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How is an upright bass tuned?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by CitricGuy, Jul 8, 2003.


  1. I'm trying to learn to read sheet music but all the music is writen for an acoustic upright. I own a 5 string electric (B-E-A-D-G) and after a bit of searching I couldnt find how an upright is tuned. So I guess my questions are 1) how many strings do standard upright basses have, and 2) how are they tuned from low to high? Is it the same as its electric cousin?

    ps - sorry if this is in the wrong topic.
     
  2. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    An Upright bass is tuned just like a 4 string electric. Low to high, it's E A D G.

    Music doesn't depend on how the instrument is tuned. The notes are the same. A D will always be a D, etc.
     
  3. stuie86

    stuie86

    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    well while im a a player of its "electric cousin" i would think its tuned the same....:p
     
  4. Thank you very much for getting back to me, im going to go get a bunch of old jazz and blues music to start learning =) I had another question though. How do they get the incredably low, crisp, clean tones on stand up basses? Im assuming they make them in a 5 string too? Or do they need to down tune or get new strings or how does that work?

    ps, sorry for the double post, im trying to figure out how to delete it as i submit this.. :)
     
  5. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    If you want to start learning to read music, don't go to jazz books. That's learning to do run marathons before you can walk.

    Go to www.musictheory.net and do each of the lessons, starting at the beginning.

    You will not only learn to read music, but you will be able to write it, know it before you hear it, and you will understand how it works, which is like nothing else in the world.
     
  6. Im gona start on that right now. Thank you for all your help! Ive wanted to learn this stuff for years now and finally Ive got the drive to do it :) Ill be reccomending www.musictheory.net to LOTS of friends.
     
  7. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    And no, upright basses are only in 4 strings. Advanced models have a C extender which makes the E string longer, going down to an open C.
     
  8. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Good to hear it, and good luck!:)
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I have a 5 string upright bass!!

    [​IMG]

    Tuned BEADG !
     
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    They make 5 string acoustic basses as well, and Ratzo Harris even plays a 6 string acoustic! (All Hail) Bob Gollihur sells 5 string bulgarian basses on his website.

    And they're tuned just like my 4 string - with those gold things at the top. :D

    Edit: Here's a pic of a 5 string that Bob sells:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Double Bass does sound very different for manay reasons - but the most obvious difference is that a typical DB has 42" scale length and so the strings are much longer than on a BG with 34" scale length.

    Everything is bigger on a DB and it requires more effort to move the strings - the "envelope" of the sound is different - so DB has a much faster decay with a bloom at the beginning - whereas BG is a more consistent sustain through the envelope.

    Also - BG usually has an unnatural mid-range emphasis - whereas DB has more of the low fundamental tone - although they are in fact the same pitches - you hear them as very different sounds.
     
  12. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Until I hold and play a 5 string upright bass, I refuse to admit they exist :D

    Fancy photoshopping you guys did there :D
     
  13. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Believe it!! I have a 1930's 5-string, (at least for one more week). They were typically more common in Europe.

    Monte
     
  14. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD



    ;)
     
  15. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Hey Citric; you might be interested in this link to the site for the Hawaii Intl. Jazz Fest. July 18-19 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, and July 25-26 at the Wailea Marriott, in your neck of the woods. I'll be there with a couple of bands, and you can check out a couple of other great bassists too (John Kolivas and Byron Yasui). There are clinics during the day, and I'll be running the jam sessions afterwards.http://hawaiijazz.com/

    I have a cool CD that a saxophonist turned me onto a couple months ago...whole bunch of jazz fake books burned onto one CD. If you have a way of duping it, you can borrow it. I play near you 4-5 nights a week.
     
  16. Hey thanks, that would be great! When and where do you usually jam?
     
  17. I took a fluffy hair tie and put it around the seccond frets of my 5 string BG to help mute the strings for slap bass solos and it worked great for that, but when I strummed it gave it that fake fast decay which was pretty cool. Of course it wasn't close the real thing, but it gave it a much more DB sound. Would that be because of the faster decay or am i just hearing things?
     
  18. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Citric...Mondays at Mulligan's 9:00-11:00 with Gypsy Pacific...Tues-Fri, Four Seasons 8:30-11:30 w/ Sal Godinez....Saturdays, Maalaea Grill 7:00-9:00 w/ Shiro Mori. These are my steady gigs as of today; I'm often not on them because I freelance and end up subbing them out a lot. I always try to have top quality players sub for me, like Bob Harrison or Doug White. I'm listed in the Maui phone directory if you want to chat.

    A good way to fake an upright sound on BG is to pluck the strings up past the end of the fingerboard. Use a light attack and turn the volume down a bit. If you get it right, it works pretty well.
     
  19. Hey, I know Sal. I've known him sense 6th grade. I went to school with his kid all the way through highschool! I'll give you a call some time if thats cool, if nothing else I'de love to hear you guys jam sometime.
     
  20. kip

    kip

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    Fluffy Hair Tie?

    all those lessons, all that pain, all the $$.