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Transposing treble cleft to bass cleft

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lawboy, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. lawboy


    Oct 13, 2013
    Y'all may recall that I am switching to bass after 50 years of playing rhythm and lead. I've been practicing scales (fundamentals,son, fundamentals). My question now is about transposing. If a song is in the key of A, on a 6string I know my root is either 5th fret on the bottom string or open 2nd string. Where does this translate on the bass? Is there a standard formula, such as A on treble = G(?) om bass.
  2. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Clef. It's clef.
  3. lawboy


    Oct 13, 2013
  4. voodoobassist

    voodoobassist Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2008
    Tulsa , OK
    It's the same as your 6'er. EADG if you're playing a 4 banger. As you said,...fundamentals son, fundamentals
  5. His 6'er isn't a bass.

    In Bass clef, "C" is where you would expect "A" to be in treble clef. Is that what you were asking?
  6. lawboy


    Oct 13, 2013
    Yes Major, that is my question.
  7. Yeah, so when you look at bass clef, everything is 2 notes higher than you think of it in Treble clef. You see what looks like an A, and it's really a C. You see what looks like an F and it's really a A.

    Of course, the notes aren't actually "higher" in pitch than in treble clef, they're lower, but you get my meaning. The space just below the middle line in Treble clef holds A4 and in Bass clef it holds C3 - almost 2 octaves lower.

    The way it is laid out actually makes perfect sense once you "get it." The two clefs are laid out so that if you put one line between them, the notes all fit together, like this:


    Image stolen from Wikipedia
  8. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    The four strings on a bass are one octave below the bottom four strings on a guitar.

    However, guitar notation is written one octave higher than it's actual pitch. So your bass
    notes are going to appear two octaves down from the same notes on a guitar.

    The G on the low E guitar string is the same pitch as the open G on the bass.
    But it is written an octave higher on the staves.

  9. I may be wrong, but, I think we got side-tracked.

    Treble clef and bass clef are both in the same key. If this happens to be the key of A yes I would gather my notes from the 4th string 5th fret area.
  10. HCEarwicker


    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    Others have answered, but I'll try to summarise.

    (Usually) The 4 strings of a bass are tuned to the same pitches as the lowest 4 strings of a guitar: EADG - only an octave lower. So 'A' is in exactly the same place on the bass as it is on the 4 lowest pitched strings of your 6-string guitar, only it sounds an octave deeper.

    Don't be confused by the fact that bass music is written using a different 'clef'*. If you want to read bass music, Major Softie has given you a good diagram showing you how pitches are written using the bass clef. But remember that even though bass notes are written on a different line or space to notes written for (treble clef) guitar, an 'A' played on the the 5th fret of the E (bottom) string on a bass is the same 'A' played in the same place on a guitar, only it sounds an octave lower/deeper (and the same goes for all other notes).

    Long summary, huh? Repetitive, too! I Hope it helps.

    *Clef is French for 'key', but it doesn't have anything to do with changing from one key to another (as in "I can't sing this, it's too high for me. Let's change key"). In music theory, transposing means changing key. There's no transposing involved in transferring from a guitar to a bass that's standardly tuned.
  11. Guitars and basses are in the same "key". An E on a bass guitar and an E on a standard guitar sound the same.

    Bass Clef and Treble Clef do not require "transposing". Its just that the notes are written differently in each. First space on treble clef is an F. First space on bass clef is an A. Major Softie's diagram and HCEarwicker's explanation explains how it works.

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