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gilmour

Drop C Tuning

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Hi All,

Hope this is the right forum for this stuff.

I'm looking for some advice on what I guess is called Drop C tuning. Meaning that that the whole bass is down a tone then the lowest string down a further tone.

I've been working on an album playing guitar (a first for me) and have just started to track the bass. The guitar sounds really nice in this tuning.

When tracking the bass I've just been using my Stingray 5 in regular tuning and transposing. I had tried Detuning a 4 string P Bass but the strings were so loose they sounded like they were about to fall off :D

This has presented me three problems:
1) It's mind bending transposing stuff, this is a pain in the arse but by no means insurmountable.
2) Some of the rifts 'make more sense' using open strings on the Drop C guitar, so when playing them on a regular tuned bass can be very awkward to play, again not insurmountable.
3) I've found it really hard to get a bass tone with enough punch when dos of the work is done on the low B. Haven't found way around this yet.


So I'm really looking for little advice on what others do in Drop C (or similar alternative tunings), particularly from the point of view of strings/setup/tone etc.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by gilmour

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I use Newtone strings when drop tuning, they make me sets specifically for it :)

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[quote name='charic' timestamp='1458747608' post='3010484']
I use Newtone strings when drop tuning, they make me sets specifically for it :)
[/quote]

Oh Cool :) Just on a 4 string? One thought had occurred to me was to tune up the B on a 5 and everything else down?

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Yeah that's on my ACG 4 String. Sounds great.

The only problems I can see with retuning the 5 is the differences in tension and also having to alter the nut on your bass

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I hadn't thought about the nut :( I had e graphite neck and I'm pretty sure it's moulded in.

Think I'll order a 4 string set for my knock around P Bass, see how it goes.

Do you have to do a big set up?

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I once had an acquaintance who was in an experimental metal band and on, his 5 string, he strung it B, B, E, A, D to get clear, low notes.

Apropos not much, my 5 string has a hipshot on the B which goes down to A and sounds clear enough.

Edited by colgraff

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I use DR DDTs, absolute revelation for drop tuning. They keep the same tension that you'd expect in standard with the same gauge, they lock in tune and tsay in tune. They're pricy, sure, but I can't use anything else now.

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you thought of using a capo on the 5 string? or tuning the 5 string up 1/2 a step?
Failing that add a 5 string set to your 4 string (might need to widen the nut a little to accommodate a B string in there. And the strings shouldn't be so loose.

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Any mileage, on a fiver, in tuning the bass up a semitone, (ie: to 'C' on the low 'B', 'E' to 'F' etc...)..?

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Two ways you can go on this IMO.

1. Whenever I've played with guitarists using different tunings, I've always stuck in standard because it opens up more possibilities for doing something less obvious with the bass line instead of just following the guitar part.

2. However if the bass lines are better if they do follow the guitar and matching the tuning is the best way to do it I'd be looking at a custom set of strings to achieve this.

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Absolutely use this set for Drop C and Drop C# http://www.daddario.com/DADProductDetail.Page?ActiveID=3769&productid=380&productname=EXL160BT_Nickel_Wound__Balanced_Tension_Medium__50_120&sid=82837d8d-863c-4168-8e34-e84677425f6d

They are dead easy to get hold of and sound great. I've used them on album work and have had no problems with tension.. because this type of tuning is exactly why Balanced Tension sets matter.

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[quote name='RAY AGAINST THE MACHINE' timestamp='1458764523' post='3010714']
I'm a little confused. I was under the impression a 5 string would take care of all turnings , except maybe low g or something .
[/quote]

Sometimes you need those "unconventionally tuned" open strings in order to be able to play the bass lines.

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[quote name='RAY AGAINST THE MACHINE' timestamp='1458764523' post='3010714']
I'm a little confused. I was under the impression a 5 string would take care of all turnings , except maybe low g or something .
[/quote]

To be honest so was I until recently :) I've played my 5 for years and years without any issues, just finding for this project it's just not coming out right so experimenting a little with other ideas.

