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Drop tuning woes

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by seansbrew, Mar 9, 2006.


  1. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    Well, I went for a meeting with a prospective working band. All seemed to go well until they told me that they tune down a full step. They do this so that the singer can stay withing his vocal range. DAmn, it totally turned me off. I am VERY particular about the way my basses are set up. They are all setup to play fast and the thought of drop tuning them makes me cringe. Am I making to big a deal out of this? I play primarily 5 string bass and thought that maybe I could try to stay in standard tuning, but then I would not be able to effectively look at the guitar players hand position in case I am not in the right place. What do you guys think?
    Also, would drop tuning really change my basses that much?
     
  2. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    So they play in D?

    If that's the case, look at your 5'er as a shortscale 5'er tuned to D. Just don't play anything above the 3rd fret.

    Now, if you're saying they play in A, then you'll have to re set up your bass..which a whole step isn't that much of a difference, especially if you have a 35" scale.
     
  3. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    Left that important item out, they tune to A.
     
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I mean this in a loving way, but that excuse is so weak that it borders on lame. Learn the danged songs! I would die of embarrasment if I had to look at the guitar player's hand to figure out where I am.

    God created the 5-string bass specifically for this application. You don't ever need to play a low A, so move up to the right place on the fretboard and play the song.
     
  5. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    So are you saying, try it out in standard without de-tuning?
     
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yes sir, that is what I'm saying.
     
  7. I agree. When playing guitar, drop tuning can be nice to get a different sound from the low end but a 5 string bass has all of that already. Write out chord charts if needed. Hell, record your practices so you have something to work with. You'll be a better player for it.
     
  8. I've played with people in drop-D, drop-C, and A, and was always able to handle it on my 5-string in standard tuning. When playing in A, you don't get that A octave below the guitar, but I don't think you need it - I never did and got away with it. In fact it sounds cool if you play some of the lines in unison with the guitar(s) instead of an octave below.

    I even now play in a Hendrix tribute band where the guitar player tunes down a 1/2 step. I stay in standard tuning.

    I think all bassists should be able to do this. You will get to where you can transpose anything into any key on the fly; you don't get as tangled up in 'guitar key' tricks, like using your open E, A, etc.
     
  9. I think it's a bit of a shame there is so much of this tuning lower stuff going on. Maybe there is some reason they call it "standard" tuning.

    Everyone wants their guitars to sound like basses - but there is already a bass! Not to mention that at a certain point, the fundamentals aren't even being reproduced by the speakers and are bordering on the range of "runmble" instead of sound.


    OK, rant over...

    Anyway, if you want to play with these guys, why not try, as already mentioned, playing the right notes, but in standard tuning. It can work...
     
  10. If you were to be playing a normal 4 string, they'd have you drop to D wouldn't they? Just pick up the extra slack with the B you have. Might want to explain the concept of a 5th string to them. Worse comes to worse, you can always pickup a hipshot detuner.
     
  11. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    Thanks for the replies guys. I thought the same thing, a note is a note, thats what I have the extended range for. I dont think it makes sense to detune if you dont have to. But everyone in the band kept saying "if we do a tune on the fly, you wont be able to tell by looking what chords the guitar player is playing." I think I have a good enough ear so I am not going to worry about it.
     
  12. Unless you're going for some Grateful Dead style music, isn't this why you rehearse with your band to avoid being caught off guard? Sounds like its more of a "detuning is cool" thing rather then a technique and sound thing.
     
  13. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Boy, 2 guitarists detuning on the fly. On the fly is that like
    5 minutes?

    Or do they pick up other guitars.

    (Very) Slack tunings can work for some sounds and some
    instruments. On guitar those tunings can lead to fret buzz,
    poor intonation, over bending of higher notes (unless your
    guitarists have a great ear), lack of clarity, and mud.

    Your instrument, like a tuba, is not their instrument.

    Your answer, 'I don't need to LOOK at your hands'.
    Tell me what key we are playing in and go over the
    chord charts or changes and none of this is necessary.
    Where are the vamps? When they say 'what are charts'
    you are entitled to think, 'Are you guys really INTERESTED
    in being musicians?' Same with the vamps. For years I called them,
    The NOD or the SIGNPOST or the SIGNAL. Duh! We all use
    them. Signals 'HERE COMES THE CHANGE'.

    Detuning your bass will only degrade hard won your tone.
     
  14. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    Give it a shot with standard tuning on a 5 string.
     
  15. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    This will be my first time playing in a cover band. All of my bands up to this point have been original. I do not have the time to commit to an original project at the moment. I just want to have fun and earn gas money while doing it.:smug:
     

  16. Yeah. What he said.

    My band drops tune and I play a fiver for that reason. Instead of watching what the guitarist is playing, I listen.

    That wonderful ballsy B-string is there so you can laugh in the face of detuners and play your rig right out of the case.
     
  17. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    I didnt mean this comment the way everyone seems to be taking it. I dont stand there eyes glued to the guitar players hands.:rolleyes: All I meant was, the option of a quick look during an improv jam(or something of that nature) is not an option. I am in total agreement with learning the songs, that seems pretty basic.
     
  18. BassDerek

    BassDerek

    Aug 15, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    I understand what you mean about looking. I play in my hard rock band which is drop-C, I think if i told them to tune higher they'd shoot me. I play my bass right now in ACGCF, not that I really use the A, although occasionaly the Bb.

    But when we are writing songs on the fly, it is easier to be in the same relative tuning. Also there are some riffs which would be near impossible in a different tuning, or much much more difficult. It does suck to retune to standard for playin in jazz at college though.

    I suppose its a preference thing. I do get pissed off when their two damn 412s are pusing so much rumble that my bass is obscured. Its also harder to push all that air and sound loud at the lower notes.
     
  19. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    Most of the people that I see drop tuning do it to give the giutar a heavy sound. I dont see the point of having a bass in the mix with this type of thinking. Sure if the bass player has a Big Ben and a 6x10 cab (I do see this setup believe it or not) but who really wants to lug all that around. For this band situation the singer claims he only does it to keep withing his vocal range. I guess that means we are doing some songs in keys they are not normally played in. We'll see how it goes.
     
  20. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    That's exactly what that means. There may be a cover or two in D that is standard, but if everything else is played that way, you can be sure that there will be some songs in keys different than normal.