Low C sounds horrible in a Drop C tuning

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by DimaLancaster, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. DimaLancaster


    Feb 11, 2017
    Hey everyone~

    I hardly ever ask for advice on forums, but this is an exceptional situation, as I'm completely clueless about what to do next. Here's the deal.

    I'm a studio musician and I've been recording stuff for years and years, but one problem has always persisted. The low C string on my bass has always sounded very strange. The tone is very shaky and dull, especially above the 5th fret. First I blamed it on my instrument (which, to be fair, was crap - I had a $150 Yamaha bass that my friend gave me).
    Now I've purchased the Epiphone Thunderbird Classic Pro IV and I've had it for half a year. I've adjusted the truss rod, the intonation and the string height.
    Everything sounds perfect except for the low C strings and I have no idea what to do with it. So please, if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to throw 'em at me.

    Some info about my setup:
    - I'm recording the bass through a SansAmp Bass Driver DI right into Pro Tools;
    - I play in standard drop C tuning, C-G-C-F;
    - I use Daddario EXL160BT Balanced Tension strings, .50 - .67 - .90 - .120 (change them every 2-3 months).

    Hope you'll be able to shed some light on the issue! Thanks in advance!
  2. SpasticTastic


    Dec 22, 2012
    Try a thinner gauge string.
  3. bigtoughsimmo


    Aug 21, 2016
    Might be uneven frets
  4. DimaLancaster


    Feb 11, 2017
    Could be, but shouldn't it affect all strings? Because I'm only having problems with the low C, others sound perfect
  5. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Have you changed strings? You might have just gotten a bad string...
  6. DimaLancaster


    Feb 11, 2017
    Well I've changed the strings three times already and it never changed anything. My suspicion is that something is wrong with the actual string position cuz even non-amplified it sounds a bit duller than the rest
  7. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I would say the opposite, .120 is awfully thin for a decent B, let alone a C.
    joebar and mech like this.
  8. DimaLancaster


    Feb 11, 2017
    You think so? This set was supposed to be 'optimized for drop tunings', but I'm not that sure anymore cuz I've literally tried everything except for that. So what gauge we're talking then? .130?
  9. RickyT


    May 29, 2015
    Dee Why
    Get a 5 string set and use the thickest 4 strings, get a set with at least a 130 B string (or C string in your case)
    wcriley likes this.
  10. Dale Griffith

    Dale Griffith

    Jun 6, 2016
    You're only dropping the 3 higher strings one step (2 frets), but you're dropping the E string TWO steps (4 frets). It's bound to be floppier. I'd go with a light gauge B string from a 5 string set and leave the upper 3 strings as is.
  11. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    No......he would need a thicker string for that sort of "drop" tuning.
    wcriley likes this.
  12. Grumry


    Jul 6, 2016
    I have a 4 with 55-110 in CGCF and a 4 with a 5 set up to 130, and and if I tune them the same, the 130 always feels better in CGCF.

    How does your set feel DGCF, before you drop to C?
  13. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    no offense to your choice of instruments, but if I was recording stuff, I would be using slightly better stuff than a $150 bass.
    IME, cheaper instruments have difficulty sometimes reproducing the really low frequencies. its more miss than hit.
    also, with a 34 scale instrument, going past the fifth fret can sound the way you are describing it-thus the argument for longer scale basses. on my 5 string (as good as the B string is), I wouldn't bother going past the first few frets; that's where the clearest tone is.
    a 120 is too thin for a low C IME as well.
    DimaLancaster and mdogs like this.
  14. SpasticTastic


    Dec 22, 2012
    The reason I said try a lower gauge is because I find when my string gauge is too thick, the sound becomes duller and more wooly. I think dropping down gauge would help tighten up the sound. At least it did for me.
  15. I did a C droptune on a Mikro a few days back. (From EADG).

    These were guitar strings because I was going "piccolo".


    (a) I was going to droptune to B. Couldn't do it. The strings were just, by that time, too floppy and loose, and every string, while playable, sounded like crap.

    C was as far as I could get way with and still sound o.k.......but it was just borderline o.k.

    (b) I then decided to take the upper 4 strings from the guitar set and use those instead of the bottom four because they would all be thinner and more bendable/playable.

    I would leave these tuned to EADG.

    The upper strings would now be downtuned by default but still be EADG.

    I did this and it worked BUT:- even at this tuning it was borderline in "sound". Very bendable for sure but no way could I go lower than that in tuning and still sound good.

    As some have said, downtuning works better with thicker strings it seems.

    But there's the tension factor too. A downtuned string that was quite low tension to begin with is, IMO, not going down the ladder very far before it sounds like crap.

    Downtuning changes the tone and timbre. (At least it does on mine).
  16. DimaLancaster


    Feb 11, 2017
    I'll have to try it in that tuning, since I would always tune to drop C as soon as new strings are on
  17. DimaLancaster


    Feb 11, 2017
    yeah I agree the $150 was crap, but I picked up the bass in question, the Epiphone Thunderbird, for around $450. And tbh, it sounds amazing and gives enough bass, it's just how unstable the sound is when you go up the fret on the low C. But yeah, I guess it might be the strings then.
  18. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    I'm using .115 .090 .070 .050 for drop C on even cheaper epiphone thunderbirds, 2006 MIK goth, 2015 Thunderbird IV china. No problems there. Perhaps you are twisting your low string when installing it?

    When they go dead I soak them in denatured alcohol. No way could I get 2-3 months out of a set though, I tend to soak them after a week or 2, but I have string killer pH and like a snappy tone.

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