Looper's Delight Archive Top (Search)
Date Index
Thread Index
Author Index
Looper's Delight Home
Mailing List Info

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

Re: a bit off topic: earplugs , and bass tunings

> also does anyone have any recommendations
> on tuning a bass in 5ths?  i am a cellist and thinking
> of tuning the e down to a c but don't want it to
> send too flabby.

I used to tune my 5 string Ovation acoustic/electric bass down to C
and tuned everything in 5ths.  The trick to keeping the tension up
where it doesn't sound flabby is to pick and choose your string gauges
carefully.  I don't remember offhand what I was using, though the
number 105 sticks in my head for that lowest C (maybe it was 130?)  I
was able to purchase a select set direct from LaBella.  They were
incredibly helpful in keeping the prices low for me.

I was playing within a Guitar Craft ensemble, where all the guitars
were tuned in 5ths for their lowest 5 strings, and the bass was the
same tuning an octave down.  It worked pretty well in that context,
though I'm no longer involved in that direction and I sold the bass.

There is a small though significant tradition of tuning the bass in
5ths.  Early stand-up basses from the 17th century were originally
tuned that way.  Still today, there are a handful of orchestral bass
players that tune this way.  Occasionally, you see a jazz bassist pop
up from time to time with this tuning.  Fingering is a bit more
challenging, though if you already play cello, it's not that much more
of a stretch.  Since I already played guitar in 5ths, it was easy to
wrap my head around it.

I loved the way it sounded acoustically on all the strings, though I
couldn't go far above the 7th fret on the low C string.  The high E
string (an octave below the guitar high E) was especially beautiful.
I think I used a guitar D string, .032, which worked well because the
neck was longer than a guitar neck.  I especially loved playing the
Bach cello suites.  If I moved everything up to the highest 4 strings
(instead of the lowest 4), it was essentially like transposing the
piece down a 4th.