6 String Bass Tuning

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by Czar_4514, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. Czar_4514

    Czar_4514 SS.org Regular

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    I play an Ibanez 6 string bass and haven't really tuned lower than Drop C but Im going to be trying out for a band and they are in Drop Ab.Now I feel like a complete noob but what exactly is Drop Ab tuning for 6 string bass and what gauge strings do you recommend?

    The music is a very progressive feel.
     
  2. Origin

    Origin Rainbow In The Dark

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    Drop Ab would require tuning down the low B string 3 semitones and the rest one semitone, I'm pretty sure. So high to low it would be

    B
    Gb
    Db
    Ab
    Eb
    Ab

    I'd recommend a fairly thick gauge compared to regular ones, but nothing insanely huge. It's not short-scale so slightly thick strings would do fine :yesway:
     
  3. Demeyes

    Demeyes SS.org Regular

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    I'd tune the whole six strings down a half step with a dropped low string to AbEbAbDbGbB. I'm not sure what gauge would be best, what scale is the bass?
     
  4. Czar_4514

    Czar_4514 SS.org Regular

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    Its a 34' scale length.
    I like how GHS Boomers feel but I dont think they make 6-string bass strings if Im not mistaken.What would you recommend?

    And thanks again you guys.
     
  5. SirMyghin

    SirMyghin The Dirt Guy Contributor

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    for Ab you are going to want at least a .135 on the Ab, that is about the biggest 'standard' size unfortunately. This is the plight of 34" scales, maybe try DR DDTs or something, I use a .125 of that inplace of the .135 I used to use for low B on my 5 banger and it feels better and is very clear. I would still go heavier for lower though.
     
  6. danieluber1337

    danieluber1337 ☻☺☻☼☺☻☺

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    I would try Elixir strings.

    I.

    Love.

    Elixir.




    Strings.

    I'm trying to see if they will manufacture a 0.060" gauge string for guitar, and make a 7-string set that's for drop G or Ab.

    They only make a 5-string set, but you can add a 6th string. Here's the link. I would recommend their standard 5-string set along with the 0.135" string. That is, if you don't mind buying online. I think it's totally worth it though... especially for bass. Their strings keep their clarity for a longer time, due to how they put the coating on it.

    :2c:
     
  7. Czar_4514

    Czar_4514 SS.org Regular

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    I think Im just gonna buy a complete set.My old ones are pretty worn out and I want to have that new string sound so now I know where to get em at.Thanks for the tips.
     
  8. danieluber1337

    danieluber1337 ☻☺☻☼☺☻☺

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    No prob.

    Welcome to sevenstring.org :)
     
  9. ZEBOV

    ZEBOV Banned

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    There's no sense in using a drop tuning on bass because you're not playing chords with it.

    EDIT: Well, not with the lower strings.
     
  10. thedarkoceans

    thedarkoceans Banned

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    i tuned in that way on my fender jazz bass 5 string for a while.if it hasnt got 35" scale dont do it.
     
  11. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    I use this tuning on 35". D'addario .145 gauge, JUST about cuts it so I wouldn't go any thinner on a 34".
    I buy a 4 string set and two singles (superlong so they don't taper off too early).

    EXL170SL
    XB145SL
    XLB032
     
  12. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    I've never really considered using a drop tuning on bass. I guess I think of bass as a form of melodic instrument, with double stops and chords being a rarity.

    I always think of drop tunings which break the fourths pattern on guitar being necessary for some because it makes it easier for them to hold down certain chords and to just easily reach across to hit the octave/fifth/fourth of a particular chord.

    I'm curious. What is the motivation for using a drop tuning on bass? What advantages come from breaking the fourths bass pattern? Is anyone who's doing this coming from a background of bass playing, or does this come from someone just mirroring what they already do on guitar?

    If the latter... does this mean that the basslines being played just mirror the same sonic and rhythmic space of the guitar as well? How do you make the basslines distinctive, in that case?

    I own a couple of basses, 4-, 5- and 6-string, fretted and fretless, and I think of them as distinct instruments from my ERGs, with distinct techniques. I'm always interested to hear of different approaches, and the motivations behind those.
     
