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Drop C Tuning with 5 String Bass

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Erick Pax, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. Erick Pax

    Erick Pax

    Jun 3, 2016
    Hi all !

    I'm new to the group, but been playing bass for ~15 years.

    I recently joined a band that tunes on Drop C. I have a 5 and a 6 stringer but based on what I've read, 6 strings are not very friendly for Drop C tuning so I decided to use the 5 string bass.

    Anyways, my question is: What gauge do you recommend for drop C tuning with a 5 string bass?

    Someone recommended this to me:

    124 .082 .061 .045 .031

    What do you think?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Lejdestad


    Aug 13, 2015
    I wouldn't drop tune, I would just play the first fret of the B-string :)
    tfer and Erick Pax like this.
  3. Erick Pax

    Erick Pax

    Jun 3, 2016
    Yeah, that's exactly what I did for the first 2 songs but the rest of the songs require a lot of open strings for the C string and it's a real pain in the arse as the genre is Death-ish and riffs are too fast to hit the first fret instead of open string.
  4. Lejdestad


    Aug 13, 2015
    Oh okay! Yeah, then I would "uptune" to C, but I would also tune all my other strings up half a step aswell (might have been your plan all along) :)
  5. Erick Pax

    Erick Pax

    Jun 3, 2016
    Yeah, it would be C G C F (A?).. But I'm not sure what gauge the strings should be (So far my option is 124 .082 .061 .045 .031)
  6. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    > based on what I've read, 6 strings are not very friendly for Drop C tuning

    There's no reason why, you could do CGCFBbEb easily with the right gauges, such as a .025 or .022 on top.

    You could use a tension chart to find out what tensions you like per-string, then choose gauges to recreate those tensions in the new tuning,
    this chart can be used to very roughly approximate any roundwound, then perfect by trial and error http://store.kaliumstrings.com/TensionCalculator/index.html
    You will need to build a custom set of singles.
    Or if you want a drop-tune set for 5/6 string then only Kalium sell them, mail order from USA only. These sets will have equal tensions per string, which you may or may not like.
    subsonicbassist and Erick Pax like this.
  7. Erick Pax

    Erick Pax

    Jun 3, 2016

    Thanks mate, super helpful. I didn't think about custom set of singles, I wouldn't mind. I'm taking a look into the chart as I'm not very familiar with the tension terms.
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    One of my favorite tunings on 5-string is (low to high) CEADG. No special strings required, and easy to switch back and forth between standard tuning (change the lowest string a half step).

    I don't have a 6-string but imagine CEADGC would be a lot of fun. :)
    Erick Pax likes this.
  9. CoR Bass

    CoR Bass

    Apr 2, 2014
    Austin, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Basses, Ashdown Amplifiers, Morley Pedals
    When I played drop C, I tuned the B up to C and then CGCF so I had 2 low Cs. Didn't change from the gauge I normally use. It was cool to double up on the low notes at times.
    Erick Pax likes this.
  10. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    > 124 .082 .061 .045 .031

    Looks like a Kalium drop tune set, that would be fairly light in drop C but yes a good choice of gauges (equal tensions, if you like that).
    Singles will allow you to use your favourite strings, if you're outside USA the postage for Kaliums is fairly high.
    Best to mail order singles, guitar shops tend to have a poor choice of gauges rusting under the counter for many years.
    Or, you could use an extra light set 90 70 50 30 for GCFBb (similar tension to 100 80 60 40 in EADG) and add a single for the low C,
    whatever your favourite B gauge is subtract .005 for a similar tension.
    What are your favourite gauges for BEADG?
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
    subsonicbassist likes this.
  11. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    Tell your band to play the songs in B.

    Means you don't have to fight with string gauges, and your guitarist can either tune down an additional half step, or get a 7 string.
  12. Buy a light set of strings (.040-.120 or .125) then tune up. Should work perfectly :) you could custome gauges but IME, it costs a lot more, strings are much less readibly available and your options and very limited. I thought I needed a .158 for Drop A to get the tension up, after getting a pro set up, springing for a new custom nut and filing my bridge down I now use .135's with no problem lol
  13. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Capo @ 1st fret. Next question...
  14. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    ...But if you absolutely have to have a 5th between the lowest, repeatedly banged open note and the second lowest, do what ixlramp above says.
  15. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I'd just tune up a half step.

    Maybe use .124-.40 strings, but probably stay with .130-.45.

  16. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    > Buy a light set of strings (.040-.120 or .125) then tune up.

    .100 .080 .060 .040 tuned up 3 semitones will be very tight.
    Because B strings are already much looser than EADG strings, in drop C that tension imbalance will get even worse.
    90 70 50 30 sets (or similar extra light sets) are easily available and combined with a single low B will reduce the cost compared to all singles.

    A simpler method to choose is:
    Working from your current favourite gauges:
    B to C reduce by .005
    E to G reduce by .015
    A to C reduce by .010
    D to F reduce by .010
    G to Bb reduce by .005
    keatz likes this.
  17. Primary

    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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