Drop G Tuning Bass

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by Pan3optic3on, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Yeah, that's my experience in a nutshell. You can tune down to A0 with budget gear and everything should seem mostly okay. Every semitone down below that point, and you need to do something clever to mitigate the problems you'll run into - and nothing is as straightforward as it seems to anyone who has never tried to tune that low before. Once you get your feet wet, though, I think that the paradigm will shift for you and you'll continue tuning down as you like, just in a more creative way than you thought you would when you started (I'm saying "you," but speaking for myself in the second person).

    After messing with all sorts of string gauges and different amps and EQs and settings and preamps, etc., I came to the realization that everything helps, but that increasing the scale length of the bass is the most powerful tool in tuning down. G0 @ 35" is doable, but kind of a pain. Once you have a rig that can pull off G0, I guarantee that if you plug an extended scale bass into that rig, you'll notice an improvement right away. The Dingwall has the added bonus of some really nice ergonomics and electronics, so tuning down to F#0 or F0 should be an easy adjustment, comparably.

    Personally, after I achieved tuning down to F0 with lighter strings by adjusting my mindset and my technique, I went back to G0 anyway...in fact, I typically tune my bass one step below standard 5 string tuning, then drop the lowest string a whole step when I need it. :shrug: I think that if I had unlimited resources to put toward a custom bass, I would opt for a multiscale with a really long scale length, then also go for a two-fret extension, so I could tune the low string G0 and have a massive scale length behind that, but still essentially have fourths tuning for finger positions.
     
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  2. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

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    Hrmm... It's one of those instances where it's like, "you'll never know what it's like unless you try it for yourself," isn't it...

    I mean, I honestly think that is a super fair thing to say. There have been so many cases in my life where I was completely uncertain until I took a shot in the dark. If this is another one of those cases I can completely understand.

    Come to think of it, I'm starting to see your point. A longer scale length would mean that there would be more tension on the strings, which leads to them requiring more energy to play, which means more output and what's better about that is that my playing style is already aggressive as a guitarist so I probably might need more tension on the strings to even begin with...

    The main problem I have, though, is that I can't seem to find a bass that has the longer scales that I might need. I don't even know if they have any places that sell not-run-of-the-mill basses here. Online stores anyone?

    (keep in mind, you're talking to a Canadian)

    And where, pray tell, can I get a Dingwall bass in Canada?

    Oh right... I'd have to go to all the way to Markham... makes sense... =.=

    (oh god they cost over 2K...)

    Thanks,
    WintermintP
     
  3. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    I've found some do think this (usually without trying anything heavier), i did too before Skip encouraged me to try a D'Addario tapered .145 for A0. A .130 at G is very undertensioned at 23lbs, it's equivalent to a .075 at E.
    No, .145s are widely available and not expensive and D'Addario sells .160s too now. Also a 35" scale is enough.
    A .145 at G will still be low tension but better, i find the D'Addario tapered .145s excellent, flexible and clear.
    Ibanez and ESP are now selling fanned fret basses that i think go to around 35.5".
     
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  4. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Actually the advantage of more scale length is that you can use a thinner string while maintaining the same tension, so the string tone becomes clearer because the string is both longer and thinner. These super low strings are never at a high tension because the required thickness for that causes too many problems (stiffness, dullness, inharmonicity, difficult to intonate) to be worth it, so you will have to learn to use a lighter technique on the lowest string (but this is the case anyway with standard Bs which are the loosest string in a set).

    Anyway, do try a D'Addario tapered .145 single string for G0, it can also be retuned to A0 or even B0 with no problems.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
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  5. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

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    http://www.rondomusic.com/defiant53437nat.html

    It has the same scale/fan as a Dingwall. These guys do ship to Canada and have a track record for great customer service. Someone (I think Bostjan) posted some clips A/Bing one with a Dingwall. Might be worth a search.

    The Ibanez does go to 35.5". The ESP is actually 37" IIRC, but I have yet to hear a demo of it that sounds particularly good, despite the fact that it comes with Nordstrand pickups.
     
