Bass Guitar Tuning

How to tune the bass guitar to standard and Drop D. Also other variations of tuning your bass guitar such as Low B and Full Step Down.

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1. Ways To Tune the bass guitar. 4 String bass: all High to Low or Thin to Thick
Standard:GDAE
Drop D:GDAD
Drop C#: GDAC#
Half Step Down:GbDbAbEb
Full Step Down:FCGD
Drop D/G:GDGD
Raised G:GDAG
Low B: DAEB
Low A#:C#F#D#A#
Low C#:G#C#F#C#
Low C# Dropped To A#: D#A#FA#

5 String Bass:

5 String Standard:GDAEB
Drop B:CGDAE
Drop B/C:GDADC#
Half Step Down:GbDbAbEbBb
Full Step Down:FCGD

6 String Bass:

6 String Standard:BGDAEB
Low B:CGDAEB
Low C:EBGDAE

8, 12, 15, and 18 String bass:

8 String Standard:GgDdAaEe
Full fifths:GdDaAeEb
12 String Standard:GggDddAaaEee
15 String Standard:GggDddAaaEeeBbb
18 String Standard:BbbGggDddAaaEeeBbb
Full Fifths:GdgDadAeaEbe
Full Fifths:GgdDdaAaeEeb
2. Tuning The Bass Guitar. Tuning the 4th string: We are now going to tune the bass to standard pitch. The 4th string is the thickest string, and sounds the lowest. Try to hear if the 4th string on your bass sounds higher or lower than the note you are hearing below. Then try match your bass to the note you are hearing. As you are listening to the 2 notes, try and hear the "crashing" sound that comes from the notes being out of tune. The closer you are to being in tune, the further away the notes will crash. To raise the pitch of a string, turn the tuning pegs that face up counter clockwise. If the tuning pegs face down then turn clockwise. Reverse the direction to lower the pitch. Never turn the tuning pegs unless the note is ringing. Otherwise, you will have no idea how far to turn the tuning peg. Here is an example to tell if the 4th string is in tune. 4 string bass standard tuning is GDAE. The G string is the highest and the E string is the Lowest.
G|------|
D|------|
A|---0--|
E|--5---|
If those notes are the same, your in tune with the A and E string. Now do the same to the rest of the strings.
G|---------0--|
D|------0-5---|
A|---0-5------|
E|--5---------|
If the 5 and the 0 sound the same, your in tune. Drop D makes the 4th string deeper. Here is how to get in to drop D:
G|------|
D|------|
A|---0--|
D|--7---|
If they sound the same, your in drop D variations: Drop D down a 1/2 step: From standard Drop D tuning, tune all of the strings down a 1/2 step (like they were 1 fret lower). Drop D down a whole step: From standard Drop D tuning, tune all of the strings down a whole step (like they were 2 frets lower). This is sometimes called Drop C by mistake. Drop C would mean to drop only the 4th string down to a C.

