#1
So I just recently bought myself a 6 string bass. However, I'm used to the standard tuning of a guitar whether it's in E, D or C standard. Main thing is that it was "standard" and that's how I knew my shapes on the fretboard. And now with a 6 string bass, I see that the so-called normal tuning for this instrument is BEADGC.

Can anyone explain why? Why are all the strings a 4th apart in interval (versus how the guitar's 3rd and 2nd string is a 3rd apart)? What's the advantage of this?

It's basically like I have to learn new shapes for the fretboard now. And the funny thing is that I think it's actually more convenient to have all the strings the same interval apart. This way, it's like you know that whatever fret you're playing on, the same fret one string up will always be a 4th (just as an example).

Anyway, for those of you who use different tunings on a 6 string bass, can you share WHY you choose that tuning?

How do you guys get to learn the shapes on the fretboard for you particular tuning?

Any answers would be appreciated. Thanks guys!
#2
That's the problem amout thinking about 'shapes' instead of notes and intervals.

it's tuned like that because basses are tuned in 4ths, guitars are tuned as they are for barre chords.

I play in C#, so if I was going to use a 6er, I'd tune to G#-C#-F#-B-E-A
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#3
I guess it is partially the lack of chordal work even though I still use chords on a bass, its just different.
I also guess since bass players never deal with the whole change of intervals with a B string so we dont really learn that change. To me, having everything with the same intervals makes scales, patterns etc. for bass easier and more logical.

A 6 string bass should not be compared to a guitar. they have two different mindsets with the playing and I don't think its fair to try and justify one way rather than the other besides saying it suits what we do more and if it doesn't work for everyone well... thats why you can change tunings.
#4
Quote by tofuhead
I guess it is partially the lack of chordal work even though I still use chords on a bass, its just different.
I also guess since bass players never deal with the whole change of intervals with a B string so we dont really learn that change. To me, having everything with the same intervals makes scales, patterns etc. for bass easier and more logical.

A 6 string bass should not be compared to a guitar. they have two different mindsets with the playing and I don't think its fair to try and justify one way rather than the other besides saying it suits what we do more and if it doesn't work for everyone well... thats why you can change tunings.


Hmmm I see.

But then, can I ask you what these "two different mindsets" are? What do you think is the mindset of guitar vs. the mindset of a 6 string bass? (And I mean specifically a 6 string bass, not a 4 or 5 string). It seems to me that a 6 string bass can actually be used a lot like a guitar. Seems that so much more melodic capability is opened up with a 6 string, and not to mention the chordal possibilities.
#5
Quote by gilly_90
That's the problem amout thinking about 'shapes' instead of notes and intervals.

it's tuned like that because basses are tuned in 4ths, guitars are tuned as they are for barre chords.

I play in C#, so if I was going to use a 6er, I'd tune to G#-C#-F#-B-E-A


So when you're writing stuff on bass, do you just know where to go because you know where the notes are on the fretboard? You don't really see things in shapes?
#6
I do, but I try not to and I've been lead to believe that it's better not to.
Quote by UraniYum
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Quote by Cb4rabid
Okay guys, I have a confession to make. Not really a confession since it's something that's been bugging me for awhile but I've always been in denial about it.

**** you gilly, it's not what you think
#7
For the most part, it comes down to the fact that one seldom if ever strums a chord on a bass; no matter how many strings it has. The original six-string bass (the Fender Bass VI) was in fact tuned like a guitar: EBGDAE high to low. It was tuned an octave lower than a guitar.

Much discussion has ensued over just why a guitar is tuned the way that it is. The best answer is that it is an extremely useful tuning for playing chords. This serves little or no purpose on a modern six-string bass.
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#8
Quote by FatalGear41
For the most part, it comes down to the fact that one seldom if ever strums a chord on a bass; no matter how many strings it has. The original six-string bass (the Fender Bass VI) was in fact tuned like a guitar: EBGDAE high to low. It was tuned an octave lower than a guitar.

Much discussion has ensued over just why a guitar is tuned the way that it is. The best answer is that it is an extremely useful tuning for playing chords. This serves little or no purpose on a modern six-string bass.


I see. Thanks for clearing that up
#9
You are most welcome.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#10
I havn't read over my post coz i cbf because its pretty long, sorry if something doesnt make sense or flow lol, im sitting at work while trying to do this and am no way do i mean to sound like you MUST play BEADGC on a 6 string but why I think its more common or why i think it works.

The different mindsets I speak of would be the point of having a guitarist and a bassist and it has nothing to do with just having a deeper sound. If you listen to bands like mars volta for eg. the bass is doing its own thing the whole way through and serves a whole different purpose than the guitar and same thing can be said with mudvayne and their bass player Playing a 6 string is no real difference, Its still a bass and its still going to serve the same purpose of a 4 string it's just there are more octaves to play on,

In the sense of chords say your guitarist plays a standard Major bar Chord, If your tuned E to E on a 6 string, your not going to be playing the same chords as your guitarist.

