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I MUST choose between these two basses tomorrow morning!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Geri O, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I got a call today for a gig with a Nashville artist that will be very cool. It's THIS Friday (April 23rd)! However, I was told that the singer sings all of his songs a 1/2 step lower than recorded. If his charts were Nashville (number) charts, no problem, I'd play the songs in those keys. But I hear from the keyboardist that it's best to tune down to Eb. I really don't want to put my Mike Lull bass through that, not to mention, I have gigs before and after that Friday! Later on, if I do more gigs, I'll know the songs well enough to play my regularly tuned bass.

    So for now, I'm considering setting up a bass strictly for that 1/2-step down tuning. I would prefer a Jazz-style 5-string bass. After a thorough search of all the stores and listing within 100 miles (new and used), I can come up with only two choices...A Yamaha TRBX505 and a Squier Contemporary Active Jazz HH. I'll get to they them tomorrow. Both basses review pretty well. I was curious if anyone had experience with either of these basses. I'm leaning toward the Squier because I prefer a maple fretboard, but they will both get a fair shake. Both basses are out-of-the-box as of today, so I'm taking some set-up tools as well.

    NO, I'm not going 4-string. Or other choices running against my preferences. Both of these basses have a pair of humbuckers, which is already a little off the mark, but for a few gigs and to see if I'll get any more, I think I will be fine if I learn the songs thoroughly and well, set the bass up properly for the lower tuning, and simply concentrate on playing like me, which has carried me a good ways down the road.

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  2. James_E

    James_E Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    I don’t get why you don’t just tune the mike lull down for this gig. What’s the concern? It will easily handle it. Tuning down takes less than a minute. Tune it back up after as well. Perhaps intonation won’t be absolutely perfect without adjusting that but the bass will easily handle it. You are not putting it through any stress.

    but on the other hand... buying a new bass is always a good idea.
  3. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    I don’t understand the need to down-tune if you have the 5 string.
    viper4000, retslock, FFFH242 and 49 others like this.
  4. danbones


    Sep 24, 2017
    Los Angeles
    is the concern with defining the mike lull a half step... that you won’t get to buy a new bass? because i can’t think of a single reason why that bass wouldn’t handle it. even setting the intonation will take less time than it will to change strings on guitar with a floyd rose. but buy a new bass if you wanna!
    Tbone76, retslock, obimark and 18 others like this.
  5. Mighty Thumb

    Mighty Thumb

    Jun 17, 2006
    Congrats on the gig! Have a great time! I played a lot of years in bands that tuned 1/2 step down and never felt like I needed a special setup. However, far be it from me to discourage you from picking up a new bass. I’m going to go against the grain and say, go with the Yamaha. I think you’ll have more tone options, build quality should be more consistent and I’m going to guess lighter weight too.
    dkelley, Lenny JG, tindrum and 3 others like this.
  6. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    I play all my basses in regular tuning and half step down all the time. Fenders, Ricks, vintage Ibanez. None of them have any issues whatsoever. I would never even think about playing a Squire in that situation, whether people want hear it or not, you will be judged.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  7. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    In year 5 of our Country band, singer(s) requested tune to Eb. I just cranked the Precision V & the Dimension down. No biggie.

    First few shows were tonally weird but, the singer(s) were grateful.
    dkelley, Lenny JG, makaspar and 4 others like this.
  8. bigdaddybass12


    Feb 26, 2021
    Sounds like a reason to buy another bass!
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Unless the tunes utilize a lot of open string licks (and you will have to learn the tunes either way), I see no reason to get another bass (especially such a lesser instrument). Learn them in E tuning.
    Seanto, Rip Van Dan, dkelley and 4 others like this.
  10. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Of course, I may be over-thinking things as far as the drop-tuning. I have gigs before and after the drop-tuning gig and I figured it may be easier to grab the one I need instead of retuning. As far as using the 5-string, if I had time to write number charts, playing in standard tuning worth be perfect. But the charts I just got are all chord charts and in the original album keys. And I have tonight and two more days to learn 90 minutes of songs. When I have more time and can write my own number charts (and more thoroughly learn the songs - It ain't as easy as it was even 10 years ago. Old age, I guess), I'll play it in regular tuning.

