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Why does drop tuning sound better than a 5 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pickles, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    My sadowsky 4 sounds great with the .105 E string tuned to C, yet most 5 strings sound relatively wonky with a .125 or .130 tuned to B, especially past the 4th fret. I find that confusing.

    Should we all be running .115s for low B?

    For the record I've had some 5s with great B and E strings, but they are crazy rare IME, and even rarer that the one bass with the great B and E is the bass I want to play overall. And scale length has nothing to do with it.

    Most 4s sound great in D, if not lower.
  2. FunkyMcNasty

    FunkyMcNasty Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2010
    I think the second word in your question may contain the answer ;)
  3. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I've had half a dozen sadowsky 5s as well, the low tuned 4s sound better to me.
  4. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Your sadowsky is a better bass then most of the fivers by other makers. Its going to do better low B then most. In my experience very few five strings basses have a great sounding low B. You are correct that lighter gauge string can actually sound better. But Id say main thing is your bass is better then a large percentage of bases out there to begin with.
  5. FunkyMcNasty

    FunkyMcNasty Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2010
    In that case, its beyond me.
  6. Timmy-Watts

    Timmy-Watts Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Lower tension of the same mass along a string. The thicker it is, the more mass and less flexibility. Then fret it several inches up and make it shorter...all that inhibits free vibration.

    I have my workhorse EB, a Stingray 5. But my basses for "me" are 4's. My Fretless Stingray 4 has a HIPSHOT D-Tuner and low D is just thunderous, even with a .95 Chrome.
  7. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Sr5s get a pass. The B can sound terrible acoustically, but the pickup transforms it. And still your 4s are better.
  8. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    I totally get where the OP is coming from - I play both 4s and 5s, and pretty much only use my 5ers for stuff that goes down to low D and below... I very much prefer the sound of an open Eb on a 4 string over the same note played on a 5er... My band plays in alot of diferent tunings, and *for me* the best solution is to use a standard tuned BEADG 5er, a 4 standard tuned 4 string with a Hipshot for standard and drop D, and another 4 string tuned down a half step for our Eb set... Sure, I can transpose and make pretty much everything work on my 5ers, but *to me* it's less work(playing-wise) to bring 3 basses than it is to do that, and I sound better as an added bonus... Now, my typical gig runs 4 hours, and covers around 50 songs - so I play long enough to justify bringing that many basses to a gig, IMO...

  9. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA

    I start to grimace when I tune my .110 to D...
  10. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I had to play carefully, but the tone and string to string balance was spot on.
  11. Betrayer_Bass

    Betrayer_Bass Profanity Fish.

    Sep 24, 2011
    Oslo, Norway
    Endorsing: Spector basses, Winspear Picks, Spector Formula 603 strings
    I dunno, my Warwick's 5th string sounds incredible. Guess it's down to manufacturers.
  12. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009

    The only time this can happen is when you're playing the wrong 5 string. If the OP could play my Lakland or my Spector 5 strings he'd never play a 4 string again :)
  13. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    Or, your standards regarding "sounds incredible" - I've played tons of Warwicks, and their B strings are certainly not superior in any way to EBMMs, Laklands, Spectors, Ibanez, etc...

    - georgestrings
  14. When Warwick and EBMM are considered the best low B, usually means that they haven't tried many basses. Most luthiers can blow the doors off of those basses.

    Back to the subject, I don't like a .105 tuned to C one bit.
  15. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    I don't recall saying anything about a "best low B" - just stating that IMO, Warwick isn't anything special...

    Agreed on the .105 tuned to C thing, though - I don't care for a .105 tuned below D, for the most part...

    - georgestrings
  16. My MIM Fender deluxe Jazz with SD quarter pound pick ups sounds awesome. Plays Nickleback songs perfectly :bag:
  17. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    IME, the B string can't be attacked with the same stroke. with that in mind, i have been able to make almost any 5'er sound great!:)

    what's that saying about blaming the tools?:bag:
  18. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Maybe it's the playing style you're force due to the looseness of the strings in drop tuning?
  19. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  20. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Well since he plays stuff in Drop C, I can only say that it sounds better (for him then) compared with a 5 string, cause there is less tension on the Dropped Down string, so you get a fatter and bassier sound.. Could be wrong, but hey, that's how I think about it :p

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