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Thank you brx/gilmour. It seems that even if you have more than one 4 string, there will always be 'another' awkward tuning.
I'm not in a band anymore, but if I was and it was for just one or 2 songs I would regard it as a p I a ;)
Looks like , if you want to change timings for a lot of songs you're better off going to a tech and getting action/ nut adjusted.
I'll probably get another 5 string within the next year , after reading this thread.

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The drop tuning strings I mentioned went straight on my PJ and I didn't need to adjust the nut or action. I may have checked the intonation but I don't think I changed it.

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1458766151' post='3010748']


Sometimes you need those "unconventionally tuned" open strings in order to be able to play the bass lines.
[/quote]

That's very true. I played with Andy James for many years - those brutal, fast and accurate riffs in drop C# were do-able in standard but much easier in drop tuning.

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I use the bottom four strings from a cheap Fender five string set that I tune up to C or C# standard. It's a .130 set, which is probably a bit too heavy, but I have no problems with it. So don't be afraid to tune up to what you need.

I do have five strings, too, that I keep in standard tuning.

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I did it for donkey's years with an old Ibanez Blazer - essentially a Precision bass. I used a 110 or 115 as the C but I quite like a bit of rattle and growl, and it suited the type of music I was playing. I always found using a B string, for example a 130, to be a bit much, but if you're after keeping the tight feel it might be the way to go.

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I play in drop C (CGCFA) with my band. I originally tried playing in standard-5-string-bass-but-tuned-up-a-semitone but the transposing was a [b]total[/b] nightmare, especially open-string based lines. Oh, and learning by watching/showing the guitarists riffs didn't work too well.

For strings I use a 130 for the low C and then a 90 or 95 4-string set for the others. Tension's reasonably high but nothing neck breaking!

One thing to note is that it's really gnarly sounding with the Stingray electronics. :)

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1458821629' post='3011204']
How do the DDT strings work? Do you buy a specific set for a specific tuning?
[/quote]

Pretty much. Same with the Dunlop ones.

105-45: drop D or standard (Personally I found them to be pretty much the same as any other set of 105-45 strings)
115-55: D Standard down to to about C standard (Personally I thought that the 'E' string to be a bit floppy tuned below C#, but tuned to anything higher than C# standard the 'D' and 'G' strings are really tight - basically I didn't think that they were a well balanced set of strings and not very good for drop D variants either)
125-65: B standard, so basically a five string minus a G string (if I need to go below a C I use a five string so I have never used them).

As Dood said above, the D'addario balanced tension set of 120-50 are great strings for tuning between C standard and D standard which to me is the area of tuning that can be done on a four string bass without any problems so long as you set it up for it and don't need to tune it back up to standard tuning. They are also much cheaper than the DR or Dunlops. I also tried a custom set of Newtones and prefer the D'addarios personally.

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[quote name='dood' timestamp='1458761172' post='3010648']
Absolutely use this set for Drop C and Drop C# [url="http://www.daddario.com/DADProductDetail.Page?ActiveID=3769&productid=380&productname=EXL160BT_Nickel_Wound__Balanced_Tension_Medium__50_120&sid=82837d8d-863c-4168-8e34-e84677425f6d"]http://www.daddario....34-e84677425f6d[/url]

They are dead easy to get hold of and sound great. I've used them on album work and have had no problems with tension.. because this type of tuning is exactly why Balanced Tension sets matter.
[/quote]They look good , but heavy gauge .

I often do dropped D , and also down a whole step on all four - with a bottom C (so a sort of dropped D , with everything down a step)

I've had 5'ers , and never found one I liked , and the graphite neck on my 4 , is just as taut on a dropped C , as any 5 I've tried .

Dood - I'm getting a new set tomorrow , and fancy trying those strings . How much more heavy do they feel than the regular 105-45 set ; as I tried 110-50 , and felt a bit too heavy for me . Does the balanced set , almost make them feel less weighty?

Edited by E sharp

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Well they are designed so that if you drop C (CGCF) they will still have a decent tension to feel like a standard tuned balanced set :)

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