Tuning 5 string bass for 8 string guitar

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by roncarlston, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. roncarlston

    roncarlston Well-Known Member

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    My 8 string carvin is usually tuned to EBEADGBE

    I have a stock ibanez SD405QM that i am about to have professionally set up and wanted to run this by you guys. I think i'm just going to try and tune an octave below the 8 string (thats what most do right?) and was going to order some Circle K strings that go thick as .145 or maybe .150 and have the guitar set up for that tension so i can tune nice and low on it



    those of you who have tried a few different ways is it best to tune an octave below the guitar or in the same octave? i know meshuggah does something kind of weird in standard
     
  2. roncarlston

    roncarlston Well-Known Member

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    btw if i am an octave below the 8 string, the tuning would be EBEAD for the bass right?

    sorry i am clueless when it comes to tuning a bass
     
  3. Zeno

    Zeno SZ Hunter

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    What meshuggah does is the 8 strings are a half step down (F1-Bb1-Eb2-Ab2-Db3-Gb3-Bb3-Eb4) and the bass is in Drop Bb (Bb0-F1-Bb1-Eb2-Ab2), and here's why -

    On the old 7 string stuff, the bass was tuned an octave apart. On the new 8 string stuff, it's unison. So, that way, Dick can play all the old stuff (which was mostly chugging on the lowest string anyway) and all the new stuff on the same bass.

    As for what you do, I'd probably honestly just use a 5 in standard, unless you have riffs that absolutely rely on having a 5th between the low E and B of your 8 string.
     
  4. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Yeah, I agree. Don't worry about what "most" people do. IMO you should find out what most people do and make that the one thing you DON'T do. So just keep it in standard and just play what works, irrespective of whether the bass is below the guitar, in unison, or above.
     
  5. stevexc

    stevexc Contributor

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    Those two hit the points on tuning well, I just wanted to mention this...

    That'll be Flopsville, USA. I use a .135 for Db1 on a 34" scale bass. That gets me around 45 pounds of tension, although 40 pounds (a .125) is acceptable for me (note that those are both D'addario, for Circle K that's about a .130 and .122 respectively, or whatever their closest string is). If you're tuning an octave below an 8-string in Drop E (which if I'm not horribly mistaken would be E1) you'd want something like a .210 for 40 pounds or a .222 for ~45. Now those are my weight preferences, your mileage may vary.

    Simply because that's a ridiculously thick string I would play in the same octave as the 8-string. That will also prevent a lot of muddiness. Dial some of the bass out of the guitar tone as well, and if you're doing more than dicking around with open Es on guitar you can get away with doubling the guitar an octave down using the low B as well.
     
  6. Roland777

    Roland777 SS.org Regular

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    Some of y'all are positively nuts when it comes to desired tension on the bass, and I'd wager that .135 for a C# is definitely at the tight extreme of the spectrum. Personally I use a .120 at B on a 35-inch scale, which I've tuned down to A in the past. That is admittedly VERY light and deffo not recommended for everyone, but I believe 45lbs of tension is excessively tight for most people.

    That said - a .150 tuned to suboctave E at 34 inches would make me seem positively hamhanded in comparison.
     
  7. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Dingwall Player

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    I would guess that a Kalium string in the range of .180 to .200 would work for sub-E. That said, that bass will never give you a good clear sub-E.

    I'd just tune standard (BEADG) and learn to play more than just root notes.
     
  8. tiqichale

    tiqichale New Member

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    I'd probably honestly just use a 5 in standard, unless you have riffs that absolutely rely on having a 5th between the low E and B of your 8 string[​IMG]
     
  9. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    I tune my 7 string to F# (F# B F# B E G C) and keep my 5-string bass in standard. Works great. I don't really care to go below B.
     
  10. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Worth mention the UPPER strings in most bass sets are well over 45lbs. That is not necessary, however I do enjoy 45lbs balanced. 135 C# sounds good, that's 48lbs yeah, I'd generally say 130 for C or C#. But indeed, if a 100 E (wouldn't recommend any looser) is taken as a ballpark then we are looking at 200 for E an octave lower. Doubling the string gauge results in equal tension an octave lower :) That's 37lbs and I'd say that's barely enough for such a low pitch - you need tension for clarity. Any less than 200 is going to be flop city!
     
  11. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    And yeah I'd also not recommend tuning this way unless you have a scale length 37" (or more) - you just won't get the clarity you likely want and have to use such a thick string. I can just about get by with a 190 for tension and clarity on my 37" fretless but fretless can be good with looser strings I find.
     