Alot of the chordal work I play is above the 12th fret on the top 3 strings of my 6 string, its just where it sounds better IMO and thats how I choose to add chordal work into songs. (Not saying that it HAS to be done like that, its just my choice)

And also its the same idea that if a guitar song is only on the bottom 4 strings, the bass isn't going to be played the same way as a guitar always. It's still a bass, as its own instrument, there for a different reason. I started playing 6 string by having it tuned E to E and just started to play it as a lead guitar etc. but it kinda defeated the point of being a bass for me and really having it in B to C just really made more sense for me and even musically worked better in every sense of the word for me.

But in terms of shapes etc. i don't really think of shapes, i know all the intervals and well, my hands just kinda play, if i need to play in a Major i dont think of shapes .... its just kinda well i've played enough to know what notes are in the scale and i know the fretboard... so it all comes down to what I want to hear come out from the playing rather than what I think the pattern should be or can be.

Pretty much the ONLY thing that matters in tuning is what serves YOUR purpose the most. hence why people started with drop tunings, open tunings etc. was to serve the purpose that they play in.
I know a dude that plays a guitar AEADGBB with a drop low string and an octaved B string. I wouldn't choose thing but he explained me his reason to and I really couldn't object... he was doing it right for what he wanted. If you want to play it BEADGB then go for it if that makes sense to you.
#11
@ tofuhead

That makes a lot of sense. And this BEADGC tuning does actually make things more convenient for me. It's just that every time I try to identify a note on the fretboard now, I have to remember that the strings are arranged a bit differently. I've never really been one of those musicians that plays by ear (very sad I know), so whenever I want to compose, I go to theory and I know theory on a standard tuned or drop-tuned guitar pretty well. Just because I'm used to the shapes and such. But I'm going to take this opportunity starting over with 6 string bass to become a player more like yourself-- where you can just kind of "see" the notes on the fretboard. If you want to hear something in the major key, you know where it will be. Although I can't help but think that theory visually does still play into that on the fretboard itself. For example, your fingers know where the intervals are.

And I agree with you about playing chords above the 12th fret on the three higher strings. They sound particularly lovely when played over there. And for the deeper, darker sounding chords, we have the lower strings and notes below the 12 fret. I guess that's a really cool advantage to bass...the ability to sound really deep, low and kinda "evil". Although what I miss most about guitar is the crunch that we can get it from it. I guess bass makes up in the ability it has to sound powerful though.
#12
Well for me I do visualise the theory etc. or atleast its as simple as the idea of going
An octave note is diagonal 2 frets/strings. so say G on the bottom string is 3rd fret, the octave is 5th on 3rd string. and thats how I think of it. Just i guess over time you just learn where everything is and the mind just thinks faster Ie. counting intervals forward but also counting backwards from the next octave if that makes sense. not that i think that way but its more of a thing that developed rather than mapping out a sequence of how it came to be lol.

but for me on bass that ^^ theory of patterns etc. are alot simpler because of that high string not changing the interval count. I've been a bassist for the majority of my time playing music so this is how i learnt it. Im the opposite, when i pick up a guitar i have to compensate for a B string and back to my example of octaves on a 6 string bass it would be open D would be 2nd fret on C string while on a guitar it changes and becomes 3rd fret and my idea of diagonal octaves changes to up two strings + 3 frets.

I dunno, there's always tips and tricks to everyones learning and different understanding whether its patterns or anything. Like for example I actually learnt the strings EADG because of the phrase i had about an ex gf "eat a d!#k (name of ex gf)"...... not something i use when teaching others but it was a good joke between me and my mates and when we first learnt how to play it sure worked to remember it haha.
#13
I use BEADGC, cos I'm used to having the strings tuned in fourths. Sometimes I'll go AEADGC but most of the time I just use standard.

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#14
beadgc for me.

guitar tuning is only really useful for doing full chords. straight 4th tuning is convientient blah blah blah, its all been said.

I use my 6 string bass and a loop pedal to great effect. I use a lot of chords and find that striaght 4ths tuning is easier to play with when you aren't using barre or open chords.

and as for the scale shapes thing: I don't lok at notes as like C or D. I tend to think of them more within their context in the scale. so if im playing in Gmin i would think of C and D more as the 4th and 5th. and when I llok at a note and go that is the 5th I can just know where all the notes of the scale are around it. i know the 2nd is below it, the root is above. etc.
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#15
BEADGC for me as well.

You can do chords in those tunings as well. I'm like perdestrian, I tend to look at intervals within the scales and their relative placement on the fretboard.
#16
EADGCF in the house
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#17
so the way perdestrian and anarkee are looking at it, it's more like math on the fretboard.

I actually started ear training in that same way. there is a program called the Functional Ear Trainer. It will play you a certain scale, for example the C major scale. then it will play a note in that scale, let's say the F is played. you then have to identify what interval that note is within that scale. so i would then click "4th".

seems like a good way to go if you're not so concerned with the formalities of theory on paper.
#18
its not so much math as it is just dealing with numbers. kinda reminds me of this game i saw once. it was basically sudoku, but instead of 1-9 they used different shapes. the game sold well. sudoku on the other hand didn't really sell well. the only difference between the games is that one used hearts and stars andf the other used numbers. people just get scared by numbers. mostly unrelated, but interesting anyway.
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