Bass guitar vs. upright bass? Also, tuning by ear?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by VullNoid, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. VullNoid


    Sep 30, 2005
    About four years ago, I was in a beginning orchestra class playing the upright bass. I got a bass guitar around that time, but couldn't figure out how to relate the notes to the upright bass. All those frets were confusing me! So I gave up on the guitar, which was a big mistake.

    I've gotten a beginning bass guitar book and I now know all that. So I was wondering if anyone could briefly compare and contrast bass guitar and upright bass? My true love is still the upright, but guitar is great too. :p

    Oh! And how does one go about learning to tune by ear? Before I found my tuner, I did my best by playing songs I knew and tuning to how I thought they should sound. I was pretty close with two strings, but I found it very difficult. Any advice?
  2. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    As an upright player, I've played thinking of it partially as an electric standing on end, and I have fret dots marked on my board, so I can't be too much help. Each semitone is a fret up do the double dots, which is an octave. No biggie.

    As far as tuning, you can use a harmonic over the 5th fret of one string, and 7th over the next highest string to get the same tone (as you would on an URB as well)
  3. VullNoid


    Sep 30, 2005
    Haha, you think of the upright as a turned guitar, and I think of the guitar as a turned upright. That amuses me more than it should. :p

    One thing that really influenced me to give up bass guitar years ago was the fact that there were too many frets. I would look at the frets and look at notation. It just didn't seem to fit. Ah well.

    Ooh, I've heard of doing it that way. My main problem is that I was never taught to tune in any way other than with a tuner. If there was no tuner, someone would tune it for me. I didn't mind it then, but I now regret being pampered.
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I learned to tune using a pitch fork. I still carry one in the gig bag "just in case". I would hold the fork in my mouth. You really hear the tone and it leaves your hands free.

    I would tune the A string. Then I used the method tpylons mentioned.

    As a side effect, for years I could sing an A in pitch on demand. In a pinch I could tune to the A I heard in my head. Sadly, I know rely on a tuner and cannot sing an A.
  5. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Have you thought of a fretless bass guitar? This way no confusing frets.

  6. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    If you learned Simandl technique on upright try applying that to electric just to get yourself oriented with the notes.

    half position 1st finger E string is an F (1st fret on bass guitar, second finger F# (second fret), 4th finger G (third fret) and so on. You can go up the fingerboard that way and when you reach thumb position, just don't use your thumb, use your first finger to fret the octave E.

    notes on E string bass guitar

    (fret:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12)
    note F F#G G# A A# B C C# D D# E
    Gb Ab Bb Db Eb
    the third line is the accidentals. hope this helps :)