The Bass Ukulele is a relatively new instrument.
It was invented and first sold in the last half of the 2000s (decade) and has seen a steady increase in popularity since.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the tuning of the Bass Ukulele, including the standard notes used, methods for getting in-tune, tuning issues, and other related topics.
What are the Bass Ukulele Tuning Notes?
The Standard Tuning notes used for the Bass Ukulele are E, A, D, and G.
More specifically E1, A1, D2, and G2.
- What are the Bass Ukulele Tuning Notes?
- How to Tune a Bass Ukulele to Itself from Reference Note
- Is the Bass Ukulele Tuned with Re-Entrant or Linear Tuning?
- What are the Bass Uke’s Tuning Frequencies?
- What are the Fretboard Notes of the Bass Ukulele?
- What if My Bass Ukulele Won’t Get or Stay in Tune?
- Why is a Bass Ukulele Tuned in Linear rather than Re-entrant Tuning?
- Are Bass Ukuleles Fretted or Fretless?
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Tune a Bass Ukulele to Itself from Reference Note
Tuning the bass ukulele to itself is relatively easy because each of the 3 higher strings is tuned to the same pitch as the 5th fret of the string below it.
The following is a diagram and step-by-step instructions:
- Tune your top string to E1 with a pitch pipe, tuned piano/keyboard, tuning fork, electronic tuner, etc.
- Press this now-tuned string on the 5th fret and pluck to get the note for the A string. Tune the A string to this pitch.
- Press the A string at the 5th fret and pluck the string to get the pitch for the D string. Tune the D string to this.
- Press this tuned D string on the 5th fret and pluck. Match the final highest string (G) to this pitch and you’re ready to play!
Is the Bass Ukulele Tuned with Re-Entrant or Linear Tuning?
The Bass Uke uses linear tuning (low to high) as opposed to re-entrant tuning (high top string, then low to high from there).
What are the Bass Uke’s Tuning Frequencies?
The following is a table of the frequencies used when tuning your B-Uke:
|Uke String||Tuning Frequency (Hz)|
What are the Fretboard Notes of the Bass Ukulele?
The following is an image showing the notes of the fretboard on the bass Uke tuned to the standard EADG tuning.
This image goes up to the 15th fret, but notice that the 12th fret is the same as the open strings, and after that the fretboard just repeats.
What if My Bass Ukulele Won’t Get or Stay in Tune?
There are many issues that could cause a bass uke (or any uke for that matter) to not be able to be tuned or stay in tune.
Here are some of them.
1. New Strings
New strings, even if high-quality, may need time to stretch and adapt to being under the constant tension required to stay in-tune.
2. Bad Strings
Though not as common with quality strings so readily available, some ukuleles come with low-quality strings that may need to be traded out for a higher quality set.
3. Bad Tuning Parts
If your tuning parts are low quality, they may not be able to hold the necessary tension to keep a string tuned.
You could try replacing your tuning parts or, if your uke is in-expensive and not worth investing more money into, purchasing a higher quality uke which will likely have higher quality tuning parts.
4. Poor Ukulele Construction
Poor ukulele construction could mean the frets aren’t spaced out properly or there isn’t enough space between the strings and the fretboard.
These issues may or may not be easily fixable, it depends on the specific case.
5. Old Strings
Strings can also get warped, brittle, and dented over time and this can cause issues with your instrument’s tuning.
If your strings are getting old and you’re having issues, considered replacing them with a fresh set.
Why is a Bass Ukulele Tuned in Linear rather than Re-entrant Tuning?
The reason a bass uke needs to be (or should be) tuned with linear tuning is that the general purpose of a bass instrument is to play low notes.
And, to get to the lowest notes possible, a low top string is preferable to a high top string.
Re-entrant tuning is also generally for strumming/harmonic playing while a bass ukulele is generally going to be played more melodically (one note at a time).
So the greater range of available notes is another advantage for linear tuning over re-entrant for the bass uke.
Are Bass Ukuleles Fretted or Fretless?
Bass ukuleles are available both fretted and fretless.
The advantage to fretted instruments is that they are easier to play.
The advantage to a fretless ukulele bass is that you can fine-tune your intonation to make up for any flaws in the instrument.
Generally, for a new player, you want to go with a fretted instrument.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a bass ukulele?
- A bass ukulele is a type of ukulele designed to produce lower-pitched tones, similar to a traditional bass guitar.
- How many strings does a bass ukulele typically have?
- A bass ukulele typically has four strings, though some variations may have five or more.
- What are the standard tuning notes for a bass ukulele?
- The standard tuning for a bass ukulele, from lowest to highest, is usually E-A-D-G.