  12. Orgalmer

    Orgalmer Chuggasaurus Rex

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    This discussion has gone on several times and I've jumped in on a few occasions, so normally I wouldn't pitch in a third (or fourth) time, but I feel like I've got some new info that might help you out.

    My housemate is currently learning bass for my band and I play in drop E on my 8 string. Naturally I suggested he get a 35" scale bass and tune an octave below, but as things turned out, he picked up an SR305 which is 34" scale. We picked it up specifically because the bridge will handle a .182 gauge string, in case he does want to tune down that low.

    For now, he has it in standard and actually just uses an octaver. Now normally I'd be against this, but when I tested it in recordings, the E0 in the octaver is not only very clear, but in general having both notes in the bass register makes it sound massive. Like, honestly seriously massive. It has tons of growl and just sounds really aggressive, which is what an E0 can lack a lot of the time.

    I took this idea to rehearsal and found that does in fact work very well. Having the E0 and E1 live means the bass is audible and fills up the bass register completely, leaving the guitar to do its job and dominate the midrange.

    I just thought I would suggest this in case you wanted to try it out, because I've had awesome results with it.
     
  13. Fretless

    Fretless Knob Fiddler

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    To the people who play with 40+ lbs of tension. I've no clue how you do it. I'm afraid tuning my high e on my 30" 6 string to e at roughly 25 lbs.

    And also, i like unison tuned, but clean instead of gritty currently popular bass. It never does for me what a great clean tone can, but that's my personal opinion.
     
  14. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Dingwall Player

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    Gotta ask what octave pedal he's using: Digitech Drop? I can imagine that's the only one that can pull off octave down on a low E.
     
  15. Orgalmer

    Orgalmer Chuggasaurus Rex

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    Currently we're using a Pod HD Pro, tied to a Hartke LH1000 and an SWR Megoliath. So I'd say that the head + cab is half the tone. The octaver in the Pod has a blend setting and tone setting so you can get a softer tone if you liked and you can push the E0 lower in the mix if you wanted to.

    I was also looking at an MXR octaver or really any octaver pedal that wasn't crap, but I think my housemate is going to go with a Pod because he really liked how it sounded through the bass rig.

    Would you guys like me to do a quick demo and post it tonight so you have an idea of what it sounds like? I can do comparisons between unison tuning, E0 tuning and unison + octaver if you guys would like to hear that.
     
  16. ScurrilousNerd

    ScurrilousNerd SS.org Regular

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    YES x1000 :agreed: :agreed: :agreed: :agreed:
     
  17. Orgalmer

    Orgalmer Chuggasaurus Rex

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    Okay guys, here's the tone test. I included an octaved version with my BTB776 as well, just becuase I had it on file and it's also a fair bit beefier.

    I used my bands song Relentless as a test for this, so excuse the "home recording" QA. Basically their levels are all roughly the same so one shouldn't stick out too much more than any other.

    Also if these embeds don't work then MY BAD. I've never done this before!

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/orgalmer/bass-tone-test-srt800dx?in=orgalmer/sets/sso-bass-tone-test[/SC]

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/orgalmer/bass-tone-test-sr305?in=orgalmer/sets/sso-bass-tone-test[/SC]

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/orgalmer/bass-tone-test-btb776?in=orgalmer/sets/sso-bass-tone-test[/SC]

    Let me know what you think guys.
     
  18. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Remember like I said the upper strings that 99% of bassists use are close to 60lbs :) Tuning a bass string up to 40+lbs feels fine. Guitar is trickier because the strings have thinner cores, but 25lbs on the wounds is still VERY safe!
     
  19. stevexc

    stevexc Contributor

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    60 pounds? Jeeze, I haven't seen ones that heavy but I never really looked. I know on a D'Addario Light set on a 34" scale neck the A (or D I forget) is 48 pounds.

    All I know for sure is that the .105 I had on my 34" Fender previously was 28 pounds at a Db, and there was a distinct level of muddiness that the rest of the strings did not have. The Ab and high Db, though (.085 and .065 respectively), were both at ~45 pounds and felt very comfortable to play - but I have strong fingers.

    Either way, it's hugely to taste - but I definitely think for bass a balanced tension set is excellent (if difficult to assemble thanks to missing gauges... 46 61 82 110 is my ideal E Standard set but I have to make due with 45 60 80 110. Close, but as far as 3 pounds off). As well, the easiest way to remove some mud from your sound (assuming you've done all you can with EQ) is to go up a gauge for the muddy string.
     
  20. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    That was actually a typo :D I meant to type 50. However upon checking, the D string of a lot of sets is over 50lbs on 35" scale indeed.
    Yep, balanced tension = balanced tone! :)
     

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