How to Tune a Bass

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,007
    Professional bassist Percy White demonstrates how to tune a bass guitar.

    Percy White

    Percy White is a professional bassist living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He is originally from Philadelphia, Pa. He started playing bass when he was 10 years old after trying unsuccessfully to play guitar. As he puts it, "It just made sense. The bass has four strings and I have four fingers to play them with." He started playing by ear but after hearing Stanley Clarke he realized that he had to take lessons and so he did. After graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Engineering Program but his musical education also continued with his study of jazz and music theory. After serving in the military, White moved to Chicago to begin an engineering career that was short lived due to his love of music. He began taking bass lessons with Nick Schneider (former bassist for the Tonight Show Band) After playing in numerous jam sessions, he began his career as a full time musician. He played with notable jazz artists like Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Brown, Jr, Roy Ayer s, and Ronnie Laws. He has jammed with Buddy Guy at his famous blues club in Chicago. White has been a founding member of two rock bands, two blues bands, one latin/jazz band, and one contemporary jazz group. He has played for the Chicago City Colleges Jazz Band, and was a winning member of the 1996 Chicago Blues band competition. In 2000, White relocated back to the east coast to broaden his musical experiences. He shares his musical knowledge by teaching privately in the DC area. After one of his outstanding performances in DC, White was asked to audition for the 257th Army Band and he recently joined the ranks of the elite performers of the Nation's Capital Army Band. White feels it's an honor to serve his country through his musical talents and is glad to have the opportunity. Although his full time occupation is being an application engineer for a worldwide water treatment company, White can still be seen playing in the Washington, DC area at least five nights a week doing what he has been doing for the last 30 years.

    Percy White: Hi, welcome back, I am Percy again. Now that you have purchased your bass for whatever reason you want it to have one and whatever style of music you are going to play. Now, you have to know that you have them. I am going to show you something, show you how you need to set it up, how to tune it, everything that you need to do in order to play it. Okay, so the first thing now that you have your bass, you have to tune it because you want to be able to when someone says play me an A, you want to make sure that your A is the same A that everyone else is playing or it is not going to sound good. So, the way you do that is to purchase a tuner, you can get them in any guitar store, you can get them for bass specifically or bass and guitar and I am going to show you the ones I use, I use a chromatic tuner and the chromatic tuner just means that it tunes every note in the spectrum, not just A, B, C or D it will tune A flat, B flat, all of them. So, what I have in my tuner is, I use BOSS, its a chromatic tuner and youll see right there chromatic tuner and I use this one because my bass, this bass has more strength then a regular one and this tuner, you can see it have all the notes, C, D, E, F, G, A, B and so forth, but it has a sharp right here and that light right there lets you know if you tuning D sharp, E sharp which is F or D flat everything. So this is a chromatic tuner, I like using it because it tunes every note on my bass and I can also use it for my upright. So, when you buy a bass, you have to buy a tuner so it has to be in tune. So, when you playing with other people, you know that you are playing the right notes and that it sounds good. Sound is most important thing.