Eb songs and 5 string bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ics1974, Oct 2, 2022.

  1. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    Just curious for you 5 string players. If the band is tuned to eb do you tune to eb as well or transpose everything down a string and up 4 frets?
    bigjames likes this.
  2. Yep Eb is the 4th note low B string go from there . this is WHY 5 strings ROCK !

  3. There are exceptions, songs I've played in E forever

    Superstition and Good Times/Rappers Delight being prime examples.
  4. Yep ditto the low E kills !!
    twspalm likes this.
  5. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    Thanks everyone
    S-Bigbottom likes this.
  6. pineweasel


    Nov 21, 2003
    My experience with guitar players who tune to Eb is that they continue to refer to the music in terms of E tuning, e.g using a D chord shape and calling it a D, although pitch wise it's now Db. So for that reason I'd be tempted to tune down as well to simplify matters. But it depends on the band, the music, and how comfortable you are transposing.
  7. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    Down a string. If the band is ALWAYS tuned down I have also used a 4 tuned down to match.
  8. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    Lol, yes they do. Drives me crazy.
    smogg, BazzaBass, dave64o and 3 others like this.
  9. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Unless the band only plays songs in the key of Eb or otherwise where you need the related Bb-Ab-Db-Gb as open strings a lot, I’d more than likely just play in standard tuning. JMO.

    I’ve done drop tuning, and after 50 years of standard tuning, it really messes with my head.
    Jhengsman and groovepump like this.
  10. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    If the rest of the band tunes to Eb (probably to give the singer a little more range) I would tune down also. For a few songs, transpose.
  11. johnh89


    Jan 25, 2020
    Kent UK
    Transpose every time . As above , I would only consider tuning down if the whole set is in Eb . Never retune personally and play with horns occasionally so used to weird keys and rarely hitting an open string . Its a good way to learn the fretboard inside out .
  12. Scotty4string


    Jun 26, 2014
    A band I play with that does mostly 90’s hard rock plays in 3 different tunings. E standard, Eb standard and drop D. I play it all on a 5 string in standard tuning. One of the guitar players plays a 7 string guitar with a low A usually. He tried to tell me I had to tune my B to an A. I just said no and continued in standard tuning.
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  13. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    Played my 6er with a guitarist who dropped to C and just transposed. Took a bit to get in the right state of mind, but worked fine. Weird watching the guitar play an open E and I'm playing a C.
    David McIntire likes this.
  14. Lenny JG

    Lenny JG

    Aug 3, 2019
    Depends, I'd likely only drop my E string to Eb and leave the rest standard. (B Eb A D G) that way I don't have to finger a fret unnecessarily every time it's in a riff. Not to mention some stuff will be impossible to play on key if you don't have an open string for it.
  15. David McIntire

    David McIntire

    Apr 5, 2020
    As a difference of perspective, two of my acts play down tuned 1/2 step, the rest tune to standard. I tune to the act I am playing with. We tune down not so singers have more range, but so they have more endurance working as often as we do. And, tho I could, and would, transpose if only a few tunes a night were flatted, since all songs are now flatted? I may as well tune down, and keep my positions consistent. We're a variety band with a wide ranging list. Songs already tuned flat; Van Halen, Alice in Chains, Pretty Reckless, stay exactly where they are. Songs performed in standard; Rush, Styx, Kansas, are now flatted. So, Man in a Box and Tom Sawyer are now in the same key, E flat, and performed in identical POSITIONS on my fingerboard as the recordings. I like keeping my open strings and familiar positions available for more technically demanding tunes.

    On the other hand, my standard tuned acts perform many of the same tunes. Stevie Wonder's Superstition was recorded in E flat. But we perform it in E standard, thus preserving fingerings and open strings. In the flat bands, this song is played in E flat, but positionally identical to the standard tuned bands.

    Going further, most of my gospel and blues playing friends tune flat, but do not tune up to standard to learn standard tunes. They keep their bass guitars in flat tuning, learning all songs without tuning up. So, then, they'd be playing Man in a Box at F position on the E string. That seems a lot of work to me, so I tune for the band I'm playing with that evening.
  16. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    This. If guitars are fixed a half step down I would join them, but if it's just a song or two I'll play it in the 4th position on the B string.
    SoCal80s, LowActionHero and Cleezmo like this.
  17. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play church gigs. We play in whatever key the lead singer is comfortable with for that song, and we'll often have 3 or 4 different lead singers in a set of music. A flat? sure. D flat? yep. E flat? yeah, that's nothing. Being able to transpose is an absolutely critical skill in my world - you simple can't re-tune very song to make it "easy".

    A 5'er is very helpful for all of this, plus the PA's are great, so..yeah, I get to shake things.
  18. Transpose. I never retune my 5. That's one of the many reasons I play them.
  19. David McIntire

    David McIntire

    Apr 5, 2020
    My old 90s metal bands did this lots. The C tuning we used was referred as "Drop D a whole step down", but I also treat this as what I call True C and I play C on my 5s, 1st position, B string. But I like locating my C at 2nd position, so I use my tuned down 1/2 step bass and play that C at 2nd position. Saves my wrist a bit.