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Embarrassed to ask. What hz is 1/2 step down?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by synterx, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. synterx

    synterx Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    I use a 5 string because I hate changing tunings. 440 all the way for me. However, one song I do has to be dropped to Eflat, or 1/2 step as I believe it's called.

    I was doing it by ear, just hold one fret down from the E on the A string, and tune the E string until it's the same. However, live, no one is giving me any time to do that, they seem to forget and just start the next song (I told them I really, really, didn't want to start having to tune things for one song, but I of course was told to shut up).

    So, I grab my tuner, and will set the hz to ?? 440 is normal, what is 1/2 step down? 439? 435?

    I feel silly asking but a quick google search and I still couldn't get the answer.

    So, I ask the masters at TB.
  2. You have a 5 string bass in standard tuning and your guitarist is tuned in Db? If yes, you don't need to adjust your tuning since you axe goes down to B as it is ya dig?
  3. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
  4. stflbn


    May 10, 2007

    Why not just play the Eb on the B-string?
  5. synterx

    synterx Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    I don't see what I think I need in that chart.

    My tuner, all my tuners only go down from 440 in 1 increments, 439, 438, 437, 436, 435 and that's it. I was assuming I need to pick the right one and then when I hit the E string, it still says E and I tune the normal way.

    I'm looking for quick and foolproof with the tuner. Hit a button, turn the string down until I get the green light, play. Then after the song, kill the flat mode, and tune up to E again.

    Is that now how it's done?
  6. If you're playing a 5 string, I'm not sure I understand why you need to change your tuning. You have access to the E flat on your B string.....
  7. synterx

    synterx Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    I apologize, my original post I put Db, but that was a mistake, it's just standard Eb.

    I tried, but the song uses an open E string, the way the riff goes, it's near impossible to do it on the B string of a 5. Trust me I tried. It's Quiet Riot's Cum on feel the noize. The original bass dude, not Rudy Sarzo BTW, does some little run up riffs that bounce off the open string, and it sounds really bad when I try to fake it without using an open string.

    Our band plays the cover songs absolutely as dead-on as the records, it's our "claim to fame" if you will.

    It sounds fantastic with the open E, sounds lame with out it.

    So, does 1/2 step down not equal 435/6/7/8/9?

    I've been tuning just the E and D strings 1/2 step down as those are the only 2 strings I need. The other guys in the band don't seem to realize it's a pain to do that for one song, because the guitar guys all have drop tuning guitars sitting there already. I am a minimalist, I have one bass on stage, with the other in it's bag nearby in case of an emergency.
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Umm....your tuner, when in standard 440hz, will tell you when you are playing an Eb. Just detune your bass until the open string reads at an in-tune Eb.

    Tuners don't just tell you if the open string is in tune or not- they tell you whether any note on the neck is in tune or not.
  9. As Jim Carr stated above, the answer is 415.

    But what you really need is a "chromatic" tuner that will display the note you are closest to, then show whether you are sharp or flat relative to that. So in this case you'd just drop your E until it reads as Eb, then tweak it until it's in tune -- and repeat the process for Ab, Db, Gb (and Bb on a fiver.)

    EDIT: Or, for not much more than the price of a good tuner, you could get one of those ultra-cheap SX (Essex) basses to use for the modified tuning. Personally I'd much rather take a second bass than try to retune between songs.
  10. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Do they still sell non-chromatic tuners?
  11. DaveF


    Dec 22, 2007
    New Westminster, BC
    Step 1) Buy a Hipshot Tuner with the quick-downtune function

    Step 2) Install on bass

    Step 3) When the tune is called, flick the lever and your E-String will drop to Eb

    Step 4) Thank me.
  12. synterx

    synterx Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    Ah, that would explain it. I will do it that way. The reason for all this is I have 2 tuners, one has a Flat button, I hit it, and it literally let's me tune to E, but it's giving me Eb, which is nice and quick and easy for my pea-brain. After the song, I'd hit the Flat button again, and tune up as normal. But it has no backlight and I can't see what I'm doing, so I bought the same basic style tuner but with a backlight, and it does not have the Flat button. It has modes and functiion buttons, so I assumed it had the Flat feature builtin somewhere.

    Anyway, after playing around, I will just yank the string down until Eb comes up and go from there.

    415, that's the magic number.

    Why on earth to tuners let you tweak the pitch in 1,2,3,4,5 increments? Why bother? It's so slight I can barely hear the difference?

    On some stages I do take a 2nd bass ready to play, but seriously the last few shows were so cramped on stage, I literally had room for one bass on a stand. 6-piece 80's rock band, with 2 marshall 1/2 stacks, and big 76-kdy synth stand that the owner insists on facing forward every gig. It's nuts. I show up with my one 1x12 or 2x12 vertical cab, one bass, I need 18" of width on stage, and everyone else keeps bringing their full festival rigs. They make fun of me because I stroll in with one little cart of stuff, and it takes them all 5 and 6 trips to the car (yes, they don't even use carts...). It's kind of like a cover-band version os Spinal Tap in many ways.

    I digress.

    Thanks for the info.
  13. synterx

    synterx Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    I already emailed Hipshot about the tuner. I thought of that weeks ago. But the Hipshot guy said it would be a $150 custom model because it's not on the E string of a 4 stringer. It has to be custom made with an extension. That, and I wanted it to match the tuner on my bass, black tip with chrome shaft.

    I almost had him do it, then I snapped out of it. $150 for one song makes me ill. I'm hoping the song gets dropped in the future...
  14. ExaltBass

    ExaltBass Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Twin Cities, MN
    Do you have a second bass that you can tune to Eb-Ab-Db-Gb? I used to do that for Eb tunes in worship team.
  15. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Well, there is definitely a difference. And there are a number of reasons that tuners can be calibrated to pitches other than 440. For example, if you're playing with an acoustic piano, it might not be precisely at 440. Even well-maintained and frequently-tuned pianos can drift as the result of temperature and humidity changes. Also, some orchestras tune to a reference pitch other than A440.
  16. Those increments aren't for tuning to a different note, they're for ensembles that tune to something other than A=440. The 440Hz isn't your E, it's the A at the 14th fret of your G-string. Changing that setting is not what I would advise for down-tuning a string. If you're tuner won't tune an Eb then tune the first fret of the bottom string to an E, and that will make the open string an Eb. The fact that it lets you change from 440 suggests to me that it is a chromatic tuner though, so just tune the open string to Eb using the chromatic setting.
  17. T-Forty

    T-Forty Guest

    Mar 14, 2008
    Just wanted to say it stinks that your band doesn't give you enough time to down tune. It shows a complete lack of respect for you and for the performance. Very amateur.
  18. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City

    +1, as long as you have time to change.
  19. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    i know it has probably been discussed w/ your band, but why not play it up a half step? it's a small change that the audience would never realize.

    a hipshot might not fit for your purpose anyway- the footprint of a hipshot probably wouldn't fit between the B and A strings.

    you could capo the 4th fret for an open Eb on the B string. you'd have to work out a a new fingering, but it would work.

    being able to tune a tuner is for tuning for well-tempered or equal tempered music (not equal tempered).
  20. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I think he's saying he only needs to detune his E string. Either way, altering the hz is the wrong way to go if you have a chromatic tuner.

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