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Bass Guitar Notes & Tuning 

Bass guitar notes are the same as the top 4 strings of a guitar.  

To review the guitar note names visit guitar fretboard notes diagram and just subtract the bottom two strings.

A bass is tuned one octave lower than a guitar.  An octave is one full scale system above or below any note.  To learn more about intervals visit music theory intervals.

If the bass is resting in your lap, from top to bottom the open string names are:

Top string.............E
Next string down...A
Next string down...D
Next string down...G

Bass Guitar Notes

The above image lays out the fretboard of a bass guitar.  At the top the E, A, D, G are the open strings.  The frets are counted up to 12. One fret up the neck is considered a half step and two frets up the neck is considered a whole step.  

The letter names above are the names of the notes on the bass in the key of C.  Hence, there are no sharps or flats.  This is the best and easiest place to start.  

To learn why the pattern falls the way it does, you need to understand the major scale pattern of WWHWWWH, where W=whole step and H=half step.  Review C Major Scale and then return here to continue.

The different colors in the above diagram indicate a repeating note. E is red, F is orange, G is yellow, A is green, B is blue and C is purple.  Once you've gone up the octave, the pattern repeats.

How to Tune a Bass

To tune your bass you should get yourself a tuner which you can clip onto the top of your bass.  The vibration alone will tell the tuner where the pitch of each string is.  You can also get a free online bass guitar tuner below.

Gently turn your tuning pegs (located at the top of the bass) counterclockwise to tighten string, thus raising the pitch.  Begin with the E string.  

Turn until you see a letter E on tuner.  E# and higher is too high.  D# and lower needs to be tightened.  You want to tweak until no color exists and the marker rests perfectly in the middle on E.  

Repeat for the other 3 strings.....A, D, G.

Visit standard guitar tuning to see a video on how to tune a guitar. As discussed, it's the same for the bass minus the top two strings. Only the top four strings apply to the bass.

Free Online Bass Guitar Tuner

Go here to find a free online bass guitar tuner.  You will see yellow rectangular options of 4, 5 and 6.  This corresponds to a 4 string bass, a 5 string bass and a 6 string bass.  Most of us play a 4 string bass.

Click 4!

Continue to Bass Guitar Chord Chart

Return to Top of Bass Guitar Notes

Return to Bass Guitar Beginner Info

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