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Standard Tuning vs Half Step Down

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by tapehead, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. tapehead


    May 27, 2008
    I am in a variety rock/funk/soul band. We were tuning 1/2 step down before we got a keyboard player. Now we are in standard. Problem is, keyboard player (and singer to a degree) want to do all songs in the recorded key.

    Well, this puts songs that are recorded a half step down in odd positions like the 4th fret, 6th fret, 8th, etc...I hate playing in these positions.
    Also, if there's a low E in these songs you will not be playing your open E, thereby losing some heavy lowend. These are just not natural positions.

    Anyone else had this issue come up?
  2. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Is it an electronic keyboard? He can just transpose it with a setting in the menu. Keyboard player has no say :)

    Singer has the most say in these kinds of things if its a case where they aren't comfortable...
  3. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Been there! We used to separate the flat tuned songs into small groupings and just switched instruments to play those. Otherwise, we just played those songs a half-step up (into standard tuning). If your singer can hang with it, go for it.

    I hear you 100% on using open strings (Eb). Eb on the 5th string is pretty close to an open Eb, but on a 4 string bass, the higher Eb sounds way out of place. Try playing it the "goofy" way and see what the band says. Sometimes that is the only way to handle it.
  4. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    I have had to deal with this before and I stayed in E flat tuning. On songs that I needed to play in standard that required a low E now became F. It may not feel natural to you but with some minor adjustments to your playing style, it shouldn't be a problem for you. It may not feel natural to you, but really, you should be comfortable in all positions. The only other option is to have a spare bass so you can have each tuned a half step apart.
  5. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    That's a good workaround if he can't just set 'transpose' to '-1'.
  6. BTW: If you downtune, you really should re-setup your bass for it.

    FWIW: I think you’d get more replies if you posted your question on the correct forum rather than "Band Management".

    Maybe the Mods will move this thread to the correct forum for you.
  7. tapehead


    May 27, 2008
    Which would be the best forum? I really didnt find one that applied..(Live Sound?)
  8. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    IMO, this is probably a Technique question.

    But, anyway, I use a HipShot detuner set to Eb for exactly this reason. Eb is such a common horn key that a player must be able to quickly switch in a cover situation. The HipShot is the ticket for me.
  9. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    Why have you gone back to standard tuning in the first place?
  10. I've never understood this need for everyone in the band to play in the same tuning. Its a completely alien concept to me.

    The key of the song is the key of the song. Its up to each individual bandmember to then play the right notes in the right place at the right time regardless of whether they're tuned to Eb or E or drop D or whatever.

    You should just tune your bass to whatever it needs to be tuned to in order to best get through the set. In your case that sounds like Eb.
  11. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I only play in drop d tuning. My guitarist only plays in E. I prefer drop d it seems easier to me. You and your band can sound great in different tunings.
  12. +1
    I think it's because they need to watch each other's hands.
  13. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    Some songs are just more practical if you play in the same tuning, take the opening riff to Caught In A Mosh,


    Easy enough riff if you're tuned standard, not so easy when you're tuned Eb or Drop D and you need to fret E every time instead of just hitting the open E.
  14. More comfy, yeah, but if your guitarist wanted to play it in D# and managed to play it decently, why would you object?
  15. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    All the more reason to play a 5 string. Just play it where it is on the fretboard.
  16. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    because it wouldn't sound right played across the E & A strings, you don't get the same feeling to the riff as you do when it's just played on the E string, it feels more 'choppy' played across different strings.

    There's loads of songs that can't be played properly on a 5 string in standard tuning, so it's not always the answer.
  17. stoo


    Nov 10, 2003
    Capo for songs in E?
  18. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    This may be the wrong place but help me please. I don't understand drop tuning. I get the capo thing for guitar players but bass players ? I may be old school and mean no disrespect but I just play it in the key if its Bb I play in Bb help me to understand
  19. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    You can get around that with a 5 string, low B.
    Playing in those "odd" positions is great training for really knowing the neck.
  20. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    I do play 5string mostly. I have a G&L L2500 fretted and frettless and a Michael Kelly Club Custom 5. When 4 strings calls me I have a 1990 G&LSB1 or a modified Squire P

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