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  #1  
Old 10-24-2011, 05:07 PM
Robert J Spear Robert J Spear is offline
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Arrow ISB 2013, Fifths

I'm hoping a lot of the forum members will find their way to ISB 2013. If anyone has even the slightest interest in what's going on in the world of fifths-tuning, this convention promises to be a feast. And I just might have a few surprises of my own there . . .
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Old 10-24-2011, 05:10 PM
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so, first you make our mouth water an then you expect us to wait TWO years???
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:37 AM
Robert J Spear Robert J Spear is offline
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Time warps are not uncommon if you make basses. To me, the convention is only 20 months from now. It will probably take me at least a year or more to prepare everything, which means that I am thinking of it as being only six or eight months away! Bad habit. I must get over it. Sorry if I whet your appetite too soon, but at least now youwill have plenty of time to make plans.

I have heard that there will be a lot of events that will be of interest to players who either tune in fifths already or who are just curious. The fifths-tuning community looks like it will make a strong showing. My part will be the presentation of new bass designs that lend themselves to fifths tuning. Of course, these basses can easily be tuned in fourths as well.
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:15 PM
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Cool 5ths, food for thought..

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Originally Posted by Robert J Spear View Post
Time warps are not uncommon if you make basses. To me, the convention is only 20 months from now. It will probably take me at least a year or more to prepare everything, which means that I am thinking of it as being only six or eight months away! Bad habit. I must get over it. Sorry if I whet your appetite too soon, but at least now youwill have plenty of time to make plans.

I have heard that there will be a lot of events that will be of interest to players who either tune in fifths already or who are just curious. The fifths-tuning community looks like it will make a strong showing. My part will be the presentation of new bass designs that lend themselves to fifths tuning. Of course, these basses can easily be tuned in fourths as well.
Several years ago after talking about 5ths, I walked into my office and re-tuned two of my basses to 5ths in the morning. By lunch time I tuned them back in defeat. I know a few hours is not enough but how do you reverse 40+ years of playing, training and thinking in 4ths? I have read that in the 19th century, 5ths players (3-strings only then) didn't play as well in tune as 4ths players. Shifting, stretching and pivoting all more of a necessity in 5ths than in 4ths. To get the Low C, I can see some merit here for the idea but with the limited usage of the notes below E, isn't the relaxed less stretched left hand faster to shift and fly than one stretched out with tendons screaming? Do you need bigger hands to play Cello fingering/tuning on a Double Bass. Isn't the bass big enough with 41-42" string length already when playing in fourths and wont 5ths make the bass feel even bigger? Please, correct me if I am wrong. Also, I would love to hear from players that make their living playing bass and playing it in tune. When I worked in NYC professionally, intonation wasn't an option. It was a prerequisite. Why chance a career change now if 4ths work!

I like the idea of the range but Cello tuning on a full scale Orchestra bass seems a bit painful for me. Like with a 5-string bass, when you are not using the B/C at all, it is still there. With a C-extension, the extended lower range is only there when you call for it. In 5ths, you are always stretching, for everything, not just the low notes.

One question for subject I have here is this; When you convert a bass from 4 to 5 strings, you have to beef up the bass bar as Luthiers did in the past converting 3 stringers to 4s. So, IF you want to tune your bass from 4ths to 5ths, will your regular 4-string bass bar experience any extra force exerted upon it like when adding a 5th string, to any degree?
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:06 PM
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So, IF you want to tune your bass from 4ths to 5ths, will your regular 4-string bass bar experience any extra force exerted upon it like when adding a 5th string, to any degree?
No, not to any degree.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:40 AM
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No, not to any degree.
So Paul, do you play in 5ths? Your profile is a bit sketchy.
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:36 AM
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Regarding the 4ths to 5ths tuning for a four string bass and as to whether there is any more tension requiring the bass bar to be altered, here's something to consider: On the TI website, the factory specs for tension for a set of S42 Weichs is just shy of @ 260 lbs total tension. The 5ths Mitts set is right on 260 lbs, or just a fraction more, total tension for the set.

So it would seem quite the contrary: a well-designed 4-string set of 5ths tuning strings should be about the same as a conventional 4ths set of strings, and because everything is going down, a 4ths set of strings loosened up to the 5ths tuning will actually have less tension.

