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Playing jazz, need low D, retune or transpose up?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by big_z_in_miami, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. I am shifting from blues to jazz, and finding a number of songs use Eb or Dm chords. and I could use the D below the low E.

    It appears the band wants mainly walking lines improvised over the chords.

    I only have four string basses, so my options are: 1) just play the D where I have it available (lowest one on the A string), 2) shift the whole song (transcribe) up one octave, or 3) return my E string or all the strings down one full step(?).

    Comments on pros and cons of each solution? I don't really like retuning, although I have two basses so I can keep one tuned lower. I am not sure if running the D up higher one octave will ruin the walking line, although it seems in walking lines you sort of have to option to make jumps up or down as you wish as long as you keep the chord tones intact.
  2. JMimbs


    Jan 5, 2012
    Central Florida
    Well a Hipshot D-Tuner would let you switch between standard and drop D. As for retuning down or shifting the bass part up, that will depend on you and what feels the most natural.
  3. Listen to upright players like Ray Brown, Christian McBride..etc. etc...they don't have a low D and sound just fine walking over changes in any key.
  4. Agreed 100%.

    Personally, I was in a similar bag. I solved the problem by getting an inexpensive, quality 5-string from a fellow TBer on the classifieds. Haven't looked back.
  5. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Learn the notes in any key ... you don't need a low Eb or D to play in those key even if you want some note on the E string.
  6. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada

    +1 ....jazz players (standard jazz that it) are generally not concerned with drop tunings and hitting the lows the way a bass player playing modern country, pop or rock would be. they just work the fretboard as is ...
  7. There you go. Listen to what real jazz players play, and do what they do. The overwhelming, vast majority of these people play/played on 4 string basses tuned EADG.
  8. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    You don't need a low D for that. As already said, most walking lines have been recorded on 4-string basses (both electric an upright) tuned EADG.
  9. blakelock


    Dec 16, 2009
    everyone so far is soooooo totally right.....but the OP still needs advice.

    so, think about the Eb maj chord. sure, the root note might be a little high for your likings (first fret, D string), but there are several other chord tones that are lower (the 3rd is G and the 5th is Bb). you can play these other chord tones and use the lower notes of your bass. playing chord tones like this can be called an inversion but basically you're just finding the chord tones.

    woohoo! enjoy the ride.
  10. To all, thanks for the comments, I agree on the standard tuning working just fine, and I was starting to look at inversion for those few cases, hit the root higher up in register where it is available on the fretboard and then use the chord tones lower below the root in those cases. I have also thought about a 5 stringer, as even for blues it would be nice to hit the fifth below the low E on the first string.

    And I really don't feel good enough to start learning a new fret board with a non-standard tuning......just don't need that much stress (LOL).
  11. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    In the standard approach to jazz walking it starts to sound really odd once you're hitting notes below E, at least to my ear. The whole style of walking as we know it today came from the Blue Note guys of the 50's and 60's, and they were just plunking away at an EADG tuned upright. Once you get below E, even if it's just an Eb, people's ears immediately think something else besides that style you're going for. Which isn't bad, I'm just pointing out the HUGE effect that range has on walking lines.

  12. Good historical reference, the style was done on standard tuning on uprights, so no need to stray from that tuning/range.

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