can you tune by ear?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by fat_o_bastard, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. i can tune a guitar almost exactly in tune by ear, but i have trouble with getting the low notes of a bass exactly right. does my ear just need more practice?
  2. I usally have no problem tuning by ear but sometimes I think My B string will be on but as soon As I go to play a song that I know well I will hear that it's off about a half step. I still have trouble with anything lower than a E. But I think it will come with time. I Hope.:(
  3. What was that?

    I couldn't hear the question.
  4. heh

    i'll take that as a "no"

    or maybe a sarcastic yes....
  5. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    You mean with or without a reference? With yes, without no.
  6. SRSiegel

    SRSiegel Guest

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    yeah. ive grown accustomed to what A=440 Hz sounds like. ive heard that the human ear naturally cant hear low sounds as well as higher ones. in order to make it easier to hear, try tuning using harmonics. in my experience its much more accurate than tuning by the 5th fret, or even using a not so accurate tuner.
  7. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Always tune by harmonics; the 5th fret is not as perfectly in tune as the open string.
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Unfortunately, on even temperament instruments like a fretted bass, there is no way that all of the frets will be 100% in tune. Using harmonics will ensure that the fundamental and the harmonics are in tune, but can't help the fretted notes.
  9. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Wrong forum. More suited for Misc. So, off it goes...........
  10. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    yeah. tunning using harmonics is the best way to tune for me... it easy to tell if the strings are in tune by listening for the reverberations
  11. SystemofatooL


    Dec 15, 2001
    i totally suck at tuning by ear, for both guitar and bass, i dunno why
  12. Which is why I can ONLY tune by ear....I use a tuner on stage, for obvious reasons. But after tuning with the machine, I have to tweak it by ear so that it will play in tune!

    On any guitar, an A chord in 1st position will be slightly out of tune if the 1st position D is in tune! Part of the art of playing is compensating as you play. This goes for bass too.

    If one good guitarist or bassist tunes up and plays and then passes the guitar or bass to another, the first thing that the other does is retune. Have you noticed? Your tuning is a personal thing, to do with the way you play. Just as painters all have subtle differences in the way they mix their paints, musicians all have subtle differences in their tuning.
  13. Well......

    I can tell when my bass is out of tune by ear.Not sure if that is the same thing. :)
  14. Bizarrely I've found that when I try to tune by ear, I get the bass tuned half a step low!!!!! So, without a reference I tune the bass as 'sounds right' to me and then take it up half a step - works most of the time strangely enough!

    I also tend to find that tuning harmonically is easier than tuning at the 5th fret - it's easier to get it just right. Although out of laziness I tend to use the tuner!!
  15. Nails


    Jun 4, 2000
    Austin, Tejas
    The only times I can think of where I don't automatically retune is if me and the other player are passing the instrument back and forth to show each other songs.

    The other day my brother and I were recording in our apartment (I love digital recording technology), and while I was setting up my gear to record myself he tuned my bass using a Boss TU-8 tuner. When he handed it to me I swithced on my Korg DT1Pro and tuned again, didn't even give it a second thought. I probably wouldn't have even thought about it again had you not said that.
  16. I thought I was pretty good at tuning by ear until I bought a Korg GS20 tuner. Then I found I was a bit lacking:eek:

    Perhaps part of the problem, though, was the very cold room where we reherse. The bass' tuning changes until we're well warmed up.

    Even so, I never attempt ear tuning now!

  17. So who do trust? Your ears or some machine!


    If you are playing in a cold room, you'll only get your final tuning after playing for a few minutes as your hands warm up the strings.
  18. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    This may sound strange, but I can't tune by ear by matching the 5th fret to the open string or harmonics or anything. I drive myself crazy trying to do it.

    I just play the open strings and tune them. That is get the E where I think it should be, strike the E, then strike the A and listen to its relationship to the E and then procede likewise til I get it tuned. If I have reference for the E, I have not problem at all getting the bass in tune in just a few seconds. Without reference, I would probably be off a bit. Haven't tried it lately.

    I tune a guitar the same way, I don't know why, it is just easier for me that way.

  19. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    With a reference, I can tune by ear fairly well by using harmonics - after saying that, unless it just needs a little tweak I don't trust myself onstage.