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String Tuning - I dont get it.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jarrhead, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. jarrhead


    May 23, 2009
    Alright, so here's what I dont get.

    A guitar is tuned EADGBE, and it's fifth fret to the next note.

    A bass is tuned BEADGC, and it's fifth fret to the next note.

    Can anybody explain to me why we go from G to C and it's five frets, but guitar goes from G to B and it's five frets? This makes no sense.
  2. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    a guitar goes from g to b and is 4 frets!

    g to b is ALWAYS gonna be 4 frets cause a fret equates to a semi-tone.
  3. ByF


    May 19, 2009
    Yep, what bggeezer said. Basses are usually tuned with an interval of a perfect fourth (five frets) between the strings. Guitars are too, EXCEPT for that G to B interval is a major third. Then the B to e is a perfect fourth again.

    So bass players like having that fourth interval interval all across the fretboard, cause that's how we all learned to play bass, so when we go to five or six strings we keep the same arrangement. But guitar players all learned on guitars tuned EADGBe, so that's what they like.

  4. jarrhead


    May 23, 2009
    Weird. So does it mess up the chord shapes?
  5. AnchorHoy


    Dec 29, 2008
    New Jersey
    What he said

    As to the underlying reason for the difference in intervals between the two instruments (basses being tuned in straight 4ths, and guitar having that major 3rd between the G and B strings), it's mostly a matter of convenience for the guitar player in playing barre chords

    Having a guitar with the top two strings tuned to C and F (i.e. straight 4ths like most basses) would make life much more difficult for the player. The resulting chord shapes (as laid out on the fingerboard) would be extremely awkward at best
  6. Nope, makes them much easier.

  7. jarrhead


    May 23, 2009
    So this does explain why the 1-5-8 chord shape on my bass and the top 3 strings sound like crap on the bottm three?
  8. ByF


    May 19, 2009
    If you have a six string bass tuned BEADGC, a chord shape on the top three strings is the same shape as the bottom three strings, or any other three strings.

    Chords played way down in the bass range often sounds like crap just because it sounds very muddy.

  9. Originally, 99% of the time, basses have been tuned EADG, from double basses to the first bass guitars. Same as the low four strings on a standard guitar, but an octave lower.

    When the first 6-string (30" short-scale) bass guitars came out, they were tuned EADGBE just like a guitar, but an octave lower.

    34" long-scale 6-string bass guitar is a relatively recent (in the greater scheme of things) invention. There's no reason why you can't tune the strings to the same intervals as a standard guitar but with low B as the lowest string, to give you the same chord fingering options as a guitar. It doesn't *have* to be BEADGC. There are plenty of people with long-scale 6-string basses who tune BEADF#B

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