Tuning back in the days...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Thurisarz, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    I was told by my friend at one of the local stores that back in the days (50's-60's) you tuned the bass to D to get a more deeper sound because amplification back then in his words "sucked", is this true?
  2. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    No. As a matter of fact, by tunning to D you would just increase the risk of damaging an amplifier since you are putting even lower frequencies through them.

    Just listen to old recordings and you'll hear that most dont go below the low E string.
  3. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Here's my old school tuning story.

    I was trying to learn "Xanadu" by Rush. I was tuned perfect, and their notes weren't a half step above, they were like a quarter step, therefore leading me to believe that they didn't tune up to a tuner, just to eachother.
  4. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Possible, but it's at least as likely, if not more so, that the engineer or producer decided to "speed-tune" the recording after it was done.

  5. It's more likely that during the mixing/mastering stage, they sped up the tape by a little bit, and by making the tempo faster, they raised the entire pitch up to a quarter step.
  6. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Isn't that exactly what I said?
  7. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Ew. Why would they do that?!??!
  8. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Plenty of reasons. Suppose you did a great take, you went on to the next song, and weeks later you revisited it and thought it was just a tad slow. Do you recut the whole thing? Well, Steely Dan might, but a lot of people would see it as the more economical solution just to speed up the recording a little. With tape, which was the unversal standard not so long ago, that means raising the pitch.

    Another reason is that speeding up a tape can sometimes give an impression of greater brightness and sparkle, making the track seem to jump out a little more.
  9. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    "Every Breath You Take" is the same way.
  10. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Yes indeed, good example.
  11. Strawberry Fields Forever is a good example of tape editting. John cut the vocal track on a guitar that was out of tune, but no one picked it up. George Harrison slowed it down to where it was in tune. Overdubs insued. That's why John's voice sounds so low.
  12. To start an argument between Richard and Freaky... :D I'm scratching my head on that one too.... if there really IS a difference, all I can say is we're WAY beyond correcting spelling and grammar here... :D

  13. I-Love-Ratm


    Feb 24, 2003
    And I think You Really Got Me is a weird pitch.Anyone care to clarify?

  14. oops. Sorry.

    Me fail english? Thats unpossible!
  15. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    mm Xanadu, good song.
  16. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    As they say in Croatia, nema problema.:bassist:
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hell, most don't go below the A string! The reason for that was twofold...the first reason was that most of the stuff recorded in the 50's was done on an upright, and uprights back then had gut strings, and the notes on a gut E string had just the punch of a fundamental and nothing. No sustain, no tone, nothing. The second is that until Motown, nobody quite knew how to record the electric bass and notes below A were always muddy. The amplifiers of the day had no problem reproducing those frequencies safely, but the problem was nobody knew how to set their amps to where they wouldn't blow speakers ;)

    However, many 50's upright bassists DID tune down to D. But not for the notes. They did it so when they slapped the upright, the E string would be easier to slap down on the neck to get the rockabilly/swing slap sound. I know Marshall Lytle of Bill Haley's Original Comets and this is what he does on his bass.
  18. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.

    ......or your tape deck, CD, or turntable wasn't on exact speed.
    Many consumer models, without speed adjustment, aren't right on.

    Not discounting the producer/tape speed alteration argument...because that stuff was quite common.
  19. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    Glendale, AZ
    I think Van Halen down-tunes just about everything, don't they? Assuming you meant their cover of that tune. And, not every band tunes to A440 for every song.
  20. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    I think "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is slightly off too. Just a smidge higher than it should be.