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I don't know how it can get any more embarrassing

6/16/2004 3:49 PM
Mark Hammer
I don't know how it can get any more embarrassing
You would think I'd know by now. I mean, I've been playing since the fall of 1963, for crying out loud. I've had bass players as best friends. But no, I've remained diligently ignorant all this time.  
I bought myself a bass for the first time a week and a half ago, and have absolutely no idea what the strings are tuned to. I can often tell if a guitar is sharp or flat from the stiffness of the strings, but I have no familiarity with what normal gauge wound bass strings are supposed to feel like when in tune.  
So, bottom to top, what are each of the strings tuned to on a standard 4-string bass?
6/16/2004 3:58 PM
Mark Lavelle

You *should* be embarassed!  
One octave lower than the low 4 of your 6-string.  
I recommend half-round strings, BTW (unless you're some kind of masochist)...
6/16/2004 6:35 PM
Mark Hammer

It's a fretless convert (i.e., the prior owner ripped out the frets and filled the slots with something vaguely white-ish). I imagine all rounds give more "drone" under those circumstances, but I'm just starting out on the instrument.  
By "one octave lower", I am assuming you mean the high string is an E one octave down and the other 3 are each a major 4th down from that? Or do you mean something else?
6/16/2004 9:14 PM
bob p
Mark, you're imagining this being alot more difficult than it is.  
imagine taking the B and E strings off of your guitar. you're left with the thickest 4 strings. these correspond to the strings on a 4-string bass: E, A, D, G. they're tuned in fourths, but one octave lower than your guitar; the low E string is 40 Hz.
6/16/2004 10:20 PM
"you're left with the thickest 4 strings. these correspond to the strings on a 4-string bass: E, A, D, G."
and the upright bass (URB) - unlike it's weesier brethren (Cello, Viola, Violin) which are tuned in fifths.
6/17/2004 1:14 PM
Mark Hammer

Thank you gentlemen. Much much clearer. What threw me was that the lowest notes are SO low that I kept thinking "That can't be right". Once I manage to achieve the optimum balance between action and buzz (it is fretless after all), I look forward to regaining my tunefulness.
6/17/2004 3:33 PM
bob p Making it Even Simpler
the Fender bass is tuned to the following notes (piano tuner's notation): E1, A1, D2, G2.  
ignore the talk about URB and Cellos -- it will only confuse you!  
so this makes me wonder -- if you've been playing for as long as you have, do you really mean that you've NEVER shown a bass player how to play a riff? to do that you'd have to realize that the two instruments are tuned similarly. maybe this just never sunk in.  
at any rate, have fun!

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