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tune down?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by RedGrange, Apr 24, 2001.

  1. RedGrange


    Jun 11, 2000
    Denver, CO
    I just joined a band, the guitar players just decided to tune a whole step down. I was wondering if I should as well. I play a 5 string, and it seems like a waist, plus the gauge I use gets too loose when tuned down. I also use my bass for other things than this band. It does make it easier to play along... I can't hear what they play with ear plugs in, but I can do it by sight.
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    It's up to you. A lot of guys buy five strings just so they WON'T have to tune down.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Psobecke: When I played in a nu metal/hip hop band, we all tuned down. My five string was tuned ADGCF. I used the heaviest guage strings I could find. The heaviest are pretty expensive, plus I broke the lowest string often, probably from picking too agressively or perhaps I had trouble at the bridge because of the heavier guage for which the bridge was not designed. And the heaviest guages don't come in sets. They need to be purchased separately.

    If you have a chromatic electronic tuner, tuning your bass and retuning when you play another style should not be a big problem, because you have to tune every time you play again anyway.

    The problem may come from using heavier guage strings that may impact your tone on styles you play in standard tuning. But then, tweaking equalization or dials may help.

    If you don't want to tune down, but want to "sound" heavy for your tuned down band, try an effects pedal such as the Zoom 506 II bass effects pedal that allows you to dial in various tones and combinations of effects that will make your standard tuning sound mean and aggressive...maybe the octaver effect. Be careful on that, though. It can sound like mud at the lowest registers.

    Other pedals that might help would be a bass overdrive pedal or a death metal distortion pedal. If you can, go to a music store and try out different pedals and combinations to see if they add that mean, deep growling tone you would get by simply tuning down.

    My own philosophy was if the guitars tuned down, I tuned down. But this is a decision you make with the band. If they like the way you sound, fine. If they want you to sound more aggressive, like what they are seeking with their guitars, you may have to tune down or try one of the tricks I suggested.

    Too, I did what the pros "said" they were doing. My band worshiped the tone on Sepultura's last album before they broke up...the one with the Amazonian warrior on the front. We read in a guitar magazine how they tuned down and what they had to do to achieve that sound. We imitated them shamelessly.

    Many other nu metal bassists with five strings tune down also. Try tuning down and see if you sound better that way or if you can "get by" in standard tuning. Who knows? Maybe your bass line will sound clearer in standard.

    Oh, I forgot to mention...if you are tuned down as low as I was...you may need at least a fifteen- inch speaker to handle that really low frequency without muddying up your notes so as to make them indistinquishable.

    Other folks here have undoubtedly has experience in tuning down. Maybe they will weigh in here.


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