why is a lead guitar not tuned in like a bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bill reed, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. bill reed

    bill reed

    Apr 2, 2012
    what is the reason for a lead guitar to tuned the B string to a Major third when all other strings are tuned like the bass to a perfect fourth, would it not be better to tune in all six strings in fourths and then you could use the same patterns like on a bass!
  2. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    I guarantee no one would sue you if you tuned your guitars that way. Most guitarists, however, are not primarily bassists and therefore tune their instruments to the standard that has been in place for hundreds of years.
  3. bill reed

    bill reed

    Apr 2, 2012
    This tuning is like that of the lowest four strings in standard tuning. Jazz musician Stanley Jordan plays guitar in all-fourths tuning; he has stated that all-fourths tuning "simplifies the fingerboard, making it logical".

    I would of thought it would make finding chords much easer as you would use the same finger pattern just like you do with a bass. so the same pattern works all over the fretboard if using the root as the lowest note. you cant do that on a guitar as the finger pattern has to change!
    just something I have always been puzzeled by!
  4. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    Try playing a barre chord in all fourths tuning. Then you'll see why. If you primarily play scales, arpeggios, and 4th's based chords, it's fine.
  5. The guitar is tuned the way it so that the chord shapes are achievable by the fingers.
  6. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    It does make 6th chords a bit of a pain though. I suppose that's why they rarely show up in pop music.
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Stanley Jordan does it becomes he mostly plays tapping.
    If you have a simple mind and play chords, you prefer standard tuning.
  8. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    Hey, I resemble that remark! ;)
  9. I think it mostly has to do with tradition and inertia.

    If new guitarists had teachers, idols and tablature (and now YouTube videos) in all fourths or all fifths tuning (GuitarCraft's New Standard Tuning, more or less), the tradition would change.

    I honestly think that if anything but TAB was emphasized for guitarists (standard notation or strictly learning by ear) it would be a non-issue and you'd see more variation, but the visual aspect is so hyped that it tends to mean that looking the same is as important as sounding the same.

    On the flip side, there are players along the lines of Michael Hedges who play in a different tuning for almost every song to facilitate specific drones or lush, otherwise unreachable voicings.
  10. There are a number of different chord based open tunings on guitars but the bass does not extend that far so the only thing that ever changed was a low D instead of E for some music. I had a 5 string bass with a high "B" but because there was no 6th string I could tune it to "C" if I wished but I chopped that in for another "better" brand and dipped out.
    One of my young acquaintances plays both guitar & bass. Since graduating in Music from University, he has written a book on alternative tunings. He can be accessed via Face Book. Phil Braithwaite U.K.
  11. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Why not tune all the strings in fifths? Like these amazing musicians do. :bassist:

    Watch these vids and then go see these guys, they are great and all are really nice folks, and gearheads, too! :cool:
  12. nomeX


    Nov 26, 2011
    When I get home I will definitely try this out! I hope this doesn't make me GAS for a 9 string bass.
  13. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Yeah, there's a reason they call em "gitards", you see.....

    But seriously, I tried to teach myself guitar for a while (and even bought a super nice G&L Legacy Special) and this tuning issue drove me nuts. Since most of the stuff I did on the bass I always echoed with the guitar, I went crazy trying to get it to line up. So I started tuning in 4ths all the way up too. Problem solved.

    But I'm definitely not a poster-child for good guitar playing and in fact seem to have brain damage when I pick one up.

    I finally gave up and sold my G&L a few months ago. I was just doing a horrible disservice to the guitar and decided it was time for my guitar efforts to be taken out, shot and buried in a pine box. Best thing I ever did.

    So yes it has something to do with chords, but I never mastered anything more than barr chords myself....

  14. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    Chords on a BASS?
  15. Tune your guitar all in fourths and then try to play and open E chord. Then you'll know why the high strings are tuned B&E instead of C&F
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    But, think of all the diminished/augmented possibilities! :D
  17. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Guitars have been around for centuries and if you think everyone who plays one is a "gui****" then you have not been paying attention. The standard guitar tuning is the one that has proved the most useful for most guitarists most of the time. It and every possible alternate tuning is a compromise between several factors that cannot all be optimized by any single tuning. Does this surprise anyone? It shouldn't when you consider how many tunings are in use on TB. A lot of us use non-standard tunings and so do a lot of "them". If you want to play a regular guitar you can tune it any way you like within whatever constraints the available strings impose, just as you do with your bass.

  18. Why isn't the lead guitar tuned like a bass? The average bass just has 4 strings and the guitar is tuned that way. Honestly, how many basses have high C and F strings? Given that the "gui****s" had that range first, isn't it more that we're not tuning to them?
  19. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Since your avatar picture shows you playing above the 7th fret, you don't get to complain about people playing chords.