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  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The Ibanez SRFF's are nice basses. I tend to personally not like the feel of the SR basses, so I don't think it was for me, as it still feels "small" and "cramped" for my liking. The ESP has nicer specs, IMO, but I have not tried one, so I can't personally recommend it.

    The Brice Earthquake is a very affordable 37" static scale and the Defiant is 34-37" multiscale for about $150 or $200 more (I don't recall exactly, off the top of my head). I honestly don't think the Brice compares to the Dingwall basses I've played in stores, nor to the imported NG-2 I own (which I give the highest recommendation). It's still a wonderful instrument, with a few minor flaws, but the low string (G in my case) is quite tight. I think I will have to swap the pickups and electronics out at some point, to get the low notes tighter, but the stock pickups and electronics are not bad, especially for the price. The Dingwalls just have a much better balance and are so much more comfortable to play. And for me, that's very important if I'm going to do a 4-5 hour long gig with the instrument.

    Here's my NBD thread for the Brice I bought: http://www.sevenstring.org/threads/nbd-brice-defiant-53437-rb-bubinga.319366/
    Here's the NBD thread for the Dingwall NG-2: http://www.sevenstring.org/threads/nbd-dingwall-ng-2.289585/
     
  7. gingerman

    gingerman SS.org Regular

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    From my standpoint, it really boils down to personal preference. I had a custom dingwall-like bass built to handle G0 with relatively light strings (.155 kalium), but I didn't fully like how it sounded compared to other strings. A0 is almost ideal, and G#0 is the compromise I settled on.

    So now if I want to write heavier music, I don't play / tune low, I just add more contrast to the music. After all, Gojira is a great example of "heavier is not lower".
     
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  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I sound like a broken record, but I'll just keep saying this:

    Tune down to where it sounds good, instead of tuning down and then trying to make it sound good. That should always be the musical context around tuning up or down.

    From a more science-y perspective, tune down as low as you want, and observe what happens. But, under that context, there should never be anyone shrugging off the discussion and saying "I don't know, it just sounds better."
     
  9. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

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    I think the best option for me would be to tune the bass back to Drop A, and then buy a Digitech Drop (if it's not discontinued yet) to bring it a whole tone below to get my Drop G. I can tell the SRFF805 might be a good bass for this kind of thing but forking over $1K for a bass is a little iffy for me. I think the Drop pedal will work much better for me in the long run due to the fact that I will also be able to use the same pedal on my 89-equipped Snakebyte, which will allow me to use the 89s on it in Drop G.

    As for the Brice bass, I'm a little concerned because I can't seem to find where they're located, and if they are located in the States that can be a problem for me due to shipping time deficit and the currency conversion fee.

    Thanks,
    WintermintP

    P.S. Multiscale basses are a bit daunting for me because I have never played a multiscale guitar/bass before. I could try the Brice Earthquake?

    P.P.S. Hrmm... I can't seem to find the bass itself... T^T
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Rondo or Brice? The bass would ship from Rondo Music, which is in Claremont, NH, or thereabouts. It's not far from where I live, but they do not have a public showroom. The Earthquake, to me, looks like a decent deal - you'd be getting a sort of spiritual copy of the infamous Quake bass from Kalium. I have not tried the Earthquake, personally.

    Here's the maple fretboard Defiant, though: http://www.rondomusic.com/product8586.html

    And here's the rosewood version (maple sounds snappier): http://www.rondomusic.com/defiant53437nat.html

    And here's one with a veneer: http://www.rondomusic.com/defiant53437natb.html
     
  11. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

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    Hrmm... looks like my internet is slow today. I actually meant the Earthquake but I can't seem to find any information about the bass at all.

    WintermintP
     
  12. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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  13. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Why give up on drop G? You already wrote it works fine and sounds good even using a .130. As i have written before you don't need a new bass, just try a D'Addario taperwound .145 single, which are only slightly more expensive than other B strings. You don't know unless you try it. Cheaper than buying a pitch shift pedal.
    Try, instead of deciding mentally what will or will not work.
    If the .145 isn't good at G it will make an excellent A string so you lose nothing.

