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Hyperbass scale length and altered tunings

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Bassist4Life, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    The scale length on the Hyperbass is 34". Did you consider 35" scale length when you worked on the design of your Hyperbass? Taking the E string down to C makes the string floppy (on my bass). Would a 35" scale significantly improve this issue?

    I have been trying out altered tunings as a result of reading your IIB feature interview. I tried tuning my bass:
    F# B E A ("solo tuning" for double bass). Would a 35" scale create too much string tension? Will too much string tension ruin my strings? If the string doesn't break or come apart, could the tension break the core of the string?

    I also tried other tunings. One was: C G E A. This created an uneven amount of tension on the neck. I was thinking to myself, "If I leave my bass in the tuning for an extended period, am I going to ruin my neck?" What do you think?

  2. Widener


    Nov 21, 2004
    Aptos, CA
    Just a quick observation: The Hyperbass is really designed for piccolo string gauges; I don't even think the nut would accomodate normal gauge strings on mine. So 35" scale might not help since you're using alternate tunings that sound good according the the string gauge and tension, and you wouldn't take an E piccolo string down to C. It really doesn't even sound that nice at E! More likely, you'd tune the Hyperbass up, not down. When Michael plays the solo tunes that are rooted more in the "bass" region, downtuning the E string, he uses more normal gauge strings on his other fretless. So I think it's just a case of using the right tool for the job, and the Hyperbass doesn't really like to be tuned too low, not unless you string it with normal gauge strings--which Joe Zon has told me is certainly possible, with some modifications.

    Don't let your bass sit in high tensioned tunings for that long, unless you have a graphite composite neck.
  3. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Thank you for clearing up my confusion. I was not aware that the Hyperbass is primarily designed for the piccolo strings. Due to this fact; I should change the title of my post, but I don't want to create confusion.

    I am not playing on a composite neck. I have a MIM P-Bass. The neck is very sensitive to string tension. I like exploring altered tunings and I am considering a Zon in the future.

    My questions/concerns still stand; however, I am directing these concerns at .040 - .095 strings.

    Thanks for clearing up some of the facts for me.

  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Actually, I have no problem tuning my .052 string down below low E! In fact there’s a tune on the new bass trio CD I did with Yves Carbonne and Dominique DiPiazza where I use the Hipshot to take it down to C# for a section. Is it floppy down there? You bet! But I really liked the way it fit into the vibe of the song and I had big fun playing it. As I‘ve said many times, the tuning of a string is a very temporary state. If you don‘t like how a string feels or sounds for a particular part, it‘s incredibly easy to change the tuning to something that works better. You might have to open your mind a little bit, but that’s the fun part!

    I hope I can encourage you guys not to be afraid to think outside the box if there might be something there you care about. It’s good to consider the nuts-and-bolts aspects of what you’re doing, such as if you might do harm to your instrument (even then, I’d say an instrument is really just a tool for making music and by playing it at all you are “harming” it), but in my opinion, the real goal is making music you feel is moving and meaningful. If that means breaking the rules a little now and then, that’s just fine!