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To Downtune or Not...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BloomBass, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. BloomBass


    May 7, 2012
    San Diego
    Professional Amateur
    Hello all, I'd first like to say I've been a long time reader on here but I've never started my own thread. I hope this kind of thing hasn't been covered before, but if it has, I apologize. I searched but couldn't find anything quite answering my question.

    On to the point. I'm a relatively new bass player. I only have about two years behind me at this point and I'm still experimenting with my sound. Primarily, tunings. For a while I only played five string basses as I didn't want to tune down. I saw the added range and additional positions available to me on a five as a huge asset and not having to tune down when the rest of the band plays in one full step down is a nice bonus. However, a problem has arisen.

    I fell in love with a four string, german made fretless Warwick Corvette. It's everything I want in a bass as far as feel and tone go. I've found that, compared to a five string, it just feels way more "me" if that makes sense. I want to make the switch to four. My question is... to downtune or not?

    I've transposed everything to EADG tuning and it works, but my band says it doesn't sound as "full" anymore. They've always liked my parts, but they think the switch from five to four string takes something away from our group dynamic. They want me to downtune but I'm not too fond of the tone I get from a down tuned fretless.

    Is there something I can do to keep my EADG tuning and still sound more "full"? I generally run my EQ at the amp with strong mids, the treble cut a bit and the bass slightly boosted. I have the bass set with the balance more towards the bridge pup and the tone about half way or 2/3rds turned up.

    Is the answer in EQ? Maybe some effects I could use?

    If it helps, they're normally playing rather high on the neck and we play very upbeat, fast and generally "positive" sounding music. They're only down tuning because we wrote everything in standard and it was easier than relearning and playing everything two frets down on guitars haha
  2. gavinspoon


    Feb 11, 2008
    Cardiff UK
    Have you considered BEAD tuning?

    Other than that you could get a pitch shifting pedal that adds an octave below the note your playing and either mix that sound in, or just have a sound an octave below what you're actually playing
  3. WarwickOfficial


    May 15, 2012
    Warwick & Framus Social Media
    I just saw our endorser Jason Scheff (Chicago) the other night. He uses a Warwick Streamer $$ 4-string that is strung BEAD. He's really a great player (as well as a phenomenal singer) and his bass just sounded huge. Being tuned standard it sounded punchy and tight, and he had all the fullness you would ever want...yet still a 4 string configuration.
  4. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    If this were a professional situation, I'd tell you to go with the 5er no matter what. But in your case, you can do two other things if you don't like down tuning: string it BEAD, or try an octave pedal.
  5. BloomBass


    May 7, 2012
    San Diego
    Professional Amateur
    I see BEAD tuning is the obvious winner here. I had indeed thought about it but I was curious about other options first before I messed with the tuning. I imagine I'd have to take it into a shop and have them install a new nut/adjust the action/intonation?

    I do have an octave pedal laying around that I completely forgot about. It's just a simple Boss Super Octave OS-3. I'll try that out first, but I'll start shopping around for a good luthier in my area in the mean time.

    Thanks for all the help guys! I really appreciate it :bassist:

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