    And of course, what's really wrong with getting a new bass, even if it's inexpensive and nothing like my Mike Lull?
    And I may get to the music store and hate them both! Back to Plan B and drop-tuning The Lull.

    As they say at the Retina Recovery Project...."We shall see".....:D
    pcake, dkelley, kesslari and 4 others like this.
  11. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: DNA Amplifiers
    Tuning down a half step and fretting as though playing in the record key is super common here in Nashville. I started out playing a five string and just transposing in my head, but it ended up being just too easy to tune down. When I started singing, I really appreciated it on long gigs.

    I would also just tune down the Lull and tune back up for the other gigs. Otherwise, I’d get the Yamaha.
  12. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    If I get to keep this gig, I'll definitely look for a Precision 5, regardless of how I wind up tuning!
  13. SLPimp

    SLPimp An Injury to One is an Injury to All Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2020
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    I used to tune down half a step for one band and then tune back up for other bands. Don't see the problem. It's not ideal, but for the money frets it should not be an issue.
  14. fishdude101101


    Oct 15, 2020
    I agree in most cases, but for my basses, I set the action so low that going down even 1/2 a step is buzz city.
    pcake, Paul New and Geri O like this.
  15. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Take your A game bass (the Lull) and just tune down a half step. It will take it just fine. Unless you have perfect pitch and OCD, I don't understand the aversion to tuning down a half step that I commonly see here. And to make sure I'm not talking out my butt, I just detuned one of my fivers and it took 30 seconds, intonation was fine, feel was a tiny bit looser but it felt good. Take the Lull, save the money, buy a nice shirt for the gig.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  16. Timmah

    Timmah Supporting Member

    May 19, 2011
    I play in two bands that use standard tuning and another that drops a half step. I use the same cheap P bass for all three. Never had an issue going up and down, sometimes even for back to back sets. The only problem I ever had was that a string broke, once, on the last song of a gig. But the string in question was about eight years old, and had been through that tuning yo-yo about a thousand times. I don’t believe it’s a concern in your situation.

    My crappy bass probably gets retuned three times a week and never bats an eye- your impeccably built Lull shouldn’t have any problems either
  17. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Well, I am a piano tuner, but no perfect pitch or OCD. Okay my fear is...or was...that I struggle a little to play not so hard anymore and that if I tuned down, I would have more fret rattle from the lesser tension. However....

    I just tuned my Lull down a half-step and played along with some of the new songs. And it's working! The intonation isn't off enough to worry about and as someone said, the money notes aren't up there anyway (although I make get up there just a little...:D). And as long as I keep concentrating, I won't play too hard to make it rattle. Also, later on, having the 5-string, I'll know the tunes well enough to play them in the regular tuning (transposing comes pretty naturally, thankfully). If I feel the need to, that is...

    So I think, thanks to some comments here, I learned something positive about my bass and I'll save a few hundred dollars in the process. And I can certainly use that time I was going to spend at the music store working on these songs.

    Thanx for the encouragement on tuning down, guys. And I can put that few hundred dollars toward another Stingray later.....:roflmao:
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I'll admit, it does sound weird at first. I don't have perfect pitch, but something seemed wrong but the tuner said it's all good.
  19. MachMike

    MachMike Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2020
    Yamaha 5 strings work extremely well, they sound great for any style and really settle in nicely in a mix on stage.
    Mighty Thumb likes this.
  20. Adienn7


    Jan 26, 2007
    turn down the treble.. play lighter in standard.. with a keyboardist there you'll be fine.. or you can give the truss rod a 1/8 turn back and turn down for one show.. most people in music are off pitch.. and the crowd won't know.. this guy is in a bind.. you are doing him a flavor.. be confident and have some fun.. you'll be ok..
    MegaSwing and Geri O like this.
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