King Crimson with a 4 String?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. I only have a 4 string in standard tuning. I'm saving up for a 5 string, but in the meantime I'd like to learn some King Crimson material, and I'd prefer to stay in standard.

    I initially thought a lot of their material (at least their earlier stuff) would have been in standard tuning, but after a bit of Googling, it seems that Fripp tunes in fifths starting on the Low C. It also seems the Chapman Stick, which I believe was first used in KC by Levin, is also tuned in fifths from the Low C.

    Does anyone know if they always tuned in Low C, and if not, when they made the transition?

    EDIT TO ADD: I just read this interview with Levin and he mentions that in KC he tunes the Stick in standard 4ths... But I believe the Stick has 5 bass strings, so it could very well start on a Low B.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
  2. NealBass

    NealBass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2014
    I play Crimson all the time on my 4 string and don't even think about the tuning. I don't think Greg Lake/John Wetton or Tony Levin adjusted their tuning to Fripp, either. Even the Stick bottom end stuff can be copped on a 4 banger, if you're creative. I believe Tony went to the Stick on Discipline/Beat/3OAPP, mixed with the 'Ray (and some Moog). He went 5 string 'Ray and Grand Stick (12 string) on ThraK.

    [EDIT]- To answer your question, Fripp went to his New Standard Tuning on Discipline (80?), I believe - with Crimson anyway. I think he used it on Exposure (solo) fist (79).
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
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  3. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Fripp's low C guitar tuning -- which I believe is in 5ths for 5 strings and then the 6th (highest string) is up a major 3rd -- was adopted in the late 70s or early 80s So all of the "classic" Crimson tracks from the 70s (e.g., Greg Lake, Boz Burrell, or John Wetton period) were played with standard guitar tuning. Sometime during the Tony Levin period is when Fripp started using the weird 5ths tuning with KC.
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  4. Awesome! Thanks guys!

    I was guessing anything before Discipline was most likely in standard... There's definitely some material on Discipline and onwards that I'd like to learn, but there's a LOT of great stuff before then that I'll take!

    If I learn all of the pre-Discipline stuff and still don't have my 5'er yet (it will take a while to get), I'll give it a whirl on my 4 and get creative if I need to.
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  5. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    And, if I am not mistaken, Julie Slick does a fine job on some o f the later Crimson stuff on a 4 string in standard tuning.i am big Tony Levin fans and love those three 80s KC albums, but my favorite stuff to play in bass is the John Wetton period.
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  6. I guess you're referring to the Crimson stuff she plays in the Belew trio? I did think she played with KC, but I could be mistaken.

    I can see Wetton's stuff being the most fun to play, but I really like every era of KC. The early stuff (Lake, Giles, and Burrell), Wetton, the Levin new-wavey sort of stuff (not as new wave as other proggers went through though), and Thrak and all the ProjeKcts stuff that came after.

    I really dig KC's composition style and want to study as much of it as possible.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
  7. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Played Crimson for years, especially from Discipline, Beat, Three Of A Perfect Pair. Four strings all the way and no issues. Saw them live just afterwards: Fripp, Belew, Levin, Bruford. One of the best concerts I've ever seen.
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  8. NealBass

    NealBass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2014
    The Wetton era is probably my favorite. I love playing Red, Larks Tongues and Starless the most. They also give me the most trouble :banghead:. Playing / singing 'Great Deceiver' is one of the hardest songs I've ever done, for some reason. It has the weirdest beat on the verses. ThraK would be my next favorite. I purchased a Stick (10 string) back in the '90s, but it wasn't for me. Think I'll give Red a spin today. It's been a while.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  9. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    It's a minor third on top. :) CGDAEG. The mnemonic is California Guitarists Drop Acid Every Gig.

    There is a band called the California Guitar Trio. They're not from California; they get their name from their use of this tuning.
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  10. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Julie played with the Crimson ProjeKCt, which was a combination of the Adrian Belew Power Trio (Belew, Slick, Ralph) and Stick Men (Levin, Reuter, Mastelotto) that grew out of a tour the two bands did together the first time under the name "Two of a Perfect Trio." They toured for a couple/few years playing mainly Belew-era King Crimson material. Often Julie would play bass while Tony played stick, but sometimes they both played bass. In both this band and the Power Trio she plays her four-string almost exclusively, bringing out her VI (with standard E-to-e guitar tuning) only occasionally.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  11. Oh awesome, thanks for the detail!

    Has anyone listened to any of her albums? I was reading up some stuff on her last night and they seemed to get fairly high praise.
  12. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Oh, man, I don't know where to start. Her two solo albums, each with star-studded guest lineups, are both great, as are her two more recent albums with Italian bassist Marco Machera -- the second of which was released under the band name EchoTest. You can check out all that stuff, and more, here:

    Subscribe to Julie Slick

    Here's the current EchoTest lineup live, with Julie on her VI:

    You're welcome. :)
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  13. Awesome! I look forward to digging into it. Thanks!