Don't Break a String!
It's best to de-tune/loosen your string a bit and practice by tuning up to the correct pitch. If you pass up the correct tuning note, you could over-tighten the string and break it. Start with your string loose and flabby until you get the hang of tuning your bass.
The Sound of Tuning a Bass String to Pitch
Listen to this audio clip to hear the A-string of the bass tuning up to match an in-tune A note:
Steps for Tuning Your Bass
- With the bass string loose and flabby, your string should be well below the correct pitch. Play the bass tuning note and the bass string at the same time. Listen closely for the "wah-wah-wah" sound created by the out-of-tune notes (mentioned on how to tune a bass p. 1).
- Slowly tighten the string by turning the tuning key. As the string gets more in tune, the speed of the wah-wah-wah sound will slow down.
- The string is in tune when you can no longer hear the wah-wah-wah sound. The waves are now in sync. If you pass the in tune point, the wah-wah-wah sound will start to speed up again.
- Tune all of your strings in the same way.
Tuning your bass is not that hard, but you need to practice it just like any other musical skill. If you have an electronic tuner, try tuning by ear first and then check your work with the tuner. With time you'll be able to tune your bass without even thinking about it. Good luck. Hopefully this lesson helped you!