Can a 6 String Bass Be Tuned Like A Guitar?

Can a 6 String Bass Be Tuned Like A Guitar? w

This article will discuss if it’s possible to tune a 6 string bass like a guitar (EADGBE).

Some bass players may ask if it’s possible to tune their instruments like a guitar. That can happen due to the desire to form chords easier, adapt faster to the instrument, or even of soloing as a guitarist. Independently of the purpose, the question remains common among musicians.

But can a 6 string bass be tuned like a guitar?

You can certainly tune 6-string bass like a guitar, but you should keep one thing in mind. Although the bass is similar to a guitar, it’s different and should be treated as it is. When you ignore the nature of the instrument and try to make it identical to a guitar, you have problems.

Tuning 6-string bass like a guitar can mean tuning the lowest string to the low E or an octave higher than that. Tuning it to the low E is easy because the strings bear the tension better, but it’s useless, since there’s no amp capable of reproducing a low E (20 Hz). On the other hand, tuning it up (E=41 Hz) will require using thinner strings and recutting the nut, to hold the strings tightly. That’s because the lowest string is made to be tuned to a B, so the E a fourth above is a little high for it.

Is a six-string bass the same as a guitar? What’s the difference?

A six-string bass isn’t the same as a guitar. Although it’s quite similar (especially with the same tuning), it is still different. While the guitar is commonly used to solo and provide the harmonic background, the bass is essentially part of the so-called rhythmic section of the instrumentation.

It doesn’t matter the number of strings. That’s because what makes it part of the rhythmic section isn’t only its low register, but also its darker timbre. Even if you have another instrument doing what’s expected for the bass, while the bass plays high notes, its timbre will still require it to stay along with the drums. So there’s a clear difference between the musical roles of both instruments. While one is essentially melodic, soloist and harmonical (guitar), the other is part of the basis of the musical texture.

There are also physical differences between these two instruments. While the first has thicker and spaced strings, the second is the opposite. While the six-string bass (still being a bass) has a longer and thicker neck, the guitar neck is smaller. While the guitar is played in the medium/high register, the bass is played an octave lower. Besides, guitar players commonly use picks to play, while most bass players use their fingers. That’s because of the soft tone, which the use of a pick may harm.

red guitar
The guitar and the bass are different instruments, but a 6 string bass can be tuned like a guitar!

What are the most common tunings on a 6-string?

  • B0–E1–A1–D2–G2–C3
    That’s the most common tuning. Here, the lower string is a fourth below the usual E. This is an interesting combination for those bassists who want more power and weight in their sound. All strings are spaced by a fourth, making it proper to soloing.
  • B0–E1–A1–D2–F2–B2
    Here, you can see that it’s almost the same thing, but there’s an interval of a third between the 2nd and 3rd strings (F# and D). That’s because it preserves the intervals of a guitar, even though an interval of fourth lower. Having a 3rd between these strings, it becomes easier to form chords and bars.
  • E1–A1–D2–G2–B2–E3
    If you want your 6 string tuned like a guitar, there it is. It has the same intervallic sequence as the previous one but begins with an E note. It’s recommended for those who already play the guitar, since these are the same notes of guitar strings, but an octave lower.

Differences between 6 string bass, bass VI and baritone guitar

Most people have doubts concerning the difference between a 6 string bass, a bass VI and a baritone guitar. Although similar, they aren’t the same, but different levels between 2 extremes: common guitars and basses. In the table below, you will see all these differences listed:

6 string bass
Bass VI
Baritone guitar
Basically a bass with 2 additional strings.
A “hybrid” between guitar and bass. It has some of the guitar characteristics but is a bass and sounds like it.
It’s still a guitar and sounds like it, but with lower notes and with deeper timbre.
Has a thick and long neck
Has a smaller neck, and it isn’t thick.
Has a short neck, as all guitars have.
More string spacing.
Less string spacing.
Less string spacing.
Usually tuned BEADGC, although you can tune it EADGBE (the 6 string bass tuned like a guitar)
Standard tuning (an octave below the guitar)
Standard tuning (an octave below the guitar)
Strings are much thicker.
Strings are thinner than a bass, but thicker than a normal guitar.
Strings are as thick as on the bass VI.

