Drop A Bass Tuning 5-String: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re looking to unlock the depths of bass and master the distinct realm of drop A tuning on a 5-string bass, you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the steps, nuances, and artistic possibilities that this tuning offers. From achieving that drop A bass tuning 5-string, we’ve got you covered.

What is drop A bass tuning 5-string

A bass tuned to “drop A” is equivalent to a bass in “B standard” tuning, where the thickest string is detuned by one whole step to reach A. In Drop A tuning, a 5-string bass tuning is A-E-A-D-G, where the lowest (thickest) string is tuned to A.

In this tuning, the lowest string (string 1) is tuned to A. It is one whole step lower than the standard B tuning for the lowest string on a 5-string bass. This tuning allows for a heavier and lower tone, commonly used in metal and heavy music genres to achieve a more powerful and aggressive sound.

Drop A bass tuning
Drop A bass tuning

Why do you select drop A bass tuning

Musicians may choose to Drop A bass tuning 5-string for various reasons, depending on their musical preferences, style, and the sound they want to achieve. 

Heavier Sound

Drop A tuning provides a heavier and lower sound compared to standard tunings. The lower pitch on the thickest string (tuned to A) adds depth and power to the basslines. Like drop B bass tuning, it makes it well-suited for heavy and aggressive music genres like metal and djent.

Complementing Guitar Tunings

This bass tuning can complement the tuning of guitars in heavy bands. It allows the bassist to match the lower registers of the rhythm guitars, enhancing the overall sonic impact and coherence within the band.

Ease of Playing

Drop A tuning can make it easier to play certain riffs and power chords on the bass, especially when syncing with guitar parts. The tuning simplifies fretting patterns for specific musical progressions.

Extended Range

The use drop A bass tuning 5-string already provides an extended tonal range. Tuning the lowest string to A further extends this range, allowing the bassist to access even lower notes without having to detune excessively.

Creative Expression

Musicians often experiment with different tunings to find unique sounds that inspire creativity and enhance their musical expression. Drop A tuning can open up new possibilities and inspire fresh musical ideas.

How to tune drop A bass tuning 5-string

To tune a 5-string bass to Drop A tuning, you’ll be adjusting the strings to the following notes, from lowest (thickest string) to highest (thinnest string): A-E-A-D-G. Here are the steps to tune your 5-string bass to Drop A tuning.

Use a reliable electronic tuner or tuning app to ensure accurate tuning. Guitar Tunio is the best free app for tuning a lot of instruments such as guitar, bass, uke, mandolin, and violin…

If your bass is already in standard tuning (BEADG), begin by tuning the lowest (thickest) string down to A. Use the tuner to achieve the correct pitch. Tune the remaining strings based on the standard 5-string bass tuning (EADG).

You must ensure the second and fourth strings are tuned to E and D respectively. The highest (thinnest) string remains at G. After tuning all the strings, go through them again to double-check the tuning and make any necessary adjustments. lay different notes and chords across the fretboard to ensure that the bass is accurately tuned to Drop A.

Guitar Tunio app for tuning bass guitar
Guitar Tunio app for tuning bass guitar

Best string for drop A bass tuning

Typically, the best strings for bass sets are equipped with a .130 gauge string for the low B, the standard tuning. However, if you tune this string down to A for a Drop A tuning, it often leads to a noticeable loss in punch and a somewhat imprecise feel. This drop in tension and resonance can make the notes feel less defined, impacting the overall playability and tonal quality of the bass.

Given these considerations, I advocate for opting for a .145 gauge string specifically for the low A. This adjustment offers a balanced solution, effectively enhancing tension, and playability, and delivering the desired weighty tone. Although there is room for customization based on personal preferences, ranging from .160 to .135 gauges. My recommendation of .145 strikes an ideal equilibrium, ensuring an optimal playing experience for Drop A tuning.

Conclusion, the process of achieving the perfect drop A bass tuning 5-string involves careful consideration of string gauges, setup adjustments, and fine-tuning. Whether you’re drawn to the thunderous tones of metal or the depth of other genres, Drop A tuning offers an exciting avenue for sonic exploration.