Playing with a guitarist who tunes REALLY low

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by LimoWreck909, Nov 7, 2001.

  1. LimoWreck909

    LimoWreck909 Guest

    Oct 5, 2001
    Ok, recently I recieved an offer from one of the local bands in my city to be their bassist, and I really want to do it, because I really like their sound, they are one of the biggest bands in the city and I get along with the guys in the band really well. The only problem is, their guitarist tunes down to low F# (as in the low F# on the second fret of the low E string on a standard tuned bass). I usually play a four string tuned to standard tuning. So I'm wondering what to do. I have a five string that I don't really like, but i suppose I could use it. Would it even be possible to tune the low B down to F#, and then the rest of the strings accordingly? Does anyone make strings heavy enough to do that? Please help.
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    With a decently constructed bass and .150 or larger string, you can get the low F#. But it would cost mucho $$$ for the sound equipment to reproduce it.

    You either need a subwoofer system such as the Bag End ELF and at least 1000 watts for the sub alone, PA subs and 500 - 1000 watts(and with PA subs, you won't hear the note, only the audience will) or a custom built cabinet with car audio type subs and again at least 1000 watts just for the subs.
  3. Captain Awesome

    Captain Awesome

    Apr 2, 2001
    :eek: I have trouble imagining how that could sound good. Assuming it is a heavy rock band, it would be near impossible to get a clear low F# that loud. I guess you could take the FiElDy route and play a whole lot of DeTuNeD cLicKz or you can play in standard tuning along with the geetars... I dunno, what did their original bassist do?
  4. michaelaclark68

    michaelaclark68 Guest

    Nov 7, 2001
    Newark, Ohio
    Instead of tuning the B down try improvising with the B string.

    The 7th fret of Low B is F#. Try different finger positions to accomodate your fingers in the key range the guitarist is playing in.

    I do this to accomodate for drop D tuning. You may want to ask the guitarist to let you drive the low F# and other lower end notes on the bass, this should help free him up on other progressions.

    It takes some practice becuase most moveable scale patterns go out the window, but I had a friend really help me utilize the WWWHWWH pattern for majors and so forth for minors...(all the mode stuff is a pain at first, but it really helps on improvising and understanding the structure of what you are playing. BTW, I don't have it down yet, but those I play with have noticed the difference) ....

    Let me know what you end up doing...

    Besides, who needs to spend money on a note that is so low all it will do is make someone crap themselves from the rumbling.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with this totally - most people won't hear a low F#, but the 7th fret of the B string will sound very bassy and punchy - far better to start constructing lines from there than mess about with different tunings or strings which will just cause problems like rattling, buzzing etc.
  6. LimoWreck909

    LimoWreck909 Guest

    Oct 5, 2001

    Well, that's the thing...I would be their first bass player. I'm thinking I like the idea of not tuning down and just basing my playing around the 7th fret of the low B. That seems like it would just be like playing in B in standard tuning, only lower. Also, not all of their songs are in F#, so it's not like I'm stuck there. I'm thinking it would be cool to have a four string set up so it would be B-E-A-D, because i've never really been a fan of five strings anyway. So thanks for the advice, and if anyone else has anything, I would really love to hear.
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I your guitarist also using some sorta FX or processor? Is his sound really "thick". Does he like playing everything in some sorta ROOT/Barre chord position?
    If so, my condolences; you'll kill yourself in vain attempting to be heard.

    What could help- Octaver(e.g. EBS Octabass).
    Turn the "normal" note to minimum, turn up the "octave" note(which will sound one octave below the note you're actually fretting). Although only 'functional' to a bass' LOW "A", I have had to resort to this in order to compete with a LOUD guitarist whose 'sound' was in everybody's frequency range...perhaps you coould borrow one & check it out.
    I also tried the BEAD bass route, too...that helps, though you will have to have the bass' nut 'cut' to accomodate the larger strings; the bridge, too, may also need some attention(I hadda use a taper-core DR "B" other "B" would fit through my bridge).

