Need help with transposing song into different key for a 4 string

Hey folks have a song for worship this sunday originally in the key of Gb. Singer wants it in key of Eb. Had to drop D tune for original key, but now down another 2 steps (3 frets) I cant get it on a 4 string? What to do move everything up an octave??


I think I’m following you that tuning down would give you the low Eb in the original key (scale degree 6 of Gb major - that would be important in the song for sure).

In my opinion, everything can be moved up an octave for a 4 string player. I would have kept it there for the original key as well had I been playing.

If there is a particular line that has to be played in the lower octave, that’s the only way I could see tuning down would be necessary.

Having said all of that, tuning down for the key of Eb so that you can get scale degree 6 lower than the root means going all the way down to C or B. At that point you have to borrow a friend’s 5 string.

Best all around to learn to work with the 4 string in standard tuning on these I’d say, and - if there’s a particular riff or note that the song/band leader needs, tune as necessary. (Or buy that new 5 string!!)


ok that is what I was thinking, and I appreciate the reply. Never had to play a song an octave higher so don’t really know the problems that arise.


Sure thing - Usually there are no problems in moving things up an octave. The biggest difficulty would come:

  • if you’re learning from TABS and aren’t sure where the other options are for the same pitches / other octaves
  • if you’re trying to match the exact placement and pitch of a recording (where they may be detuned or are using 5/6 string basses

Lemme know if there are any other questions.


Thought I’d resurrect this thread for the benefit of those looking for a way to deal with vocalists that want music played in different key to match their voices.

I’ve always used Transcribe! - the program that @JoshFossgreen recommends in the B2B course. I have used this application for a couple years now and it is great, but did you know that you can take ANY song and change the keys to it in to match what any vocalist wants to sing to?

I ran across this when one of our bands vocalist’s wanted several songs down tuned from the Key of “A” to the key of “Em” - basically a -2 from the original recording…. Transcribe! Has the capability to do this, so when you practice a song, you will be practicing it in the key that the vocalist wants to use…

What I did to play “867-5309 Jenny” by the Tu Tones was to down tune my bass 1/2 down to all flats, and then play the song one fret lower (giving a -2 tuning).

I could have played the song with standard tuning, but then I’d be dealing with a ton of open notes (which I don’t care for)….

Anyway, thought I’d share that for anyone running into the same situation….

Keep On Thumpin’!


I’ve been looking for an excuse to play with Transcribe! Now the band I’m sitting in with has asked for some odd keys for their singer. You Shook Me All Night Long in F, rather than the original G, for example. Looks like I’m buying software tonight.


@Roughneck94 You might want to change the title of this topic from Transcribing to Transposing.
They are two different things.

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