What can be a difficult task especially for beginner is to tune a bass guitar. But once you get used to it, it gets much easier every time. As we all know, tuning a musical instrument including bass guitar is necessary to make the music sound better. Don’t be dependent on electronic tuner. As a musician, you should get used to tune by ear. It’s one of the basic skills that you need while learning to play this instrument.
Frequency and Pitch
Before you get to start on tuning the bass guitar, there are some basic things you need to memorize and understand. Frequency is something you should know and understand. It basically determines how low or high a pitch is. In simple term, it refers to how frequently something vibrates which for instance applies in bass string. Pitch becomes higher when there is more and faster frequent vibrates.
As you may see on the diagram, the frequency is how many cycles that something vibrates within particular time amount.
Out of Tune and In Tune
Here is the basic. Tuning the bass string means matching the vibration or frequency pattern of each note to another. The vibration clashes every time two notes are not in tune or out of tone. You may hear the wah-wah sound when it happens.
Meanwhile, the vibration patterns match every time the notes are in tune. And these beautiful in-tune notes are what you should achieve when you are tuning the bass guitar strings.
Never Break a String
While tuning, breaking a string is something you should never do. Therefore, what you should do instead is to loosen the string a bit or de-tune it so you can practice the tuning-up slowly until you hear the correct pitch. You will break the string if you over tighten it as you pass up the right note. So, stay with flabby or loose strings until you can tune it right.
Bass Guitar Tuning Steps
First of all, make sure to have the bass strings flabby and loose and it has to be below the right pitch as well. Continue by playing bass string and bass tuning note at the same time. Every time it creates the wah-wah sound due to out-of-tune notes, listen carefully on it.
Secondly, tighten the string slowly. Do it by turning tuning key. When it gets more in-tune, you will notice that the wah-wah sound slows down.
Thirdly, when you completely don’t hear any of the wah-wah sound, it actually means the string is already in tune. You now have the waves of the bass guitar in sync. But make sure to not pass this in tune point otherwise the wah-wah sound starts to appear and speed up again.
Lastly, repeat the steps above for all the strings.
For a beginner, the entire tuning process may take a few hours to finish. Yet, as you do more practices and gain more skills, it will take much shorter time like only a few minutes.