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A 1963 Hofner Model 185 Bass converted to Piccolo Tuning
|Classification||String instrument (bowed, fingered or picked; rarely strummed)|
|Inventor(s)||Ron Carter , Stanley Clarke|
(a standard tuned 4-string piccolo bass guitar)
A Piccolo bass is either an electric bass guitar or acoustic double bass which has been tuned to a higher range. Usually one octave higher than conventional bass tuning. This allows bass players to use higher registers during soloing while retaining a familiar scale length and string spacing.
In the early 1970's Ron Carter and Stanley Clarke were independently exploring the possibilities of stringing their instruments in a higher, or piccolo, tuning. The earliest recording of Ron Carter playing his piccolo bass in on the 1973 album Blues Farm.
Acoustic Piccolo Bass
The acoustic piccolo bass is constructed in the same way as a double bass, allowing the player to use the same arco and pizzicato techniques. The scale length will usually be similar to that of standard upright bass, with thinner strings to allow a higher pitched tuning. The acoustic piccolo bass is usually tuned in fourths, E2-A2-D3-G3, although Ron Carter often uses A1-D2-G2-C3 
Electric piccolo bass
The electric piccolo bass is generally constructed in the same way as a electric bass guitar. In many cases these are conventional bass guitars which have been converted to piccolo tuning. This typically requires a new nut to accept the thinner strings. The tuning is E2-A2-D3-G3. which is the same as the lower 4 string on a guitar. Some short scale piccolo basses may be strung with conventional guitar strings. However, in general a piccolo bass will require special string sets to cater for the longer scale length, and larger balls ends to cope with the larger drilled holes in a bass bridge.
The tuning varies with the personal tastes of the artist, as does the number of strings. Joey DeMaio from the heavy metal band Manowar plays with four strings on his piccolo bass. Jazz bassist John Patitucci used a six-string piccolo bass, unaccompanied, on his song "Sachi's Eyes" on his album One More Angel. Michael Manring has used a five-string piccolo bass in several altered tunings. Michael uses D'Addario EXL 280 piccolo bass strings on his four-string hyperbass, made by Zon Guitars.
- Ron Carter
- Stanley Clarke
- Henry Threadgill
- Joey DeMaio
- John Patitucci
- Wayman Tisdale
- Michael Manring
- Al MacDowell
- Joe McCreary
- Jeff Schmidt (musician)
- R.M. Mottola's Mezzaluna electric bass family includes both a piccolo and a piccolino electric bass.
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