This is, of course, a completely different issue from adding a 5th string, which if a player likes the feel of a certain 4-string set, and adds a matching 5th string, by definition, that's adding roughly 25% more tension to the top of the bass.
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Pope View Post
Regarding the 4ths to 5ths tuning for a four string bass and as to whether there is any more tension requiring the bass bar to be altered, here's something to consider: On the TI website, the factory specs for tension for a set of S42 Weichs is just shy of @ 260 lbs total tension. The 5ths Mitts set is right on 260 lbs, or just a fraction more, total tension for the set.

So it would seem quite the contrary: a well-designed 4-string set of 5ths tuning strings should be about the same as a conventional 4ths set of strings, and because everything is going down, a 4ths set of strings loosened up to the 5ths tuning will actually have less tension.

This is, of course, a completely different issue from adding a 5th string, which if a player likes the feel of a certain 4-string set, and adds a matching 5th string, by definition, that's adding roughly 25% more tension to the top of the bass.
As highlighted above I think you are wrong. Everything is NOT going down. To have even tension as best as possible we can start with the only string not getting changed (maybe). That is the D. The G going up to an A would be thinner like a Solo G/A string. The A going down to a G would be a heavier string to maintain tension in the set. The E will NOT be going down to C. For that, you need a special made C or, a B string that tunes up to C at even tension with the rest of the set. Some 5-string DB players actually tunes the fifth string to a C instead of B. It avoids one shift but for octave passages, the B is better or rather more familiar to use.

I have taken a few basses and tuned them up and down to put the bass in fifths and although it was in 5ths, the tension was all over the place so, not the thing to do if you wanna play in 5ths for real. For a quick trial of the tuning 'musically speaking' it's ok.

One bass that came in awhile ago for a possible trade was tuned in 5ths with a correct set of strings. In order for me to test and evaluate the bass, I had to put a regular set of strings on to test the bass. As soon as I did, the string height came up as if it had taken enough tension off of the top to allow the wood to spring upwards. This to me meant that that particular set of strings had way more downward pressure on the Top than a 4 string set.

When a company tells you the pressure or poundage of a string, is it the downward pressure on the Top over the bridge they are measuring? I would like to see what the use to test this. Maybe they are testing the length and pitch only because this doesn't add up in my mind at all.

Also, each bass has different wood (even if the exact same species) as far as grain strength goes, different arching which will give it more or less strength under the bridge, different graduations and also, a different bass bar. Length, width and design of the bouts in regards to the Top also makes a difference.

As with any bass, a string that works and sounds well on one bass may not work the same on another.

Also, I was mainly talking or rather asking about 5th in regards to a Bowing bass. Spirocores are not really the first choice for bowing. They are maybe the first for jazz that are used smaller modern 3/4 basses that are more affordable for the masses but the larger and often the more expensive/older basses used in Orchestras are a bit more finicky and require just the perfect match for bass, player, bow and style.

I think 90-something percent of the time, you can just throw on Spiro-reds on any Juzek-type 3/4 and play jazz for the rest of your life. This is not the case at all for bowing classical. There is no main string anymore for classical. This would apply for 4ths or 5ths tuning as well as 5-string set-up as well. Once you put a bow in your hands, everything changes, a lot!
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:41 AM
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It is my understanding that the tension specification is internal linear string tension. In other words, a machine suspends a speaking length of string with some sort of scale or meter attached to the string and the reading is taken off the string at pitch, or it is done mathematically by computing the mass of the string in relation to pitch. So this is the linear tension, not the downforce over the bridge. D'Addario has taken this to a high art, publishing not only the relative tensions of all of their orchestral strings, but also a pdf booklet with every one of their guitar and electric bass strings at conventional scale lengths for every reasonable pitch.

Ken, I see your points in your post. And all things do change from bass to bass. I only used Spirocores as an example because it is what I am familiar with and easily pulled it up, and because they do have a dedicated 5ths tuning set of strings. Besides TI and D'addario, other companies are now publishing their tension specs. Pirastro seems to be the holdout, not publishing anything besides the general subjective class of tension for their sets.

Am I ever going to choose a string bassed (pun intended) solely on a published mechanical specification? No. But it may help narrow the universe of strings to a few sets that may be suitable for me to try in a particular situation besides the subjective "Weich," "Mittel," or "Stark."

