How do I drop to D and keep the string tight?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mebusdriver, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. I've got my action pretty comfortable. Everything feels right until I drop to D. Now do I have to set the action on every string or is it possible to just tighten my E when it is tuned to D. D is the tuning I use virtually all of the time so I won't be tuning back and forth.
  2. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    If you have individual saddles, you could just adjust your E/D string. If you play mostly in dropped D, you may consider a larger string size for that string. Ex. if you gerenally use a 100 E string, you might move to a 110 or something heavier. It will give more tension.
  3. Check the Labella site for Hard Rockin' Steels, then check the gauging on the M70 set. They're heavy, gauged pretty much like flatwound Jamersons and are for folks who like telephone pole sized rounds AND for tuning your entire bass a whole step down (D - G - C - F). They are HEAVY in low mids, just letting you know, and they work as advertised, a nice THICK sound. You want meat, they've got it. Likewise, if you're a flatwound player, it seems you could get the same effect by using the LaBella Jamerson set and tuning your bass DGCF. Of course, if you have become so used to that irregular interval between the 4th and 3rd strings that you want to continue with it, you could order singles, say the 4th from the M70 set and the rest from the M45 set, or some similar thing with the flats.
  4. Yeah I've got individual saddles so that will work. Now the only question is how to do that? Do I do it with the truss rod or the saddle? This is the best answer I've received thanks.
  5. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    Saddle! Don't touch your truss if everything else is fine. What kind of bass is it? Could you post a pic of the bridge? I am not an expert, but many others here can help you. You might think about the string idea.
  6. Here's the bridge. It's off a BTB.
  7. darkspec


    Jan 2, 2003
    Cleveland Ohio
    Why do you want to drop to D? I mean, you have a 5 string, tune the top string D. The BTB has a 35 inch scale for tighter tension. But strings could be the anwser. I was going to suggest get a 5 string pack and put on the 4 heaviest strings. Thats what I do, but IDK now. BTW, I want to get that bass soon, how does it feel and play?
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'd suggest going with Stubi19's suggestion about the strings. Here's my reasoning:

    1. If you adjust the bridge saddle, you can make the action higher or lower... but the tension on the string will still be the same - looser on the bottom string. If you adjust the saddle in such a way that the tension is where it was before, you'll find that you're playing an... E :eek: (for a string of given length, mass and composition, tension and pitch are directly proportional).

    2. What's the difference between a set of medium strings and a set of heavy strings? The medium strings will use thinner gauges - therefore, we can deduce that a thinner string gives lower tension and a heavier string gives higher tension for a given pitch.

    3. How much do you have to change the gauge to get a consistent tension for a different tuning? Take a set rated at 100 - 80 - 60 - 40. That's 20 steps between each string. Compare that to the five semitones between each string (eg. E - A) and you can see that you're looking at about 4 steps for each semitone.

    Therefore, using that rule of thumb, if you like the tension of a 100 - 80 - 60 - 40 set, but want to detune the lowest string to D (down two semitones), you'd ideally want to swap the 100 gauge string for a 108 gauge one of the same type (construction / manufacturer). However, you'll probably find that you can't get a 108... but either 110 or 105 should do the trick.

    Give it a shot and let us know how you find it... but I'd suggest leaving those bridge saddles alone - they're for setting action and intonation, not tension.

  9. Stu L.

    Stu L. Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    You mean, I WAS RIGHT!!:D
  10. Dude...if you got a 5 string then there is no need for D just use B (I think they are the same?)

    Help me out here...

  11. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    I see no point to detuning the E to a D if you can just hit the 3rd fret on the B string and you will get the same thing...just without all the hassle. drop D tuning is meant for 4 stringers....since there is nothing any lower than E normally, but it is needed. 5ers eliminate this problem.

    Of course, If you have the thing normally strung with a high C instead of a low B, Ditto to everyone else's sugestions.
  12. I play a 5 in a few different tunings. There are plenty of reasons to want to tune it down. It depends on what you're trying to play. If you're playing a tune that rides the low D, it's nice to have that open string. I play some D-based songs in standard tuning and others dropped a whole-step. For some songs, it just makes more sense to play in first position dropped a whole-step rather than play the whole thing in 2nd position a string over.

    To answer the original poster's question, there are two ways to increase string tension, increase the scale length, which you can't change on your bass, or increase the string guage.

    Thrash Gordon
  13. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Yeah - you were right. Get used to it, man :cool:

    As Brian says, there are valid reasons for detuning, even with a five string. Although the bass is normally tuned in fourths, there's no reason why you shouldn't go for something different if it suits the music you are making (just go ask Michael Manring ;) ).

    Actually, it might be worth searching to see if Michael has said what string gauges he uses (and asking on his forum if you can't find it). I have a feeling that he goes for a fairly light set to start with - maybe they're already so light that a tone either way doesn't make a significant difference to the feel, whereas it's more noticeable on a heavier set?

    That's just a hypothesis, but someone like Michael would be able to give a more definitive answer.

  14. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Louisiana, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    to save michael the trouble, he uses d'addario xl280 strings. the gauges are .020-.052. :eek: i'm not sure if this is so tuning changes are less noticeable, but i'm pretty sure he likes higher tunings than a lot of bass players.

    i presume this also makes it easier to use the ebow on the lower strings.
  15. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    That's frighteningly light! However, it probably confirms my theory... ;)