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The Fifths Tuning Club

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ~M.o.M~, Apr 14, 2013.


  1. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I have a Squier VI, 30 inch scale, tuned C to B in fifths. The strings are custom LaBella rounds and the low C is 120, I do not recall the others. The upper strings sound indistinguishable from a guitar really so I use them when I want to blend in with/double the guitars. I play in a worship band and for some reason it is a tradition in that culture to bring the bass in and out for emphasis. So if I want, and if I have the VI that Sunday, I can jump in with the guitars if I want to keep playing.

    I also have a 30 inch Ibanez SRC6 that I have pulled one string from to turn it into an SRC5. I love that thing, it is the greatest bass Ibanez never made! Even though they kinda/sorta did!! That is tuned C to E.

    And finally as a gimmick although it is half serious and not altogether a silly thing to do I have a Squier 51 with a four string bridge and nut. I leave two of the tuners unused and tune its mighty 25.5 inch scale G to E. So it is a baritone more than a bass but it works reasonably well when all is said and done. What I wanted was a short scale 51 Precision bass and since no one makes one but the Squier 51 bears a certain resemblance to one, I did what I had to do....

    I don't recall exactly what I use for strings on the last two. I can tell you that they are regular bass and guitar strings cut down to fit the shorter scale length and tuners when necessary. I lay them out on the bass with the ball end seated in the bridge and mark where the nut and tuner contacts the string. Then I put appropriate diameter electrical shrink tubing in that area between the nut and tuner. Only after it has been shrunk securely in place do I begin to unwrap the strings to allow them to fit the tuners. So far that has worked.
     
    Will_White likes this.
  2. Will_White

    Will_White

    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    How does the low C work on the bass vi?
     
  3. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I am quite happy with it. However anyone with a bad case of B string angst would run screaming from a 30 inch string tuned to C! It's not for everyone but with the tight spacing on the VI you have to use a light touch anyway. It is perhaps a little more noticeable on the "SRC5" since that spacing is beginning to approach that of a normal fiver and you do have to be a little careful with that C
     
    Will_White likes this.
  4. Will_White

    Will_White

    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Are you using a plain string for the high B?
     
  5. I’m a mandolin player also, but I don’t have a problem going back and forth between mando and bass. Couple reasons for that, probably: I played bass for 30 years before I took up mando, and also, I have long fingers.
     
    Will_White likes this.
  6. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Yes, the high B is a plain string, the E is wound as are the rest.
     
  7. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    I am a member since some month with "Cellobass", tuned lowC-G-D-A on E-Bass as a hobby player. I use budget 5 string sets bought off the peg from the known brands and tune B to C, trash the E, A to G, D stays D, G to A. I know there are more professional solutions to a higher price.

    I used to play an electric upright in fourths and want to switch to fifths tuning. I have shortened the scale lengths of my EUB first to 96 cm (1/2 bass) and actually to 90 cm (35", may be a 1/4 bass?) DIY. Fifths are to finger more comfortable with that shorter scale. A standard string set with an additional single string for the low C is about 250 $. There are some manufacturers to offer hand made sets, having a price. Not to forget I am just a hobby musician not on highest level.

    I am looking for a budeget string set B-E-A-D-G for 1/4 UB to convert it to a 4-string fifths, described above. (I would like such a set for my full bass as well.) GEDO once manufactured full and 1/2 and 1/4 5-strung UB, available actually just second hand. I asked GEDO for 5-string set - negativ. (GEDO mailed to plan a new series of 5 stringers November 2019?)

    Is there any help? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  8. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    1/4 scale double basses have a ~35.5" scale and the string itself is actually much longer with the after length beyond the bridge. Depending on how your strings mount, most electric bass strings are likely not be long enough (same goes for the NS Design Omni Bass strings).

    Several people have used standard DB strings in Weich or light for shorter scale instruments by soldering the string just before the cut-off point, then cutting and installing some sort of end stop over the soldered end. The solder keeps the string from unravelling and gives a solid mounting point for some sort of ball end.

    Best I've seen is from the Christopher Double Bass Guitar thread here on TB (search the luthier forum for the thread). He made a very elegant solution for using standard DB strings on his bass. His bass creations may be seen at smithcreekmandolins.com too.

    If you're handy/creative, you could likely rig up something similar though.

    John
     
  9. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    Thanks!

    Indeed I have tried to assemble extra long strings (may be 38"?) for the 5 string electric bass to the EUB. The extra length needed beyond the bridge was the problem. The string itself is long enough, but that extra length needed beyond the bridge makes the thinner string length for fixing in the tuners becoming part of the vibrating string. I have not tried, but I think that might disturb the tone?

