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The Importance of Tuning Bass Guitar

Hi, it’s Warren Huart. I hope you’re doing marvelously well. Today, I want to talk to you about the importance of tuning. Please, of course, as ever, go to and sign up there on the email list, and you’re going to get lots of free stuff. You’ll get files to edit, drum files to edit, you’ll get free drum samples that I use every day on my recordings, on my mixes, you’re going to get tons of other — there’s always giveaways that we’re doing where you can get free equipment. At the moment, we’ve got Yamaha guitars, Lewitt microphones, Klotz cables, Arturia keyboard, Extreme Isolation headphones, McDSP plugins, whole bunches of stuff, and we’re always going to be adding more things to it, so please sign up for the email list, and you’ll get to know all about that.

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Okay, so here I’ve got my lovely jazz bass. Bad ass bridge. Just about to upgrade with the Seymour Duncan pickups. Not in there yet, but we’re going to do it any day. It’s a wonderful bass, it’s a Mexican bass, it was $179 new 15 years ago. It sounds wonderful.

Now, I use heavy strings on this. The reason why I use heavy strings is because when I’m playing, it’s easy if I’m excited…


You know, to bend the strings quite easily. So if these were light, I might go sharp. Which I don’t want to do. The bass is really, really important that it be the most in tune thing in the track. If you look on the scratch bass here, I have an output here called tuner. Now, or, as American’s would say, “tuner,” but we say tuner.

It’s set to pre, so it doesn’t matter whether I mute this or not, it was sent to there. So what I’ve done is I’ve taken an additional output from Pro Tools. So if you’ve got on your I/O, if you have more than two outputs, or if you just want to send the main output to it, that’s fine as well if you can split it off.

So what I’m going to do is I’m just going to go Option and click on it, and then drag it down so it’s also on my DI. I can turn it off here, which is Command+Click, and that will bypass it on the original scratch bass. Then let’s just put it into input for a second.

[bass guitar]

If you look up there at the Korg tuner, you’ll see that it’s going to the tuner. That’s how I keep it in tune. You’ll also notice something. It’s occasionally, it goes sharp, but I’ve tuned it slightly on the flatter side of the note. The reason for that is when you are playing and tuning, you have a tendency — we all have a tendency to play two different ways, which means when I’m playing rock and roll, I’m banging. You know, I’m sort of…

So if I tune it exactly on the note, every time I hit this, it will sound like this.

[bass, sharp]


It will sound sharp. So if I’m going to tune anywhere, I’m going to tune sort of on it and slightly flat, as opposed to on it and slightly sharp, or exactly on it. So if I tune exactly on it, that initial hit sends the strings so it moves wider like this and actually sounds sharp.

So you’ve got to be really careful. It’s fine if you’re doing a long note, because if I do…

[bass, long]

I mean, 90% of that is going to be the decay. But if I’m only doing eighth notes, 100% of it is the initial hit. So always be careful when you’re tuning bass in particular. Obviously, this applies to guitars as well, but particularly bass to make sure that you’re never sharp. That you — if anything, you’re like, slightly below the center. Just to make — just to counter act those hits.

Also, another thing that a lot of great bass players do. My friend Scott Shriner from Weezer, he will tune his bass all over the neck, as opposed to only tuning open strings, because you might play the open E twice in a song, but the rest of the time, you know, and so why tune for just that note if 90% of the time, you’re going to be in and around the fifth to seventh fret, where most of us tend to live?


Cool, well I hope that helps. Tuning bass is an interesting one. I think bass is also the worst sounding instrument if it’s sharp, and what a lot of people do when they’re tracking, and you’ve done drum tracks, or you’ve built something, and then you’re starting to overdub, and if you start with the bass, and you’re not being really careful about your tuning, if it’s sharp and you come to do guitar overdubs, it can be a nightmare, and I’ve heard many stories of people, you know, back in the 70’s recording bass on tape, and then having to slow the tape down so everybody else could play in tune to it. Or siting there trying to figure out what the E was on the bass and tuning their guitars to it.

So you’ve got to be very careful, and the bass is being — usually, in most circumstances, except for this, it’s usually the first instrument that people put down after drums, etcetera. Just make sure that you get the tuning on that completely correct, or it will throw the rest of it off.

Okay, great.

Thank you ever so much for watching. Please go to the email list, which is on, sign up. You’re going to get tons of free stuff, we’re always adding to it, and please subscribe, and leave me some comments below. I love hearing the comments, also, your experiences really helped me, and vice versa. This is a great two way street. The things that you have tried and you have done, I learn from everybody all of the time, so I love being able to impart information I have, but also it’s fun to hear cool things come back.

So thank you ever so much for watching, and I really appreciate it.


Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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