How to Tune a Bass Guitar: A Guide for Beginners

‘It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a musician in possession of an instrument must practice regularly’. While not a direct quotation from Jane Austen herself, it’s nonetheless very true. Music is like sport. There are no short-cuts. It requires rigorous and frequent practice. With good habits in place, you’ll be able to impress all your friends with your favourite tunes. One of the most important of these habits is to regularly tune your bass guitar. 

Your bass guitar may well go out of tune during a jam session, so get into the habit of tuning it regularly. This will help you develop a good ear for music in the long term!

Familiarise yourself with the strings

First and foremost, it is vital to have an understanding of the strings. If you’re already a guitarist, you’ll probably be quite familiar with this part of the instrument. The advantage of a bass guitar with its four strings is that it can be tuned like a regular guitar. So, from lowest to highest, tuning a bass guitar follows this order: 

 E, A, D, G

How to tune your bass guitar.

Method 1 to tune a bass guitar: use a tuner pedal 

The tuning pedal looks like a classic guitar pedal and works in a similar way. All you have to do is connect your amp to the pedal’s jack socket, then the output of the pedal to your bass guitar. Press the power switch of the pedal and you’re ready for action. 

You can get different versions of the pedal but they’re all used in the same way. The prices vary between $20 and $85, for a high-end model. 

Method 2 to tune a bass guitar: use a digital tuner 

The tuner fixes directly to the head of your bass. It’s a useful tool for beginners and ideal if you’re on the move. You can find one in any music shop for roughly $10. 

Method 3 to tune a bass guitar: use an app

Tuning your bass has never been easier – all you really need is a smartphone! These apps are available on Android and IOS and are completely free. We recommend Fender Tune, Guitar Tuna and Soundcorset.

Here’s our simple method for any type of tuning

💡 Whichever method you choose, the process is exactly the same. Once you’ve connected the tool, strum the string with your finger or a pick and the name of the chord will be displayed.

The concept is simple – the indicator should point to the middle and should light up green.

  • If the indicator is too far left, the note is too low
  • If the indicator is too far right, the note is too high 

Depending on what’s shown, slowly turn the tuning pegs until the indicator note goes green. Once all four strings are turned, you can start to play.

IMPORTANT: You might end up breaking one of the strings if you play too enthusiastically and / or if the strings are too worn. Always keep a spare set of strings on you so you can continue your rehearsals or concerts without any issues if one breaks. 

Article written by Amy Cimpaye in its original version, translated by William  –

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About author
William Ridd is a writer based in London. After a messy divorce from the clarinet, William decided that playing music wasn’t for him, but he continues to appreciate it and likes writing about it.
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