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up tune a 6 string bass

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by rbx374, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. rbx374


    Nov 6, 2012
    Hi guys! searched everywhere online cant find a solid answer to this;

    I have just bought an ibanez gsr206 today, very pleased with it, however, the problem is my band is tuned to drop C# (which personally i hate but cant avoid) so i've tuned up to C# standard and then tuned the high C only half step so i can octave between the high and low easily (C#, F#, B, E, A, C#) i'm currently riding on the stock strings supplied from ibanez which i believe are 130, 105, 85, 65, 45, 32 my question is how much damage will this do on the bass/strings? i like my strings tense but from what i can see online up-tuning 6 string basses seems to be a major no no (even though its got a double truss which seems to me like it should make it less risky)

    opinions and anecdotes please!
  2. tylerwylie


    Jan 5, 2008
    Dunwoody, GA
    You might wanna try tuning down and going with something like this on your 6 string: G#, C#, F#, B, E, A and going with thicker strings. If you want to go with the tuning up method I would recommend getting a thinner set of strings.
  3. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    85 65 45 32 for ADGC is already tight, you need thinner strings to uptune a wholetone.
    I recommend a 'balanced tension' custom set of singles 130 95 70 50 35 25, this will keep your lowest strings nice and tight without overtightening the high strings.
    Circle K Strings sell balanced sets for any transposition of standard tuning http://circlekstrings.com/store/standard-balanced-6-strings.html
  4. rbx374


    Nov 6, 2012
    @ixlramp: Do you mean those gauges are tight as in for the bass neck to handle? or do you mean for your preference?

    otherwise thanks for your advice, thats really helpful and a route i will look into.

    @tylerwylie: unfortunately i'm new to the band and the old bassist set the sound...the singer/guitarist is very picky about when i have freedom to harmonise/octave..otherwise alot of it i pretty much have to follow the guitar on the drop c# (its not usually the style i play but i'm fresh back on the local music scene and not got many options for bands looking for bassists otherwise i would prefer to do something in a more traditional tuning where i can play around a bit more with note choices)

    anyway I tried it at practice today and asides from the drummer being too loud as always i was pretty happy with the sound and feel of it. but another question arose that i'm curious about, i'm a classically trained cellist, and with cello its not uncommon to have different types of strings installed (example, gut C, synthetic G & D and a steel A) could the same theory be applied to bass? i dont know if i'm asking a naive question here but every guitarist/bassist i've ever met seem to stick to one brand/model of string. the reason i ask is the stock strings on the bass are clearly roundwound steels...i like it for the low end notes, makes it punchy and audible i wouldn't mind going maybe nickel round on the mid tones and even half round on the higher register.

    Next time i meet the guitarist (sunday) i might even ask him if we could tune down a half step to make the tuning C F Bb Eb G# C...he wants to do some acoustic sets with my cello anyway so then i can just make the excuse that it will help with instrument transitions to have them all tuned on C :)
  5. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    85 65 45 32 tuned to ADGC is fairly standard and won't damage an instrument, but i would advise against going much tighter than that, especially on 6 string. So it's not a good idea to tune those up a wholetone as that increases tension by 26%.
  6. rbx374


    Nov 6, 2012
    Thanks ixlramp

    Took a look on circlek site, understand the tension needs to stay within 35 - 45 pounds, so i think i'm going to try this set up (as i do like tense strings)

    C# - .029 - 41 lbs
    A - .039 - 44.1 lbs
    E - .053 - 44.8 lbs
    B - .070 - 42.9 lbs
    F# - .094 - 43 lbs
    C# - .130 - 45.3 lbs

    sound about right?
  7. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    You are doing the right thing by looking at the string tensions and choosing new strings to meet a target tension. I cannot tell you what total tension your guitar neck was designed to however. But, you can plug the original string gauges and tuning into the tension formula and determine what the total tension was as the factory built it. Then you can use that as a target for the total tension. If you need to drop the tension on some strings to keep within the target I would suggest lowering the tension on the smaller strings since the large ones like to be tight to avoid the "floppys".

    If you are a cellist you should try tuning a four string bass CGDA some time. I'm not, but I did, and I love it so much that is the only tuning I use now. If you tune a fiver CGDAE you won't need that sixth string....

  8. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Yeah looks good, 45 pounds is medium-heavy tension. As an alternative to CKS you could buy 130 95 70 55 40 30 singles in your favourite brand of string (i recommend 'build your own set' at bassstringsonline.com).
  9. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Standard tuning and just play everything up two frets?
  10. rbx374


    Nov 6, 2012
    @Khutch: yeah i hate floppy strings, i'm a pretty heavy handed, fast finger player so when theres too much slack on the string i just end up propelling it at the fret board and clicking lol...some previous bands i was in loved that sound but for this band its fast but a very broad smooth sound so tighter the strings the better really tbf the gauge as it is is really comfortable for me to play, i'm just scares of waking up one morning to find the bridge of my bass becoming the most expensive trebuchet ever seen lol.

    and about the cello tuning...yeah i have had that a few times in the past, but for guitar i'm so used to my balanced 4th's also with the extra length on the neck it gets slightly more uncomfortable to play.

    @ixlramp...too late...took your advice immediately so i bought a circle k set :p lol

    @iiipopes: no way man, our music tends to fall on c# or harmonics of c#, its pretty fast playing and using some scales i'm not so familiar with so its nice to have that open to rely on during some finger position changes, i did try my hardest to hold out on standard tuning (as i'm best familiar to standard e, standard c and standard b) but it was making alot more work for me for no good reason other than me being stubborn lol
  11. rbx374


    Nov 6, 2012
    ixlramp: got my circle k's, not so impressed with the tapered .130's they make...but otherwise thanks for the advice, the other 5 strings are frickin' awesome! :D
  12. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Thanks i was hoping you'd report back on this, i always like to hear results. I'm just curious ... what is it about the tapered 130 you're not impressed with? (or do you just dislike tapered strings generally?). How does the roughly balanced tension feel? :)