    Also using a pitch shift pedal just isn't the same, it's a crude solution that inevitably creates a very slightly weird synthetic sound. The vibration you feel from the instrument will not match what you hear. Plus you won't be able to practice at low volume or acoustically.
     
  14. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

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    That sounds like a pretty good price, but there's only one left... I don't know if I'll be able to respond in time due to SOCAN and other issues that came up.

    The main problem that I see with a 145 is the fact that I will have to drill a bigger hole in the tuning pegs (according to the guitar techs at the main stores). That's problem number one. The other problem is that I already went through a round of a string change through Greigg after my classmates suggested 135 so I don't have to drill a new hole in the pegs, and applying a 145 now would mean that I would have to go through the whole process all over again so soon, which would infuriate my mother and she will outright block my path from it (I can't drive and the bus system here is beyond nonsensical).

    I haven't given up on Drop G. I'm using a 135 on Drop G, which still does feel flabby albeit not as flabby as a 130, but it barely gets the job done and I don't want to complicate the situation for the others even further.

    The gauge of 145 isn't what my bass can handle due to the tuning pegs unable to accommodate such a thick string. If I were to not drill a new hole on it and run the risk of destroying the bass, I would have to buy a whole new bass entirely. Given the fact that the instrument stores have hung up on me all of a sudden despite the fact that I was their main customer not long ago, I have next to no options at all.

    Furthermore, one string might sound cheaper than a Digitech Drop, but once we start talking long term, a Digitech Drop will only be a one-time purchase and will also unlock all my instruments' ability to play in Drop G, whereas a 145 string will be something I will have to pay for again and again, and it might run me dry eventually. So a Digitech Drop is way more bang for the buck in that sense. It may seem like I'm only going to need that pedal just for the bass, but it will actually benefit my EMG 89/89 Snakebyte in addition, and the final nail in the coffin is that I don't have to change any of the setup that's already there, so it's way cheaper that way.

    TL;DR Yes, it may seem like a 145 single string might be a far cheaper option, but the Digitech Drop will unlock far more options for the equipment I have and it saves a ton of money long term.

    Also:


    WintermintP
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  15. Beheroth

    Beheroth SS.org Regular

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    I've never heard of a bass tuner that need to be drilled even for 200+ gauge strings. Pretty sure you can put a 145 easy without any mod. However you might have trouble with the bridge if it ain't top loading.
     
  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Sperzel bass tuners' openings are .125"
    Gotoh's basic bass tuner (GB350) only accepts .118" wire.

    Obviously a .145" string isn't .145" thick at the tuning post, because of the taper, but most tuners only accept about .120" wire, so if a string doesn't taper, it'd be a total no-go, unless you drilled it out. With the taper, it totally just depends on the nature of the taper.
     
  17. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

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    In that case I could try, but my mother might complain about having to set up the bass and getting a different gauge again so soon.

    If what I think you're saying is correct, I've once accidentally chipped the bottom of the bass loading the string due to the ball end being too big and the holes for the bridge not being elevated high enough. The strings load from the bottom of the bridge rather than the back of the bass.

    @ixlramp I don't think you're wrong about me needing a thicker bass string for the bottom. I definitely agree with the statement. Whether I will get such an opportunity, though, is my real question. It's not like I can just go to Bellone's any time I want because one, it's downtown and that means immense traffic, and two, I can't drive, which means I will have to get a ride there, and as long as my mother finds it ridiculous she can just keep me stuck at home or stuck at the college. She even disabled my debit card, claiming it's "not my money" despite the fact that I pay rent and all. I'm even discussing with her about the Digitech Drop right now. Heck, I could try getting a 145 and if I find a much more genuine tone out of that, then maybe it is worth it to get a 145. I'll even look up how big the pegs' holes have to be in order to fit a string like that. The reason why I considered the Digitech Drop was mainly because it benefits more than one of my instruments, really.

    Could even try setting it up myself really...

    Wait, if I try to set it up myself, doesn't that mean I get to actually find out whether the peg needs drilling?! Oh wait, I can't file the nut unless I find the tools...

