Up-tuning to F# good idea?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by ImHereToAsk, Mar 17, 2021.

  1. ImHereToAsk


    Jul 12, 2018
    Hello, i've been thinking of this for a while now and i'm scared to try it so i'm asking it here first. I've auditioned for a metal band that is pretty heavy. They use 8-string guitars tuned in F#. The problem is that i don't have any way to reach the F#.
    If i'd downtune, my strings will be floppy like hell. (Note i only have 4 strings).
    So i was wondering, maybe i could tune up to F#.
    Is this a good idea?
    Will my strings break?
    Will my neck suffer?
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Tuning higher will add stress to the neck so you will need to adjust the truss rod if it’s able to compensate.

    It also depends on string gauge. I’m trying to understand why you would not just play in F# on the standard tuning.

    For detuning you could go to a heavier gauge of strings to reduce floppiness but again I think a 5 string is a better way to get lower.

    To me it sounds like you just need to leave it as is and just play in the key required. It’s good practice to be able to transpose keys anyway and it always comes up with different vocalists depending on their range.
    cool breeze, pbass2, Sixgunn and 5 others like this.
  3. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    A light gauge set (40-100) should be able to handle this with little to no issue. It won't put any undue stress on the neck, although a trussrod tweak is a good idea.
  4. I don't think uptuning two semitones can break a string or damage a neck. If your action gets higher, loosen the truss rod a bit. With a normal, say Fenderish, construction of bass, nothing bad will happen.

    However, soundwise, and also from the personal development point of view, you will benefit much more from learning to play your parts in normal tuning. I would try this - you'll learn to transpose two frets higher in no time. Plus, you still have your low E when you need it.

    I don't know much about dowtuned guitarists, but I guess they would want you to play as low as possible. You might even consider restringing your bass to B-E-A-D, as on five stringer. Personally, I'd go for lighter gauge strings, I believe you can get more attack that way. But that's another question altogether...
  5. Instead of tuning your bass one step UP from EADG to F#BEA, how about tuning down one and a half steps to C#F#BE? That way you still have an open F# note available, plus a low open C#, which may come in handy.

    I down-tune one of my basses to DGCF with 44-106. You should be able to do C#F#BE with something like 50-110.
  6. ImHereToAsk


    Jul 12, 2018
    This is damn smart
  7. You could possibly UP-tune to F#BEA without damaging either the strings or the neck as long as you choose the gauges carefully.

    Using the GHS Boomers just as an example...

    L3045, 40-55-75-95, tuned UP to F#BEA = 177.6 lbs. in total tension.
    M3045, 45-65-85-105, tuned to EADG = 186.5 lbs. in total tension.
    Ricky Rioli and ImHereToAsk like this.
  8. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    asking this seriously, doesnt tuning a bass UP to meet a guitar tuning down to the same pitch sort of negate the need for a bass at all? if they are auditioning other bassists who are tuning lower i would feel they will have the advantage on you. if the guitarists cant see why tuning the bass lower makes more sense im not sure i would want to play with them as a bassist. just sayin ;)
  9. ImHereToAsk


    Jul 12, 2018
    8 string guitarist things haha. well yeah, they go so low that you mostly won't hear the bass. So i opt to go for a more melodic approach. using the bass to put harmonies in and stuff
    obimark likes this.
  10. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    F# is the second fret on your E string.
  11. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    It is! However... in metal bands it’s often helpful (or even essential) to be able to hit the same open low string as the guitarists. IMO of course :)

    think we’ve covered most options already, but just to say that low F# is achievable with the right strings and setup. Your main issue is pushing enough speaker area to be heard!

    Dropping to C# is also a great idea though.
  12. ImHereToAsk


    Jul 12, 2018
    All thanks for the tips. i have a lot of material to use here.
    instrumentalist and knumbskull like this.
  13. bassinflorida

    bassinflorida turn that dang thing down

    Jan 27, 2014
    Tampa, FL
    buy a 5 string bass
  14. I have a 5-string tuned to the standard BEADG and a 4-string tuned to DGCF.

    In certain musical contexts, playing the low D on the 3rd fret on the B string does not accomplish the same thing as having an open D note.
    Neil Folkard, lucas303 and knumbskull like this.
  15. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    As much as I despise this as a musician, I recommend you tune with the band. As a musician, I believe we should be able to play our instruments in any key in standard tuning. But someone discovered alternate tunings and it seems like a free-for-all out there anymore. To each his own. I recently played in a band that tuned to Eb. I play a 5 string and can handle most songs simply transposing - but for sake of having the same open strings as the guitars and mostly for band communication, I tuned down with them. I found that even a half step alteration required truss rod adjustment, so plan on making that adjustment if you decide to tune non-conventionally.

    Tuning up a full step has a couple of possible pitfalls:
    - As previously mentioned, you're likely to be in the same sonic range as 8 string guitars - what's the point?
    - Also, your truss rod may not have that much room for adjustment.

    IMO, the concept of doing a modified BEAD tuning (the C#F#BE suggestion is a great idea) - but you still won't get a lower F#. If you try this, be sure to plan on modifying or replacing the nut - the wider strings can break the nut as it is.
  16. I actually recommend using B standard tuning on bass when playing with 8 string guitars in f# standard. The reason for it is with b standard you have the most similar tuning to their guitars f# standard without having to go extremely low or having to use specially ordered strings because for b standard you can just use standard 5 string sets of strings. It’s not just about how everyone in the band tunes their lowest string. F# standard on 8 string guitar is F#BEADGBE, b standard on bass is BEAD(G depending on if you play 4 or 5 string) so basically in b standard all your open strings are an octave below theirs except you don’t have an f# string. So basically all the time they aren’t playing their lowest string you can play an octave below just like how a 5 string bass in beadg works with a 7 string guitar in beadgbe. It’s only when they play their f# string that you have to adapt because you don’t have an open f#.

    something else that is common for 8 string guitar bands is for the 8’string guitars to use tunings that relate in other ways. For example the guitarist using a drop tuning while the bassist doesn’t or the bass uses a drop tuning while the guitarists don’t. For example Meshuggahs guitarists tune their 8 string guitars down a half step down to f standard and the bass player primarily uses drop A#\Bb so Bb, F, Bb, Eb. For 8 string guitar bands that use drop E on guitars b standard works great on bass.
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  17. I like this solution but I'm not sure why you can't play everything in standard tuning. If they are tuned to F# it doesn't mean you don't have the same notes / chords on your bass, but you might have to transpose if you aren't reading and they're calling chord forms rather than actual concert pitch chords (which is likely). The capo is another solution but I would personally not like my bass being tuned higher. I think ultimately you will probably miss having those two lower notes.
  18. use a capo no stress on the neck and same results
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I'd just play the bass you have, rather than uptuning. I wouldn't cut off any available notes on the low end. I play a lot of gigs where singers determine the key we play in, so I'm comfortable in any key. If you choose to do things this way, you'll find that's a very valuable skill.
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