  13. Waelstrum

    Waelstrum All Fourths Advocate

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    Yeah, whenever people want to mirror the bass and guitar tunings, it normally seems to me like the majority of the basslines are intended to be doubling the rhythm guitar down an octave. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, it is certainly a good way to get that heavy homophonic metal sound.

    It's not just limited to metal and guitars, though. Many double basses have extensions on the low string to get down to low C to allow the doubling of cello lines.
     
  14. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Yep I also drop tune my bass to mirror guitar riffs. It's not the only way, no, but in my opinion it usually is going to sound best. Of course different fills here and there to make the bass line stand out, and distinct sections where the bass is upfront doing something different.

    It just makes sense to me to be able to mirror shapes that the guitar plays, on bass. Not necessarily chords, but riffs using arpeggios, etc.

    Having the bass in drop tuning makes it easier to mirror the guitar whenever you do wish to do so, and doesn't make anything else any harder in my opinion.
     
  15. Waelstrum

    Waelstrum All Fourths Advocate

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    Is having a fifth there not a bit hard for scalic (sp) runs on the bottom strings? It seems like quite a stretch, I can only just make that sort of stretch on a 34" bass at around the 5th fret, and at that point it's basically guitar fret size.
     
  16. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    ^ True. I've thought about it before when playing guitar, even, and it's my only problem with drop tuning. That said, I don't really tend to do runs on the bottom strings.
    I guess it definitely depends on your playing style.
    I'm soon getting a guitar in EA EADGBE tuning, and my playing style is illustrated there. No runs on the bottom strings, just played like a 6 string guitar with octaves available at the same fret. I guess my bass playing is similar as I tend to follow the guitar on anything involving low strings. Unique lines I tend to always play much higher.
     
  17. SirMyghin

    SirMyghin The Dirt Guy Contributor

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    Mirroring and boring basslines is the name of the game. You see it with guitars too, everyone wants the entire band in the same tuning for some reason. I used to play with a guitarist who dropped D when I played a 4 bang, I did not drop with him. My bass lines are a little meatier and melodic than that. Not static.
     
    Explorer likes this.
  18. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    This is exactly my experience too. A D'Addario .145 at Ab on 35" is at the limit of good tone. On 34" it might just work (I would recommend 145 + 100-40set + 28)

    Even better is a specially designed 'drop tune' set from Circle K Strings: Circle K Strings - Standard Drop-tuned 6 Strings. These 'balanced tension' sets have gauges chosen to result in equal tension on each string in the drop tuning. I recommend the .150 set or heavier, the Ab will sound much better than a .145.
     
  19. Ryan-ZenGtr-

    Ryan-ZenGtr- SS.org Regular

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    I was playing bass in a technical metal band .... chug chug chugga chug chug wwwweeee ooppp chug chugga ....

    Morse code metal, if you will.

    There was a long period where I refused to play in a drop tuning on my 6 string bass, but practicality forced me to relent and tune my bass the same as the guitarist.

    Drop tuning creates stretches that just aren't worth the bother on bass.

    But I would definitely mention that playing in drop tuning stifles the imagination as the cycle of fourths is broken!

    Let's say your a genius, probably not then, but for learners it is a crippling habit. That's what I saw anyway. Not one of my drop D or lower die hard friends ever got great at lead or chordal playing, but did all develope unique takes on the complex rythmn metal style.

    Anyway... Bass thread = Gratuitous Bass Videos!!!









    And one of my teachers... Mr Dave Marks! :hugs: +9 chords

     
  20. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    I dunno... the idea of the bassline always being in lockstep with the guitar just seems like a lost opportunity to make one's music interesting. However, it *does provide* an opportunity... for those who want to build something which stands out from that lockstep crowd.

    Even just using a pedal point can make something so much heavier on a four-string bass than any amount of downtuning.




    I guess it's all up to personal preference. I don't like traditional Irish music seisúns for the same reason; everyone playing the same thing in unison just holds no interest for me, and I'd rather go to the most basic jazz or blues jam instead.

    Horses for courses, I suppose.
     

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