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Please Help: On Tuning Down

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by zephir2004, May 13, 2004.


  1. zephir2004

    zephir2004

    Mar 8, 2004
    Hi you guys, I have a pretty simple question. Probably cake for you guys. I am playing in a original project where the songs are pretty bass intensive. There's alot going on and I love the project. Live, I get to really stretch and do some cool stuff. The music has a commercial appeal yet lends itself to spots for cool bass solos, rhythmic grooves and melodic bass lines that work well the vocals. Now here is were the problem starts to come in. Since the inception of the project the vocalist has been saying that when he works with us for some reason he feels as if his voice is being working harder as opposed to other projects he is working on. By the end of the night he says he feels a bit drained. We do ablout 2 hours of original music. Now it has come to my attention that his other projects tune down to E flat so it's less strain on is voice through out the night. He says he didn't realise that. We tried it and it abosultly works for him. I hate it though. My strings feel too loose and my bass seems too muddy sounding. Things just don't sound as crisp. Mostly, the feel of the bass just seems wrong. Plus there is more fret noise and garbledness. Is there anything I can do to adjust for this without sacrificing playablity and crispness? Okay, besides find a new singer. He really sounds awesome when we tune down, but now I feel restrained. I'm going to try thicker gauged strings, but I'm not sure if that will effect the playablily also. I almost feel stupid asking this question because I am a pretty experienced player and have played in other tunings when it was called for. It's just for some reason on this, I can't get happy unless I'm in standard tuning. I play a 4 string Zon Sonus Special.

    Thanks,

    Steve
     
  2. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    You need heavier strings and a setup.
     
  3. zephir2004

    zephir2004

    Mar 8, 2004
    That's friendly enough. I like the idea of the setup. That never even crossed my mind. Thank you

    Thanks,

    Steve
     
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I'd try the set up idea with the strings you've got on - heavier strings don't always bring greater clarity... just try raising the action a little and see what affect it has.

    The other thing you might want to try is shifting your right hand playing position a little closer to the bridge, as the drop it tension will mean that in your normal playing position, there'll be more 'play' in the strings, so your perception of the feel of the bass is going to be that the strings are flapping about more than usual. Shifting your hand an inch or two towards the bridge may help with that...

    enjoy!

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  5. zephir2004

    zephir2004

    Mar 8, 2004
    I could use a set up anyway so I'm going to try that.

    Another idea I has was to try strings for a shorter scaled bass. I'm not sure if that's a smart thing to do harmonicaly and diatonically. When strings are made, are they made specifically for a certain scaled basses (34', 33'' etc ) mathmatically or is the worst thing that can happen that I just pop strings more? I don't want to throw off my harmonic tones. And will the strings then be too tight? I could try the 33' scale strings. Anyway, it's just an idea and I really thank you guys for the help. It's very nice of you.

    Thanks,

    Steve
     
  6. Im a sock

    Im a sock

    Dec 23, 2002
    Central MA
    Steve,
    It probably wouldnt be a good idea to use short scale strings on a bass that needs longer scale strings because the wrap becomes thinner at the end of the string, and it would probably go over the nut and lead to undesireable buzzing (does this make sense? I tend to explain things badly sometimes).

    Anyways, I was in a band that tuned down a full step. I bought thicker guage strings and got a setup, and it worked wonders, but since you're only tuning a half setp down, just a setup and hand position change might do the trick.
     
  7. zephir2004

    zephir2004

    Mar 8, 2004
    That totally make sense. Man, now that I think about I don't know what I was thinking. Next week I'm goin to try having my bass set up with E flat in mind and see how that works. I tried tuning down again tonight at reheasal and you for some reason the songs sound weird to me also. That could just be a perception thing though. At least I hope. I'll keep you posted as to the final result.

    Thanks,

    Steve
     
  8. Just raise the action and you'll be fine.
    I D-tune, because 4 and sometimes 4 1/2 sets of singing can be a strain on my vocal chords. My basses sound just as "snappy" as tuned in regular "440".

    :bassist:
     
  9. zephir2004

    zephir2004

    Mar 8, 2004
    Thank you everyone for you help and concern. We actually had quite an interesting resolution to this whole tuning down thing. Due to the fact that I was one of the only people to ever question the need to tune down, my singer began to become concerned of his vocal ability. He never realised that the other bands were tuning down and he never sounded as strong when singing with us. Well all of my rukus about tuning down caused him to search out his old vocal teacher who after hearing the first note in told him something was very wrong with his voice he should see a doctor. It turns out that acid reflux in the throat and stomach have been causing polyps do delevelop on his vocal chords. The doctor said thank God he got it earlier on because if he kept singing without the proper attention he would have delevloped and infection and my have really messed up his voice for good. It's been about a week or so since he has been on the medication and he has totally changed his diet. He's already noticed a difference. This turned out great in the end. Not only do I get to keep my stanard 440 tuning but my singer is now confident and getting better and better.

    Thanks,

    Steve K.
    Woodfish Music
     
  10. We like happy endings. :)