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Drop D Tuning and 5 Strings...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Unrepresented, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I'm a four string player who switches between standard and drop D tuning regularly in my current project. Have hipshot D-tuners on both of my main basses.

    I'm going to be assembling my first five string and wanted to know your recommendations about whether a D tuner will be a worthwhile investment, or a redundancy, especially as I'm considering it for the E string. Will it be easy enough to transpose drop D lines over to the B string? Will the timbre and convenience of open strings not translate to a different string, different gauge, and different position?
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    It will be easy to transpose, but if you need an open D it will not cut it.

    Also, I have yet to see anybody fit a drop tuner in any position but the bottom string, you would need an really messed up headstock to accommodate it.
  3. the wako kid

    the wako kid

    May 11, 2011
    there is a user on here who has modified a hipshot to work on the e string of a 5,and he might chime in here.personally,I think trying to play a lot of drop d tunes is harder on a five,like walk by pantera,which is just about the easiest drop d song there is,becomes finger stretching madness when you play it on a five.
  4. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    You shouldn't need one. You'll find that changing positioning on a 5er is actually a lot better for low D stuff.
  5. crusie


    Oct 19, 2009
    Djursland, Denmark
    my experience as a 5 string player tells me, if you got a riff in drop D it's because it's the easy way to play it. I got 2 5 string basses , one tuned Bdadg and beadg for this very reason. it makes no sense dropping the B string as well :D

  6. XtheDeadPawn


    May 24, 2008
    I got an ATK305 always usually tuned BDADG.

    I've been thinking about installing a D tuner on the E string of it as well.

    I measured and seem to have the room why won't it work?

    (I haven't got a hipshot yet sorry to intrude OP)
  7. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    It depends what you are playing. If you need to pedal away on an open D, it'll be difficult to play it on a fretted D.

    I've got a detuner on my 5er's, but it's used a little differently than normal. I've got it on the low B string. When the lever is "up" it's tuned to D. When I flip the lever "down" it's tuned to B just like a normal 5 string. It works perfectly. No problems with string tension or anything like that, and since it's only tuned to D for a few minutes here and there I'd think it's a moot point anyways.

    Hipshot makes a bent lever that is designed to be used in tighter spaces. Have a look at Michael Manring's bass, he's got one on all 4 strings.
  8. PluckyThump


    Jan 4, 2008
    The Hammer
    I wouldn't bother with a D-tuner on a 5-string. Kind of defeats the purpose of going to a 5 to begin with imo. Play your 5 in standard tuning and use the fretted low D on the B string. Give yourself a chance to get used to it, you might like it better. If you put the D-tuner on from the get-go you will never push yourself to play things differently.
  9. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I've found that I like to use my 4-bander in drop D if the riff is a quicker riff based of a lot of open D's. I use my fiver here I need to go lower than E but not as much if that makes sense.
  10. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    This was another consideration, but it seems less practical (theoretically) than dropping the E string, assuming that clearance won't be an issue. It would require more string skipping, no?
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I never ever use drop D tuning ... that is for guitarists ...

    But I did used to play DGCF before I switched to a 5 string. Also you can tune a 5 ADGCF.

    But with BEADG tuning I can play almost everything.

    The people who see you band play will NEVER care is the low D is open or fretted.
  12. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I do want to play things differently, that's why I am going about putting together a fiver, however, I am still going to want to be able to play things that I was able to play before, as well. I am trying to figure out just how hard it will be to adapt songs written around a drop D tuning to a five string, and what will yield the best results.:)
  13. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    If you don't want to detune a 5 strings tuned in standart and you need the D pedal ...

    Why not learn tapping ??? Fun and look cool plus it make the line interesting and fresh for you.
  14. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    It'll all depend on the tuner style and spacing as to whether or not it'll work. As you can see in the pic, clearance is necessary across the headstock as well as with the tuners that are in line.

    On this TL-5 the front of the paddle of the lever had to be removed and the tuning screw/spring shortened. I did this one in the 90s. Hipshot has the modified lever now. You may have to shorten the screw and spring yourself. Give Hipshot a shout, their customer service is excellent.

    For me, playing something written in drop D is easier with the E dropped unless it's only a few notes.


  15. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Sure, you'd be skipping the low E string. I didn't find it to be an issue.

    I don't remember why I decided it was better to do it this way rather than using the detuner on the low E.
  16. XtheDeadPawn


    May 24, 2008
    With all due respect CLEF DE FA we are a bassist the least cool person in the band as far as crowds are concerned.

    You hold the low end buddy nothing else unless you sing like me and even then most people are still looking at the guitarist.

    The exceptions to that rule are as follows:
    Sir Paul
    Nikki Sixx

    IMO unless your one of those guys people look past you.
    People know them due to them being a pop icon.

    Besides slaping and poping ain't for everybody.
  17. I think most headstocks won't fit a xtender for the E string, you may need some adaptations, I woul consider switching the order that the strings get to the tuners, something like that:
    That might open up some little extra room to fit the Xtender.
  18. XtheDeadPawn


    May 24, 2008
    Yeah an ATK is like that.
  19. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    With all due respect it is attitude like that that stop progress ... you won't like me that much because I Tap, Slap, use a fretless 6, use a fretted 6, play classical music on bass, play classical guitar music on bass, play jazz (theme, chords, solo, wlaking) ... to me the more you explore the better it is and I encourage everyone to explore
  20. klaus486


    Jun 27, 2009
    portland or
    sales geek Portland Music co.
    Back when I played 5 string basses I routinely dropped the E string down to D. I find that there is simply no comparison between a dropped E string D and the fretted D at the 3rd fret. The open D sounds WAY deeper, richer, fuller in every aspect. In addition there are just some things that are easier to play in the dropped position. I now just drop the E on my 4 string bass down to D with my Hipshot and if I need to go lower I will leave the Hipshot up and retune down to B. The fingering just seems so much easier and I don't have the bulk, weight and extra expensive strings that go along with a fiver. I have even dropped my Rotosound RS66 105 gauge E string down to low A ....but I play fretless so intonation and fret rattle aren't serious issues for me. Needless to say a light touch is required for this to work but I subscribe to the Gary Willis Light touch/loud amp theory anyway so no problem.

    As always YRMV.......I don't hate 5 strings in any way - got my first in 1989. I just find I don't "need" it any more. I however don't play covers where I think the 5 "may" be a requirement just to make one's life easier.

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