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Tuning the Double Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by bucephylus, Dec 22, 2013.


  1. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    This is, perhaps, a terribly stupid question; but, I'll ask anyhow.

    Tuning my upright with the meter, it is pretty easy to see (and hear) pitch variations of +/- a few centi-Hz, depending on how hard the bow is driving the string. Since these differences are audible, I have often wondered what constitutes correct tuning.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. It's very easy to bend the pitch sharp either with too much pressure or speed. It's much harder to bend flat. Just use a steady speed and not much more weight than the stick itself.
     
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  4. flyingpanda96

    flyingpanda96

    Dec 22, 2013
    Isnt a stand up bass tuned like a standard electric?
     
  5. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Disclosures:
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    It's the other way 'round.

    :cool:
     
  6. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    OK. But, when you are playing you are driving the string with similar variations in pressure depending on dynamics. I'm just asking for insight on where to adjust string tension as a function of bow pressure. Setting close to zero bow pressure isn't characteristic of how the instrument is played and would seem to result in the instrument being a few cents sharp while playing.

    Again, maybe I am missing something, because no one, including past teachers ever discussed the point. However, since I can hear it and see it I thought it might be interesting to ask.
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Disclosures:
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Wait, you can TUNE them?
     
  8. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Maybe I should have asked for pointers on acting like its in tune.
     
  9. GrowlerBox

    GrowlerBox

    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    It's also not characteristic to play only on open strings, so any other note can be adjusted to compensate for bow speed/pressure, right? Tune the open strings to mf pressure/speed as a sort of middle ground and go from there, I guess.
     
  10. klem.gote

    klem.gote

    Jan 18, 2009
    New England
    Disclosures:
    Bass Player
    Those twisty things at the top. Turn them, stuff happens.
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Disclosures:
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Does it matter which way?
     
  12. jazzbill

    jazzbill

    Jun 4, 2010
    Richardson, TX
    Wasn't it already in tune when you bought it?
     
  13. Pff. The bass has no frets for a REASON, people.
     
  14. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Disclosures:
    Bassist
    Exactly, you need to use your ears to fine tune each note depending on the dynamics.

    No string instrument comes with guaranteed perfect tuning (even pianos go out of tune :eek:). You play guitar or fretted bass and depending on how hard you press the string with your fretting hand and how hard you pluck the tuning can vary a lot.

    That's the way it is. We try our best but it never gets perfect.
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Disclosures:
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yes, but some kid turned one of the twisty things and he won't tell me which one!



    Thanks for the set up, by the way.
     
  16. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Sheesh; you guys are tough. I guess the answer to my question is a big secret. Thanks:meh:
     
  17. OK, fine. It is Christmas after all...my cheapo Snark tuner bounces around like crazy during the attack phase of the note. It tends to even out if I allow the note to ring without touching it with the bow, or, better still, tune to harmonics.
     
  18. LowG

    LowG

    Dec 8, 2006
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's why it's best not to play open strings
     
  19. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010

    And you beat me to it.
    Ha, ha. . .the old club date bass player and the kid joke :)
     
  20. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Thanks Santa!

    Agreed Harmonics are more representative of the un-driven string. But, you can also get that by tuning pizz. I just had noticed that the driven string is sufficiently sharp as to be noticeable, and didn't find any comments by searching. So, thought to ask. Maybe a mistake.
     
  21. jake3

    jake3 Guest

    Aug 23, 2013
    I generally tune using pizzicato as I mostly play that way. The tuner definitely jumps around. I try to disregard the initial attack and see where it settles, then I often use the harmonics to "fine-tune."
     



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