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Drop Tuning basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by iplaybasstexas, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. iplaybasstexas


    Apr 5, 2008
    Is it bad for them?


    How do you tune a 4 string to "Drop-B"?
    how do you tune a fiver to that same tuning also?

  2. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    a five string already has a low B string... and for a 4 string (assuming you'll keep it tuned that low all the time) can have the bottom 4 strings of a 5 string set put on it for a similar effect (minus the high G)

    It's safe as long as they are properly set-up
  3. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    Drop B sounds odd.

    The guitar players would have to tune up a whole step then drop the low string to B.

    I can't see that being functional.

    For a 5'er you would have to tune up a whole step and drop the low A back down to B. That would be a tension nightmare without lighter gauge string.

    Do you want Drop-B or just down tune to B, big difference.
  4. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008

    It's not bad for the bass, you wont be damaging anything.
    Although it can have bad side-effects for your tone. For example: floppy strings, loss of definition.

    Ideal is a 35" scale or larger scale, and/or heavy thick strings.
    I use 34" with thick strings and mostly I am in drop D tuning. Never actually a real problem but larger scale for this results in better tone.

    I don't think you can downtune your E-string that far realisticly.
    That's dropping 5 half steps.

    Most guys use 5-string sets and set up their 4-string BEAD.
  5. iplaybasstexas


    Apr 5, 2008
    normally i wouldn't ask this question because of common sense. but my guitarist called it "drop-b"

    basically, our band is normally in Drop D (DADG for me)
    and we're changing styles. so first we went to Drop C (CGCF)
    and then we dropped another step to "Drop B" (BFBE??)

    So currently my bass is in BFBE and i highly doubt that that this correct. am i wrong?
  6. medawc


    Aug 20, 2008
    Wroclaw, Poland
    BF#BE not BFBE
  7. iplaybasstexas


    Apr 5, 2008

    is that what you tuning you play in?
  8. BFBE? That sounds like a very very wierd tuning and nothing like anything I'd call 'Drop B'. The band I play bass in play's in two different drop tunings, one we call 'Drop C#' = C#,Ab,Db,F# and another we call 'Drop Bb' = Bb,Ab,Db,F#.

    With drop C# I use a "34 scale 4 string bass with 115,90,75,55 gauge strings (basically a 110-55 set with a 115 on the bottom instead)

    With drop Bb I use a "35 scale 4 string bass with 135,85,70,50 gauge strings (a standard 5 string set with the 105 removed)

    I find these gauges keep the tension on the neck even.
  9. iplaybasstexas


    Apr 5, 2008
    I usually use a 20 fret P-bass.

    so i should buy a five string set and take out the E?
    and then tune to... ??
  10. hills1234


    May 6, 2007
    Some of this confusion is probably more about terminology than tuning. IME ...

    Standard tuning (4-string) = E A D G
    Standard low tuning (5-string) = B E A D G
    So, on a 4-string, "Drop D" usually refers to a standard 4-string tuning with the E dropped down to D, so = D A D G . Commonly used ... I have a Hipshot D-tuner on my P-bass for exactly this purpose.

    On this basis, "Drop C" or "Drop B" would simply drop the E further, but leave the three higher strings standard. Could get tricky to play.

    I've usually heard lowering the tuning on all four strings referred to as "down tuning" and here's where you can experiment. Down tune a full step (D G C F) or two steps (C F Bb Eb) but you'll probably want to adjust your string gauges.

    If you down tune to B (B E A D) you're effectively replicating the lower four strings on a standard 5-string tuning - so you'd probably string your bass with the lower four of a 5-string set, say, 125/105/85/65. Lot of players do this ... low 5-string sound with just four strings!

    If I were you I'd just work out how low you need the bass to go. If it's low B, then string up for down tuned B (B E A D). But if you still need the extended high range of a 4-string as well, then a fiver is calling you, my friend!
  11. crimson_basser


    Jul 9, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    ^^that pretty much covers it

    if you want to go that low, its probably better to get a 5 string, it gives you all the low with the option for any high range stuff you might want to use

    dont limit yourself!
  12. iplaybasstexas


    Apr 5, 2008
    So, in essence i'm just losing the G on the 4 stringer?
    because "droptuning" to C is CGCF so logic told me drop another step on each string, which lead me to BFBE. but BFBE is wrong, and i should tune it to BEAD(another step down?)

    I do have a 5 string, but its expensive and i don't enjoy drop tuning it, nor do i like playing it in this band style/situation.

    to string my P BEAD, i need to get a new nut i'm pretty sure.

    but again, just tune BEAD?
  13. I've heard of several people here that tune BEAD on 4bangers using a 5 string set, and throw away the G string. However if you do you'll have to widen the slots on the nut, and you're stuck with it. I tune my Ibanez SR to CGCF. I sounds great (having the right tension IMO) using 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 gauge roundwounds. String gauges / new setup have everything to do with drop tuning.

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