Question about tuning down 1/2 step

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LoveTheBass, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. LoveTheBass


    Sep 27, 2004
    This is a newbie question, so bear with me. Is possible to to play two songs in a row,one with standard tuning, and one tuned down 1/2 step without having to retune. I mean like tune down 1/2 step then capo first fret to tune up to standard (or visa versa, brain not working now). Or do most bassists in that position have two basses ready with different tuning then just pick up the other bass for the next song? I only have one bass though. Thanks
  2. easy answer ;) Just move all your fingerings up one fret to play in standard tuning. The only problem is with open strings, they have to be played on the first fret, and it can be a jump sometimes ;) but you don't have to retune :)

    I play a lot of blues, and the band I'm in plays ALOT of SRV... and the guitar slinger likes to emulate SRV by tuning down so I kinda had to adapt. (guitar I guess is different because he keeps one in standard and one tuned Eb :confused: )
  3. LoveTheBass


    Sep 27, 2004
    Sounds easy enough, but what if I am tuned down and need to play my low E that would actually be one fret lower than open wouldn't it (off the fret board) or am I thinking backwards again. Most songs I play are standard tuning, but I am starting to play a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his bassist tuned down. I could adjust the fingering one fret there also, but still leaves the open E problem at times.
  4. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    Get a 35" bass and capo the first fret. Though you may want a luthier to install a stronger first fret (and maybe a zero fret) to accommodate for the extra stress.
  5. If he's going to get a new bass, he might as well just tune it differently and swap between songs like the guitarist.
  6. fatdawg


    Sep 7, 2004
  7. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    I've been up against this recently, but my situation is complicated by the fact that I only play fretless instruments. I've spent nearly 30 years developing my intonation, and tuning down is just not a viable option for me. If I keep playing with these two bands, I'll get a 5 string, that way at least all the notes will still be where I expect them to be in the dark. :cool:

    It's funny though, I play in jazz groups, and playing in E flat is as natural as can be. Playing the SRV stuff with bass in standard tuning when the guitars are tuned down sounds way wrong though, to me, and to the band. I understand why that's so, but it's still "funny", y'know?

  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I keep one bass in standard and one in drop D. Like fatdawg, when I need to play that is tuned Eb that needs a low Eb (for example Blur Song 2), I play in drop D.
  9. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    or if you're going to get another bass, one option might be to get a 5-string, so you have the range to cover both keys...

    obviously some riffs require open strings to sound right, but... maybe it's an option...

    our band does some Green Day, which is detuned a half step on the record, but we just play it in standard tuning... same for some of the Nirvana songs... the difference in pitch between what we play and 'the version they heard on a cd once' is imperceptible for the vast majority of listeners

    I wouldn't have one bass for the Green Day stuff then another for the concert pitch stuff
  10. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    Hipshot de-tuners, that is what they do, they detune. Wood necks however move too much.