No, a raw string tension spec may not be that usable for a variety of reasons, and because of the differences in construction cannot predict how a string will feel or sound or react under a bow. But by using some vector physics equations the linear tension can be used to derive an estimate of the downforce over the bridge and onto the top, for a particular stand, bridge height and tailpiece setup, and the corresponding break angles over the bridge, and more importantly, compare the relative downforce over the bridge of different sets. In other words, If I wanted to change from 4ths tuning to 5ths tuning, and I do use Spiros Weichs, and I didn't want to change the setup of my bass (besides possibly having to adjust the nut slots for the increased diameter of the lower strings), I would start with using the 5ths Mitts set, because the published specs indicate that with the similar linear tension for the set, it will have a similar downforce over the bridge and therefore load the top in a similar manner on the same bass with the same setup. Now, once there, I may or may not like the feel or the tone of the set, but at least I have a starting point for trying it out, and that's the whole point of publishing tension specs for strings. If I don't like it, then I can see from there where I would want to go with a different set, and get an idea of how the bass might need to be set up differently from there, and avoid a lot of wasted time and money in the hit-and-miss approach to trying out strings, as we see so much of the fallout from that on the various forums "for sale" sections.

So obviously, and sorry to take the Spiros example again, of course their Mitts set will have more tension overall than their Weichs set, but less than their Stark set, but how do I know how they will compare, other than anecdotally from other players describing their experience, to something like a Pirastro Jazzer, which is also labeled as a medium tension or feel set? Published string tensions would help a little with that. Not much, granted, but a little.

Then again, as you say, even with the best of care, a string just may not sound good on a bass. The example you gave where there was obviously less downforce on the bass with the conventional set of strings indicates to me that the 5ths set that was on there had significantly more linear tension than the set used to replace it for evaluation, even though both sets may have been labled with the same generalized descriptive term.

I'm not trying to provoke arguments. All I'm saying is that unlike a lot of the rest of the musical world, basses, bass strings, and such are still spoken of with so much subjectivity that it makes it very difficult and frustrating for everyone, from relative novices to DB like me, to seasoned professionals such as yourself, to compare anything apples-to-apples. Publishing string tensions is only one minor way of trying to help with that disparity.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:10 PM
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Red face whew...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Pope View Post
It is my understanding that the tension specification is internal linear string tension. In other words, a machine suspends a speaking length of string with some sort of scale or meter attached to the string and the reading is taken off the string at pitch, or it is done mathematically by computing the mass of the string in relation to pitch. So this is the linear tension, not the downforce over the bridge. D'Addario has taken this to a high art, publishing not only the relative tensions of all of their orchestral strings, but also a pdf booklet with every one of their guitar and electric bass strings at conventional scale lengths for every reasonable pitch.

Ken, I see your points in your post. And all things do change from bass to bass. I only used Spirocores as an example because it is what I am familiar with and easily pulled it up, and because they do have a dedicated 5ths tuning set of strings. Besides TI and D'addario, other companies are now publishing their tension specs. Pirastro seems to be the holdout, not publishing anything besides the general subjective class of tension for their sets.

Am I ever going to choose a string bassed (pun intended) solely on a published mechanical specification? No. But it may help narrow the universe of strings to a few sets that may be suitable for me to try in a particular situation besides the subjective "Weich," "Mittel," or "Stark."

No, a raw string tension spec may not be that usable for a variety of reasons, and because of the differences in construction cannot predict how a string will feel or sound or react under a bow. But by using some vector physics equations the linear tension can be used to derive an estimate of the downforce over the bridge and onto the top, for a particular stand, bridge height and tailpiece setup, and the corresponding break angles over the bridge, and more importantly, compare the relative downforce over the bridge of different sets. In other words, If I wanted to change from 4ths tuning to 5ths tuning, and I do use Spiros Weichs, and I didn't want to change the setup of my bass (besides possibly having to adjust the nut slots for the increased diameter of the lower strings), I would start with using the 5ths Mitts set, because the published specs indicate that with the similar linear tension for the set, it will have a similar downforce over the bridge and therefore load the top in a similar manner on the same bass with the same setup. Now, once there, I may or may not like the feel or the tone of the set, but at least I have a starting point for trying it out, and that's the whole point of publishing tension specs for strings. If I don't like it, then I can see from there where I would want to go with a different set, and get an idea of how the bass might need to be set up differently from there, and avoid a lot of wasted time and money in the hit-and-miss approach to trying out strings, as we see so much of the fallout from that on the various forums "for sale" sections.

So obviously, and sorry to take the Spiros example again, of course their Mitts set will have more tension overall than their Weichs set, but less than their Stark set, but how do I know how they will compare, other than anecdotally from other players describing their experience, to something like a Pirastro Jazzer, which is also labeled as a medium tension or feel set? Published string tensions would help a little with that. Not much, granted, but a little.

