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Tuning change between pizz and arco???

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by tommythomas, Apr 22, 2003.

  1. Last night I put bow to DB for the first time in my life. I was in heaven! I was amazed how good of a sound I got. I am sure the challenges are just around the corner. I'm a long time EB player and have fallen in love with the DB. And now bowed bass. mmm mmm mmm!

    Anyway, since I got my DB 5 weeks ago I have been playing pizz only because my bow was on order. Last night I got my bow and after playing a bit I used an electronic tuner (is that common in DB) to tune WITH the bow. I played for awhile then switched to pizz and checked the tuning and the strings were a bit sharp.

    Is this normal?? Thanks
  2. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I'm no DB expert...but generally in tuning...

    the note starts out sharp when you pluck it then moves back to where it should be.
    If this was not the case, if it started out sharp and stayed sharp... I would bet that different overtones produced through bowing dominate the note and could produce the effect you saw. As you know, if your intonation is out on a BG, the 12-fret harmonics will be sharp/flat vs the open note.

    I bet that didn't help, but as a DBer who still doesn't own a DB...I wouldn't be too surprised if that were the case.
  3. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I had that problem, and just about every other problem,

    anyway, I worked with a tuner for a long time, trying to match pitch, my pizz was sharp, because I was distorting the pitch somehow.

    sometimes, I would tune with pizz on my tuner, then I wouldbow and it would sound flat.

    Jason seems to have had the opposite problem.

    So, I eventually started to listen to the pitch, and learned to hear the correct pitch in my head to match, problem solved?

    analyze the problem, find a solution, that way you will understand and be ablr to teach others.

    good luck
  4. Drop the tuner.
    Two tuners can/will give you diferent readings.
    Picking up a cheap keyboard might help you, play a scale or whatever on the keyboard and then match it with the bass.
    Playing against a tuner for me felt like a big waste of time.
    Granted I did it for months before I droped it.

    Good luck.
  5. i have played with orchestra for quite a while now, and i have noticed that if i need a quick tune and use a tuner, by using my bow i am in better tune with the other instruments, but this could also be because i use arco more than pizz, but alos one more plus for using the bow is to allow yourself to beable to hear the harmonics to tune your bass, just like your electric bass.
  6. i find that when i pluck , it causes the strings to vibrate harder because of more force , if you pluck more lightly , thproblems should go away
  7. also, if you tune with a tuner, you will find that your "G" string, hehe, will always be too sharp compared to your other strings. in order for the bass to be in tune, it must be in tune with itself, therfore, you must tune with harmonics.
  8. We'd have to know all the possible environmental factors
  9. Cellist&Bassist


    Nov 7, 2004
    Also if the room you are in is cold at all, as i have discovered most rooms to be by my basses standards the bass will pull very slightly sharp as the strings contract do to the temp. :bassist:
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Pizz will generally be a bit sharper than arco.

    When you pull the string playing pizzicato, you are usually stretching out of it's resting position much more than it ever moves under the bow. If you watched a plucked note on a tuner, you'd notice that it starts sharp and decays to pitch or even to flat. A bass guitar does the same thing to some degree or another depending on your touch, as do all string instruments.

    With any instrument, the lighter you pluck the string, the less this happens.

    With the bow, the string energy is more consistent, and thus is the pitch.

    IMO, you are always better off tuning to pitch with the bow simply because overall, intonation becomes a much larger issue.
  11. Onboard Research, the mfg of Intelituners, makes a tuner designed for bowed instruments. My wife has one for her fiddle and I have used on the Bass. It works well, here is a link.


  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Actually the regular old intellitouch works really well also. I clip mine on the peg box.
  13. I'm sorry guys, but my experience is totally the oposite.

    Your theories about why a Pizz'd string should sound sharper don't hold up, to my mind in explaination or in practice.

    The fact that the string vibrates with greater amplitude when plucked than it does with the bow is true, certainly - but I feel this is not relavent to pitch, only to volume. However, when bowed at a resonable volume, the bow is putting constant pressure on the string, pushing it down (stretching it) while vibrating it. This to my mind is why the bass tuned with the bow, usually ends up slightly sharper.

    I tune every day, using an intellitouch tuner for bass, attached to the bridge. I pluck the strings when I do this.

    Once a week, however when I go to orchestra rehearsal, I use the same bass and tuner, but use my bow to get the notes. Every single time, when I have got the G nice and steady in tune with the bow, then check it out plucking, the G is always, flat by some small degree (usually one arrow head indicator).