how to transpose open tunings

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by drewphishes, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. drewphishes

    drewphishes Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2017
    possibly auditioning for a black crowes project. Most everything I find chord sheet wise is in open D or G. How do I transpose this to bass?

    I play a 5 string so have plenty of notes. just can't figure it out
    Thanks for the help
    JRA likes this.
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    In what sense do you need to transpose? Are the charts not written in the key to be played?
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  3. drewphishes

    drewphishes Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2017
  4. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
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  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i'm with steve: what's there to figure? guitars are playing what they play and you play the bass part! right?

    don't try --- it's guitar tab! :laugh: listen to the bass part and copy that: it's an easy part.
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  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Are you good at reading 6-string EADGBE guitar TAB? Open tunings work pretty much just the same as regular EADGBE guitar TAB. The only difference is that that the fret number is in relation to how the string is actually tuned. (Not the standard pitch.)

    Specific to "Stare It Cold" by the Crowes: Strings 2-4 are tuned B G D, just like standard tuning, so you read those exactly the same as normal.

    String 6 is tuned to low D, but isn't used at all in the song, so you can ignore it.

    So the only thing that's really "weird" about this guitar TAB, is the 1st and 5th strings. They are tuned down a whole step, from E to D and from A to G respectively. But look at what's actually being played: The 1st string (high D) is only ever played as an open string, and the 5th string (low G) is only ever played as an open string, or as an octave power-chord with the other G string (which you are already good at reading, because that's the same as standard tuning).

    So in conclusion: Assuming that you can read standard EADGBE guitar TAB, then this open tuning Black Crowes TAB is actually really easy to read. It's just the same as standard BGD tuning on strings 2-4, and then you throw in a droning low G and high D as necessary.

    Does that make sense? Can you see now, how it is not that different from standard EADGBE guitar TAB? All of the strings are tuned to either D, G, or B, and (assuming you are an experienced guitarist, or if you play 5-string bass) you should already have a good mental map for notes on D, G, and B strings.

    And of course, the guitar TAB doesn't teach you the bass part. At the end of this whole exercise, you still need to learn the bass parts, by some other method. (Such as by ear.)
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
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  7. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I agree, get a chord chart and listen to the recording. It's a pretty basic bass part, mostly roots, nothing fancy.
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  8. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    I was going to say "just play the notes" but that sounds flippant. It seems like you're relying on tab and looking at the open tune guitar tab for clues as to where the notes are? I would suggest not doing that. Instead, learn where the notes are in each chord on your fretboard, and use chord charts to show you what chords you're working with.

    Bass players have an advantage in that almost every major chord on the fretboard is shaped the same. Same with minor chords, same with diminished chords, etc. Once you know the actual chords you can play the arpeggiated versions however the song requires. Don't really need tab or detuning for that.
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  9. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Saying that, the chords can be deduced from the TAB without too much difficulty:
    • The notes in the first chord are G, D, G, G (8th fret B string), and D. Those are the notes of a G power chord G and D
    • The notes in the next chord are C (10th fret D string), E (9th fret, G string), G (8th fret B string) and D. Those are the notes of a C9 chord - C, E, G, D
    Continue in similar fashion...
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
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  10. drewphishes

    drewphishes Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2017
    I mostly just wanted the chords in lead sheet form so I could follow and go from there
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    If you pass the audition and get the gig, it will be good to appreciate how open tunings work, so you can understand what the guitarist is playing.

    Using the trick I mentioned above (that all of the 'important' notes are played on strings 2-4, that are in standard tuning, strings 1 and 5 are just droning open strings, and string 6 isn't played at all) can you make sense of this TAB now? Can you see for example that the first chord is GMaj?
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  12. TrevorR


    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    There are plenty of chord sheets available as @SteveCS demonstrated above. Problem sorted! Google “chords” not “tab”!
  13. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Nothing confuses me faster than ascii art guitar tab :poop:

    Just give me the notes on the staff or a recording to transcribe. There's not a whole lot of musical complexity to figure out, right? Seems like learning the bass line by ear would be the easiest path forward here.
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  14. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    If you are reading charts then there is nothing you need to transpose. You just need to know where the notes are in the new tuning.

    if these are tabs then I think you just follow the tabs as written since its all finger position based regardless of tuning.
  15. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Right. When I'm trying to learn a new song I start (after listening to the song, of course) by Googling "nameofsong chords," which usually turns up several different versions. Once I figure out which version seems most accurate/useful I can usually figure out the bass part by ear based on that, but if I need a little help I'll Google "nameofsong bass tab." I rarely follow the tab note-for-note -- often they're not accurate, or they use different fingerings than I would prefer -- but usually it gives me some ideas about how to figure out a tricky part.
  16. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    I have a music degree and I can't make heads or tales of guitar tabs. I would just listen to the song and write down the bass notes letters as they are played. You'll have to go through it a few times but, that is how I would do it.
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  17. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Except that your instrument tuning must reflect that in the TAB in order to produce the correct pitches from the given locations.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses

    Instant chords for any song - Chordify

    This web site is great. it gives you chord changes in real time while you play along with the song. It is computer driven and sometimes it makes a mistake, but most of the time it is correct.

    This is my preferred method to learning songs.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
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  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses

    some a little bit and some a lot
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  20. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Play in D, or G