89 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    carrotcake
    Isn't there a tuning called C# standard where every string's tuned down 1 1/2 steps or is it just made up
    president_Uke
    Awesome, this actually makes sense! Thanks a bunch. P.S Is there a way of adding lessons to your favorites?
    punk_isntemo12
    aravind wrote: good lesson. the guy who wrote this is sitting beside me in class
    really?? hes good
    tiv0
    i still don't quite get it what should the tuner read when the not is dopped down the 1/2 step?
    blink182182
    hey am making a website about bass i have only made 1 page but i wanna no what ppl think be4 i make more pages plz leave a message on my message board telling mw what u think www.freewebs.com/howtoplaybass
    Mr.Glue
    DOES ANY ONE KNOW TUNING??? I know that standard on a bass tuner iz no flats (E,A,D,G) and five flats are low B (B,E,A,D) and I know that two flats are (D,-,-, somthin but what are 1,3,and4 flats called PLEEZ SOMEONE TELL ME!!! If u can THNX!!!
    juggalohomie789
    Shadowfax357 wrote: Whatever happened to drop A tuning. I'm trying to tune my bass for a Korn song, but I can't figure out drop A tuning.
    fieldy uses a 5 string and tunes down a whole step so instead of BEADG its ADGCF
    juggalohomie789
    hardcoreatheist wrote: Thinking about it shouldnt they all be done using the 6th fret? E string zero=E 1=Esharp 2=F 3=Fsharp 4=G 5=Gsharp 6=A A string zero=A 1=Asharp 2=B 3=Bsharp 4=C 5=Csharp 6=D D string zero=D 1=Dsharp 2=E 3=Esharp 4=F 5=Fsharp 6=G
    there is no such note as e sharp or b sharp the interval between e and f is a half step and same with be tween b and c so it would be Estring 0=E, 1=F, 2=F sharp/Gflat, 3=G, 4=G sharp/A flat, 5=A Astring 0=A, 1=A sharp/ B flat, 2=B, 3=C, 4=C sharp/D flat there u go thats what it should be read the bass lessons and read the columns on music theory
    Mr.Glue
    Ok I kinda get everything but I have a guitar/bass tuner and it has flats I know that no flats iz regular tuning E,A,D,G drop D iz two flats D,A,D,G and five flats iz B,E,A,D but what are one flat, three flats, and four flats called??? Does any one know???
    Mr.Glue
    F U C K U eragon2112 don't be uning my S H I T rock on that iz mine so find your own S H I T u stupid @SS MOTHER FUCKER F U C K U B I T C H F A G G O T
    knell76
    can someone show me how you convert drop d and drop c to a 5 string bass or if you can do it?
    jongito
    i know how to drop D..but how do i drop C?does that mean i have to go down 4 frets in the 4th string?
    Shadowfax357
    Whatever happened to drop A tuning. I'm trying to tune my bass for a Korn song, but I can't figure out drop A tuning.
    bsmith111
    drop c# is C# G# G# F# (low to high), and there is also drop c that is the same just a half step lower. i think you got it backwards with with the C# standard or low C# whatever you wanna call it. in dropped tuning on a 4 string you always have the 4th string a full step lower in lower than it should be.
    winterburn69
    This whole Eb thing has me so confused. So when you have your bass tuned Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, what are like the first 6 notes on the Eb string?
    Wisse_90
    in my band the guitars are playing with a C# G# C# F# A# E# tuning. someone know how to tune my 5 string bass?
    JP240Z
    1st:everyone new to playing guitar or bass should learn the chromatic scale (a,a#,b,c,c#,d.d#,e,f,f#,g,g#) it is key to many things later on and if you know that you can tune to anything 2nd:you are confusing by saying tuning is GDAE because tabs and everything else is low to high EADG and on a 5 string the 5th string is the high b not the low b bassballer25:check out your local pawn shops everyone ive ever been to has a music section with tuners chords pedals ect. thats were i got my bass and amp and they are great and you can get good deals
    Qwertyzeke
    CLIFF_BURTON wrote: how do you tune your bass if your 4th string is out of tune, and you dont have a piano or guitar?
    Go to www.tunemybass.com It's great. Has quite a few bass tunings, including 5 and 6 string. Or guitars, too. It's all good.
    Vman666
    ok...seriously...if anyone here cannot
    CLIFF_BURTON wrote: how do you tune your bass if your 4th string is out of tune, and you dont have a piano or guitar?
    omg...cliff burton lives...
    blu9999
    maciagt, some people prefer higher or lower notes so they go along with the guitarists. If a guitarist was in drop D, and playing low notes, you want to make your bass sound like the guitar. Otherwise, it woulden't sound right. Harmonics: Lightly put your finger over the 5th fret of the E srtring and strike it hard with your thumb of your picking hand. You will hear a higher piched, mellow sound. This is called a harmonic. Then put your finger over the 7th fret, A string. It should sound like the 5th fret E string. Hit both harmonics using your thumb (so you don't kill the note behind it, you could also use a pick) 5th fret E harmonic and 7th Fret A harmonic should sound the same togeather, but if either string is slightly out of tune with eachother, you will hear a "beating" of the sound waves. Can't really explain this too well, but it is a "in and out" kind of sound. You'll know if you hear it. Get both harmonics and relese your fretting finger and let the harmonics ring. Tune your bass so they sound alike. The faster the "beating", the more out of tune you are. When both notes sound exactly the same with no "beating" the strings are in tune with eachother. Do this with all the strings. It works on guitars too, but not with the G and B strings. There, you have your harmnonics.
    hardcoreatheist
    Thinking about it shouldnt they all be done using the 6th fret? E string zero=E 1=Esharp 2=F 3=Fsharp 4=G 5=Gsharp 6=A A string zero=A 1=Asharp 2=B 3=Bsharp 4=C 5=Csharp 6=D D string zero=D 1=Dsharp 2=E 3=Esharp 4=F 5=Fsharp 6=G
    hardcoreatheist
    shouldnt it be the 6th fret for tuning the 3rd and 2nd? If the 5th string zero=A then 1=A sharp 2=B 3=B sharp 4=C 5=C sharp and 6=D correct me if im wrong it sounds right using the 5th fret for all the strings but its not adding up in my head