We thought getting a baritone was gonna fix all of our low tuning problems, but it only fixed half of those problems. Trying to tune our 34” scale bass down lower than A just doesn’t usually work so well. No tension, no tone, no power.
There are 3 popular ways people have come to solve this:
1 • LONG SCALE BASS TUNED AN OCTAVE DOWN
An octave down bass can really give the low notes of a composition their power. But similar to a piano or a harp, longer strings better accommodate lower pitches.
Some of the challenges in going this road are the availability of both basses and strings. Kalium seems to be the only solid offer for strings. For basses, I’ve listed all the models I know of that are 37” or greater.
Tip - Some people are concerned with the fundamental being too low. You don’t actually need the fundamental. I personally Highpass anywhere between 50 and 75hrz to keep it tight. There is more than enough information in the partials / harmonic content to deliver plenty of solid bottom.
2 • STANDARD BASS TUNED TO THE SAME OCTAVE
It’s good enough for Meshuggah and it’s great for recording and live with the super “piano” tone + very accessible. Most basses work and actually sound better when you tune them up a step or two. The only real shortcoming here is when a bass is not an octave down a lot of the “darkness” and “power” will be missing and will depend quite a bit on how you tweak the amp.
Tip - that super dark but tight ampeg 8x10 and RE20 sound really helps to give the bass tone the darkness and distinction from the guitar.
Any decent 4 string with light strings (short scale 30” is even better) through a killer amp tone will work
3 • GUITAR WITH AN OCTAVE EFFECT DOWN
This is the fastest way to get some work done that is SUPER CHEAP. Some challenges here are; a guitar pitched an octave down lacks the “boing and clang” harmonic richness and tamber of a real bass. As well, it’s kind of restricted to recording, but honestly if you wanna use a Digitech Droptune live, and say “eff the bass”, you should do exactly that.
Tip - New strings and super clean playing make a big difference here. Also, using the brightest guitar you have (single coil) can help the authenticity of this approach.
Most DAWs come with some kind of octave down effect.
For hardware there is the DropTune and POG.
Just add a killer bass amp tone.