Tune a Bass Guitar Without a Tuner in 4 Effortless Steps

Once you learn the basics of bass tuning and practice it a couple of times, you can easily master the art of tuning a bass by ear. It doesn’t matter if you can afford a tuner or not, every bassists should learn to tune a bass guitar without a tuner.

There are 3 different ways to tune a bass, but in this guide, I’ll explain to you the method of the 5th fret, which works perfectly even for a beginner player.

Let’s get directly into it:

How to Tune a Bass Guitar Without a Tuner?

If you never tuned a bass guitar before, the only thing that could go wrong is you might tune a string too high and break it. That’s why I suggest you to loosen the strings a little so that you’re well below the target pitch.

1. Tune Low E (Thickest) String to the Reference E Note

If you play in a band, ask a keyboard player to play their E note and tune your open E string with it. If you’re home alone, you can visit this site and take a reference for an E note.

Note: Even if your E string is not tuned to E note, this method can still work! But then, Instead of a standard concert pitch, your bass string will get tuned to each other.

Anything you play will sound right, as long as you’re playing alone and not with another instrument that is tuned at standard concert pitch tuning.

2. Match the Open A String to E String at Fifth Fret

Once your E string gets in tune, you can play A note on the E string itself. The note on the 5th fret of the E string is the same as the open A string.

Now, you just need to match the sound of an open A string with a fifth fret E string. Try to play both “A” notes at the same time and keep adjusting the A string tuning peg, until it matches the tone.

3. Fret A String at Fifth Fret to Tune D String

When the A string is in tune, You can play the D note by fretting the A string at 5th fret. Now, pluck the open D string and compare the sound. Tune the D string up or down by adjusting the machine head and match it with the sound.

4. Tune the Open G String with D String at Fifth Fret

Just continue this process for the G string too. If you play D string on a Fifth Fret, it sounds like a G note. Listen to the sound of 5th Fret D string and try to match it with the Open G string. Match the notes by playing both strings simultaneously.


If you’re familiar with the harmonics on a bass guitar, you can try playing them, just to make sure your instrument is perfectly in tune. Although this is an old-school method to tune your bass but allows for tuning without using a tuner.

It not only help you to train your ears but also when you want to play but don’t have access to your tuner.

What Notes Do You Tune a Bass Guitar To?

As a general rule, the standard 4-string bass guitar is tuned to E, A, D, G notes. These notes are similar to the first four strings of the guitar but tuned at one octave lower, to get the deep-sounding tone from the bass.

Do You Need a Tuner for Bass?

A Bass tuner is one of the must-have accessories for bass players who tune in noisy surroundings and want the convenience of precise tuning in a short amount of time. Although basses tend to stay in tune for a longer time, but you should always tune a bass before you start playing.

Whether you like clip-on tuners or maybe pedal tuners, if you want to tune your bass instantly, there is no way around than to have a tuner connected to your bass guitar.

Can You Use your Phone as a Tuner?

You can use your phone as a tuner because both physical tuners and mobile apps use a similar method to tune the instrument. If you’re surrounded by external noise, it might be difficult and a little inaccurate to tune with tuning apps, as they use the microphone of your mobile to take sample frequencies.

Although physical tuners provide you better accuracy than any tuning app, but If you’re a beginner bass guitar player and still on your learning curve, you don’t have to invest in a tuner. (at least for NOW!)

Can You Tune a Bass Without an Amp?

You can tune your bass guitar without an amp by plugging it directly into a tuner pedal. You can also use a clip-on tuner or any online bass tuning application to tune your bass without connecting it to an amp.

Final Thoughts on Tuning a Bass Without a Tuner

I hope you find this guide helpful and you get a clear idea of how you can tune your bass guitar without tuner? If you have any doubts or any suggestions about this resource, feel free to put it down in the comment section.

Also, don’t forget to share this amazing article with your bass buddies, so they can also try something new today!

Happy Music!

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