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Tuning Drop D and Drop C

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rageadon, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Rageadon


    Dec 31, 2012
    Okay, i got a 4 string bass and a 5 string bass, and i got a normal tuner, but how do i make the tuner to tune Drop D or Drop C ?

    Btw, i'v also heard that you need bigger strings for Drop C, is that true?

    and if this is wrong place to ask for this, just remember this is my frist day here lol ^^

  2. Dropped D is where the bottom E string is lowered from the E to a D. Makes Power Chords easier for the guitar guys. Folk guitarist have an open string double D octave thing they can mess with.

    I've not run across dropped C. Here is a video that talks about using dropped C.

    As long as you are lowering the tuning I would not think you would have to worry about your strings. Going higher, now that would need some string changing.

    Thank goodness the people I play with use standard tuning, so I'm not an expert on altered tunings.
  3. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    Use your 5 banger... I have the same problem. I have a cheap tuner.
    I tune the B from the 5th fret (E), my tuner can cope with that!
  4. To expand on MalcolmAmos and bggeezer's comments Drop D and Drop C are alternate *guitar* tunings (DADGBE and a full step downtuned CGCFAD) to facilitate chord fingerings. You don't have to do anything to your bass, especially your 5 string. You don't *have to* to do anything to your 4 string, you'd simply play low Eb and D an octave up. Just use standard tuning and play the right notes :bassist:
  5. This is all true but if the OP is playing a heavier style of music (common with drop C and D tunings) I imagine he'll need the note pitch to be much lower, especially if he's playing along with the guitarists. You might hit the same notes higher up on the fretboard but its not going to have the same effect if the note is lower in pitch.
  6. grisezd


    Oct 14, 2009
    To clear up a bit if I can, yes, if you want to tune your low E down to a C you might be happier with a larger/thicker/heavier string. Otherwise you might find the string to feel and sound "floppy". Down to a D should be fine, done all the time, as long as you play a 34in or larger scale bass. I find that even E flat with my short scale seems suckish. If you play a 5 string then I agree, leave it tuned in standard.
  7. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Um, yeah, you will want heavier strings for sure. You might also need to use 12th fret harmonics to tune, depending on your tuner.
  8. Do you plan to retune your 4-string between songs?
    If so heavy strings will not seem like a great idea when you are back in standard tuning.
    If your band plays a lot of songs between these keys (like one of my old ones did that I quit) you will almos be forced to have an additional 4-string bass for the drop C stuff- while you could play it on your 5-string many of the faster riffs will be difficult to play and will not sound the same, as the open low C. Same with the drop D- so you might want to put a hipshot on your standard bass- however I had problems with my hipshot Drop D staying in tune, and it became more hassle than it is worth.

    In my current band we have exactly 2 songs I tune down to drop d for , the rest are standard, one bass and I am done.

    Drop C is a PIA, IME.
  9. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis

    My main bass is tuned to Eb and I use it for drop D(C#) with my regular gauge strings. I have another bass which I use for C and you definitely want heavier strings on it. Switching between standard tuning and C on the same bass will require a set up. It is not feasible to switch between standard and drop C on the fly.
  10. Warmuth


    Aug 6, 2012
    I do a couple drop c songs and agree it's best to have a bass setup specifically for it. Most of the drop C and D songs I've played on guitar and bass are using that tuning for the open string C or D heaviness so while you can play the notes elsewhere and not retune it generally sounds best in the drop tuning.
  11. Yeah drop c will make your neck do funny things, particularly on some cheaper basses, the neck will tend to bow easily with this lesser tension.
    My new rule for bands is I want to do everything in the same tuning, whether that be half-step down for ALL songs, or standard. The only exception is a few drop d songs, like Bryan Adams "Run to You" or Summer of 69, you just need the Drop D for those, as well as Save a Horse.
  12. sevdog


    Mar 2, 2008
    You dont "have to" do anything to your bass. Bigger/thicker strings will simly change the playability/feel. It you're playing in those lower tunings it is probably worth messing around with different string gauges and action height set ups because of the different tensions of the strings.

