But at the moment I play a lot of jazz (some gigs coming up) and I don't want to mess with my setup right now.

    I really hope you don't think bad of me. I didn't express myself clearly and you took me for an idiot. Fair enough I have to say :)
  9. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Sounds like you've basically got two options. Start messing with EQ to see if you can get a sound that you do like, or talk with the guitarist and try to get him back into standard tuning.

    With EQ, keep in mind that what may sound great in a solo setting will sound very different in a mix. If you start with cutting your lows (say 11:00) and boosting your mids (say 1:00) you may find that you can hear yourself much better and have much more definition in the notes. You may find yourself cutting more lows and boosting more mids.

    This is a huge generalization, but, metal guitarists tend to EQ their guitars to take up some bass frequencies. Then you are both fighting for sonic territory in the same frequency range. Cutting bass and boosting mids puts you into a different sonic space, it's called frequency slotting.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I find that a 5 string bass sounds good down to a low Bb. I find the low A sounds too low and muddy for my taste.
  11. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    My Bongo sounds excellent when downtuned. YMMV or whatever.
  12. I was gonna suggest throwing in some overdrive or any dirt effect but that looks like its been covered. But in my experience, some grit can really bring out the beast in a drop tuned bass...however, as always, results may vary.

    Considering you're on a 5-banger, I suppose thicker strings are a little redundant. You could always give it a shot...but I doubt you will see any significant results. My next thought was your speakers. Have you considered or tried adding an additional 4x10 to your current 4x10? More speakers will make your tone much clearer and help counter muddiness. Plus you can then run your MAG 600H at 4ohms and take advantage of the increase in power output.
  13. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    Our mix was actually pretty good. The guitarist doesn't have too much lows and neither does the keyboard player. My bass tone consists more of low mids than lows (I use overdrive) and really cuts through.

    I will probably get a better rig, a Peavey VB-2 with two TVX 410s in a couple of weeks. The cabs should be clearer and go lower. If that doesn't work I'll probaply need a Bongo :p BTW, Epitaph, what are you playing through?
  14. You're not gonna get a standard 5 banger with 110. Gauge strings to sound beefy in a metal band playing drop A without a setup and the proper strings, bottom line.

    I'd suggest a nice 35" scale 5 string (is what I'm using playing in drop A). I'm moving to a .166 on both basses (low A) and I feel that it's gonna give me great tension for my low strings. If your rig isn't capable of producing clear low end without farting the speakers out you need to cut bass and boost miss to cut through the mix.

    More speakers (matching speaker cabs) are always best to get more volume, then upgrade your power/pre section.
  15. 5StringThunder


    Dec 28, 2012
    So true. I play on a band that plays in drop A. I use a 35" 5 string with 50-135 power slinkies on it. On my amp I have the bass turned up a lot and flat on the EQ on my bass. I sounds decent solo, but it really holds down the lows and booms in the mix.
  16. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    I am not sure if the Peavey VB-2 is the best answer for heavy low end. I have not used a tube amp which handles low tunings well. I always felt the tube heads ran out of headroom fast with low end and started to distort faster than I would like. Make sure you try before you buy.

    A .135 string works pretty well for a low A note especially with a Spector bass.
  17. I'm running a .135 prosteel on my Euro 5LX and am moving up a few gauges for higher tension. I like a bit of buzz in my tone but I'm just getting too much with the loose strings on the board. Gonna order higher tension Circle K's for both basses this week and give them a try.
  18. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    Feel free to PM me about what gauge you end up going with on the Spector 5LX for a Low A. I am sure one day I will be blasting something that low....