    EUBs usually have the strings fixed to the solid body about 30 cm ( about 12") beyond the bridge. Next I will try to use the tailpiece of a UB to shorten this distance, may be that works.

    The basic problem in using usual UB strings is where to get the additional 5th string for low C. Eventually I can mix two string sets for different scale length. I did not know that trick with soldering the strings, that opens up a new field of experimentation.

    Thanks for pointing me to the luthiers solution, very nice instrument. I play mixed arco/pizzicato, so I need an instrument with upright bass character. The short scale is comfortable as I prefer to sit lazy on a drummer chair while playing.

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  10. jharms80439

    jharms80439 Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Evergreen, CO
    Agreed that low C strings are typically unavailable for 1/2 or 1/4 size upright basses. However, low B in Weich gauges for 3/4 uprights are widely available - hence the solder, trim & new ball idea struck me as worthwhile.

    I haven't scraped up enough for the Smith Creek bass yet, but it is definitely on my list for an upright alternative. Taking my upright out of the house during cold Colorado winters is a bit unsafe in the snow and isn't healthy for the instrument.

    Right now I have a Breedlove Solo Jumbo that works fairly well for lite jam sessions with a couple of acoustic guitars, as well as for home practice, but amplified it isn't a DB. Acoustically, it sounds outstanding and I actually prefer the mic'd tone to the piezo tone.

    I have mixed strings on the Breedlove - GHS Precision Flats for the D & A; Chromes for the C & G. Chromes have a bit of that Spirocore growl that I have on my own upright on the C & G; the GHS' sound quite a bit like the D & A string Dominants.

    John
     
  11. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    Concerning portability and for lite jam sessions, give a bass ukulele a try. The scale length is about 53 cm (20.75"), over all length is 76 cm (29.4"). There is a 5 string set available AQUILA U TS 69U Thundergut Bass Ukulele B-E-A-D-G.

    If you buy such a bass ukulele, make sure that there is a flap in the bottom to thread the strings. (Through the sound hole it is terrible tedious) You get such an instrument with piezo and preamp for about 150 $, a new 5-string string set (because of the B string for the C in fifths tuning) for about 30 $. For instruments with a great K you pay 3-4 times that price. I think that are not better.

    Regards
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  12. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    I have a BTB too and also discovered this problem when using a bass ball threaded onto a guitar string.
    The solution is to raise the saddle up out of its channel and turn it through 90 degrees, thread the string upwards through the slot in the saddle, such that the ball doesn't have to pass through the slot.
    It's a little fiddly but possible. Tip: pushing the saddle slightly towards the spring allows the saddle to rise higher out of the channel.
    Seems the top E or F# will be roughly the same pitch as a guitar top E4.
    On 30" E4 is only just possible using a .008 or .009 (maybe .010), F#4 on 30" is not possible, i estimate 27" max.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
    Shanannigan and Will_White like this.
  13. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    The variations of the Robert Fripp / Guitar Craft 'New Standard Tuning'
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    These are useful for anyone experiencing 'too much range' on a fifths-tuned instrument. They also enable some interesting chord possibilities.

    New Standard Tuning (NST)
    ----------------------------------------

    Robert Fripp first attempted to tune his guitar in all-fifths from a low C: CGDAEB. Of course, with any gauge, the B broke, he tried A, it broke often, so he settled on G, and NST became CGDAEG, fifths plus a minor third. The seemingly random minor third became much liked and created some interesting chord possibilites.

    Trey Gunn uses CGDAC (fifths plus minor third, top string C4) on the melody side of his 10 string stereo Warr Guitar (2 hand tapping instruments). On a 34" scale, D4 is the highest possible pitch.
    The 10 string stereo instruments of Touch Guitars (2 hand tapping instruments) also use CGDAC on the melody side.

    Extended New Standard Tuning
    ---------------------------------------------

    In the 1990s i had a copy of an interview with Robert Fripp where he stated that the 7 string version of NST was CGDAEGA, fifths plus minor third plus major second. Of course, the top A4 is barely possible on a guitar scale length, so i think this was stated as a relative tuning to put it in context of NST.

    This creates even more interesting chord possibilities. Only being present in the high range of the instrument makes such small intervals more usable, small intervals in chords become very dissonant and unclear when played at low pitch, which is even more true for bass guitar.