Then again, as you say, even with the best of care, a string just may not sound good on a bass. The example you gave where there was obviously less downforce on the bass with the conventional set of strings indicates to me that the 5ths set that was on there had significantly more linear tension than the set used to replace it for evaluation, even though both sets may have been labled with the same generalized descriptive term.

I'm not trying to provoke arguments. All I'm saying is that unlike a lot of the rest of the musical world, basses, bass strings, and such are still spoken of with so much subjectivity that it makes it very difficult and frustrating for everyone, from relative novices to DB like me, to seasoned professionals such as yourself, to compare anything apples-to-apples. Publishing string tensions is only one minor way of trying to help with that disparity.
Ah, ok..
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry McDougal View Post
So Paul, do you play in 5ths?
No, but my mentor Red Mitchell did and he told me stuff.

Quote:
Your profile is a bit sketchy.
Yeah, I know.
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:01 PM
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So Paul . . . your profile is a bit sketchy.
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Yeah, I know.
Ah, the interweb.
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:56 PM
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Hey, Sam.

Hehe, and no, i've Never been affiliated with the Communist Party.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:57 PM
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Question Communist Party?

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Hey, Sam.

Hehe, and no, i've Never been affiliated with the Communist Party.
Communist Party? Is that related to playing in Fifths?
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:35 PM
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Communist Party? Is that related to playing in Fifths?
Yes Ken, I must confess to being a little confused too. I think they must be using American humour like we get on Television.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:38 PM
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Is the interweb the same thing as the net (internet)?
Hey, Bob Hope was a funny American. I loved his stuff.
Actually I've thought a bit about tuning in 5ths. I suspect the bass might reverberate better, because of the harmonic series thing.

Last edited by Terry McDougal; 12-03-2011 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:09 AM
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Hey, Sam.

Hehe, and no, i've Never been affiliated with the Communist Party.
Sorry to labour a point but are Americans not allowed to belong to the Communist Party?
Apologies to all for being off topic.
5ths would include big stretches? I'd surely like to hear more about what they discuss at the ISB fifths convention.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:50 AM
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Sorry to labour a point but are Americans not allowed to belong to the Communist Party?
Apologies to all for being off topic.
5ths would include big stretches? I'd surely like to hear more about what they discuss at the ISB fifths convention.
Actually, it's more about an efficient use of the left hand than stretching- Watch Joel Quarrington play on youtube if you can. He's the most prominent living bassist using the tuning, and certainly the guy when it comes to Fifths tuning. He was also the last teacher I had before becoming a professional bass player. What he does is actually very akin to what Rabbath does. Joel studied with Petracchi as well, and his methods have also enabled what he does. When i studied with him ten years ago, Joel was using all Thomastik Dominant strings which have massive tension. Thomastik also made a set of Bel Cantos for him that were designed for 5th tuning.

Also, Ken, Sprirocores might be making a big comeback in the bowed world. I have it on good authority that one of the finalists for principal of Chicago played the audition with a full set.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:37 PM
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Actually, it's more about an efficient use of the left hand than stretching- Watch Joel Quarrington play on youtube if you can. He's the most prominent living bassist using the tuning, and certainly the guy when it comes to Fifths tuning. He was also the last teacher I had before becoming a professional bass player. What he does is actually very akin to what Rabbath does. Joel studied with Petracchi as well, and his methods have also enabled what he does. When i studied with him ten years ago, Joel was using all Thomastik Dominant strings which have massive tension. Thomastik also made a set of Bel Cantos for him that were designed for 5th tuning.
Thanks Jeff. Good point. I checked out Mr Quarrington on YouTube.
I also found this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE5s...eature=related
I watched all three parts. What a player!
How's your Italian?

I thought you might enjoy these too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ggfFFPh4E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzNHU...eature=related
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Bin Hire View Post
Thanks Jeff. Good point. I checked out Mr Quarrington on YouTube.
I also found this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE5s...eature=related
I watched all three parts. What a player!
How's your Italian?

I thought you might enjoy these too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ggfFFPh4E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzNHU...eature=related
"I don't consider myself particularly talented..." That I would submit is the one flaw in Joel's teaching. He sometimes fails to understand the limitations of his more mortal students. Joel practiced 8 hours a day when he was studying but 8 hours a day is not going to turn any ordinary bass player into Joel Quarrington.
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