    Good luck!
  8. LimoWreck909

    LimoWreck909 Guest

    Oct 5, 2001

    The only effect he uses is distortion (from a Peavey Ultra Plus head, not a pedal), and his riffs go all up and down the neck. He usually digs in with the power chords for the choruses, though.
  9. Ok.. let me tell you..

    i've got a 26.5"-scale 7-string guitar... i can NOT tune it down to F#, because my string will come loose of the bridge if i strike it..

    but.. if you do a power-chord at drop B, it might sound like drop F#, but it sure as hell isn't

    and if he can get his guitar down to drop F#, i sure as hell want to know what kind of monsterous guitar that is....

    boojaka ! :)
  10. Hexanity

    Hexanity Guest

    A new Fender has its standed tuning like that, its for people who like 6 strings but want the sound of a 7 string or something like that.
    Thats what it said on anyway.
  11. MJB

    MJB Guest

    Mar 17, 2000
  12. LimoWreck909

    LimoWreck909 Guest

    Oct 5, 2001

    He's got a baritone guitar, i'm not sure what brand it is, and he uses bass strings for his two lowest strings.
  13. hujo

    hujo Guest

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    my guitarist uses a twelvestring acoustic guitar tuned to low G, (yes, the G on my E-string, third fret), and i get along fine with my four-string, standard tuning. If i wanted to play an octave down, i'd never get heard. Sometimes it's horrible having someone in your space like that, but at other times it's really quite fun, since you don't have to be supportive, and only play roots all the time. (not that you can't be supportive and play other stuff than roots). The bass is there, even if your up in traditional guitar terrain.
  14. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    My only question to you, poster, is...why? Why does he need tune like that?
  15. LimoWreck909

    LimoWreck909 Guest

    Oct 5, 2001
    Well...he likes to? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. And, really
    I'm not officially a member the band yet. I even asked the guys if they even needed a bass player, but they said they were sure that they wanted one.
  16. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    Why not get a 7 string bass and tune it F#-B-E-A-D-G-C? Tehe...
  17. If I were already in the band, I'd tell this guitarist to clean up his act and get his ass back to Drop D or something (Low B at the lowest). Tell him to get a bass:D
  18. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    You say the band has never had a bassist before, but now they have decided to use one. I'd have a frank and open discussion with them about why they decided to have a bassist at this time, what they felt they were missinga nd how they expect you to fill the need. Maybe once they have a bassist, the guitarist in question will no longer feel the need to play in a bass range.

    Even if he does prefer to keep playing that F#, I'd be clear with him what role he expects you to play as the bassist and how best to go about your part. Is he expecting you to more or less double his part?

    Two important points have been brought up by others in this thread. One is the size and power of speaker and amp you would need to tune down that low and still produce tones that don't run into each other in a muddy rumble like bleedthrough at cineplexes where you can hear the "thunder" of the next theater's DMX digital stereo.

    The other idea that was suggested was employing a bass octaver peddle. I have used one. Still, when I had that thing turned on, I never was really happy with the result coming from my 2x10s and 1 x 15 speakers. I used it only for a change up in certain parts of songs. I never used it the whole way through a song. It was too much sonic overkill.

    If I were you, I would do as suggested and play at the F# on a standard tuned five string. You say you dislike your five string. Is it because you are not used to playing it yet and need to learn new fingering or because it is too darned heavy, wide- necked and uncomfortable?

    The trouble with changing your four string to BEAD is you lose your G string. If the band is playing anything in standard tuning, you will need to move way up to your highest frets to get the tones you lose with your missing G string.

    Oh, good luck and please let us know how you solved this problem. I'd be very curious to know.
  19. LimoWreck909

    LimoWreck909 Guest

    Oct 5, 2001
    The drummer told me that he actually suggested this at one point. I talked to the guitarist a little bit more, and he said that he sometimes tunes up to G#, which seems more reasonable to me, but still really, really low. I guess I'm not sure why he tunes so low, because I really don't think you need to tune so low to sound "heavy". I mean, Tool tunes to drop D. and so does Helmet, and you can't get much heavier than Helmet and be more than just noise. In my opinion anyway. So I'm thinking that if I do join the band, I will suggest that he tune up more often. At least to A. I could do A. heavens...