Page 86 - bass

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Ba s s L ev e l 1
Bandwagon Music Studios
The way that the bass is tuned (E, A, D, G) is not
the only way to tune the instrument.
Especially since the 1990’s bass players have
been using other ways of tuning the bass. This is
called alternate tunings.
The bass has followed the recent big swing among
lead and rhythm guitarists to retune their
guitars. Changing the tuning of the guitar and
bass is done mainly to give a lower and tougher
The names of the notes of the open strings when
using standard tuning is as follows :
Standard Tuning :
4 = E
3 = A
2 = D
1 = G
One common alternate tuning is to keep the same
relative tuning as standard tuning but lower the
pitch of strings. They are mostly lowered a
semitone but can be lowered any amount, though
if you go too far the strings become too sloppy to
sound properly. When the strings are lowered
they become a little slacker and are therefore
easier to squeeze down. Also being a lower pitch
means they will be easier to sing with if you have
a low voice. As well the lower sound is tougher.
This type of alternate tuning will be shown at the
beginning of the song written above the first
staff e.g.
Tune down a 1/2 step :
4 = Eb
3 = Ab
2 = Db
1 = Gb
Tune down a full step :
4 = D
3 = G
2 = C
1 = F
A very popular alternate tuning is Dropped D
Tuning. Here the pitch of string 4 is lowered
from E down to D. There are a couple of ways to
retune string 4 down to D.
(a) Firstly you can use string 2 (it is a D note) as
your guide note. Then lower string 4 down to the
D note an octave lower than string 2. Even though
the pitch will be an octave lower you will still hear
beating as you get close to being in tune. Listen
for the beating to start fast as string 4 starts to
get close to the D note. As you get closer the
beating will slow down until it stops when you
are in tune. If you go too low the beating will
start again.
(b) Use string 3 as your guide note (it is an A
note). Put a finger in fret 7 on string 4 and lower
string 4 down until it has the same pitch as string
3 open.
(c) You can also use harmonics to retune string 4.
Play the harmonic at fret 12 on string 3 as your
guide note and tune the harmonic on fret 7 string
4 to the pitch of the guide note.