Tuning my bass

Hey y’all I’m trying to teach myself how to tune my basa just by ear can someone help me out with that? Playing for a while probably like 2 years now or almost 2 years now and I still have never been taught how to listen to tune my bass.


The challenge with doing it by ear is that while the bass might be internally in tune at the end of the exercise, you don’t know whether it will be in tune with another instrument or a recording.

“Normally”, most tunings will have A4 = 440 Hz.

But let’s assume this is not important right now and focus on getting your bass tuned internally. Here, it is best to use the harmonic on the 5th fret and the corresponding harmonic on the 7th fret on the next higher string.

You will need to pluck such that you don’t mute the strings and have both harmonics (e.g., E string 5th fret and A string 7th fret) ring at the same time. Then, you need to listen for the beat frequency between them. If you can’t hear it, detune one of the strings deliberately some more and you should hear a wah-wah-wah-wha overlaid the harmonic. As you tune one of the string while they ring, this beat frequency should get slower and slower the better they are in tune. Thus, an initial wah-wah-wah-wah will start to become waah-waah-waah, then waaaah-waaaah and finally disappear when the two strings are in tune.

I can see that this sounds complicated, but it’s not. You just need to learn to listen for that beat frequency and let that guide you.

Once the first two strings are in tune, repeat the exercise in the following pattern: E and A, then A and D, then D and G. In that way, you should end up with an internally tuned bass.

If you want to tune your bass to the standard pitches, you need an external reference. In olden days this was a tuning fork, but nowadays most people use an electronic tuner that is set to A4 = 440Hz.

Oh, I just found this one - might help a lot more than my words:


Thank you sir. Very helpful. :grin:


that’s a nice BB

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The easiest to tune without tuners is harmonics. My early playing days, I’d carry a pitch fork (A). Then I’d ping the fork on my knee for a soft harmonic and hold it up to my ear then tune my A string then move it down to E then the rest.

It helps to only tune up to the pitch. I’d let both string harmonic ring and tune it till I hear a solid note.


Harmonics are how I’ve always tuned my guitars by ear to my low E string (assuming the E string was tuned to somewhere close to the correct pitch).

But the simplest way to tune the rest of the strings (A, D, G) is to first fret the E string at the fifth fret, and tune the A string to that pitch.

Then fret the A string at the fifth fret and tune the D string to that pitch.

Finally, fret the D string at the fifth fret and tune the G string to that pitch.