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tuning a cello like a bass- where to find strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by downunder, Sep 10, 2005.

  1. downunder

    downunder Supporting Member

    I've always wanted to tune my cello EADG so I could just transfer my fingerings over to it from the bass. Anyone know of any strings that would work? be the right tension?
  2. For the G you could use a thick gauge A.
    For the D there's no problem.
    For the A you could use a thin gauge G.
    Now for the E that's another story! :)
    You have the choice between a thin C and a thick A.
    Maybe some people will have other suggestions!
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I do know of someone who uses flatwound bass guitar strings for their 4th tuned cello. I don't know what brand though.
  4. There are a few string mfrs that produce strings for minibasses which are around cello scale. In my estimation, a cello has around the mensur of a 1/16 scale bass. Try Helicore or Pirastro Chromcor.

  5. According to D'Addario's website, a 4/4 size cello has a mensur of 27,5 inches (70 cm), and a 1/10 size bass is 28 inches. (71 cm)

    You can get 1/10 size bass strings in Helicore orchestrals and Pirastro Flexocors.
    These are the smallest I've seen in catalogs.
    Both sets are on stock at Southwest Strings.
  6. So I wasn't too far off. I've heard Helicore cello strings, and to my novice ears, they sound pretty good. My cellist friend says they sound pretty good for steel strings. I don't have any experience with the Flexocors. This seems like the answer to the problem though.
  7. downunder

    downunder Supporting Member

    Just ordered a set! good prices, too. I ordered a bunch of other stuff while I was at their site :D
    I'll let you know how they work when I get 'em strung up on the 'cello.....
  8. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I tune my cello like in 4ths all the time. I just retune the cello strings. no need for new strings.
  9. downunder

    downunder Supporting Member

    well, the 1/10 bass strings don't work. the ball ends are too big for the fine tuners, the strings are too fat for the peg holes, and too short for the scale. The good news is I couldn't get them on the cello at all, so I was able to return them.
    Tuning regular cello strings to EADG sort of works, but I find that tuning the C string up to E puts too much tension on it, especially compared to the other strings. Call me picky, just call me for the gig!
  10. Well, how about getting a thin gauge C then?
    When tuned up to E, you'll get less tension than with a regular C.
    That was my first suggestion in this thread, by the way.
  11. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    why get new strings at all ? it is not necessary.
  12. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    Hay Downunder,

    Thanks for the report on the 1/10 bass strings.
    I had a feeling there might be a size issue. Glad you were able to return them.

    What I did was tune the C up to D. The G stays the same. D tunes down to a C, and the A down to F. Then just shift a step up. The lower tension on the D/A strings wasn't a ploblem, and the C string also had no issues with the step up.

  13. downunder

    downunder Supporting Member

    I didn't mention this before, but I've been cutting down a bass G string for the cello E. It works ok, but the sound is a little different than the other strings. I was hoping that there was some manufacturer out there that catered to bassists with too much time on their hands.... maybe if we all stamp our feet and say: "WE WANT STRINGS!!..." :rollno:
  14. fishstick666

    fishstick666 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2005
    dz - do you tune in 4ths starting with the normal cello low C, or tune in 4ths AFTER tuning the low string up to E?
  15. thxcuz


    Nov 5, 2009
    How is the projection of a cello tuned in 4ths? Do you have it tuned like a bass or an octave above? I have never tried this but I can see the advantages a cheap Cello are a heck of a lot cheaper than an upright bass and of course more portable. Nothing looks cooler than a big ol bullfiddle, but you could slap a cello sitting down.
  16. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I borrowed a school cello this summer and just retuned it with the strings that were on it. I think they were Thomastick Superflexibles. I only brought the C up to a D though as I tune my bass DADG.

    The string length is almost exactly the same length as a classical guitar.

    With four fingers there's no need to shift to play scales. I thought it was a lot easier than playing in fifths. I don't know why cellos are tuned in fifths in the first place!
  17. Pentabass


    Dec 11, 2007
    Taking the interval between strings to the one extreme: I find that I can play everything without shifting or even using my left hand at all, once I tune it to 1/2 note between strings! Easy.

    Why fifths on a cello?

    Because... they sound good?
    Violins are in fifths?
    Because we can?
    Jhclark likes this.
  18. Tuomo Haapala

    Tuomo Haapala

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hi, Thread! I have no anwer to your string problem but maybe an other solution.
    I tried to get my cello in bass tuning in many ways-taking a bass D string and tuning it up to E , tuned up the cello G to A, tuning up a high C bass-string to D and tuning down the cello a string to G. Not very a succesfull, I promise.
    Since 10 years ago I play bass tuned in Fifhts and I really enjoy it. Most things got better, as I see it: The tone is more open, I can play octaves in thumb position, playing 10s with pizz is a joy, I reach low C without extension or 5th string. Today I use my cello seldom.

    Good luck!

  19. Pentabass


    Dec 11, 2007
    Hi Tuomo,

    Let's say you play the C-Major scale. Which fingers do you use?

    How do you deal with the stretching?
  20. I emailed Ron Carter and Dave Holland about this because they both played cello on different recordings and they both said that they just used standard tuning. Ron- because he played cello before bass and Dave- because he liked the challenge and the sound of the cello. I asked them also about Ray Brown who had a cello built for him and used EADG but they didn't know where he had strings made for them.