Thursday, May 3, 2012

Adventures In Downtuning...


I've been messing around with a lot of alternate tunings lately, and I broke a low e-string while playing the other day.  I'm not sure if those two things were related.  But the strings were pretty much new, and it gave me an excuse to look at ordering a single string from Circle K.  (Apparently Circle K the string manufacturer is totally unrelated to Circle K the convenience store chain...)

My band has been going back and forth on tunings for a while.  For the longest time our standard tuning was E and all our originals were in drop-D.  I had a 5-string and later a bass I tuned to BEAD, but my guitar players thought B-standard was too muddy sounding, which it is if you are trying to fake it with inappropriately gauged strings.  So we have been moving all around between B-standard and E-standard looking for a sweet spot.  All that messing around with tunings eventually lead me to Circle K.

A lot of people say good things about Circle K's bass strings. They are well made, shipped flat, and you can put together custom sets of strings.  One of the things they recommend is using string gauges that give you a uniform tension across all of your strings, as opposed to the "regular" way strings are set up where the higher strings increase in tension.  Okay, sounds interesting.  So I checked out this chart on their website, and this is what I came up with:

I was rocking a set of Medium nickel plated Dunlops when my E-string bit the dust:

E = .105 *BLOWED UP*
A = .085
D = .065
G = .045

So I looked at their string tension chart and this is what they recommend for a D-standard setup:

D = .118
G = .086
C = .065
F = .047

So my remaining Dunlop strings (I supposed you could call an E-standard set) were within thousandths of an inch of what Circle K recommended for a D-standard tuning.  Since the Dunlop set was basically brand new, I decided to order a .118 string and just see how it sounded and felt.  So hopefully my string will be here in time for my next practice, and I'll report back on my foray into Circle K's world of uniform string tension.

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