If you tune down a 5 string, (A standard or Bb standard)

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Gigglingbuns, Apr 23, 2019.


  1. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    What string brand/gauges do you prefer to keep the tension useable, or to maintain tension. The reason I say string brand is because different brands do their own thing with strings that will change the tension, feel, gauge, compared to others. I'd like to stick with roundwounds but there's not much preference of coated vs non-coated.

    Bass: TRBX605 34" scale
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  2. Geri O

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

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I didn’t want a bass with an alternate tuning, so I install Hipshot D Tuners on all my basses. With a .135 B string, I can get s solid low A if I don’t hit the string too hard.
     
  3. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
  4. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
  5. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Actually, the tone with those strings was EXCELLENT, no complaints at all. I thought that set was the best balanced out of any of the three or four that I tried on that bass. It was a limba-bodied Gecko with solid rosewood neck and EMG MMTW pickup...

    Mind you, low A does sound kinda 'sub-sonic' no matter what is playing it, but I used it in one song to good effect, in passing :)
     
  6. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    That said I think I'll go for it, I'm gonna try to start getting use to Bb standard. Thanks for the suggestion! In terms of longevity in tone how would you compare it to other common string brands?
     
  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Gigglingbuns there is no need to change string brand or string line unless what you use doesn't offer a larger gauge.
    To maintain tension, for Bb standard add roughly .005 or .010 to the gauge of the lowest string, for A standard add .010 or .015 to the gauge of the lowest string. A .145 works very well for A.

    .129 may not be large enough a gauge for A, it will be ultra low tension. .129 is low tension even for B.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  8. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Sets with .140 or .145 for the lowest string are very rare, so it's best to buy a heavy 4 string set plus a single .140/.145.

    The important issue is, what gauges are you currently using for B standard? What brand / string line?

    To get some perspective, a .129 tuned to A has the tension of a .085 E, only roughly 27 pounds of tension. Tuned to Bb it has the tension of a .090 E.
    A .145 tuned to A has the tension of a .095 E, not excessive, in fact still 'light'.
    Also keep in mind you have a 34" scale which requires a larger gauge for a given tension.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  9. JmJ

    JmJ

    Jan 1, 2008
    NYC
    I've been using a .120 B string for years but I have come to love the reduced tension, full step bend? No problem!
     
  10. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    I'm using a 130-105-85-65-45 (B standard)that a guy slapped on this bass not sure what he used. I find the D could be lighter. I think I'll settle on Bb standard. I'm not crazy about balancing tension but I'd prefer a more balanced tension over tight upper strings
     
  11. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Thanks. Assuming you will tune to Bb standard:

    Physics would suggest a .135 or .140 to maintain the same tension at Bb. The Kalium tension chart, based on actual string mass data, and using it to approximate other brands, suggests the same. Maybe try a .135 first as they're much more available.

    The sequence .105 .085 .065 .045 has the middle 2 strings tighter than the others. So i suggest using a .110 to maintain tension on the Eb, but leave the .085, .065 and .045 the same, since you find the D tight (indeed in most mainstream bass sets the D is tightest).
    Why not use a .050? Because going from .045 -> .050 is a huge increase in tension, even though you are detuning by 1 semitone the tension will still rise significantly.
    So .135 .110 .085 .065 .045.

    Unfortunately most string manufacturers use a gauge step of .005 across their range of gauges, but .005 in .045 is almost 3 times as much change as .005 in .130.
    Kalium, for example, smoothly adjusts the size of the gauge step across their range of gauges, in a way that keeps the tension change caused by a step equal.
     
  12. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    Thank you for this, I'm a lot confident about getting the appropriate gauges now. Quick question, Kallium strings are hex-cores?
     
  13. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    I'm not necessarily suggesting Kalium, but yes they are hex core.
    Their 'Hybrids' have a nickelplated steel outer layer and stainless steel layers beneath.
    Their 'Steels' have all layers stainless steel.
     
  14. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    any other experiences with this?
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I tune down the B to A sometimes and I use the same 120 Dunlop Super Bright Nickel string for both. I guess some people like heavier gauges but not me.
     
  16. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    I've seen a couple gospel bassists to tune down use Dunlop super brights.

    Kenneth "Kaybass" Diggs: uses a stainless steel set tuned to A standard. I heard the super rights are relatively more flexible strings compared to other brands. He mains a MTD 535 it's a 35" scale and it sounds great, big, and when he chords it's very crisp, probably more his technique but it's a really good tone. This guy is a tone maniac, he always says tone can make/break gigs, a good tone + pocket,l. He's a pretty successful musician.

    Frank Brunot: uses stainless the 45-125 set, tuned to Bb standard I believe, he has 3 bass mods basses (all 34" scales), all slightly different electronic configurations but also a nice thick tone.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  17. Gigglingbuns

    Gigglingbuns

    Aug 26, 2017
    I need more input on this, now I'm really leaning towards A standard, who has experience with this?
     
  18. IPRAYB4IPLAY

    IPRAYB4IPLAY

    Jan 29, 2019
    This is only MY suggestion, If you want to tune down for any reason and sustain a really nice tone you really should do this with a bass that is 35 inch scale or longer ( why ) because that scale length will hold a very nice tone when tuning down to B flat or even A. 34 inch scale basses are not designed to tune down although you can but the sound you will get in B flat or A tuning will be muddy no matter what string gauge you use in my opinion. I have a Melvin Davis MLD 5 string 34 inch scale that I tune down to B flat and I use DR High Beams with a 125 on the B string. It sounds amazing and you just have to play with a softer touch but you will love the sound of the B. I would not tune it down to A though because you will loose tone sonic with A tuning on any 34 inch scale bass, but B flat with DRs you wont go wrong. IMO I want my sound crystal clear every time I play my bass especially when I'm tuning low. This may also mean that you may have to change your strings more often to have that clear sound always. I change strings once a month, It can be expensive to do this but if you are a tone freak like me it is a must do if you choose to tune down. Hope this helps you bro and again I say I AM NOT TRYING TO STEP ON ANYBODY'S TOES IN HERE, I JUST LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS WHAT WORKS FOR ME. Below is 2 songs of our band with me playing my bass tuned in B flat.
     

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  19. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    For A standard:
    If you want to preserve the tension of the lowest string use a .145.
    Then above that, for a somewhat equal tensions set, i suggest roughly .145 .110 .085 .065 .050.
    However, a smaller gauge like .135 might work better for some people, to gain the advantages of more flexibility (at the expense of lower tension).
    I have used a .145 at A (on 35" scale). I used to think a .130 or .135 was ok at A but Skip of Kalium encouraged me to try a .145, it seemed much better to me, the extra tension seemed to support the vibration better for a 'tighter' tone. Worth trying.
    Make sure it's a taperwound string. I found D'Addario tapered .145s very good, very flexible, fairly clear and intonated well.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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