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bass guitar tunning?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by marksrick, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Hi my question is what types of tuning are most popular with bass guitars? I understand natural because that's how they usually come from the manufacturer or I should say that's how I tune them when they come from the manufacturer.

    Lately I have noticed in some songbooks a lot of songs are not played in natural tuning. They use a drop D tuning which I understand as the E string being taken down a half a step no that's halfstep tuning.

    Are there basic rules for tuning a bass guitar when you are not in natural tuning? I am not adept enough to be able to retune my bass guitar from song to song in a set list. Would someone be able to tell me the various types of tuning that bass guitarists use and why I am very interested to know this.

    Thank you very much for reading my thread hope you have a happy new year thank you again, Mark.
  2. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Drop D tuning is the E string being taken down a whole step, so it plays an octave below the D string. That's easy to do from song to song.

    Don't worry about any other tunings; very few are common enough to worry about. Of course a 5-string is commonly tuned BEADG, and some players string their 4 string like the bottom 4 strings of a 5 (BEAD).

    The only 'rule' would be: don't break your bass by tuning strings *up* too far (more than a half step and you should know what you are doing).
  3. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    There are no rules for tuning a bass guitar other than the one already alluded to: pay attention to the tension keeping the individual string tension and total neck tension reasonable. The tension charts from Circle K Strings and D'Addario Strings will let you do that with any tuning.

    If you want to play songs that are written in a drop tuning then you either have to drop tune or you play the low note up an octave but that may force you to use an awkward fingering that won't permit you to play as fast as you like. You can get clip on headstock tuners (like the Snark) or tuning pedals that will allow you to drop tune when needed pretty quickly. Or you can use a Hipshot drop tuning key on your E string. Just flip a lever to go from standard to drop tuning. All kinds of tunings are in use on TB. There are many variations of the standard fourths tuning and drop tunings using a variety of starting notes for the low string. There are even a few of us who tune in fifths. So try any tuning that strikes your fancy. Just keep in mind that if you need to tune a string up by more than a whole step you probably want to consult a tension chart and choose a special gauge string for that.

  4. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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