    As far as the tuner, a stompbox tuner like the Boss TU is a worthwhile investment. It will recognize those low notes and you'll be able to use that thing forever.
  13. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    TU2/3 will not recognize the low open D (drop, so technically C#) in Eb tuning without using harmonics. None of the 3 we have will anyway.
  14. Depends on what you are playing I played that oSick Puppies song where she does a lot of slapping, at least on my bass, the strings where WAY too floppy to slap like she does. She has her basses setup to ALWAYs play in that tuning. But as you say it is do-able, jsut not very well.
  15. sevdog


    Mar 2, 2008
    My TU-2 recognizes low D, Low C, Low B, and Low A just fine.
  16. This thread inspired me to try to tune my now-back-up 5 to a D for one tune my guitarist drop-Ds. He doesn't do a regular drop, he uses an open tuning for that eastern-ish ringing drone sound. Its always left me a little stymied because on bass, D feels too high to be my drone. And I didn't want to tune on the fly because dropping just my E to D wasn't doing it for me.

    Just now, I tuned the whole bass down a step to A-D-G-C-F, and just played as if 1) I was in E, and 2) I had just switched to 5 string, and so the E string was still my comfy one and the B was the new extra one. Also toyed with running notes on the A (now G) string to ring with the open E, like my guitarist does. Both were ok.

    Found my tapewounds were clacking on the frets more, especially on thicker strings. Makes sense. So I tried EQing out the clack with marginal success, and then found that moving my right hand down right next to the bridge was the easiest solution and was sonically acceptable, especially if I went towards the bridge most on the lowest notes that needed it the most, and less on ones that didn't. I added a little squeeze of phaser, synced to this hand-bridge distance cycle and it did the trick for me, I think.

    Gonna try it at band night this week.
  17. WholeGrainBass


    Aug 15, 2011
    I like to use DR DDT (drop down tuning) strings for my bass. They are made to handle the lower tunings without being too big or heavy.
  18. levis76

    levis76 Defender of the Low Ender

    Apr 14, 2007
    Metro Detroit
    Get a chromatic tuner. I use a Korg CA-30. It's not fancy, only cost me $25 new and I've had it for years.

    There are loads of threads on how to properly detune a bass in the Hardware, Setup, & Repair section.

    Most people, including me, will say dropping the tuning further than a full step should be done with a proper setup.

    My advice for swapping between dropped D and C would be to go with a slightly larger gauge string, maybe a .115 or .120 low E string. There are many sources online for custom sets but a few manufacturers sell specialized drop tune sets you can try too. Set up action and intonation for whichever tuning you'll be playing the most, or better yet, have a properly setup bass for each tuning.

    As stated earlier, attempting to play a drop tuned song with a lot of open low string pedal or galloped notes (mostly metal) on a standard tuned 5er is a pain. I drop the E to D on my 5 string if I'm gonna jam some Pantera or old Sepultura (Chaos A.D.).
  19. AcridSaint

    AcridSaint ベーシスト Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2012
    I don't play well.
    I'm not having any trouble with my hipshot tuner for drop D, seems to hold tune just fine for both E and D. I don't think I'd get the drop C tuner for my standard tuned bass because all of the strings I have are way too "floppy" in drop C. At that point I'd be looking at a second bass for drop tuning.
  20. My problem with the D-tuner was, when I switched back and forth it would go slightly out of tune, so when I switched back to E from Drop D many times it would go slightly out of tune, either flat or sharp, then you have to do the adjustment thing, but when you drop back to D you'd have to adjust it again. Real annoying and defeats the purpose if I have to constantly check both tunings with my clip-on tuner, might as well just give the tuning peg a quick turn and a half to drop and use the clip on tuner.
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