    WintermintP
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  18. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    You won't, guitar techs in shops are often wrong about anything non-mainstream, as are your classmates, consult the experts on the internet instead (us).
    Big strings are tapered at the nut end, the part you insert in the tuner post will be small like the .135 you are using. I've used D'Addaro .145s on several basses and the string at that point is much smaller than the slot and hole in bass tuner posts.
    You should do your own setups, it's easy and will save you huge amounts of money, all the advice you need is on the internet for free. Only by doing your own setup can you adjust the setup to your needs and technique, any tech is guessing how hard you play and what your technique is like. It's like someone making clothes for you without measuring you, guesswork.

    Using a .145 won't even need a truss rod adjustment as it's a small tension increase, just saddle intonation and saddle height. Also, for an unusual gauge it's much better to buy a string mail order from somehwere that can ship it out to you instantly, a guitar shop will take ages to get a weird gauge in and your travel costs will be almost as high as the string itself.

    Maybe try a .145 next string change, with our advice you won't go wrong.
    Filing out the nut would be the most difficult task, but even that is cheap and easy using a needle file.
    With weird synthetic sound, as i said it's not remotely the same. The further you pitch shift the weirder it sounds, from A to G is bad enough. if you're willing to use a pitch shift pedal you might as well play a synthesiser instead.
    What bass and model? Is there a top-loading option? Consider that a .145 is only very slightly wider than your .135 by the width of a guitar top string, you can judge by eye whether the string-through grommet hole is big enough for the string to pass through (it probably is) or if there are any other issues.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  19. WintermintP

    WintermintP Lead/Rhythm Guitar, One Minute Winter

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    A needle file? If only I knew where to get one... If that's the case, I think I'm going to be ready to change to the 145.

    That video I just posted was actual proof that the pedal actually works. It may not quite be the same, but it's actually been compared to other pitch shift pedals and it has actually been proven to be a viable alternative. That being said, I have started to realise I will need a heavier gauge anyway, even with the pedal, so I'm leaning toward buying the 145 outright.

    http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Bass/Toby-Deluxe-V.aspx

    I have the Vintage Sunburst model.

    Thanks,
    WintermintP
     
  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I don't want to become the negative nancy in the thread, but looking at the clips on the Epiphone site, I don't get the impression that the Toby is particularly well suited for extreme down-tuning. The guy demo'ing the five string doesn't seem to ever even touch the low B string, and even the low E string sounds farty to my ears. It sounds great when he's playing halfway up the neck on the AD&G strings, though.

    Your tone is the sum of everything, though- from your fingers, your strings, your scale length, your wood (fight me!) choices, your electronics, your pickups, your amp, and more. Drop G is not the most unforgiving tuning but it is rough.

    If the drop pedal works for you, that'd be great. Just keep in mind the amp still has to work just as hard to keep the tone tight.

    Since no one asked for my personal opinion, I'll let you know what I think :lol:

    The pedal sounds pretty darn good dropping down a half step or whole step in the demo, but it does lose some brightness. Beyond that, I really didn't think it sounded very good, honestly. Now, you could tune drop A and then use the pedal to go down another whole step, but if your rig is already on the edge of the tone you find acceptable for drop A, it might not actually sound too good at drop G, even with the pedal only pushing down a whole step. Let's keep in mind that this pedal is almost $200. For a few dollars more, you could grab one of the Brice 37" basses that are a lot more down-tuning-minded. I think you'd be happier with that decision in the long run, since the build quality on the Brice should be on par or better than the Toby, the added scale length will give you more EQ meat to cut into, and the pickups and electronics are designed with lower tunings in mind. Then you won't need the pedal. For drop G, you could use everything stock on the Brice, IMO, and I believe it'll give you a wider band of high fidelity tone to shape. Plus, then, if you want, later, you can upgrade the bass with Dingwall pickups or a Darkglass preamp (I would recommend the former over the latter, but both are good quality choices for downtuning) and be in a much better place still.

    Either way, though, drop pedal or instrument swap, I think you will be making progress.

    Best of luck!
     

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