how low is too low?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by CJ_Marsicano, Dec 14, 2001.

  1. i play 5-string... and i honestly can't fathom why anyone would drop the bottom two strings down a whole step like a certain deservedly maligned bassist does... i can understand dropping the e down to d to facilitate playing a bass line written in drop-d properly (had to when i was figuring out songs from mike watt's "contemplating the engine room" album), but the b string down to a? isn't b low enough?

  2. phogchris


    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    What's low enough or too low for you is for you and you only to decide. You should never limit what you do because others don't agree with your views. I drop my B to an A, I do it because this is how my band tunes. And to answer your question, I guess low B isn't low enough...for me.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Apparently B isn't low enough for Fieldy or john turner. Funny how much they have in common huh, cuz I can bet you the comparisons don't stop there. Where was I?

    Oh yes, I would imagine that first it would depend upon the quality of your instrument and amp. I've played many 5string basses with low muddy Bs. Why would I want to tune down to A when the B sounds like crap? Assuming the bass can do it and your amp can handle it, producing a solid, clean tone, then why not? It just provides another alternative for something to do. Any good musician should always play what's appropriate for the moment. I would probably imagine that a low A wouldn't be "needed" all that much in popular music, but it just really depends upon the song. A good musician will play what works and sounds good. If it's a lot of low A, then fine, but one should always be careful of playing too much of anything, i.e. too low, too high, too fast, too slow, whatever it is.

    That being said, in my experience, I have never had a desire to produce a sound lower than that of my low B.
  4. Why detune a 5-stringer to play drop-D songs ?
    Just play it on the B-string..

    imho, ff you detune it for this purpose, you're just a no-good lazy sh.. who needs to learn how to play bass properly :) but that's just my 2-eurocents worth..
  5. phogchris


    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    No offense, but an open D string sounds COMPLETELY different than a D on a B string, so there is a reason for it...I have no problem playing in drop D, but I never really have.
  6. As far as I'm concerned, tune down however you want if it helps you make some good music. That means going as high or as low as you need to.

    As far as practicality goes, I don't think much below low F# would be either audible or reproducible by amp/cabs.

    I remember a lot of arguments about drop tuning here. What exactly is wrong with tuning DGCF as opposed to EADG? Or is the argument mainly with dropping one string?

    Ever since I've started listening to Michael Manring, I've become a believer in altered tunings.
  7. phogchris


    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    And Allodox, you just called one of you influences a "no good lazy sh...", Dorian 27 drop tunes!!!
  8. phogchris


    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    Alot of the modern metal bands do tune to A, but I think that it is essential to make that low note sound clear. I readily admit that the bands I am/have been in tune low, but there is a clarity that we have been able to acheive that makes it not sound muddy. That is the key....
  9. I'll agree with that. We go half step flat, and it works great. For some odd just feels better. Plus I like the lower tension, but it's not so low that it sounds like crap. BTW, I'm downtuning a 5 string. For open D songs, I'll just a 4 string. I can play the hell outta my 5. No sweat. But there are instances when drop D is needed, instead of a 5 string. Truth.
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    My Cirrus 6 sounds great tuned down to F#, too bad that I don't have the money to buy the equipment needed to reproduce the fundamental at a useable volume.

    I remember somewhere in a thread someone mentioned an 8 stringer that uses a low G# below the low F#! That must be in the 19hz range!
  11. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I'm going to have a 39" scale, 9 string bass made by <insert company name here>. The higest string on it will be equivilant to G on a standard-tuned 4 string.
    high to low:
    G D A E B F# C# G# (Yb#iii*%)

    That last string (Yb#iii*%) is a very special note, because only whales and elephants will be able to appreciate it. Hence, I have given that note it's own name, due to it's incredibly low lowness. The note name (Yb#iii*%) was derived from an interpretive dance that I once saw 2 walrus' do to Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons". Somewhere around the low C# to G# range, I'll be able to start causing involuntary bowel movements for the poor bastards in the audience.

  12. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Hey beermonkey, what gauge will you use for that Yb#iii*% string? :D
  13. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Oh wow, the half-man, half-shell fish has brought to my attention a very, VERY important thing! String gauges!!!


    along with special note names, that string also gets a special gauge; one that's not even a number but a color. :D
  14. That would be crazy! Isn't the "average" low-end hearing threshhold at 20 Hz?

    I would venture to say that's the point where we've reached the answer to the thread title's question. Once you go below what most people can hear, you're too low. :p
  15. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Breaking kayfabe and not looking anything like Lita or the Hardys either, I have played in a band which wanted me to tune down my five string to the point of Fieldy-like standards. That required the highest guage strings I could find. Then I discovered I had to buy strings with the tapered end, so the end would fit through the bridge holes. Then I discovered that the B-string often broke at the bridge because it was too delicate for my aggressive attack with a pick. I also needed heavy guage Gator Grip picks, but still wore them out in an hour.

    I love the deeply tuned down sound, but wonder if it is a fad that will be passing soon, just as Seattle grunge disappeared rapidly and boy bands are dropping in popularity. Two of the four rap artists named for Billboard awards were children, Lil Romeo and Lil Bow Wow and Lil Romeo won! And Destiny's Child has broken up many music styles just come and go so fast.

    Deep downtuning has been in since Sepultura and Korn. That is what? About six years? So I suspect it will soon be passe, but what do I know? I don't look like Lita, afterall.(Or Trish either.)
  16. The cool thing about Korn is that the actual note from the downtuning is normally lost due to Fieldy's muted slapping. :p

    I'm not for sure it will be a trend that will pass us over. I think downtuning will always be a part of certain musical styles. Now, those musical styles certainly aren't going to be popular forever. They'll just be driven underground for the most part.

    I personally don't have a problem with that. I would actually like to see uptuning catch on.....

  17. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I think going down to an A is allright... JT has a bass (or two or 20) with low F#s... besides... if you can sing lower than a B its worth tunning down... I sing low Gs.... but I wouldn't tune my bass like that.. but if you can get it to sound good that low.. go for it :)
  18. on mike watt's "contemplating the engine room" (the entire album) and on "drove up from pedro", the bass parts were written for drop-d. i have tried using the d on the b string but the bass line often ends up calling for the e string to be dropped because of the open notes and the fret positions.
  19. hey, bro. stop picking on my avatar, you miserable little toerag! :p

    no they haven't. beyonce knowles (dc's lead singer) put those rumors to rest last week on e!, and the band released a formal statement saying that they're not disbanding today. all they're doing is taking a year off from the group to do side projects.
  20. you must mean 39 cycles below the lowest e-flat, like in that south park episode. :)