Tuning your bass is the most important first step in any performance, lesson or practice. Even the best bass in the world played by the greatest player will sound lousy if its completely out of tune. Although this is a beginner lesson it is relevant to all as it cannot be stressed enough how important tuning is. Many intermediate to advanced players do not pay enough attention to this.
Firstly, let’s recap the names of the strings as these represent the notes we must tune to:
Thinnest to thickest (as in tab):
Electronic Tuner Method – Most accurate & recommended
An electronic tuner is a simple and affordable device available from our store, you play the open string and it tells you whether it is in tune or not, so that you can adjust the string. Different devices work in different ways but usually there is a needle to tell you if the note is too sharp (tight) or flat (loose). Pay attention to the note letter displayed, it must match the string letter, else you are tuning it to the wrong pitch!
You can also tune your other strings to your E string (or any other string you believe to be in tune). You begin by playing the 5th fret on the E string, and tuning the open A string to match this pitch (sound in unison). Then just repeat, working up the strings. This works great as a quick check between songs or if you do not have an electronic tuner, but is no substitute for accurate tuning. This will not really work in a live, studio or band rehearsal environment as at best, you will only be in tune with yourself!
You can tune your guitar by ear, to a piano or other audio source, the advantage is that you don’t need a tuner and you can still get it correctly tuned if you have a good source. It can be very difficult to tune by ear without some degree of “ear training” ie practice. However you can teach yourself to hear even minute differences in pitch with practice. Here’s a very simple “online tuner” which does just that, generates a tone for you to tune to: http://www.gieson.com/Library/projects/utilities/tuner/