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Orchestra vs Solo tuning?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Zedlee, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. Zedlee


    Jan 5, 2005
    I appologize for the elementary question...but...

    what is "solo" tuning and what is orchestra tuning?

    I tune my bass E A D G...

    thank you!
  2. You tune your bass in the standard orchestral tuning. Solo tuning would bring the bass up one whole step to F# B E A.
    Ash Hines likes this.
  3. Solo is just up a whole step. Like Paul said you're in orch tuning EADG and SOLO is F#BEA. Solo is mainly used for well... solo work like concerto's. See what will happen is you could be in the key of lets say C and your accompaniment will be in the key of D a full step up. Accompaniment will always be either +2 #s or - 2bs. If your in F they'll be in G or if your in Bb they'll be in C.
  4. Very Bad things.

    Seriously, don't do it. You can end up ruining your strings or even breaking them.
  5. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Not to mention the extra stress it puts on the bridge/top...(I think, right luthiers?)
  6. You could also snap the tail wire.
  7. I now have solo strings but I used to tune my regular strings up to solo. I was scared they would pop but the only thing I noticed is the sound post had so much pressure that you could see it was trying to push the back off. Nothing really bad happened but I wouldn't do unless you absolutely have to. It's worth buying solo strings. Most solo strings can be tuned down to orch without any problems but some get to floppy. Get some good solo's that you can tune down you'll be happy.
  8. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I wouldn't worry about purchasing solo strings unless you really think you need to for some reason. These days you can find most solo tuned pieces in orchestral tuning. I think having two sets of strings is a pain if you're doing equal parts orchestra and solo work...unless you have two basses I suppose. Just my 2 cents
  9. It's a pain, but it's no more difficult than carrying around a bass, bow, and stool up a flight of stairs.

    And ignore Mcnaire. You should NEVER tune orchestral strings up to solo tuning. You will completely ruin the strings and run a risk of causing permanent damage to the instrument.
  10. I believe I mentioned buying solo's to tune down to orch.
  11. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    no...not unless you absolutely need to...just don't...period.
  12. There are also those guys who tune in 5ths. From bottom to top C G D A. Of course it isn't "solo tuning"....but it's relevent.
  13. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski

    May 13, 2005
    I agree with mcnaire. I usually tune my orchestra strings to solo pitch. I've also found that rubbing down the top of my bass with steel wool and rubbing alcohol improves the tone of the orchestra strings tuned to solo pitch. My newest experiments involve playing bass underwater. So far I've found that Testore and Panormo basses have the best sound when submerged. Don't listen to these squares, all that following their advice will give you is a well maintained instrument.
    Ash Hines likes this.
  14. i really don't see the point of orchestral tuning.

    tuning in fifths... thats cool. i can see the benefit in that. my teacher does it. who knows... i may end up doing it some day too. next year i will be having the same teacher that he did. meh.
  15. I don't know whether to respond to this as if it were a joke, or request that others not do this?

    As for the "point" of orchestral tuning: you can't be playing a step above the orchestra all the time....not if you want to make it professionally. Or even in a middle school orchestra. And I'm not the kind of guy to slap on solos and read a part down a step either.

    I would like to try out 5th's tuning though. There are a few technique books on it out there, and some bassists swear by it for playing cello suites. Unfortunately, you would need to buy a solo G (A) string, tune down the low A string to a G, and invest a thousand or so into a C extension. Anybody who complains about paying a few hundred for solo strings would not be interrested.
  16. You don't need a C extention to tune in fifths. In fact, that would somewhat defeat the purpose. All you need is to buy a C string for a five string bass.
  17. bierbass


    Sep 5, 2005
    Knoxville, TN
    Yes, he was joking.
    The point of solo tuning... solo tuning is a convention for when somebody plays a solo. It is not intended to be used when you are playing in orchestra. One characteristic of solo strings is that they tend to be brighter sounding than orch. strings. Therefore they project more and can be heard better. Here is the rub... much of the solo rep we play was published before the advent of steel strings. Therefore there was more of a need to get the bass to project. So for instance on the Dragonetti Concerto, the bass part was written out in G major but the accompaniment was in A major. So while the soloist is blissfully playing their G Major scales, arpeggios and harmonics, they will sound in A major for the accomp while the solo strings are installed. Now then, since installing strings on a bass is a pain in the butt, and we spend 95% of our lives as bassists playing orchestral rep. someone eventually recognized the need for piano accomp. parts in "orchestral tuning" that is down a whole step. So instead of the accomp. for Dragonetti being in A major you can buy it in G major. Keep in mind that big publishers like International who publish the majority of our rep. (or used to)are profit minded. They are reluctant to invest in new editions of the old rep. figuring that there aren't enough of us out there to make them money. But thanks to guys like Frank Proto ( formerly of the Cincinnati Symphony) who recognized the need for piano parts in orchestral tuning, there is now an abundance of rep. available in orch. tuning.
    Now the only person I've ever heard of who stayed in solo tunig while playing in a bass section was Edgar. Back in the 80's he played in the Nashville Symphony. Most people tune there solo strings down to standard tuning when they have to play in orch. As for tuning in fifths, that is a seperate issue from playnig solos that have the accomp. in a different key than the solo part. Just my .02.
  18. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    Yea, Edgar recently did the Rossini duo here in NYC. He played on solo strings. My teacher was talking to him about it and he said that at this point, he doesn't think of it like you would typically think of solo strings...He's thinking about what note he's going to play regardless of tuning...rather than thinking of what written vs. what's sounding. My teacher also played the Rossini recently and tried it on solo strings and said he liked it that way. Something to consider if you're willing to put the effort in to learning it like that...
  19. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    Scott Dickinson - Buffalo Grove High School Bassist, Soon to be Bassist at Northwestern

    I took my M.M. there as a bass major... Loved it. Good Luck!
    Tom Gale
  20. Wondering if the cello also tuned up a step. There's that arpeggio section in the last movement that pretty much depends on the open A as kind of a pedal point. I'm sure EM figured out a way to make it work.

    As long as we're on the topic, do any of the other string instruments use solo scordaturi?

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