- Can I tune a bass ukulele differently?
- Yes, you can tune a bass ukulele to different tunings to achieve various tones, but the standard tuning is most common.
- How do I tune a bass ukulele by ear?
- You can tune a bass ukulele by ear using a reference pitch or another instrument in tune. Match the strings to the desired notes by adjusting the tuning pegs.
- What tools do I need to tune a bass ukulele?
- You can use an electronic tuner, a piano, a tuning fork, or a tuning app to help you tune your bass ukulele accurately.
- How do I use an electronic tuner to tune a bass ukulele?
- Turn on the tuner, pluck a string, and adjust the tuning peg until the tuner’s display shows the correct note for that string.
- What is the best way to maintain proper tuning on a bass ukulele?
- Bass ukuleles, like all string instruments, may need periodic tuning adjustments due to temperature and humidity changes. Always check the tuning before playing.
- Can I use a guitar tuner for a bass ukulele?
- Yes, you can use a guitar tuner, but make sure it recognizes the lower bass ukulele frequencies.
- How do I prevent my bass ukulele from going out of tune while playing?
- Stretch your strings before playing by gently pulling and tugging on them. Additionally, avoid exposing your ukulele to extreme temperature and humidity changes.
- What are some alternative tunings for a bass ukulele?
- Some alternative tunings include D-G-C-F, B-E-A-D, and more. Experiment to find the tuning that suits your playing style.
- How often should I change bass ukulele strings?
- This depends on how often you play and the quality of your strings. Generally, you may want to change them every few months or when they lose their tone and elasticity.
- What are the differences between roundwound and flatwound bass ukulele strings?
- Roundwound strings have a brighter tone and are textured, while flatwound strings have a smoother feel and produce a mellower tone.
- How can I intonate a bass ukulele?
- Intonating involves adjusting the saddle position to ensure that each string plays in tune at different frets. Consult a professional luthier for this task.
- What are harmonics, and how can I use them for tuning?
- Harmonics are high-pitched tones created by lightly touching the strings at specific points. You can use harmonics as reference points for tuning.
- What should I do if my bass ukulele won’t stay in tune?
- Check for any issues with the tuning pegs, the nut, or the strings themselves. If problems persist, consult a professional luthier.
- How do I tune a bass ukulele with a floating bridge?
- Tuning a bass ukulele with a floating bridge can be more challenging. You may need to adjust the bridge position or use compensated strings to achieve proper intonation.
- Can I use a clip-on tuner for my bass ukulele?
- Yes, clip-on tuners work well for bass ukuleles and are convenient for quick tuning adjustments.
- Are there any specific tips for tuning a fretless bass ukulele?
- Fretless bass ukuleles require precise finger placement for accurate tuning. Use reference points on the fingerboard or harmonics to guide your tuning.
- How can I improve my ear for tuning a bass ukulele?
- Regular practice and exposure to different pitches and tunings will help develop your ear for tuning.
- What is the best way to change strings on a bass ukulele?
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific bass ukulele model. Generally, remove one string at a time, replace it, and stretch the new string before tuning.
- Should I detune my bass ukulele when not in use?
- It’s a good practice to detune your bass ukulele slightly if you won’t be playing it for an extended period to reduce tension on the neck.
- What are the advantages of using a digital tuner over tuning by ear?
- Digital tuners provide precise and consistent tuning references, making them ideal for beginners and professionals alike.
- Can I use a piano as a reference to tune my bass ukulele?
- Yes, a piano can be an excellent reference for tuning your bass ukulele, as long as the piano is in tune itself.
- How do I handle tuning if I’m playing with other instruments?
- Ensure that your bass ukulele is tuned to the same reference pitch as the other instruments to maintain harmony.
- What should I do if my bass ukulele’s intonation is off?
- Consult a professional luthier to adjust the saddle position and improve intonation.
- How can I avoid over-tightening the strings when tuning?
- Tune the strings slowly and in small increments, checking the pitch as you go to prevent over-tightening.
- What are the benefits of using a tuning app on a smartphone?
- Tuning apps are convenient, portable, and often free. They provide a visual representation of pitch and are suitable for quick tuning adjustments.
- Are there any specific tuning techniques for slap bass on a bass ukulele?
- Slap bass techniques require specific tuning adjustments to achieve the desired tone. Consult online tutorials or experienced players for guidance.
- What are some common tuning problems I might encounter with a bass ukulele, and how can I troubleshoot them?
- Common issues include string buzzing, tuning instability, and poor intonation. Consult online resources, books, or a luthier for troubleshooting advice tailored to your specific problem.