Hey, James here!
Back in 2005, I was asked to sub on the Queen show, "We Will Rock You" at London's West End. As a 25-year-old-then bass player, this was a super exciting opportunity for me for two reasons: (1) I've been a life-long fan of Queen since I was 9 years old, (2) I got to explore John Deacon's bass parts in detail which was a real thrill!
One big thing I learned from that show was that John Deacon had a SECRET BASS WEAPON. You're probably familiar that he uses a precision bass most of the time, or a stingray occasionally. But there's one thing that he used to do quite a bit which helped create his sound in my opinion: The Drop D Tuning. What he would do is he's take the E-string and D tune it.
Back in the old days, players would D tune their bass guitars. Fast forward to a decade or two, Hipshot released a wonderful gadget called the "D Extender". All you'd do is switch the lever and will instantly take your tuning from an E down a whole step to a D. Such a convenient invention that I have it on all of my bass guitars!
Why would you want to use a drop D tuning over a 5-string bass? The reason is quite simple: It has a completely different vibe. It makes the E string sound very different because the tension of the string has changed. The big fat floppy D, detuned, has a different flavor compared to hitting the low D on a 5-string bass.
So that is one of the reasons that I started falling in love with this because the bass behaved completely differently! The great thing is you can experiment with the drop D tuning even if you don't have the Hipshot Drop D Extender simply by D tuning your E string by a whole step.
The only challenge here is that there's a learning curve as the notes have changed positions which can take some time to adjust. If you want to learn more about the drop D tuning and how you can put it into practice, watch the free video lesson above!
I'll see you in the next video!