why not B instead of C on 5-stringer??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by blakelock, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. blakelock


    Dec 16, 2009
    i know one could tune their bass however they like, but typically a 5-stringer with an added higher string will be tuned to C. however, the 5th string on a guitar is tuned to B. why? is it easier for chords on the guitar or something else??
  2. If you understand and agree with tuning in 4ths, the 4th of B is E, and that is consistent with the way the other strings are tuned.

    But there is no law against tuning your fiver any way you like.
  3. I am not sure why the guitar has a major third from the G string to the B string, but it does seem to allow for chords with tighter voicings. The history of that tuning would be interesting to learn.

    The bass just continues with the systematic 4ths tuning, which gives more range in a given position, and makes things easier for someone like me who is not very used to the guitar.

    As already mentioned, you can tune it anyway you'd like.
  4. I think the reasoning for guitar has to do with the two octaves between the high and low E strings. A lot of fingerings would be a pain if you had to deal with E and F strings spaced that far apart.

    The 6-course oud is apparently sometimes tuned in all fourths, but it's basically a melodic instrument rather than a chordal one. There are people (e.g., Stanley Jordan) who tune guitars the same way, but then there are people who tune guitars just about any way imaginable.

  5. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    The guitar has the major 3rd tuning from G to B to make chords easier to play, which it is...plain and simple. Guitar chords mostly take place in the first position. However, if the string is tuned to C then all the strings r tuned in fourths so all ur one octave bass scales are the same from the octave to second octave, 2nd to third, and so forth across the neck which makes more sense to me if u use the bass a lot to solo with u really only have to know ur scales and modes in one octave cuz when u reach the higher octaves the pattern just repeats..
  6. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    It's funny though that if you play alot of jazz chords they are based on stacked fourths which makes them easier to play with a high C string anyway.

    Rev J
  7. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    If I ever got a 7 string I would tune it like a guitar with a low b
  8. Sni77


    Aug 23, 2012
    Vienna, Austria
    And why would you do that? I guess it would only be useful if you are already playing guitar and just want to have a familiar string format. I don't really see any benefit for bass. I really do like the regular tuning in 4ths on the bass, that major 3rd always threw me off while playing anything but chords on guitar.
  9. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Yes. The standard tuning of guitars always left me bewildered. The pattern is not consistent. With bass it is, that's why I was attracted to bass -- it made sense from a harmonic perspective.

    Perhaps no one ever adequately explained to me why the tuning of a guitar makes things easier.
  10. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    It's so certain chords are easier to play on guitar.
  11. DinnerWithAGypsy

    DinnerWithAGypsy Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Louisville, KY
    Just imagine trying to play a full bar chord with all strings separated by fourths. There's your answer.
  12. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Yep. The open chords on a guitar really depend on that major third. Some guitarists prefer to keep it in fourths, particularly in settings where three- and four-note chords are desirable, so that the fingering is identical across the fretboard.
  13. ACalbass


    Dec 16, 2011
    Just for clarification,the 5th string of a guitar is tuned to A,typically.
    Strings count from down and up,not the other way around.
    You are talking about the guitar 2nd string,correct?
    Also,a 5 strings has a LOWER B,typically,not a higher C,and adding a higher string would make it a 6 strings,no?
    And will be tuned to B,typically (this can be changed if you prefer)

    The reasoning behind the tuning is that is tuned by 4ths.
    Let's say you tune the 2nd string to C.Then 1st string would be what? and F?
    I think you could play like that with some exercising,fingering shouldn;t be a problem,but there is no musical foundation to do that.
  14. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    The first 5 string bass was a Fender Bass V made between 1965 and 1970 and it had a high C string to make it easier to hit higher notes for reading bassists:


    Rev J
  15. I have a 5 string electric bass and I tune it E-A-D-G-B. I do that so I can re-use the guitar patters for arpeggios and chords that I already know. It also allows a barred P12th between fattest and thinnest string.

    Another reasons why 6 string guitars have that 3rd instead of all 4ths is so that the thinnest two strings have some natural resonance with the fattest two. E-B, E-E (P12th and double octave), A-E (P12th), which works out better with open strings chords than having a C or F.
  16. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    I would prefer 4ths on a seven if I had one. Regardless I did run into a local guy with a Conklin 7 that tuned it BEADGBE for the very reason that he was already familiar with the guitar tuning and it made the transition from 4 strings to 7 easier. Each unto their own. Each tuning has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  17. troy mcclure

    troy mcclure Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Central Florida
    guys who play both instruments tune it to a B, bassists would keep it to a C.
  18. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    six string bass makes sense-it is symmetrical.
    ever wonder why the B string on a guitar cant stay in tune? there is a flaw in there somewhere. just sayin.
  19. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I once tried tuning one of my guitars in straight fourths but just couldn't get along with it, ironically enough (I keep my 6-string bass in 'standard' BEADGC tuning.) Just too used to chord fingerings I'd already learned (and I've totally ripped off the old Alex Lifeson trick of having the open high B and E strings ring out while moving chord shapes around.)
  20. blakelock


    Dec 16, 2009
    i know, right! :meh:
    there's probably a simple reason for this but i always had trouble getting the B string to sound right on my guitars.