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What strings for crazy FCFA tuning?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by bracko, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. bracko


    Sep 21, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    I know it'll be confusing, but I'm trying to find the right strings for a 30" scale bass I want to tune as follows:

    Low F (1/2 step higher than a regular bass)
    High C (like what would usually be 5th fret on the bass' G string)
    High F
    High A (unwound)

    I have read about Bass VI strings with an unwound high 6th string which are able to tune up to A-A and was thinking the bottom string and highest 3 strings might do the trick...

    I'd appreciate advice from anyone with some experience with crazy bass tunings. I don't want to destroy the neck of my bass and am sure I'll need to get a new nut to accomodate the strange strings.

    Ps: I'm trying to cover bass and guitar parts in a band with a horn section and don't want to go overboard with the Novax-style 8-string instruments (and haven't got the cash to either). I'll be using a guitar amp and bass amp.

  2. alec


    Feb 13, 2000
    Perth, Australia
  3. pablomigraine

    pablomigraine Commercial User

    Feb 9, 2005
    New York
    VP & Managing Director - Willcox Basses
  4. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    To confirm, the intervals are 19 5 4 semitones low to high? You could save money by building a custom set from single strings. Also you can use plain guitar strings for the top F and A if you can find ones long enough, and they're cheap so you can experiment to find what feels right, just detach old bass ball ends from used bass strings and thread one onto a plain guitar string to make the ball the right size for the bridge.

    If you go with Circle Ks they sell wound and plain single bass strings so you can order a custom set Circle K Strings - Single Strings - All tensions,scales, gauges however CK strings are made for 34/35" scale so consider that for the low F you will be winding the full gauge onto the tuner post which may be a problem with a large gauge.

    You can use a normal 34/35" bass string for your high C since they will be thin enough to not cause problems when winding the full gauge onto the posts.
  5. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    I use .20, .30, .50, .80
    for tunings like f, f, c, f (all 3 octaves of f) and c,g,c, f among
    other tunings with my '65 hagstrom short scale bass.
    Using Ken Smith burner piccolo sets (14.00 from just strings,com with the .80 added in (5.00 I think)).
  6. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    The .020 .030 and .050 will break tuned to the OPs tuning as i believe his middle 2 strings are the top C and F of a 7 string bass (?)

    bracko, what gauge do you like for standard low E? What tension do you want for the top 3 strings ... guitar tension or tighter? I guess you need to chord comfortably. The total tension will be lower than a standard bass set so don't worry about the neck, also you probably will not need a new nut, using strings thinner than the nut slots is not a problem as long as there is downforce at the nut and the nut slot floors retain their valley-curves. I recommend using plain strings for the top 2 since a wound high F of .020 or .022 is tight and prone to breakage due to it's thin core.

    I'm used to thinking about 34" scales so i'll suggest gauges for 34", they'll be a little looser on 30" but the short scale will counteract the feeling of looseness.
  7. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    you are right, i was inverting the c and f (middle strings).
    the .80 and .20 will work for the outside strings, however.
  8. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    The Circle K tension chart is useful for this http://circlekstrings.com/CKSIMAGES/CircleKtensionChart.pdf
    Although it's for 34" scale you can find the tension for a 30" scale by multiplying the value shown by (30/34)squared = 0.779.
    You can us that chart to find what tension you like and use the value to choose gauges for your crazy tuning.

    So i'm thinking as a starting point .025 .017p .013p for the high CFA, chosen for the most gentle fall in tension across CFA. Plus anything from .080 up for F, .080 being extra light tension, a normal 34" scale bass string of .080 might wrap around your tuner post at full gauge with no problem ... depends on the post i guess. The whole set .080 .025 .017p .013p has an extra light tension falling gently from low to high strings, making the top 3 easy to chord. Using cheap plain guitar strings you could start experimenting with the top 2 gauges to find what feels right for you.

    Looking at the gauges of bass VI sets i think the top 3 strings will be fairly tight at your tuning.
  9. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Yep, sorry, i forgot it's a 30" :)

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