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Shar Showroom Rep and Bassist Andy Monefeldt explains how and why to tune your bass using harmonics.
Tags:Tuning a Bass with Harmonics,Andy Monefeldt,How to tune a bass,tuning a bass
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Tuning a Bass with Harmonics
The easiest and most accurately to tune your bass is kind of electronic tuner like this one. To tune your bass, you need a nice, quiet environment because the bass is a low frequency instrument but sometimes tuners have a problem picking up on. If you have a to tune in a noisy environment we suggest using a pickup microphone like this one which you plug into the tuner and clip onto the bridge of the instrument just like that. You won't always be in situation where you can use a digital tuner like let’s say in orchestra rehearsal where the oboe is placed in A and the orchestra tunes off that A. If you don’t have a chance to use digital tuner using harmonics is the next best way and accurately to tune your bass.
To tune a bass harmonically, we’re going to take a note on the D string, the A match that note to another A being played either by your tuner or the oboe in the orchestra. Place your fourth finger on the A but not pressing and play the note. Once that is in tune we will use that use that note for tuning the rest of the bass. We’re now going to use the D string for tuning the A string. Placed your fourth finger under the same note and you just tune and your first finger straight across the string onto the A string. These notes are the same notes. Play the D string first then the A string. Adjust the A string up or down until that pitch matches the pitch that you play on the D string. Now, we’ll use the A string to tune the E string. Shift your whole hand one string over so that the fourth finger is now on the A string and your first finger on top of the E string. Play the A string first then play the E string. Again, adjust the E string up or down until that pitch matches the pitch that you played on the A string.
The last but not least, we will do the G string. Kick your whole hand and move it over so that the fourth finger is now on top of the G string and your first finger on top of the D string. Play the D string first then play the G string. Adjust the G string up or down until that pitch matches the one that you played on the D string. Remember, always start with the string that’s in tune and then play the string that needs to be tuned. If you just started to use harmonic for tuning bass it’s a good idea to also use an electronic tuner to double check your work when you’re done until you gain the experience and the confidence to use harmonics by themselves.