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Most popular alternative tuning?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Thomas Kievit, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    I don't know why, but for some reason I think it's Drop D.
    I was talking with somebody about these alternative tunings and we were wondering what the most popular alternative tuning is.

    What's your idea on this?
  2. Metal bands have been using dropped tunings for a while. Jazz guys developed 7 string archtops, often tuned to dropped A to allow them to comp and play bass lines. This was often so a band could get by without a bassist and split the $ less ways. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of dropped A on my archtop because I use too many inverted 5ths and dropped A sounds too muddy to my ears, even with a .070 and 27" scale.

    Acoustic guys have been using a lot of interesting tunings like DADGAD, DADGCD, open d major, etc.
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    When guys bring me their guitars or basses for a setup, I ask them what tuning they want their instrument set up for. More often than not, gigging musicians in my area use either a half step drop tune for the guys playing classic rock and country. Modern rock guys usually use drop C#. I would say that those two tunings are more common than standard or drop D as far as guys playing in serious bands.

    Bedroom players, or guys that just get together with their friends to jam once in a while usually ask for standard or drop D.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  4. adi77

    adi77 Banned

    Mar 15, 2007
    i use d,g,b,e sometimes
  5. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    It may not be popular, but with the music I play, and not liking how B strings need to be a slightly smaller diameter than a mere math application may indicate, I tune low B up to C, so that the overall bass is C-E-A-D-G.
    Mushroo likes this.
  6. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    Drop D.

    We tried 1/2 step down-tuning at thee guitarist request. After 4-5 weeks he admitted it was a little to mushy feeling and sounding for him. And he picked up some fret buzz from the reduced tension.:laugh: He doesn't touch his own setup so that was a real burn for him.

    *I have one 5vr I keep tuned DEADG just for one song. Allows me to drone the low D with my thumb while comping double stops elsewhere. BOT
  7. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    My five string is tuned to D-G-C-F-Bb. I got special string gauges for this tuning. (I have written about it elsewhere on the forum) I did the intonation and action myself. I use this bass for drop D; songs tuned down 1/2 step, and songs tuned down a full step. Of course, I'm weird.

    I didn't realize you actually played bass. I thought you just came here to post OT. :)
  8. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    I think, for me at least,..they are:

    D A D G, or D G C F, or Eb Ab Db Gb, or Db Ab Db Gb

    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  9. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    So if I´m correct then your 5 stringer is tuned down from High C (E A D G C) to D standard?

  10. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Other than metal players, drop D, and E flat.
  11. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    I'm amazed you own instruments. ;)
  12. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    That is correct.
    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  13. My last bands
    Sludge: Drop A
    Metalcore: Drop C
    Death Metal: Drop D
    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  14. Death/thrash metal here, and I like to keep everything symmetrical, so D standard for me. Its bad enough trying to fiddle around on guitar and having that stupid B string mess me up all the time.

    And yes, I still tune D standard on my 6 string bass.
    DwaynieAD likes this.
  15. Qua Veda

    Qua Veda

    Jul 26, 2014
    I'm a beginner, but am intrigued by seeing bass soloists (some on 4strings but some on 7+ strings) playing in alternative tunings. is this because certain tunings make it easier to play a 'drone' with chords, or do some tapping, or play open chords and create cool atmospheric sounds? if so, I'd like to start learning to do that. Currently I have BEADG tuning. What might be a good alternative for me to try?
    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  16. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    If I think about it, for me personally it's more about playing in something that I don't really recognize/familiar with (as good as standard EADG tuning, at least) -which I like, creativity wise and as I am an 'easy to get bored' person-, which pull me out of my 'comfort zone' when at the same time challenge me & opens up to a lot of new possibilities I can't easily get with the standard tuning.
    Aside of that, the 'old habit' of playing in standard tuning, when accidentally being played on a non standard tuning bass, sometimes create a strange beautiful unpredicted result :)...So I my self don't really practice much in the alternative tunings, instead I let them to stay being some kind of 'new things' for me. Hopefully that can make me fresh.

    And then of course there's somebody who does the alternative tuning for the purpose(s) just as you mention (make it easier to play something, create 'cool sound' -whatever it is- etc).
    But that's a bit different from me.
    And yeah I think it's nice if you'd like to learn it, including find your 'own' alternative tuning...it's interesting.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014
    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  17. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    If you really want to know you would start a poll in the Basses forum where it would get the most traffic. Hopefully the moderators would let it stay there. Of course with the wide variety of tunings already mentioned the poll would have a thousand choices and each would get one vote!

    I tune in fifths, initially to avoid the "need" for a five string. By now I have finally come to terms with five and six strings but I stick with fifths because I really like the tuning. Specifically I tune CGDA(E(B)). My six string is a Squier VI so not your standard six string. Although there are a few of us here who tune in fifths I am pretty sure that ours is not the most popular alternate tuning.
    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  18. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Well it depends on a few things : some actually do this so they can play chords easier, or do some tapping. Others do it to get a lower register and create their own sound this way. Personally, I don't like standard tuning at all. I prefer Drop A tuning on a 5 or 6 string bass. In case you are not familiar with this : the low B string goes down a whole step to A, the rest is tuned standard (A E A D G C). I like the lowness you get a lot, also position wise you can do some stuff easier than when tuned in standard.

    If you want to start out you could do the same and tune the low B down to a low A. If this is something you don't like, go for Bb tuning (better known as half step down) : Bb Eb Ab Db Gb. Just give it all a try and see what you like.

    bluesdogblues likes this.
  19. Qua Veda

    Qua Veda

    Jul 26, 2014
    Thanks to BluesdogBlues, khutch, Thomas, for the suggestions. I expect that 90% of the time I'll be practicing and playing solo. In that case tuning all the strings down a half step wouldn't really change things much - would it? hmm... I'll have to try these tunings to see. 5ths sounds like it might be interesting, but I'd probably have to change the upper strings to make that work. I know that Chapman Sticks are tuned in 5ths.
    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  20. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Based on the sheer numbers in the goofy-retuner-crowd, around here, I'd say: E, A, D, G.

    You are not presenting a clear reason as to why the Chapman Stick uses that system.

    The lowest pitched string - on the Bass Side - is near the middle of the neck. The open string pitches ascend, as the strings approach the outside of the Touchboard.

    Thomas Kievit likes this.

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