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When the rest of the band tunes down...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Ramiro773, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Ramiro773


    Apr 17, 2013
    One of the bands I'm in plays most of its songs in standard E, but the last song we wrote is played in Drop D, or at least thats what the guitarists tune to. Cause I'm lazy and feel i can't make decent bass lines in drop d, i chose to stay in E.

    I was able to play everything just fine and just played the octave on those low notes. Whats your guys' two cents on this. Is there a specific time you choose to tune with the guitars? A time to stay in your preferred tuning? I like E standard because I feel comfortable with the scales and whatnot (i think about it in shapes more than anything) and i'm probably gonna stay with it. I just wanna know everyone else's opinion.
  2. If you learn to play in Drop D, then you can make the decision based on what sounds best for the song, not based on your own limitations.

    To answer your question, my old band, the guitarist switched back and forth a lot between drop D and standard E tuning. There were some songs we were both in E, some songs where I switched with him to D, and even rare songs where one of us was in E and the other was in D. It is all about opening up musical possibilities, and ultimately, what sounds good.

    In a social/jam type situation, if somebody has written a song in drop D, and they ask YOU to try the tuning too, it is usually good manners to go along with the group, unless you have a specific reason/limitation not to. If you are getting paid to play, then there is no doubt about it, you do what the boss says. :)
  3. D_Bag


    Feb 8, 2013
    St. Joseph, MO
    I always tune the same as the guitars. I prefer a standard tuning, but I haven't been in a band that plays in a standard tuning since 2003.
  4. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Play a 5 string. Problem Solved.
  5. Bow tie

    Bow tie

    Jan 9, 2014
    Upstate NY
    Seems like it's always alternate turnings, so I switched to a 5 string several years ago and really like it. Can play in drop d on song 1, then standard for song 2.
  6. Yes & no. Try playing some Rage or Tool on a 5 string. Some of the songs are doable, but most of their stuff is written in Drop-D & MUCH easier to play in this tuning.

    I keep a 4 string around just for that.
  7. MrTaff


    Jan 20, 2014
    I only play 5's now so it's less of an issue, but when I played a 4 it would depend on the song, some parts sound ok played an octave higher, others just need that low D.
  8. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I only play in drop d while my guitarist mostly plays in e. Theres about 4 songs where he tunes down to drop d and I stay in d.
  9. Bassdude15


    Feb 26, 2013
    I am at this point used to drop D. if the guitarists tune lower than that , then I'm in the wrong room!
  10. Ajak


    Mar 31, 2012
    Bern, Switzerland
    The guitar player of the bands I play in tunes to Drop-D. I used to play in E-standard and Drop-D in one band (I have a d'tuner installed on my 4-string) and for my other band I use a 5-string. But while playing in Drop-D worked well, I never really felt free because I couldn't use the shapes and scales I'm used to. That's the reason I got myself another bass to tune to D-standard.
    Playing the d-stuff an octave higher was never an option for me but I guess that depends on the music.

  11. i never tune down. i play a 6 string bass so i never have to.

    i've played some things in alternate tunings, like more love by victor wooten... but thats a totally different thing from playing with a band..

    i just never saw the point to tuning down..
  12. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    A Hipshot extender will be way less expensive than another bass.
    If you only want to go down a whole step, it's an easy flip.

    That said, I have a low-B, and don't play any Tool Rage...
  13. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Start thinking more about music and less about shapes.
  14. I mainly play 7 string bass with a bit of a whacky tuning (G#BEADGC)
    guitars I play with are in drop B or c# standard. I NEVER change my tuning on the 7. g# is the lowest note I actually need. Ive tuned to f# before but I never actually wrote a bassline that had a low f# or G.

    I have a fretless 4 that stays at home. I mainly got it for fun and if i wanted a fretless sound in the studio, the tuning changes on that bass all the time, from one month to the next it could be eadg, dadg, aadg, or ddgc,
  15. I've got two basses tune one EADG and the other DGCF.
  16. Broadstbully22


    Dec 5, 2011
    I ran into this allot with my current band. At first I was just retuning quickly but then I bought a hipshot dtuner for my jazz and that helped for most situations. The problem with them is you only change one string and some bass lines shapes become pretty spread out and almost impossible to play. I used to play a five but recently moved away from the direction because it's just not for me. Now my final fix for this issue was my custom mm build I made. It is set up bead with the for lowest strings from a five string set. So the b is not just a e string tuned down and all floppy. I had to file the nut but it's easy. So basically it's a five string without the g string. This is now my back up that I take to every show. It has quickly become one of my favorite basses ever and not just because of its tuning.
  17. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I played with one band that used E flat tuning for every song, because of the singer not straining his voice. I just tuned every string down a half step. For anything below that (drop D or lower), I would play my 5-string.
  18. oysteivi

    oysteivi Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2013
    Trondheim, Norway
    I use a Hipshot extender to tune to drop d when my guitarist changes to his drop d guitar. Though for some parts I like to play the "d riff" on the regular d string with an octave down pedal, for the effect that gives.
  19. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    I second getting a Hipshot.

    On a side note, I heard a rumor that TOOL will be playing songs in other keys than D....
  20. DGCF, and on one bass a Hipshot as well to retune the D to C--the C I've explored and practiced but haven't truly needed yet. It's a pretty handy solution that I like, doesn't require a 5, you can keep using it without a bunch of retuning and trying to remember how you're set up. The cons I guess are a little relearning up front, a little translation when you learn new tunes, adjusting to different open strings and if you stick with DGCF, it's probably worth it to go up a string gauge or so and set up your instrument. Totally worth it to me, been doing this for years, give it a try for a while... see how it works for you.