1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

How to play Drop C without 5string bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lostintime, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. lostintime


    Feb 23, 2013
    Hello,i am a new bass player and i play with a 4string bass.I was recently invited to join a metal group but the problem is that the y play with drop D and Drop C.i am ok with Drop D but they told me that i need to buy a new bass with five strings if i want to play Drop C(or i can buy another 4string bass and set it as it should so to be able to play in drop c ).I am sorry im my english is bad and i hope i exlplained it in a good way.The conclusion is:right now ,i can t afford to buiy a new bass,is there any way to play with my 4string bass in a normal tune but in Drop D and Drop C as well?
    Thank you very much,Greeting from Greece:)
  2. Volpe25


    May 5, 2012
    Restring it with the low B of the 5 string so that your 4 string is tuned BEAD.
  3. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    You might be able to use BEAD depending on how the songs are written but if it's fast music with lots of open notes buying another bass might be your only option.
  4. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    Or you could tune to d-standard (DGCF) and get a hipshot d'tuner to get to drop c (CGCF). that's cheaper than buying a second bass and you'll be able to get the open d as well as the open c in the flick of a switch. DR makes a series of strings made for downtuning (gauges between the usual 4- or 5-string sets) called Drop Down Tuning. I'm using the 115 set right now in d-standard and it could easily handle drop c.
  5. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    The problem is he wants to tune to standard as well, could do BEAD then change to CEAD or BDAD if the riffs work in them tunings.
  6. lostintime


    Feb 23, 2013
    i am a girl!but yes,that s right i want to tune normal as well(thank you very much for your answers till now):)
  7. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    my bad, sorry.
    I've heard about a double stop d'tuner. that'd let you tune your e to d and a step further to c. I never tried it but I imagine the low c would be very floppy.
    have you already played with the band? if you're already playing with them does it work to play the riffs an octave higher (without open strings)? if it works you'll be fine with BEAD, if it doesn't you're gonna need the open low strings (at least in the beginning) and that rules out the standard tuning.
    If you can play in CEAD or BDAD that would be great but if you're still a beginner it's probably not very easy to play in those tuning. it still would confuse me after over 5 years of playing. but maybe it's just about getting used to it.
  8. remainthesame


    Sep 24, 2008
    if you raise your action, you should have no problem playing drop C on a four string. in fact, as a 5 string player, i think it would actually be harder to play drop C on a 5er.

    But then again, im always afraid to tune up higher than the standard note that the string was intended for.
  9. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    You definitely don't need a 5-string bass... every bassist I've ever known who played in Drop C did so on a 4-string.

    However, it will be difficult to play in a band that plays tunes in both Drop D and Drop C with only one bass (you can easily change from Drop D to standard, so I wouldn't worry about that part). If you must do so, your best course of action is probably to get the bandmates to arrange your practices and gigs so that you play all of the standard/Drop D songs in a row and all of the Drop C songs in a row. In that case you simply change the tuning once per practice/gig, which isn't optimal but would get the job done. You may need to spend some time finding a set of strings that works well for you in both tunings, but it can be done.

    Edit: The above all assumes that you are in a rock/metal band that plays open notes on the lowest string a lot, which usually means that it would be difficult to play the songs if your bass's tuning doesn't match the guitars. If that isn't the case, then simply keep your bass tuned in Drop C or C-standard and play everything like that (and then when they are in Drop D, you play everything two frets down because of the lower tuning).
  10. I play D Standard/Drop C on a lot of songs w/ a 4 string.

    I got the .118 balanced strings from Circle K & got it set up by my local tech. Plays and sounds great.

    Another addition I've been thinking of getting but haven't yet is a D tuner so I don't have to tune much when switching between D standard and drop C.

    If you need to be in both E standard and D standard then either play a 5 or switch between two 4s. Switching basses between songs doesn't take long at all.
  11. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
  12. gavinspoon


    Feb 11, 2008
    Cardiff UK
    When you say 'Drop D' do you mean DADG (just tune the E string to D) , or do you mean drop the whole thing to D 'Standard' DGCF?

    If you mean D and C 'Standard' then you can tune your bass to C standard and use a capo on the 2nd fret for D standard and 4th fret for E standard

    If you need EADG, DADG, and CGCF then tune it to DGCF and use a capo on 2 for standard, and either learn to retune the lowest string quickly (it's doable especially with a stage tuner) or get a hipshot like Ajak said.
  13. gard0300

    gard0300 Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Vandalia, Ohio
    I play 35" scale 4 string basses and I currently play 4-5 songs in Drop C. If the arrangement can be fingered correctly I prefer CADG tuning. But that's not always possible. Depending on the song, sometimes it's easier playing closer to the bridge for better string response and feel. I personally love the sound of an open C over a fretted C. Good luck and just about all things are possible with a little patience. :)
  14. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    just tune to drop C with heavier gauge strings. A 5 is not needed.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    If it were me in that band I would play a 5 string and tune it BEADG and use it for all of the songs.
  16. sarsippius787

    sarsippius787 Say it right! Say it with pleasure!

    Jul 10, 2013
    Puerto Rico
    Back when I had just one bass and little cash, I had to wing it with several tunings. Standard, drop D, D standard, drop C. It worked fine for me even with a .105 gauge for playing live and in studio.

    Heck, you might later conclude that you spent too much money to accommodate the band's needs and realize this wasn't the band for you overall.
  17. gavinspoon


    Feb 11, 2008
    Cardiff UK
    That'll work for some people, but it depends on your style. I build some parts based around open strings, as do quite a few people towards the metal side of things. As an example try playing this in BEAD:

    Everything'll be fine until you hit the vocal line "Happiness....." then it'll get a bit tricky keeping that low D pedal going :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2014
  18. SidMau


    Sep 3, 2012
    get a standard set of strings but replace the low E with another E string thats about at the 115 gauge, that should be able to handle a low C without being too floppy, and then if you dont want to retune it between every song (or if you want to change it mid-song) buy a hipshot bass extender (detuner) with a double stop lever
  19. marmadaddy


    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    I have Hipshot Double Stops on both of my Precisions and use 100s on the E string. I have no problems at all when I drop them to a D or a C.
  20. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    That's not always possible, especially in metal, one of the songs my band has just written is in Drop C#, some riffs are straight 16ths at 156bpm, with the open C# they're played on one string, in BEADG you'd need to play across 3 strings, not going to happen at that speed.