Change the tuning on their strings can open up a wide array of opportunities for bassists. But be aware that changing it could alter its action, leading to possible string breakages and making playing less efficient overall.
Tuning a bass with harmonics is one of the easiest and most widely used techniques for tuning. This involves playing a fretted note before tuning an open string to match it.
Bass guitars feature four strings tuned E, A, D and G for basic use – much like their electric cousins – though players often employ alternate tunings or play with alternate tunings for added notes and different sounds. You can find online bass tuners to assist in tuning up your strings as needed.
Bass strings tend to be thicker and produce greater pressure when played, making tuning them harder and affecting their intonation (the evenness of notes on your fretboard). By changing tension settings on these thicker strings, tuning them may alter their intonation significantly.
An audio tuner or clip-on tuner can make this process significantly simpler. Tuners will notify you if a note sounds flat or sharp, as well as when your bass string is tuned properly with itself – something especially essential when performing with other musicians, since being out of tune can affect its tone.
To tune a bass guitar, start with the E string and tune it to an initial reference note (e.g. A). Tune all remaining strings similarly – in other words if your E string was tuned to A, tune D and G strings to A as well. Once all strings are in tune you are ready to begin playing!
Utilize an Online Bass Guitar Tuner
There are numerous free and accurate bass guitar tuning apps and websites available to you so that you’re always prepared for any performance situation. The most reliable tuners work by working with your device’s microphone so you can use them anywhere with an internet connection – most also feature built-in pitch indicators so you can check your tuning without picking up your instrument!
A bass guitar string gauge can also prove very helpful, providing details about its length and diameter as well as any changes over time. With this knowledge in hand, you can select an appropriate string for your bass while making sure it remains in top condition.
Clip-on tuners can be invaluable tools for staying in tune, both live and in the studio. These handy devices easily mount onto the headstock of your bass so you can tune your strings as you play – from simple designs up to professional grade models!
An alternative bass guitar tuning of C, G, C, F is a variation on standard D tuning that lowers the fourth string two full steps (one whole note). This variation gives deeper sound than standard D yet remains familiar enough for most bassists.
Other variations on standard bass guitar tuning exist, including six-string basses tuned D, A, B, C and F (the same as a four-string bass but with one extra lower string). You may also come across basses with more than four strings like piccolo basses (tuned A-D-G) or eight-string basses (tuned D-A-C). Each variation offers different tonal options but all require special strings for optimal playing experience.