E and Eb tuning (both standard) and Intonation question...

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BeyondFiredUp, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. BeyondFiredUp


    Jan 29, 2005
    Hey all!
    Like the title says, and I'm down to one bass now, so that's why I asked. For some songs I need to stay in E standard and for others I'm learning songs and required to go down a half step to E flat to play along with them and back and forth until I can get a second bass and stay in one or the other.
    My question is about what should I expect with changes in intonation and how much it would be off and if any significant amount. I play with my action nice and low, but not ultra low like some of you guys. :)

    Any experience on this would be appreciated!
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    It won't hurt the bass. I go back and forth often (my main band plays dropped down a half step), and don't even notice it. If your bass starts buzzing badly or the action gets too high, I'd find a middle ground in what you consider a comfortable setup. Its either that, or tweak the truss rod a quarter turn whenever necessary. if you're going back and forth lots, honestly, I don't think its worth it. The difference is usually minimal, and it would probably serve you better to just get comfortable playing with whichever set up is more difficult for you to play with. Hope that made sense as I should have gone to bed a half hour ago... :) .
    BeyondFiredUp likes this.
  3. BeyondFiredUp


    Jan 29, 2005
    Thanks for the reply! I know it won't be much of an issue. But I was specifically wondering if intonation changes that much. Between the tunings I could learn the E flat stuff all in one sitting and then the next day learn the E standard stuff in another sitting, but I was just wondering if the intonation changes significantly to affect the tuning WITHOUT adjusting the truss rod and finding that "happy medium" you speak of. I'm wondering about the notes the higher you play up on the neck and so forth.
  4. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I recommend setting up the instrument to your liking when tuned to E flat. Tuning to E subsequently will have little effect and I doubt that there will be any significant change to intonation.
    Microbass and Zooberwerx like this.
  5. BeyondFiredUp


    Jan 29, 2005
    Thanks Turnaround! Great advice as well and I was thinking that would be the way to go. You guys are making this an eager indulgence rather than a wary task! Thanks!
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Do your set-up in Eb...you can even bump-up your string set gauge if desired. If the band is bouncing back 'n forth between drop-tuning and standard, just play the standard stuff up one fret. Yeah, it's a PITA but transposing-on-the-fly will come easily over time plus it's a lot easier than re-tuning between songs.

    ...or get yourself a 5 string and be done with it.

  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Put me down as another vote for "I switch back and forth all the time, no problems."
    Microbass likes this.
  8. +1
    I used to jump between standard, half and then half step drop C# (C#G#C#F#). Even in the drop C#, the intonation above the 12'th fret on the E string was a little out but I wouldn't really play higher that the 14th fret in that band. My boss TU2 can't tell the different between E and Eb intonation.
  9. BeyondFiredUp


    Jan 29, 2005
    Thanks for all the informative replies. I'm looking forward to this as I knew I could count on the TalkBass family to give me the low-down (pun intended) on this! You guys rock!
  10. Buzz Osborne from the Melvins started using drop D tuning so he could play a long with KISS songs (in Eb). Early on, I wish I'd have done that, rather than go all over the place tuning wise.
    BeyondFiredUp likes this.
  11. c10


    Apr 10, 2005
    Naperville, IL
    Tune and set up to E b, and put a capo on the 1st fret when needed? Might be hard to ignore the dot/position markers.
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