#1
I have recently bought and began to play the bass guitar. I went with an Ibanez SR500. Now I am facing an issue regarding strings and tuning...

Although I enjoy every style, some of my favourites involve some really low tuning (Devin Townsend, Hypocrisy, etc). The default strings on my bass can almost get that low but flop out just above the B tuning where I am trying to set them (the tuner loses the reading but still sounds somewhat okay through the speakers).

If I go with changing my strings to a heavier medium gauge (50 70 85 105), I expect to be able to get low enough without flopping, but can I still tune up to E standard for "normal" songs?

I realize that the neck tension can be a potential issue, and changing tuning frequently isn't the best thing for a guitar. I don't really want to buy a second bass (yet) but want the most style versatility for what I have now.

Any suggestions?

Thanks guys!
Last edited by Foofen at Jan 4, 2017,
#2
To drop tune the E string to B, two things are helpful: heavy gauge strings and longer (35 inch) scale length. Other than that, you might want to consider a 5 string bass. Even with heavier gauge strings, it is extremely difficult to drop below C without the strings flopping around.
#3
Thanks smtp4me!

So it sounds like it would be in my best interest to get myself an instrument with a longer scale bass. I suppose this leaves me with a couple other questions:

If I get the longer body bass, and keep my Ibanez for E or D tuning and anything below D standard use the longer bass for, is that a safe range of re-tuning adjustments for each instrument to safely handle? It's the tension changes on the instrument that has me a bit concerned. Before I invest in this idea, I'd like to know my other bass won't get hurt tuning D to E a fair bit...

And if I get the long scale range to do tuning to things like B, would a heavy gauge string be my best choice for that bass, knowing it's intended for particularly heavy or low songs.

Thanks again. I look forward to any advice the folks here can provide. Awesome forum - love it!
#4
Foofen
One thing I've done for many years now is to use .055 for the 'G' string, I get more punch. In the 60s the standard Fender G was .055
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn
Last edited by John Swift at Jan 5, 2017,
#5
Quote by Foofen
Thanks smtp4me!

So it sounds like it would be in my best interest to get myself an instrument with a longer scale bass. I suppose this leaves me with a couple other questions:

If I get the longer body bass, and keep my Ibanez for E or D tuning and anything below D standard use the longer bass for, is that a safe range of re-tuning adjustments for each instrument to safely handle? It's the tension changes on the instrument that has me a bit concerned. Before I invest in this idea, I'd like to know my other bass won't get hurt tuning D to E a fair bit...

And if I get the long scale range to do tuning to things like B, would a heavy gauge string be my best choice for that bass, knowing it's intended for particularly heavy or low songs.

Thanks again. I look forward to any advice the folks here can provide. Awesome forum - love it!


You might want to search a little online in addition to considering my advice. I am not a luthier - just someone who has been playing bass for about 38 years and who learned about guitars (in general) by taking mine apart, extensive reading, and doing my own work on them. I recently put a CA glue finish on the fingerboard of my 1 year old and only fretless bass. I spent months reading, researching, and even talking to a local luthier before I attempted this and I would like to believe the extra preparation helped to improve the outcome.

Anyway...

5 string basses with a 35 inch scale length are easier to find than 4 string basses with the same. The longer-scale 4 string basses do exist, just much more difficult to find. You might get by with simply using the higher/heavier gauge strings on your current Ibanez and I would try this first. Longer scale length and heavier gauge strings will both put more tension on the neck and truss rod, but a bass with longer scale length should be designed to compensate for this, and a "standard" bass with a standard truss rod should easily handle heavy gauge strings.

I believe that both pros and amateurs who frequently play drop tuning (and who have the budget), will often have a bass with "permanent" drop tuning and then another with standard tuning.

Hope this helps.
#6
An additional comment: I do not play 5 string - I have only ever played 4 string. I do not use drop tuning often, and usually it's drop D tuning. I don't play metal (where the 5 string is most widely used), and I currently don't play gigs, which I why I have been able to avoid 5 string for so long.
#7
Thank you all for your input...

To save my Ibanez I ordered a 35" 4-string from my local store. Going with heavy gauge strings and will be using this for B and C tuning. Hopefully keeping my SR500 in D and E will save the stress it was facing from such drastic tuning changes.

I picked up the ESP F-4E