Bass tuning guide

Bass tuning is essential for anyone getting started with this amazing instrument.

Truth be told, it is essential for anybody that plays the bass. Simply said, a out of tune bass is not a functional instrument. None of your practice hours will translate unless you tune your instrument first. 

So let’s dive into bass tuning and everything you need to know about it.

The basics

The pegs on the headstock of the bass control the tuning of the instrument. Turning them will alter the pitch by tightening or loosening the string. The pitch will go up as you tighten the peg and down when you loosen it.

Your bass should be tuned before you play it, every single time. It is common for basses to lose at least a bit of their tuning accuracy after a day of not playing. For some basses, it is even within hours that their tuning is affected. Therefore is paramount to tune them often, especially before playing.

Clip on tuners

Although professionals and advanced players will often tune by ear, we recommend you rely on a tuner. A clip-on tuner is your best bet. These types of tuners will conveniently attach to the headstock of your bass for convenience. They usually feature a well-lit screen that lets you know whether each string is tuned or not. They work by picking up the vibration of the strings and are quite accurate.

Standard tuning

This is by far the most common tuning. A standard bass typically has four strings, which you will have to tune. The standard tuning for a 4-string bass is G, D, A, and E, from high to low. 

In case you have a 5-string bass, then your tuning will be G, D, A, E, and B for the lowest string. The intervallic distance between strings is a 4th.

Drop D 

Drop D tuning is a relatively popular tuning that is common in certain styles. For instance, Metal players typically employ it as it allows your bass to go even deeper. 

Drop D is accomplished by lowering the E string a whole step down to D. This makes the D note a fifth below the following highest string and expands the tonal range of your instrument.

Keeping your bass in tune

Besides tuning often, there are certain things you can do to ensure your bass stays tuned more consistently. One of them is to change strings when needed. 

Changing strings is mandatory when they sound dead or can’t stay in tune. Old strings lose their ability to stay in tune, and also sound muddier and even muffled. 

The good news is that bass strings typically last longer than guitar strings. How often you should change them depends on how much you play. 

It is also important to wash your hands before playing and wipe your strings down after playing. Additionally, try to keep your bass inside its case or bag when you’re not using it. 

Bass tuning is a must-know for anyone that plays this instrument. From beginners to professionals, having your bass in tune is essential to ensure good performance, practice sessions, recording, etc. Take good care of your instrument and it will provide you with the joy of making music for years to come.