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.
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:
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.