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G# Tuning

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HarleyD, Aug 2, 2012.


  1. HarleyD

    HarleyD

    May 8, 2011
    Hey guys does anyone know how to make a 4-string sound good when tuned in G#? and yes i know a 5-string is the soloution but i only have a 4-string Corvette $$, thanks
     
  2. pattyløve

    pattyløve

    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    You could string it with the top 4 strings of a 5 string set. Ie the B, E, A and D strings. Make sure your truss rod is adjusted accordingly and check your intonation afterwards as well.

    My mate who records heavy bands has this set up for his studio bass.
     
  3. HarleyD

    HarleyD

    May 8, 2011
    Ah yeah, thats a good idea, might do that when my strings need a change, i only put a set of DR strings on two weeks ago, thought id give em a go, I might try the GHS Boomers next. thanks for the help mate, even though my strings will be a thicker guage will i still be able to play in standard tuning if i want to?
     
  4. pattyløve

    pattyløve

    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    If you tuned BEAD to EADG, youd be putting a lot of tension on the neck. Probably not a good idea
     
  5. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    "Probably"?

    Try "the worst idea you ever had in your life". Holy exploding basses, Batman, are you sure you mean G#, and not C#?

    The gauge of a normal E string on a 4-banger is around .100. The normal B string on an extended-range bass, is around .130.

    The poor man's way to get down to G#, is to use the four thickest strings from a 5-string set, and start out in BEAD tuning. It's going to be pretty floppy when you slack that .130 B string off to G# (the equivalent of going down three frets), but it will work with some adjustments, like re-cutting the nut slots, and adjusting the bridge and truss rod.

    If you really want to do it right, go to Circle K, and get a proper 4-string G# drop tuning set. They're not real expensive. I think that would be about a .158 for normal tension at G#. It would feel and sound pretty much like standard E tuning, with no fret rattles or weird intonation problems, but all the way down at G#. You'd have to do the same mods to your bass as for the BEAD set, plus you might have to drill out or replace your bridge.

    But now that you've got it all set up for low G# tuning, you want to tune it all the way back up to E standard tuning (damn near an octave), without even changing the strings?

    Not a chance. You better hope the strings or the machine heads break before the neck does...

    To put it into perspective, that's like taking your Corvette as it is now, and tuning it all the way up until your low E matches the C# on the fourth fret of your A string.
     
  6. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    BTW, on a 4-string down-tuned to G#, your top string is going to be tuned to B. As in the B at the second fret of the A string, in standard tuning.

    Forget about not having any top end, you wouldn't even have much in the way of midrange...

    Personally, if I was going to tune my bottom string all the way down to G# below low B, I would either want to tune it in 5ths, like a cello, so that I still had some high range left. Or I would want a 5-string, so that I could have a high E string, and not lose half of the "money notes" in the first position...
     
  7. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    Chicago
    Why would this be done? I have a drop D Hipshot (don't know why, I barely use it), and I have enough problems figuring that out.
     
  8. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    You've gotten sound advice but I think all of us are confused about what you mean by a G# tuning. Five string basses are not tuned to G# on any of the five strings and all the G# notes that they do provide are already found on a four string bass. On the one hand we think we know what a G# tuning is for you but since a five string will not normally provide this you confuse the situation when you say a five string is the answer. Also, the most natural way to downtune a five string and maintain as much commonality as possible with a standard tuning is Gb-B-E-A-D. In other words it is Gb not G#. A standard G# tuning would be G#-C#-F#-B-E (which is also Ab-Db-Gb-B-E). If you need more help you need to be more specific about what pitches you plan to tune the four strings to.

    Ken
     
  9. HarleyD

    HarleyD

    May 8, 2011
    The song i am playing os Evisceration Plague by Cannibal Corpse, the tuning it has givin me
    is G# C# F# B E, Only the first three strings are used, so in other words i either put up with the ****** quality of my strings rattling or buy a 5-string or even 6-string
     
  10. plainman

    plainman

    Apr 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    Since you only need G#, C#, F#, what about tuning down half a step and using the top 3 strings? Or putting a capo on the fourth fret?
     
  11. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    That is a reasonable suggestion but I suspect that will put him an octave above where he wants to be. If he is complaining about his strings rattling he must be tuning a standard E string down to the G# below that (and the other strings too, of course). Getting a proper set of strings on this bass for this tuning will require some nut slot filing. The only way a five string "fixes" this issue is that its heavier bottom four strings will rattle less when down tuned that far. Not ideal but certainly better than the standard strings. Worth a try I suppose. You will probably have to file the nut to make the strings fit so work carefully with a set of round files and make sure you only make the slots wider, not deeper. Other options are to buy a set of nut files in the right width from someplace like Stew-Mac or have a local guitar tech do this for you. The best option for good tight strings is to go to Circle K and buy a set specifically for this tuning. They will be wider yet and require more extreme nut filing.

    In terms of going back to EADG tuning, yes you can, but you will have to switch strings to retune due to the tension issues mentioned above. Many people who have filed their nuts to accept BEAD strings (the five string option) say that you can go back to EADG without replacing the nut, no problems. If you go with the even wider strings made specifically for this tuning then you may not be able to go back to EADG without replacing the nut. I don't know of any experience base here on TB with switching between these two tunings. If you are going to need to switch rapidly between the two tunings then you would have have to get a cheap second bass to retune and then switch basses when you need to switch tunings. Or capo but that loses you nine frets and I don't think that will be feasible.

    Ken
     
  12. HarleyD

    HarleyD

    May 8, 2011
    Ah ok then, thanks, I have a Yamaha RBX 270J, thats a cheap bass maybe ill mess around with that one, rather than attempt or risk damaging
    my Corvette.
     
  13. I prefer Ab. Just sayin'
     
  14. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Just another thought:

    Down-tuning by a half-step, a whole tone, or even a major third makes sense to me. Gives you a darker sound, puts you in a new mood, kind of like a guitarist picking up a baritone guitar or a 7-string.

    But extreme down-tuning by this many steps, defies the physics of live sound.

    The low-end cutoff on the vast majority of bass cabs is not 20Hz, as per their advertising materials. It's around 50Hz. Ditto for virtually every FOH subwoofer you'll see in the sort of clubs and halls that most of us play in.

    So when you play a low B on a 5-string bass in a live situation, all you're really getting is the second (octave) harmonic and up. Effectively, it's not really an octave down from the B at the second fret on the A string. It's just the same B, but with different overtones.

    Given that a low G# is WAY below 30Hz, the situation gets even more tenuous with extreme down-tuning.

    So all that effort to downtune to F# or G#, carving on the nut and opening up the holes in the bridge for monster bottom strings (or even swapping in a topload bridge) is just to get a different tone on the low G#, not a different note.

    Corvette's have a nice growl to them, when they're properly set up. I bet that with the right EQ and pedals, you could get a rockin' low G# on that Cannibal Corpse tune, just by playing your Corvette in standard tuning, and camping on the E string.

    You would know the difference, but dollars to donuts, no-one in your audience would...
     
  15. HarleyD

    HarleyD

    May 8, 2011
    Ah thats alright, thanks for the help mate, Im just playing at home. Im not in a band at the moment, i really do need to buy some pedals though. I love the sound of the Corvette, i wouldnt file the nut or anything, shes great just the way she is. Ill have to save up and buy a 5 or 6 String.
     

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