Tuning in Fifths

Wow, I’m really not good at keeping up this blog. As a recap for the new fingerboard, it’s settled in nicely, and it feels and sounds great.

But I want to talk about what I’m into at the moment: tuning in fifths.

I changed to fifths almost two months ago, now. My last gig in 2016 was December 14, and I changed my strings on the 15th. I didn’t have any gigs on upright until early February, so I had almost 6 weeks to practise and get the new tuning under my fingers. It’s been quite a process!

Here are a few of my impressions so far:

The bass resonates WAY better! It also rings out more, which causes the bass to cut through when I’m playing with a band. The notes I play are clearer and more focused, and I can hear myself better when I’m playing with a band, so it’s easier to play in tune.

Learning repertoire has been a lot easier than expected (which is quite a relief, since I have a lot of gigs in February). Obviously, the larger range opens up a lot of new possibilities, which leads to minor re-arranging of my bass parts, but that’s no big deal.

Generally, what used to be difficult on the bass is now easier, but what used to be easy is now more difficult. This is not just for intervals, but also for lines and licks.

The most difficult part about the new tuning is improvising. I’m still thinking about way too many things to be able to just let go and play the changes. But at the same time, I’m getting a glimpse of a whole world of new vocabulary that wasn’t possible on a bass tuned in fourths, which is exciting!

I’ll be giving a short presentation on my journey in fifths at the Montreal Upright Bass Day, which is coming up soon. I can’t wait!



This really deserves it’s own blog post, but I’ll just stick it here: I recently got a new endpin system, designed by Mario Lamarre. It’s amazing. I’m still figuring it out, but it’s made a huge difference in my comfort level while standing and playing.



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