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Reading / Alt Tunings


-Will-

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I just started playing with the orchestra at church last night (man do I need to work on my reading skills) and a couple of the songs where in Eb and a couple even included notes that went lower. Considering I only own a 4 string what would be the best course of action.

 

1. Play in standard tuning (EADG) and play the octaves for anything lower than E.

 

2. Play tuned down a half step (Eb Ab Db Gb) and get the Eb and play octaves on anything lower than Eb.

 

3. Play in Drop D tuning (DADG) and play octaves on anything below D.

 

4. :D Beg my wife to buy a 5-string.

 

Any suggestions?

Music has no boundaries. It is yours to discover, to enjoy, to draw from and to pass on to others.
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#4 ;D Playing in church is a great reason to buy a 5-string. Because so much church music is piano-based, you're going to end up playing in a lot of flat keys. Pianists hate sharp keys, for some reason.

 

I assume that you're reading off of piano charts rather than a specifically written-out bass chart? So remember that when you play a note off a piano part, your actual note is an octave lower than the piano note. So when you play the E written on the third space (7th fret A-string), it's the same E that's written on the first ledger line below the staff on the piano part. And when you play your open E, it's the same note that's written on the space below the fourth ledger line on a piano staff.

 

On the other hand, you don't want to simply double the pianist's left hand. If you're doing that, what's the point? So as bassists, we really do want that lower octave. So in this setting, a 5-string is a really good idea. I was always frustrated playing in church and having half the songs seeming to be in Eb, but that frustration went away when I got a 5.

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I'd choose the "beg the wife" option.

 

After all, you can tell her it's for the glory of God, and that you personally do not really need a 5 string, but in order to serve the music faithfully you must have one.

 

You don't want to read charts with your bass tuned down a half-step.

 

You could get a Hipshot detuner key, but you'd be using it all the time.

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After all, you can tell her it's for the glory of God, and that you personally do not really need a 5 string, but in order to serve the music faithfully you must have one.

 

Jeremy! Isn't sophistry a sin? tsk,tsk! :D

Nothing is as it seems but everything is exactly what it is - B. Banzai

 

Life is what happens while you are busy playing in bands.

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If you gotta brush up on your reading chops, don't retune your entire bass.

 

Are you reading piano music? If so, that's not very easy. Play everything up.

 

If you believe you need a D, tune the E string down.

 

Buy the Hipshot. Jeremy is right, you'd always be using it. However, you could make a judicious use of it.

 

I play church music every week, and I use a 4. I keep telling myself I'll get a Hipshot, but the gold Gotoh Hipshot that would match the rest of my bass is TOO EXPENSIVE! Makes me mad that they charge so much more for that one. I just play everything up, and get energy in other ways than playing so low.

 

I do find that many folks who have a low string spend too much time there, for my taste.

 

But your best option is the old 5 string route...and I'd look no farther than those OLP MM-3's from Musician's Friend...$149 and I may buy one myself.

"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 gonna be the party-pooper & say you don't need anything but a 4-string bass in standard tuning. I play in church as well, and we have plenty of songs in keys like Eb, Db, etc., and I've never been in the position of wishing I had a 5-string. Maybe I'm a freak. :freak: But I own only 4-string basses because that's all I've ever wanted, or felt I needed.

 

Yes, I've tried 5-string basses. Yes, I've tried really good ones. Yes, I understand that some people who try them never go back. Yes, I understand that they have a very valid use. No, I still don't need one. No, I'm not being close-minded; I accept that someday I may want one, & even drawn up a list of fivers I might get if/when that day comes.

 

It comes down to what you need to do what you're trying to do. For me, 4 is fine, playing the same music you are. I don't NEED anything more. But it might also be that you're feeling the "growing pains" of wanting/needing to try something else. Only you can tell. And there will be things you can do with a 5 that a 4 won't do. There's no reason NOT to do it, after all.

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Also, what EXACTLY is the problem? Is it that you're really only comfortable playing within the first 5 frets or so, so that Eb is awkward to play/read? If so, DO NOT treat this as a gear issue; get thee to Simandl. That's an abilities issue, & it will still hold you back even if you get a 17-string bass. Or is it something else?
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Also, what EXACTLY is the problem? Is it that you're really only comfortable playing within the first 5 frets or so, so that Eb is awkward to play/read? If so, DO NOT treat this as a gear issue; get thee to Simandl. That's an abilities issue, & it will still hold you back even if you get a 17-string bass. Or is it something else?
The problem is an experience issue as well as an abilities issue. I am an beginning sight reader and am trying to get better. My problem is not identifying an Eb, but what to do when I identify a note out of the range of my bass. If I have a low Eb that can only be played by tuning down my E string, should I do that or should I just stay is standard tuning and play the Eb somewhere else on the neck? Like the 6th fret of the A string.

