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Korn Bass Tuning: A Thorough Guide [2022 Edition]

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If you’re curious about Korn bass tuning and how this band tunes their bass, you’ve come to the right post!

In short:

Korn’s bassist, Fieldy, tunes his 5-string bass one whole step down from standard 5-string bass tuning to A standard or: ADGCF.

I’ll unpack this and other tunings they used rarely in the sections below.

Background

Korn is easily one of the most influential metal bands of all time. Sure, their particular style is not for every metal fan’s taste. But they’re some of the ones who started the revolution in metal.

In the 1990s, we had a drastic change in rock and metal music. Over-the-top hair metal bands were out of the focus. Casually-dressed grunge musicians with darker-themed music took the spotlight.

However, Korn took heavier music to a whole new level. Extended-range guitars and basses were intended for virtuosic musicians. But the guys from Korn used it for nu metal. And the band’s Reginald Arvizu, known as Fieldy, also used a 5-string bass guitar.

Their lower tunings were a major thing for metal music. In addition to that, Fieldy’s peculiar bass tone helped them sound unique.

If you ask me, Fieldy is an unsung hero of the band. He not only has a great tone but is also a proficient bassist. Before you go any further, make sure to check out this video below:

Korn Bass Tuning Guide

Tuning, of course, also impacted that tone. And many are asking the question of how Fieldy tuned his bass guitars. But don’t worry, the answer is pretty simple. In fact, Fieldy just followed what Munky and Head did on 7-string guitars. And he applied it to his bass.

As you may already know, Fieldy is famous for his use of 5-string basses. And 5-string basses have this standard tuning, going from the bottom to the top string:

  • B0-E1-A1-D2-G2

That’s exactly one octave below the bottom five strings of 7-string guitars. It extends the standard 4-string bass by five additional semitones. Or by a perfect fourth interval.

However, Korn did something different. They tuned down by additional two semitones. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal today. However, back when they did it, few were doing this.

If we go one step lower than standard, we get this on a 5-string bass guitar:

  • A0-D1-G1-C2-F2

As you can see, we have the same distribution of intervals between the strings. It’s all perfect fourth intervals. In some ways, we could call it an A standard tuning.

For this to work, however, you need thicker string gauges. In particular, he uses DR HiDef strings most of the time. And we have this particular gauge:

  • A – .125″
  • D – .105″
  • G – .085″
  • C – .065″
  • F – .045″

These are pretty thick. However, this kind of set keeps a good string tension. But we’ll get to that later.

This is the tuning you hear almost all the time with Korn. For instance, their classic “Freak on a Leash” is just one of the examples. In the video below, you can check out Fieldy’s tutorial for the song’s bass parts. Pay attention to his bass tone and playing technique.

Exception to the Rule

Now, for the most part, Korn has used the A standard tuning. This goes both for guitars and bass. However, there’s one example that proves that they experimented with other tunings as well.

Coming from the “Untouchables” album from 2002, the song “Alone I Break” uses a different tuning. Here, they dared to go another semitone lower. And thus, they got to the G# standard tuning. It goes like this:

  • G#0-C#1-F#1-B1-E2

Now, that’s pretty low, right? Of course, it’s the same thing as the Ab standard tuning. You can write it down like this:

  • Ab0-Db1-Gb1-Cb2-Fb2

Or, you can use B1 instead of Cb2. Then it goes like this:

  • Ab0-Db1-Gb1-B1-Fb2

What’s interesting is that such tuning is often associated with heavier stuff. However, the song in question is a mellower one. Nonetheless, the G#, or Ab, tuning did its thing here.

What You Should Know If You Want to Use Lower Tunings on Bass Guitars

Now, I briefly touched upon the string gauges above. And this is an important issue for lower tunings. Even if you go one step lower than the standard, you’ll have to think of string gauges.

And, of course, you should think of getting thicker strings. A regular or a lighter set will just feel like rubber in these lower tunings. And this would also come with all other sets of problems.

Most importantly, you’ll have trouble with intonation. Firstly, a thinner string will vibrate more when you pick it. Secondly, pressing it just slightly harder on the fretboard would also make it sharp.

There’s also a high chance that you’ll have tuning issues if the strings are too thin for the tuning. These are all the same issues that guitar players face with lower tunings.

You could potentially also use the tuning in a 4-string bass. Without the top string, of course. But this would require you to use a thicker 5-string set.

Korn Bass Tuning: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you feel confident about tuning your bass to follow Korn’s example.

And if you want to read more about Korn on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

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