String Advice for an Odd tuning?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Vlazreus, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Vlazreus


    Nov 2, 2011
    Ok, so I'm a cellist, who just bought a bass guitar two days ago. its a used Cort Action bass. the strings on it are crappy and worn out so I'd need to replace them even if I weren't doing any drop tuning. What I want to do is tune my bass to C-G-D-A, so it parallels my cello, just an octave lower. as it stands, down tuning, especially the E string down to C makes the tension sloppy, the tone muddy, and it slips out of tune far to easily. the top string on the other hand I have to actually tune UP a step. what strings would you recommend for this? particularly to keep it from slipping out of tune? I plan on mainly playing metal. thanks.
  2. hinklegm


    Nov 8, 2009
    Most will say that steel strings are best for metal, and others will say it's personal preference, pointing you in the direction of Steve Harris. I would say try Rotosounds or DR hi-beams, just because those are my two favorite sets.

    The question of gauges can be answered by using the tension charts on either D'Addario's or CircleK's websites. sells single strings from several manufacturers. You can use the tension charts as a rough guide to help you. There are ready-made sets designed for drop tuning, but I don't think there are sets for the specific tuning you're after, unless I am mistaken. I'm sure there are other people who can answer your question better than I tried.
  3. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Yeah i can help as i've been tuning basses in fifths since 1996 and have designed many fifths sets :cool:
    Looking at the D'Addario tension chart for XL nickelplated roundwound a set with all strings at the tension of a fairly standard .100 E (35 pounds = light tension) would be .125 .080 .055 .035. I'm fairly sure i have used this set tuned in fifths before and it worked well. You can use that tension chart to approximate the tensions of other brands, there can be a little variation in tension between different brands of the same gauge, perhaps up to roughly 5% variation.
  4. Vlazreus


    Nov 2, 2011
    thanks ixlramp, I'll check those out. so you'd recommend D'dario brand? I think I have D'dario strings on my cello and those seem to work fairly well.

    on another note, does anyone mix and match different brands/sets of strings? I know that on my cello my C&G string are one brand while my D&A are a different one, and it seems fairly common amongst classical stringed instruments, but I've seen little mention of it in regards to guitars and basses.
  5. String Theory

    String Theory

    Jul 28, 2010
    San Dimas
    I would get a set of .130 .086 0.57 0.37 from Circle K Strings. That would be 40lbs of tension for each string.
  6. Definitely a custom set from Circle K.
  7. Vlazreus


    Nov 2, 2011
    Circle K seems to be the winner here. I'll talk to the guy at the local music store and see about ordering some. and I think the batteries in my base died, and I don't have a screwdriver (I'm at college living in a dorm) I was in the middle of exploring the wonders of two-handed tapping (so fubn and cool sounding, and not that hard for someone who's been playing the cello and dabbling in piano for ten years) and it started cutting out on me, and at first I thought the cable was damage, but then it just stopped working completely and I tested the cable with my cello and it worked fine. :(
  8. Circle K has a string tension chart at 34" and it can be adapted to other scale lengths too.

    I tune C-G-D-A-E bottom-up for the same reason--I play electric cello, and wanted a fifths tuning. It works quite well on my cheap Chinese Douglas bass, which only needed a little setup before becoming a passable instrument.

    The reason I got a bass guitar, though, is because I'm getting rid of my Steinberger cello and commissioning a 7-string electric cello. There's a company that makes custom flatwound strings ( that I'm going to experiment with for the low Bb string. If I end up unable to get a low Bb string that works I'm going to double the top E instead.
  9. Vlazreus


    Nov 2, 2011
    Oh, and thanks for the help everyone.

    and Cool to see another cellist. whenI get the money I'd like to get a 6 string mark wood cobra cello. and my bass started working again, and It doesn't have batteries -passive pickups? the electronics are another thing I'm going to replace at some point. I got the bass itself for $90, so I have a little wiggle room in my budget to upgrade the hardware.
  10. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    I haven't tried many different brands but i find D'Addario XL nickels and ProSteels well designed and flexible. The ProSteels have a bright, growly aggressive sound good for metal. Whatever brand you go for it's the gauges that are the important thing to get right for an even tension across the strings. You'll need to build a custom set from single strings.

    Circle K Strings are mail order only. They have actually designed sets for fifths tunings, although these do not yet appear on the site, so if you contact them they can put together a set with strings at equal tension: Circle K Strings - Circle K Strings.
  11. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Good place to Build your own string set!. Owned by a talkbass member and you can get discounts by registering as a talkbass member ...
    Any idea what gauges are on the bass? Which string feels right in CGDA? My gauge suggestion above is for a lightish set probably similar to the tension of your G. You may want to go tighter depending on the strength of your technique. A tighter set is 135 90 60 40 with roughly 45 pounds tension. This is a medium tension set with a nice tight C and with a total tension closer to that of a standard bass set, so less chance of needing to adjust the shape of the neck via the truss rod.
  12. +1 on the building your own set idea. Check the string size chart on the company's website and compensate accordingly. I.E., if the string size for a low E is .95, you might want to get a 1.20 for the low C.

    A five-string set might work as well...
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