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Drop D Tuning?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by gonzorob, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. I have been playing bass for about 14 months. I am basically just learning by ear and teaching myself. I have never considered learning about Drop D tuning until recently as I have been experimenting with music that is tuned that way.

    My question is: Should I just learn to play it tuned the standard way and learn about Drop D later or should I try it now?
  2. contakt321


    Jul 31, 2006
    New York, NY
    It's not about learning to play one tuning or the other, it's more about learning how to play from a technical and musical standpoint.

    Tuning is more song dependent. For example most (or, how about a lot) of metal, hardcore, emo, etc is in Drop D, there is no other way to play it and have it sound good except for in Drop D because of the frequent use of the open D (save for a 5 string, but the open D is easier). It also depends on who you play with. If you play with guitarists who play in standard tuning chances are it will be easier to play in standard.

  3. Thats the thing. The guitarist that I jam with tunes down on some songs but not on others.
    We play cover a lot of jam bands and do some blues and original stuff.

    But there are some songs that I am trying to learn on my own, so I dont know if it is better to learn it one way for the sake of jamming or learning it the way it is played. Like, is it detrimental to my development as a bass player?
  4. Changing the tuning of a string, or any strings is a tiny thing and it's not going to hurt anything. You can tune back to standard in 10 seconds if you want.

    What do you mean learn it one way for the sake of jamming? If you want to be faithful to the original learn it that way. If your guitarists have a problem learning it the proper way because it takes 10 seconds to tune to drop D then they have problems.

    My advice, talk to the guitarist and come to an agreement on what tuning to play it on.
  5. If you're open to modding your bass alittle you can grab yourself a Hipshot D-Tuner and be able to switch in seconds.

    I think they should be standard on almost any decent 4 string.
  6. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    Something I might point out. There is no reason if you are jamming that if your guitarist friend wants to play in drop tuning that you must too. If you want to do it, there is no reason not to either, but you can still stay in the "key" your guitarist is in.

    To me alternative tunings are mainly there so you can either play certain note that would be unavailable, or it gives you access to certain chord voicings that standard tunings don't. I don't buy into this "it makes power chords easier to play" thing at all.

    Also someone mentioned a d-tuner. They are handy things to have.
  7. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    If you gotta be lower, tune everything down. DGCF. Or in my case ADGCF. IMO, drop D is a lame way for failed guitarists to feel like they're good.
  8. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    But it makes power chords way easier to play. I learned them all in less than an hour.
  9. Martin Bormann

    Martin Bormann

    Sep 20, 2007
    Here is the thing, you CAN tune your axe to anything you wanted. Hell, you could tune them all to the same pitch if you wanted to (it'd probably sound terribly muddy). That being said, with the tunings, you really just have to worry about having the right range of pitches to play what you need to play with. You also can tune the bass to some open tunings if you want to. There is no rules, and it doesn't matter how the guitarist tunes his guitar to.. A "C" will still sound like a "C" no matter how the guitarist tunes his guitar, he might have just moved it to a different location on the fingerboard.

    And regardless of the difficulty in the desired tuning, I'm sure there is somebody who can learn to adapt to it in under an hour.
  10. Qvist


    Jul 20, 2007
    I'd like to see anyone play Slither by Velvet Revolver in standard tuning on guitar... Drop D can really be useful for some songs, but I myself prefer to go to Drop C if we in the band really have to use an alternative tuning.
  11. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    There's only two things Drop D tuning on bass will accomplish IMHO: Gives you the low D on a 4 stringer..... and if the original bassline was written in Drop D and the bass guy was using standard fingerings it'll be easier to play if you also are in drop D. You *can* play any bass line in any tuning (assuming the notes you need are there, like the low D), you just might have some weird/tiring fingerings.

    As a beginner, learning in drop D may confuse the crap out of you (second fret is now an E....instead of a Gb...). A Hipshot D tuner would eliminate that.

    My group is tuned down a half step.....but to eliminate mental confusion when we call out notes and chords we call them as if we were tuned up. That way an A is still referred to as an A and there's no "ok, you mean Ab like it sounds or you mean A like the original?!" which trust me will screw with your head.

    I started playing on my 4 and we did a couple songs that were in drop D, until I got my 5 I just played the D somewhere else instead of open. My 5 eliminated the need for retunings (something I still can't do by ear :crying::crying:) and eliminated the mental gymnastics :bassist::bassist:

    Long story short, as long as you are playing the required note in the bass line and it works you don't have to retune... if you really need that lower D, get a hipshot or a 5er :). (my opinion) :bassist::bassist:
    Guitar is a whole different story in drop D, changes the chord shapes.
  12. I disagree with you for one part,... a 5er is all good (I love my 2!) except that when you are playing something with ridiculously jumpy basslines by using the 3rd fret on the B string,... its just SO much easier to detune E to D... example a) playing 46 and 2,... tried playing it with fingers only to get my right hand technique better (I used to only ever play with pick)... the intro is ok but when you jump down to the low D riff hitting that 3rd fret and doing hammer on and pull offs two strings above is very tiring and hard work,... where as downtuned E string its just a case of hitting the open string easily with your right hand and leaving your left hand to do the crazy fret work on the A string alone ;)

    it probably CAN be done with using the B string but after alot of practice that way its still slow and muddy sounding for me to try and do so,... same goes for a few songs where they chuck in the D or C# where E is tuned to that in the middle of riffs,... jumping down to a fret on the B string will make it so much more tiring,... that said, I prefer playing some songs with the B string such as killing in the name because it keeps your left hand in a nice area :)
    ive almost thought of leaving one 5er tuned in drop D or ADGCF so that it can be used that way easily for a song needing it,... (wish could be like metallica or something though,... just have 15 basses all in different tunings :D)

    /end my 2cents
  13. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    Yea, there's always going to be songs that won't be as easy (have to admit I have no clue which song you are referencing :) ).

    I also considered tuning the low B to be a D at one point.....then realized I didn't need to confuse myself LOL. The idea of having multiple tuned basses is also tempting..... bawahaha..

    It *really* depends on the song you're doing. I've found some songs that are tuned in drop d barely even use the D. If the song uses hammer ons and pull off on the bass part on the D... then you need the D.
  14. Nappa


    Dec 20, 2006
    Fargo,North Dakota
    Use whatever tuning allows you to play in a relaxed manner, but only if you understand how it is to be used. Me and my friends play this Marilyn Manson tune that is in Drop D (the Beautiful People, a very easy song) and I played it in standard E, they didn't even notice until after the recording when i turned off my distortion pedal.