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Is the bass tuned in perfect fourths or fifths?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Kevjmyers, Feb 3, 2005.


  1. Kevjmyers

    Kevjmyers

    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    For as long as Ive been playing bass I can't believe I haven't thought of this before. In reality it would be tuned in fifths correct because of the G string being labeled the 1 string and not the E? If the E string was known as the 1 string then I could see the bass being tuned in fourths.
     
  2. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    UK
    tuned ascending in 4ths... I think it's standard practice to discuss violin/guitar family instrument tuning as what the ascending intervals are

    sorry, that's bad english but you get the idea
     
  3. The bass is tuned E-A-D-G, therefore it is tuned in fourths.

    The string's number is irrelevant in this case.
     
  4. Kevjmyers

    Kevjmyers

    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    Thanks guys...I thought so, just needed some confirmation.
     
  5. You're welcome! :)
     
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    Neither.

    It is tuned in tempered fourths which are subtly different from perfect fourths (a perfect fourth is 498 cents, compared with 500 cents for a tempered fourth, IIRC).

    (just to be pedantic... please feel free to ignore this post :))
     
  7. You're confused because the G to D interval is descending, but you're counting up. When you go "G, A, B, C, D", you end up with the note a fifth above G. You need to count down: "G, F, E, D". A fourth.
     
  8. Kevjmyers

    Kevjmyers

    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    I know that the bass is tuned in fourths, mainly I was just curious as to why the G string is known as the 1 string in regards to the instrument's tuning. Wouldn't it make more sense for the E string to be the 1 string?
     
  9. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Which tempered tuning method advocates a 500 cents interval for a tempered 4th?

    I ask because I once read part of a book on piano tuning and, to my surprise, found that there are apparently several different approaches/methods to tempered tuning involving different "sizing" of the 4th and 5th intervals.

    Also, isn't it impossible to have tempered tuning on a (non-Feinstein) fretted bass, or even guitar for that matter?
     
  10. Tim__x

    Tim__x

    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    The Equal tempered scale demands a 500 cents 4th, all intervals in the (12-tone) equal tempered scale are whole multiples of 100. Any tuning that uses a non-500 cent 4th, deviates from equal temperment (not that that is bad).
     
  11. Kevjmyers

    Kevjmyers

    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    Frequency theory...WAAAAAAAAY over my head! :crying:
     
  12. +1 man...
     
  13. What's the frequency, Kenneth?
     
  14. I've heard a lot of people incorrectly refer to the intervals as fifths, because if you invert a perfect fourth you get a perfect fifth.
     
  15. damn it, that's just the way it is, don't question it or they take away your bass license.
     
  16. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    Equal temperament, as Tim said, which is standard on fretted guitars. There are instruments out there that use "just" intonation which sound a lot better but they're rare. And look bizarre.

    Yeah, there's lots of systems. The idea of equal temperament is that it allows you to play in all keys equally well by standardising the semitone interval. The trouble is it makes certain intervals sound bad (the major third is particularly sour). Just intonation sounds great in certain keys but horrible in other keys. The other systems try to strike a compromise between the two.

    I'm not sure I know what you mean. Are you talking about the Buzz Feiten tuning system?
     
  17. Hm, personally I find that all tunings except equal tempered tuning sound waaaay off, even if im using pure c major for playing a c major scale. (my digital piano has switchable tunings) I guess I just got used to it...

    Chords sound ok though (but have a tendency of sounding "thin" probably due to less dissonance)
     
  18. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    That's interesting. It had never occurred to me that certain notes were inherently out of tune until I read about it. I can certainly hear the dissonance of a tempered third on a guitar but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. The only time it actually bothers me is when I'm tuning a guitar by ear.
     
  19. actually, from a harmonic point of view, all intervals, except octaves, are inherently out of tune in equal tempered tuning.

    EDIT: just to mention it, what bothers me far more when tuning is the fact that due to the height of the nut pretty much everything below the 5th fret is slightly sharp.
     
  20. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    Yep, I know. I mentioned the third as an example, because it's the only one which has the potential to really bother me.

    My ears can't tell that a tempered fifth is 2 cents out.