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Tuning in fifths

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by basstrader, Feb 9, 2005.


  1. So, is anyone out there tuning their bass in fifths (like a cello) instead of fourths like a normal bass? such as C-G-D-A-E? It would seem to me that it would give you an ERB without all those extra strings. ;-)

    How has the transition from fourths been?
     
  2. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I've tuned in 5ths since 1998. The transition was pretty easy for me, since bass isn't my first instrument and still feels foreign to me.

    I love 5ths. Chords ring out better, extended range, and you are forced to use your ears instead of watching the guitarist.
     
  3. sloppysubs

    sloppysubs

    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    let me give this a shot. if standard tunning is in fourths then "standard" fifths would be E-B-Gb-Db right? or am i off. thanks
     
  4. No I think it would be E-B-F#-C# :)

    Seriously though, If I had a four, I'd want to go lower, like D or even C on the lowest string and go up from there. mine's a five so that's why I gave the example I did. Come to think of it I would probably start at A.
     
  5. sloppysubs

    sloppysubs

    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    i was looking at it and i thought, "wait a tic..." alrighty. makes sense. thanks for the help. yea tuning from d in fifths would cool. c seems a little to low though. anyway....
     
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    C isn't too low provided you use an appropriate string gauge. My tuning is CGDA, which is cello tuning down one octave. It's a half step up from the low B on a five, and a whole step up on the high G. I have more range in 4 strings than dudes with a 5 tuned in fourths. You can also pick up cello books to sight read out of.
     
  7. eots

    eots

    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    Do you use a custom set of string guages for that? I'm thinking of 130/90/60/35 or something along those lines....
     
  8. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Hey Ben, what was your main instrument of study? Bass was my primary, with a minor in cello. In spite of some pretty significant background in cello, I can not get used to 5ths on a bass ... yet I have no problem switching back and forth between upright & cello :confused: :scowl:

    Is CGDA your standard tuning? No problems with hand positioning? I guess I'm just too old and set in my ways to change, although the range does increase greatly. What's the length of your neck?
     
  9. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Are you formerly bass triaxis?
     
  10. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Saxophone was my first instrument (first chair all the way through the Texas public school system, thank you very much). Anything with strings is still pretty akward for me, even after 13 years of playing bass.

    I use some pretty heavy strings - 135, 105, 75, and 45. In CGDA tuning, that equates out to some pretty serious tension, even on a 34" scale neck.

    And yes, I switched from BassTriaxis to my real name around a year ago.
     
  11. i've tuned in fifths to play parts of hte bach cello suites before and i'm seriously considering switching over permantly i like the range, and i love hte chords
     
  12. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    What are typical chord shapes tuned in 5ths?
     
  13. Typical major chord shapes:

    0-0-2-3 (root)
    4-5-5-7 (1st inversion)
    7-9-10-10 (2nd inversion)

    I have wanted to string a bass up in fifths for a while... but I've always wondered whether my hand could cope with the stretching.
     
  14. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    You don't have to do much stretching, except for certain intervals. I find that certain notes that were previously out of reach are now within reach, and vis versa.

    The big advantage is that you can reach 10ths, which you can use for major and minor chord shapes, with the color tone up an octave from where it typically is. Chords ring out with much more clarity when you aren't relying on the next string up to generate the 3rd.
     
  15. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Damn, now I need to think about retuning my 6-string. I hate you guys. :D
     
  16. I have big hands, so I can reach many things. That and I think in fourths.
     
  17. ADADG now thats a cool tunning. I LOVE it. That low A for anyone that plays in Drop D is GREAT! Deffinitly not perfect fifth tunning but its an interesting tunning none the less.
     
  18. quallabone

    quallabone

    Aug 2, 2003
    I've been in 5'ths on my fretted basses since 2002 and it has been fantastic. I tune the same as benjamin.
     
  19. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Cool. I sold you the Steinberger with the Trans Trem. Hope its still chugging along.
     
  20. DougP

    DougP

    Sep 4, 2001
    i just tried these tunings on my fretless. took me a few minutes to get used to it, but i was able to play a few songs. probably take a few months for this to feel natural to me though.

    now i need another beater that i can leave tuned like this. that just jump from B to F# on the 2nd and 3rd strings is wild, it totally throws me off.