Setting up a five string for Drop Bb

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by YeetBass, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. YeetBass


    Jul 13, 2016
    Hey other bass people! I'll start with saying I'm not sure if this is the most appropriate forum for this, and if another one is deemed better, my bad. So.
    This (as I understand it) is somewhat unconventional, but I feel that it would suit my play style somewhat. So on a four string you'd have low-high Bb, F, Bb, and Eb for this tuning. Doing it this way, I'd have those four strings, as well as a high Ab or I may just leave the G as is, undecided on that front. So I'd imagine from a setup perspective the tension across the neck would be kinda weird, and this may be seen as unnecessary by some but just work with me, please. What all would I have to do to get this going? As I see it I'd have to:
    A.) Adjust the truss rod.
    B.) Get my nut bored out some for the low Bb (more on that below). And
    C.) Find a set of strings that would work for this.

    The bass is a Yamaha BBN5, if that'll help in any way. Right now I have it in standard with IIRC EB regular slinkies .45-.130 and as it is I feel that I'd like a thicker string for the B, therefore probably even more so for the Bb. Maybe a .140. And so for the remaining four, I'm thinking slightly lighter than a typical (for me) four string set of .45-.100, due to being up a half step from E standard. Or is that philosophy unnecessary, and I'd be better off/fine with a standard set, or possibly even a heavier than usual, provided I can adjust the truss/action accordingly. I realize there would be a pretty big difference between a .140 Bb and a .95 or .100 F, and it'd be cool if could try to get things as close to even as I could. I'm considering getting a four string set then getting an individual Low Bb to go with it, OR maybe getting a set of strings supposedly designed for Drop tunings and then getting an individual high string for my G/Ab.

    So, did I miss anything? Am I analyzing this way too much? Stupid idea? Maybe, but such is life. I'll appreciate any responses and help toward this.
  2. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    You're talking about a five string. Just get a suitable string for your Bb tuning and tune the rest E A D G. The Bb is only a half step out. Why reinvent the wheel?
    tlc1976 and Killed_by_Death like this.
  3. YeetBass


    Jul 13, 2016
    Fair enough , but to answer your question: pretty much just 'cause. I like trying different things when I can, even if a bit more than minimal effort is involved.
  4. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    That's good enough for me. Enjoy yourself.
  5. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    The tension difference between a typical 45's set and a 50's set works on a full step down - so a half-step down on everything will be slightly different.

    The guys in one of my old bands get together once a year at the cabin on a river of one of the guys. Our lead singer has us tune down a half step - Eb Ab Db Gb. After experimenting for a year, for a good balance of tone, feel and stability, I settled on Ernie Ball stainless flats in 45-60-80-105 for this bass. They have a little bit of growl, more than La Bella, but less than Fender flats, and they were very stable after a full weekend jam. I guess you could use their .130 flat as well, or the D'Addario Chromes .132.

    Or, you could use the D'Addario 50's balanced XL set, knowing you will need to tweak the truss rod slightly, and possibly adjust the nut slots slightly. That would be the least expensive way to go; they even make a matching 160 for your Bb string that you can get as a single from

    The best thing about this is you can use this set for either a half step down, Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb, or a full step down, A-D-G-C-F.
  6. YeetBass


    Jul 13, 2016
    That's interesting, I'll keep that in mind, thanks. And I've gotta say I love the EB flats, I've got a set of those on my four string.
  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    A standard 5 string set would work just fine for Bb-F-Bb-Eb-Ab tuning, because none of the strings are more than a half step different from standard tuning. I find that a half step or whole step change in tuning is insignificant in terms of string selection or setup. Only changes of a minor 3rd or greater require compensation, in my experience. YMMV.
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