Tuning up to unison with guitars - strings?

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by lewis, Dec 16, 2019.

  1. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    So primary tuning is G#1 but tuned to 432hs so naturally lower than normal G#

    Some songs the G# goes down to an F.

    bass is 34inch scale. If i wanted to unsion match the guitars what string gauges would work without snapping or having too high tension?

    Guitar is using a 74 on bottom but is 25.5 scale.
    (Also use 74 on bottom on my 27 inch scale 7 string and just put up with the higher tension feel on that compared to my 6 string 25.5)

    Like i presume the bass strings could be really thin? Or doesnt it work like this with a bass?
    (I.e if a 25.5 scale guitar needs a 74 then a 34inch scale bass could use something thinner because of the extra scale length/tension?)
     
  2. akinari

    akinari SS.org Regular

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    I'd use a .095 or .100 for the F.
     
  3. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    ^Yeah.
    No it can't use a thinner string - because bass tension is generally twice that of a guitar. For example a short guitar might use 80-90 for the E where a bass uses 100 despite being a lot longer.
    Wouldn't worry about compensating gauge for 432 given its only 30 cents off normal.
    So what's the actual bass tuning going to be?
    I'd use a standard bass down a semitone with your regular strings and just have the G# as the second string. Then you can still access notes down to regular D# which would be useful - having the lowest note on the bass being G#1 would be quite limiting. You'd have access to the unison F then too, it would just be on the second fret.
    Specifically I'd recommend D'addarios balanced 107 set for Eb standard.
    If you have a different idea of how you want to do it, let me know and I can recommend strings.

    General guidance - forget what gauge the guitar uses. Use a 100 E as your reference and decide the other strings based on that by multiplying 1.06 per semitone. i.e G# = 100 / 1.06 / 1.06 / 1.06 / 1.06 = 79 - just like the second A string is usually 80ish
     
  4. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Im no bassist and approach demoing/playing bass like i would guitar so the bass would just be tuned the same.

    G# D# G# C#

    Only some songs has the low G# down to an F so i need a string thats thick enough to handle F but not too thick it would snap when up in G# 1

    (Going to use an octaver blended back in subtly too)

    So would 100 be a good starting point or should i go slightly thicker?
     
  5. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Given 100 is usually for E I wouldn't recommend that. 90 will handle F well enough whilst being pretty tight in G# but not insane.
    I'd really recommend doing D# G# D# G# though instead - at least then the fingering is the same - D# riffs with the bass an octave higher than usual would just be quite unusual and weak imo

    This would be a similar approach to meshuggah, who have the bass tuned to drop Bb with the guitar in F std. So bass has a Bb0,F1,Bb1 whilst guitar has F1,B1b... - that way guitar B1b riffs can have Bb0 bass - similar to how I am suggesting your D#2 guitar has D#1 bass.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
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  6. donsimon

    donsimon SS.org Regular

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    Cant you just play the same notes on a normal tuned bass? Personally i wouldnt bother retuning the bass if all the notes are higher than standard tuning(eadg), i would just play the notes on the fretboard, alternatively use a capo if you prefer open strings
     
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  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    lewis, do you have a gauge preference for a bass in standard tuning? All this depends on your taste in bass string tension.
    Being primarily a guitarist i would guess you might prefer light tension bass strings (such as .095 or .090 for E).

    Anyway, for a light tension F-G# D# G# C# bass set i suggest:
    .080 .050 .035 .025
    That has the top 3 at near equal tensions. The .080 will be a little tighter than the top 3 when at G# and low (but practical) tension at F, if that turns out too loose at F try a .085. You will need to buy single strings.
     
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  8. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Thanks bro. Thats basically all i wanted haha. Nothing personal to the other suggestions but im going to play it like i would my guitar and have the bass follow the guitar riffs ive written so i cant really start messing around with tunings and relearning the riffs in different positions all over the fretboard
     
  9. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Found a different bass thats 35.5 inch scale.
    So how would that effect this?
    Is it worth still going unison and even thinner strings (plus some bass octaver on heavier sections) or at this scale, should i get a 175 on bottom or something haha
     
  10. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    4.5% longer - so you can use strings 4.5% smaller. Not a huge difference at all. In bass world that's going to mean each string being changed by the minimum available increment if at all, generally. I wouldn't bother gauging down, especially as some extra tension will help that one string be detuned to F occasionally and the set suggested was already light tension

    It's not enough of a scale length difference or very long in general enough to say it'll make such low tunings as octave down F work great - but it's certainly an improvement if you want to try it. I was perfectly happy with my 35" in drop G# using a 165 string. Would definitely recommend a 175 at minimum for F if you do it, but I wouldn't bother I don't think

