# Why C# and F#?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ozzyman, Jan 20, 2005.

1. ### Ozzyman

Jul 21, 2004
I'm kinda confused. Why do you say a low F# and low C# instead of Gb and Db?
When you go higher then you say Bb and Eb strings, so why do you use #'s instead of b's?

2. ### karrot-xBanned

Feb 21, 2004
Omicron Persei 8
We tune our instruments in 4ths down, not fifths up which is why you say C# instead of Db. IIRC

3. ### geshel

Oct 2, 2001
Seattle
Because the strings are all tuned a perfect fourth from one another.

A perfect fouth from F# is B: F# G# A# B

Whereas a perfect fourth from Gb is Cb: Gb Ab Bb Cb

The pitches are the same, but how they are named is important. It wouldn't be "Gb Ab Bb B" because there's already a B in the Gb scale (the third).

Since you've already got a "B" string, not a "Cb" string, the one a perfect fourth down from it should then properly be called an F#.

4. ### bassist4ever

Dec 5, 2000
USA, Oklahoma
i thought it was a fifth up EADG for example, but a fourth down GDAEBF# and so on and so forth?

5. ### geshel

Oct 2, 2001
Seattle
Not sure I get your meaning.

From a B UP to an E, that's a fourth.

From an E DOWN to a B, that's a fourth.

If you go from E UP to a B, that's a fifth.

Likewise, from B DOWN to an E, that's a fifth.

Code:
```
[b]B[/b] C D [b]E[/b] F G A [b]B[/b]
| 4th |  5th  |

```

6. ### therealting

May 4, 2004
London, England
I think it's probably because F# and C# are just the first two sharps in the series of sharps. The key of G has an F#. The key of D adds a C#, A adds a G#, E adds a D# etc. You are much more likely to encounter an F# and a C# in playing than Gb and Db because so many more keys use them.

Meanwhile you'll notice that when people describe the multiple-string basses that go up in fourths past F, they use flats, e.g.: B E A D G C F Bb Eb. Again that's probably because Bb and Eb are the first two flats and more keys use those than A# and D#.

(BTW, if you look at BEADGCF, that's the order that flats are added in key signatures. Read it in reverse and you get the order sharps are added)

7. ### JoobyFoo

Jul 11, 2004
Athens, Georgia
Technically, the reason we use sharps is because that we are playing string instruments. Our strings are normally tuned to pitches that have keys with sharps in their major scales. Therefore it makes it easier. I am betting that you play a brass instrument because I do too and I used to wonder why we just didn't use the enharmonics also.

Plus, when you are reading music, it logically would seem easier to move your hand up when you see a sharp than to move down when you see a flat. I'm used to reading flats also... but I'm just saying.

Hope this helps.

8. ### bassjus

Mar 30, 2004
Mass
+1

two kids in on of my classes were having the same discussion earlier this week.

9. ### PilbaraBass

Great discussion...wrong forum...this is one about music theory...where does it get filed?

10. ### jvbjr

Jan 8, 2005
I will say what I always say when such a topic comes up...

Music theory is too complicated.

If the notes were called 1~12 instead of A~G#, it would be much easier for people to grasp.

Lets see....instead of an A string it is a "1", fifth fret.....1+5=6, instead of having to remember D.

11. ### Rowka

Dec 9, 2002
Jacksonville, FL