How to Tune Your Bass Guitar Without a Tuner

When you need to tune your bass guitar, the best method is of course to use a quality bass guitar tuner. In fact, you should always have a tuner connected to your bass. Clip-on tuners, and pedal tuners can be muted so that you can tune your bass with your volume off – be sure to check out our page “The Best Bass Guitar Tuners” for help with choosing the right tuner. But in cases when you may not have a tuner, you can always do it on the fly by following these steps:

If you are interested in taking online bass lessons we also highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services - click here to check it out!

BTW – being out of tune is a BIG “no, no” that can make you and your band sound really bad. So if you’re out of tune, get it corrected asap.

Step 1 – Get in Tune with Someone Else in your Band

If you have a keyboard player in your band ask them to play their mid “A” note. I say keyboard player because 99% of the time they are in tune (keyboards do get out of tune – but not often). Then tune your open “A” string on your bass to match his or her “A” note. If you don’t have a keyboard player, ask your guitar player to play his or her open “A” string – then match your “A” string to the tone of the guitar. If you don’t have a guitar player ask your trumpet player, etc…

Tune your bass guitar - match another instrument
Tune your open “A” string to the Keyboard’s (or other instrument’s) “A” note

Step 2 – Play the “A” note on your “E” string

The “A” note on your “E” string is on the 5th fret and is the same note as the open “A” string. Play both “A” notes at the same time, and tune your “E” string up or down as needed until it matches the open “A” note.

tune your bass open A string
Tune the “A” note on your “E” string with your open “A” string

Step 3 – Continue Step 2 Using your other Strings

Play the “D” note on your “A” string. The “D” note is on the 5th fret of your “A” string. Play the open “D” string at the same time. Match these notes.

tune your bass guitar 5th fret D
Tune the “D” note on your “A” string to your open “D” string

Play the “G” note your “D” string. The “G” note is on the 5th fret of your “G” string. Play the open “G” string at the same time. Match these notes.

tune your bass guitar 5th fret G
Tune your “G” note on your “D” string to the open “G” string

If you are interested in taking online bass lessons we also highly recommend JamPlay Bass Lessons. Bass Player Center provided a review of their site and services - click here to check it out!

Again, the best way to tune your bass guitar is always with a quality tuner – be sure to check out our page The Best Bass Guitar Tuners” for help on choosing the right tuner. But in situations when you might not have a tuner, we’ve hopefully given you some help for how to tune your bass on the fly…

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