    I would take the opportunity to again suggest you at minimum try a regular D# below the current uptuned G# approach, to make Drop D# - a perfectly normal pitch for bass, will make your 2nd string riffs sound much better than unison, and whilst I understand not wanting to learn new fingerings, it would be the same fret as usual, just on a different string. With the other strings there just as normal to use if you prefer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
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  11. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Budget fan fret -

    DCD8BEFA-0E58-4726-8ED2-AB3BF292A33E.jpeg.ea197116b685480d5b0ed823c72a2fa8.jpeg.jpg
    D4CFA1DF-C413-4598-A3B4-E484648E1364.jpeg.15de47b083b1413f6eb74962af312ec4.jpeg.jpg
     
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  12. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Decided to try an octave under first just because i found this longer scale fan fret.

    Tuning is drop G# open.

    G# D# G# C#

    Will this set from Rotosound work?. Screenshot_2019-12-27-23-31-01.png

    Or will some of the thinner strings be a little too thick?
     
  13. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Yeah I wouldn't recommend that, will be very tight on top because its designed for standard and is tighter on top even then.
    These options are a little more expensive but;
    D'addario 107 balanced set with the 45 thrown out, and their single 160 or 170 on Stringsdirect.
    Or go to Newtone and order a custom set https://newtonestrings.com/shop/custom-bass-string-configurator/ - they are really good value. The custom set I would order would be 165 110 80 60*, hexcore nickel steel. Get a taper at the bridge on the 160. You could do similar from D'addario on Stringsdirect but it will be more expensive than the 107 balanced with wasted 45, or Newtone
    *You could also try a 160 stainless steel below a set of nickel, as they offer custom things like that. It will be about the same tension as a nickel 165, and sounds brighter. I've only tested this theory once, but a single stainless steel bottom string did seem to bridge the tonal gap between the 1st and 2nd strings when using a thick string fairly effectively.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
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  14. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    What would i put in the box about ball end to nut measurement given this set is for a fan fret bass so each measurement per string would be different?

    Im going to do the newtone stainless steel hexcore route. Their options and price is excellent.
    Chosen 166, 110, 80, 60 atm. Just need to know about that measurement thing before i order
     
  15. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Awesome!
    To be clear I was suggesting only the bottom string be stainless, as it helps bridge the tonal gap that can be problematic with strings beyond 150 etc. I really enjoyed using a stainless 5th string under a regular set. But a whole stainless set would be great too!
    You could give them measurements for each string, but it wouldn't be necessary. Just check for the bottom string because the 166 is the one that's going to have a significant taper at the headstock so you want to make sure its behind the nut. The rest you can just spec the same measurement as the thin shorter ones wont be problematic if they don't taper before the tuner anyway. I'd imagine 36.5" from ballend to nut should be fine - do check. Maybe 37"
     
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  16. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    What Winspear wrote, good advice.
     
  17. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Yeah, lewis one thing to consider is that bass strings aren’t tighter because someone decided that. Nor are they tighter because of their construction, per se. The reason is due to the increased length. Standard guitar tensions make sense at 24-28” length, but once you get up over 30” the length of the string starts to become a factor, as well. For that reason you need to ramp up the tension. I have a 10 string guitar that is 30-32”. That 32” is positively flabby with guitar tension on it. I don’t know the physics of it, but someone could probably plot the increasing tension and increasing scale length vs the tautness, or firmness if the string. They’ll go up somewhat linearly at first, but then the tension will have to rise dramatically to keep the tautness/firmness the same. Idk what the term is for that, but I’m talking about the string just sagging under its own weight.
     
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  18. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Typical bass string sets are at higher tension for several reasons, it is not only due to that effect.

    Guitars require more ease of play, for example for chords. Soloing, string bending and chords are less expected from bass guitars.
    Bass guitars are still rather stuck in the idea of being 'electric upright acoustic contrabasses' instead of being highly playable guitars. The high tension so-called 'standard' strings (unnecessarily high tension in my opinion, and most players play too hard because that is the norm they get used too) is a tradition.
    There is also the fact that a larger mass string has more momentum and so requires a larger tension to keep the vibration under control and 'tight'.

    But yes, if the end anchoring points of a string get closer together, with tension held constant, the string feels more 'rigid' and less floppy.
    That is because a particular sideways excusion now causes a larger deflection angle at the anchoring points, which creates a larger lateral component of tension as the restoring force.
    The effect is not linear and then changes above some scale, it is smoothly varying.
     
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  19. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Also, for a particular excursion, a shorter string needs to be stretched more, so the tension rises more during that excursion.
     

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