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Drop Tuning


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Well, not to be an asshole, but ...


1. Turn the metal, key-shaped thing at the top of the bass counterclockwise.

2. Play string, listen to pitch.

3. Repeat, until desired pitch is achieved.


... or am I missing something in the question?

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Yeah, music-man pretty much pinned the tail on the donkey (OUCH!). Basically, you just detune the string. Say you want a drop-D, the most common detuning. Take your E-string tuning key, and turn it backwards, the way you turned to tighten it. Use a tuner to do this until you can do it by other means. It's just another way to get more notes, really...and octaves for that matter.
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You could just drop the bass on the floor and see how it ends up tuned! :D


Or you could lower the E string to D, which is reasonably common. You could also lower all four strings to Eb,Ab,Db,Gb D,G,C,F or anything your little heart desires.


If you are playing with guitarists who play in low tunings you might want to try tuning your bass BEAD.


And if you go back and forth between standard tuning and drop D, you should buy a Hipshot detuner peg.

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A lot of guitarists these days tune their guitars lower than standard tuning because:

1)they write songs in a key and then can't sing the high notes,

2)they think it sounds heavier.

3)Jimi, Stevie Ray or someone else famous did it, it must be cool.


If the guitars have a lower note than E, then the bass player needs it too. You have four choices:

1)tune your E string down.

2)tune your whole bass down.

3)Get a 5 string.

4)Get a "poor man's five string"--tune to BEAD.


If you know all the names of the notes that the guitars are playing (allowing for their retuning---this involves transposition) and you know the names of the notes you are playing (could involve transposing), you will be fine.


If you don't know the names of any of the notes that anyone is playing including yourself and you do everything by ear you will be fine too.


Have fun!

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I played for a few years (when I was doing original stuff) with my low E dropped a full step to a low D, and left A, D, G strings alone. This makes a few standard rock licks harder to play the way I'd learned them, but I found that it not only gave me those two extra low notes, but made the whole E string sound fatter all the way up, due to it being looser. I play GHS heavy Boomers, (50, 70, 95, 115) so there was enough tension it didn't get floppy. I think with light gauge strings, you might not like the effect, so try heavier gauge strings and see how that goes.


I'm an old stick-in-the-mud who never warmed up to the five-string basses, so a low D on a four-string still comes in handy now and then doing cover stuff. I found myself tuning the E string up and down two or three times a night in my last band. Actually, the whole band played a half step flat, (mainly to spare the lead singer, who had to survive four sets of hard rock) so in all reality, my E string was actually a C#, I suppose.



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Originally posted by Soundcrafter:

The low B on my five string is already waaay down there (30Hz down there)....an A would be like an atomic fart :freak::D

Yup, pretty much. Listen to "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac (I know, I know, flame suit on). But the bass is tuned CADG...yeah a drop-C. Crazy stuff, man. My friend summed it up one time with this quote:

Man, that's like a drop-D from hell.
Yes, my friend, it is. Amazing stuff. System of a Down is detuned to CGCF, which is pretty rattly stuff. Not my cup of tea, but interesting nonetheless. Enjoy.
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Yeah, Tazzola, King's X did a lot of different tunings. Doug Pennick used some really light strings, too. I think he was using a .090 for his E string. They used the DADGAD tuning quite a bit, as well. Doug also used a 5 string some, but very sparingly. Of course, Doug had a huge amp rack to help him get his thunderous tone.
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In a symphony orchestra, the cello's lowest string is a c, the bass's is the e in question.


This has been a problem for centuries...especially in the day when composers wrote only one part for both instruments.


There have been many attempts at solution, none of them perfect.


The solution I use is altered tuning. Dropping to a D is not uncommon...I've even used C and once, a B so I could vibrato the C.


Barber's "Adagio for Strings" has a vital Dflat; I tune to C and vibrato that note.


There is even one composition (I can't remember which one) where the composer gives the instruction for the basses to tune down to a d one by one during the finale, while the orchestra is playing. That's what timpanist's do.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.


Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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I'm sure Dave knows about the C extension which many orchestra bass players have. I've seen Ron Carter use this too. It's a fingerboard extension above the nut so you can play lower notes without having to retune the string.


The Kubicki bass does the same thing for electric. It has a nice latch so you can use the extension or not according to your needs. Unfortunately the extension only goes to D.


I saw a company at NAMM last year that was selling replacement necks. They had a C neck and a D neck.

Their invention was a longer neck for lower tunings with the dots in different locations so that on the D neck an octave E on the low string would be played on the 14th fret and the double dot was there. Etc.


And in my copy of the Bach Cello Suites, the Fifth Suite is written for a tuning of EGDG. Fortunately, it also is written in standard tuning.


And if you want to have some fun with your bass, tune it DADA. Play in the key of D, there are no wrong notes! Octaves are straight across and if you get lost just play on the middle two strings!

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