 

I want to get the Simandl book and will. I might just go order it now. Does the book explain what to do in this situation or is it up to the creativity of the bassist?

Music has no boundaries. It is yours to discover, to enjoy, to draw from and to pass on to others.
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Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

One more alternative -- tune your bass BEAD...

Then you get a crappy sound...

 

If begging the wife doesnt work, beg her to get a set of 5 strings and cut the nut on your bass so that the thicker strings will fit correctly.

 

that would be the least costly, and most practical.

 

I'd rather get the 5-stringer though :D

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I play in church as well, and we have plenty of songs in keys like Eb, Db, etc.,
DCR, How do you handle these situations? Do you just play everything up?

 

Just trying to steal some of your creativity.

Music has no boundaries. It is yours to discover, to enjoy, to draw from and to pass on to others.
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Originally posted by phil6006:

Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

One more alternative -- tune your bass BEAD...

Then you get a crappy sound...

 

I was assuming he would use appropriately gauged strings and not detune each string a fourth.

 

Realistically, though, I would definitely consider going 5. However, boning up on some technical stuff from Simandl would be a worthy task, and 4 strings is definitely adequate.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I'd suggest that you play the too low notes up an octave - it's cheaper. (You'll probably find out that when you do that, you'll end up playing more than the one note high - finish the phrase in the same octave it it usually sounds more natural than simply plying one mid-register note in the middle of all the low ones...)

Dave Martin

Java Jive Studio

Nashville, TN

www.javajivestudio.com

 

Cuppa Joe Records

www.cuppajoerecords.com

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Well, there's not much to steal from me... :D

 

Yep, I play up. My first instinct, on seeing a song in Eb, would be to consider the 6th fret of the A string as "home." Obviously there are exceptions. You want the position from which the most notes will be readily accessible, to minize shifts & awkward fingerings.

 

Again, I'm going to say that whether or not you get a 5-string bass has NOTHING to do with this issue. You can get a $5,000 Alembic 5-string, & it will STILL be the case at the end of the day that you need to know how to play notes in different places on the neck while sight-reading.

 

And let's face it, adding another whole string's worth of notes, whose locations you're uncertain of, isn't exactly going to do a lot to solve that problem.

 

As Jeremy said, it comes with time. I always recommend getting any old hymnal you can find & just practice playing bass vocal parts at sight. It helps.

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My solution is to restring your bass to B E A D. Buy some new 5-string bass strings, cut the nut a little, and there you go. Brings a little challenge to ya.I've never liked that twangy little G string anyway. We are BASS players are we not?

Plus you only have to invest in a pack of strings and a nice file.

Good luck.

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Originally posted by Will-Bass:

Is this the Simandl book that was mentioned?

 

New Method for the Double Bass/Book 1

Yep, but don't buy this from Amazon. It's a special order from them.

 

Lemur music carries it...for a buck cheaper, plus no $2 service charge.

Link to Lemur Simandl.

 

By the way, this is the edition I prefer.

"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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Originally posted by davebrownbass:

Originally posted by Will-Bass:

Is this the Simandl book that was mentioned?

 

New Method for the Double Bass/Book 1

Yep, but don't buy this from Amazon. It's a special order from them.

 

Lemur music carries it...for a buck cheaper, plus no $2 service charge.

Link to Lemur Simandl.

 

By the way, this is the edition I prefer.

Other options as well:

 

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?isbn=0825801524&st=xl&ac=qr&src=dir

 

:thu:

- Jon

-----

You have the right to remain in the groove, any solos cannot be used against you, you have the right to snap and pop, if you cannot snap and pop, two fingers can provide the funk just fine.

 

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Originally posted by xhawk4:

My solution is to restring your bass to B E A D.

Effectively re-inventing the wheel for a couple of low notes? And making the bass useless for a lot of other applications? Nah - just play them up.

Dave Martin

Java Jive Studio

Nashville, TN

www.javajivestudio.com

 

Cuppa Joe Records

www.cuppajoerecords.com

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Thanks everyone for your help, the Simandl book is on the way. As soon as I buy a bigger amp, I am going to start taking lessons.

 

Once again thanks for the help.

Music has no boundaries. It is yours to discover, to enjoy, to draw from and to pass on to others.
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