    Trey Gunn uses BbFCGDACD on his 8 string mono Warr Guitar, lowest string 1 semitone below bass B, top string the highest possible D4.
    The 8 string mono instruments of Touch Guitars also use this tuning.
     
    lucas303 and MarkA like this.
  14. Will_White

    Will_White

    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Been messing around with string tension pro, I think I found a good set for Bass VI once I realized I could use the same gauges as my Octave Mandolin for the top strings.
    20190724_142954.jpg 20190724_142911.jpg
     
  15. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    I string my Cello-Basses the easy way with one of many available 5-string sets:
    B->C
    E - trash
    A->G
    D-> stayes D
    G->A
     
  16. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    For my 6 string long scale bass (85 cm/34″) I calculated the strings for perfect fifths tuning.

    C, 6th string, lowest tuned 0,122 (I prefer 0,130)
    G, 5th string 0.094
    D 4th string 0.067
    A 3rd string 0.038
    E 2nd string 0.023
    B 1st, highest tuned string 0.013-0.017
     
  17. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    To help choose, equal tension requires gauge multiplied by 1.5.
    I can see the C will be much looser than the G, but i can understand why, standard Bs are like this too.
    A .017 B will be far too tight, it should not have more tension than the E, so gauge needs to be no more than .023 / 1.5 = .015, and actually a little less as plain steel strings are tighter for the same gauge (being solid metal so higher mass). So i recommend .013-.014.
     
    Shanannigan likes this.
  18. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    Thank you for your add!

    I cannot understand you remark "equal tension requires gauge multiplied by 1.5. May be that depands on the formula?

    Equal tension is just a wishful thinking. One only gets strings in premanufactured diameter steps.

    To calculate the tension there is a formula (in SI-units it is much simpler!)
    T (Tension in pounds) = (UW x square(2 x L x F)) / 386.4
    With UW (Unit Weight) = (T x 386.4) / square(2 x L x F)
    L scale length inch
    F frequency/pitch Herz

    Let me describe a technical limit by reverse calculation, for the C1, 32.7 Hz String of an E-Bass 34" scale length, one calculates for 7,3 kg/16 lbs a Diameter of about 2 mm/ 0.0763". For 4.5 kg /10 lbs, 1.53 mm/0.0603 in. For 3.3 kg/7.2 lbs one gets a Diamater of 1.3 mm /0.0512". Availability is an additional factor. I found 0.140" as an upper limit for standard strings?

    I argue that with a diameter of 0.08/2 mm or more no e-bass player will be happy?

    I repeat myself, because of physical laws equal tension is just a wishfull thinking.
    I will recalculate for different string types and report in the future. I think my calculation was a bit plain.


    Regards
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  19. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Sorry, i didn't explain clearly.

    Working from that tension formula, and the fact that string mass (unit weight) is proportional to the square of gauge, it's possible to derive this approximate rule from physics:
    "2 strings at equal tension, on equal scale lengths, will have their gauges in the same ratio as their frequency ratio"

    The frequency ratio for the 'fifth' interval is very close to 3:2.
    So 2 adjacent strings in a fifths tuning will have approximately equal tension when the gauges are, for example:
    .020 .030
    .030 .045
    .040 .060
    .050 .075
    .060 .090
    .070 .105
    .080 .120
    .090 .135
    In each case one gauge is multiplied, or divided, by 1.5, to get the other gauge.
    This can be checked using a tension calculator to see the rule is approximately correct.
    True, but it's possible to get close. Obviously exactly equal tension is usually not possible.
    (However of course, tension is determined by string mass, so what is actually required for equal tension is unit masses in ratio 9:4. This is why the rule is approximate, it assumes the strings have equal effective density.)
    Not because of physics, because of the unit masses of the available strings. It's possible to manufacture 2 strings that have exactly equal tension when tuned a fifth apart, physics doesn't make that impossible.

    Plain steel strings are solid metal, so they have fixed density, because of this, the rule becomes exact for them.
    So for example, plain steel .012 .018 will be exactly equal tension.
    Sorry i don't understand this section.
     
    lucas303 likes this.
  20. bitwo

    bitwo

    Jun 28, 2019
    I do not understand it either. Cannot remember what I was thinking of.

    The factor of 1.5 one gets from the physics of strings. For equal mass/unitlength and equal tension d2/d1 = f1/f2 (d=diameter, f= frequency). In practice the mass/unitllength is not necessarily equal, not for different manufacters and especially for wound and solid strings it is different.

    Mass per unitlength is not a constant for different manufaturers and you get a diameter that manufacturers offer. Therfore the physical law of a vibrating string show as follow up, that equal tension is just a "wishfull thinking".

    The felt surface pressure on the pressing finger depends on tension AND diameter of the string. But that is a differnet discussion i do not want to open.
     

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