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Of course there's the familiar BEADG and EADGC tunings, and I've seen some people use DEADG before so they don't have to detune for a drop D (basically using it as a 4-string otherwise). One that I've had fun with some times is DEADA or BDADA, which makes octave riffs dead simple (pardon the pun). Are there any other common/useful tunings for 5-string?


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8 Answers 8

I just treat the five-string like a 6-string missing the high E. It's a lot easier than trying to figure out what notes to play on the B and makes for some super heavy sounding drop-D notes.

Tune it in EADGB and either play standard or drop the D. Unlike the person who took the actual heavier string and put it in the 5th string position, just tune it like a regular bass with one extra higher string.


The Chapman Stick is an instrument with the same scale length as a bass guitar, and its bass strings are usually tuned in 5ths, such as C G D A E, like a cello one octave lower.

Bass guitar soloist Michael Manring has used a range of alternate tunings for different pieces. On his Zon Hyperbass, he has a variable, calibratable "D-tuner" on each of the four tuning machines so he can raise or lower the pitch of each string by a specific amount quickly. There is a second tuning-lever system at the bridge for lowering the pitch of multiple strings at once.

The point is that he has composed pieces where he changes alternate tunings in the middle of the piece, without stopping.

Here he is explaining his system.


Five string double basses in symphony orchestras sometimes are tuned CEADG, with the idea that the lowest C corresponds to an octave below the celli's lowest note. However I beleive this is 'old school' and most players today use the BEADG tuning.

(Some four string symphony orchestra double basses has a 'drop-C' neck extension feature on the E string.)
(Some double bassists tune their four strings in fifths - CGDA - like the cello but one octave down. For instance jazz bassist Red Mitchell.)


The dude Fuzz from Disturbed (Original bass player) actually tuned his bass like this on some songs:

Bb - Db - Ab - Db - Gb

This way his 4 higher strings would be in tune with the guitar player, while keeping his low B tuned down 1/2 step like the A - D - G strings.


One time, for fun, I strung one of my 5-strings EADGB. I just put the low B at the bottom of the strings instead of in it's usual position at the top. It was fun to mess with but not really practical. The reason I tried this was because I normally play 4-strings and wanted to have the feel of a 4-string with the option of playing a low B infrequently. Having the low B at the bottom kept it 'out of the way' in a sense.


When I started playing with a band that played in drop D I didn't want to give up the low growl of the B. So I tuned my 5 string from low to high BDADG. Don't know how common it is, but I really like it.

I do know the chapman stick tunes its 5 bass string in 5ths. So from low to high it would be CGDAE.


Depends what you want; for the real heavy stuff you could drop DEADG down a full tone to CDGCF.

Or you could tune it to a chord like E major perhaps [E B E G# B], or flatten the third(G#) to make it an E minor [E B E G B].

You can tune to pretty much any chord which takes your fancy; however bear in mind that tuning to a chord may restrict your options and lock you into a specific key signature;


actually i would so recommend using BEADG it will even suites when rehearsing with the band, or playing over with a song you want to practice, what type of music do you listen to?

Got my start doing Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but I'm interested in moving more towards the jazzier end of things (e.g. Al DiMeola) –  Anonymous Jan 16 '11 at 15:54
your style would perfectly suite BEADG go for it man, if you would you like to go more deeper in playing complex bass line trying listening to progressive metal such as Dream Theater and Symphony X Good luck dude. –  Ahmad Kayyali Jan 16 '11 at 20:15