Are there any specific difficulties in playing a 6 string bass?

There are some specific difficulties in playing a 6-string bass. That makes it necessary to play it with caution and an excellent instrument to improve your technique. It will urgently require you to develop useful techniques for the usual bass playing. Below, you can see some of these issues:

  • You need to mute the strings all the time
    While playing a six-string, you’ll see that the strings keep sounding after you stop playing them, producing noise. To avoid that, it’s important to keep muting them constantly, which requires a lot of control. Since there are more strings, more responsibilities come (and difficulties).
  • You must know what you’re doing while playing in a high register
    There are more strings to play solo, but you must remember that the bass is still the foundation of a musical texture. While you solo, the bass register will become “empty”, making every outside note even clearer. You must know precisely what you’re doing while soloing to avoid that.
  • There’s more information to learn
    Since there are more strings, there are also more notes to learn. There are more places in the neck of the instrument to know. It is harder to memorize all these notes on a six-string, but if you do it, the result of your playing will be fantastic.

Can you slap on a 6 string bass?

You can slap on a 6-string bass, but you must know that it’s going to be harder. That’s because there are more strings and because the higher string is thinner and different from slapping. Apart from that, while playing the first string, the G (2nd) also gets in the way, making it difficult.

But exactly because it’s harder to do, it’s also recommended to practice the slapping technique on a 6-string bass. If you practice it using a six-string, slapping with four strings will be easier, and you’ll also have more versatility while changing between instruments.

Is it better to learn 6 string bass or guitar first?

It’s better to learn the guitar first. That’s because the guitar is a more versatile instrument than the bass, and it will hurt your fingers less. But before deciding that, you must know what you want to do musically. Wanting to be a soloist, you must learn guitar (if you want to buy a guitar, click here!). In the other case, learn the 6-string. 


In this article, you learned that a 6 string bass can be tuned like a guitar, but you must know that this isn’t exactly what he has made for. Although you can use the same tuning as in the guitar, it will still be an octave lower and the tension will be a little high for the strings. 

Although the 6-string is similar to a guitar, you’ve seen that both are still different instruments and should be treated as what they are. There are differences in the body’s construction, on the strings, in the technique used to play each instrument, etc. But there’s also the bass VI, which is closer to a normal guitar, but it’s still bass and different from a guitar.

You’ve also learned that there are specific difficulties in playing a six-string. Although the greater number of strings allows for more musical possibilities and advantages, it also has some issues. To solve them, you must develop your technique well and get used to the instrument. But that can be seen positively, since learning to play a 6-string well will make you capable of playing a 4-string even better. Since playing a 6-string may hurt the fingers and the instrument is not so versatile, it’s recommended to begin playing the guitar. But that will surely always depend on your specific tastes and objectives. If you want to conduct the harmony and only eventually solo, play the bass, but if you’re going to play a lot of solos, play guitar!

I hope the article was helpful, and see you next time!

Guitar Related Topics:

Are Expensive Guitars Worth It? Electric, Acoustic & Bass

Top 12 Best Bass Guitar Brands 

8 Best Strings for Slap Bass & Funk Guitar 

Why Do My Guitar Strings Feel So Tight/Loose? Solved

Why Are My Guitar Strings So Hard to Bend & How to Fix It

Can I Use Guitar Pedals For Bass? Is it okay?

Why Do My Guitar Strings Keep Breaking At The Bridge?

Cheap VS Expensive Guitar Pedals: Main Difference, Pros & Cons

The 14 Best Combo Amps For Acoustic Guitar 

Top 13 Fuzz Guitar Pedals (All Budgets)

The 14 Best Compressor Pedals For Jazz Guitar 

The 9 Best Preamp Plugins (For Vocals, Guitars & More)

The 12 Best Tuner Pedals For Bass & Guitar 

Top 7 Ring Modulator Pedals For Bass & Guitar 

Top 11 Plugins For Making Metal  (Guitars, Drums & Effects)

Top 10 Guitar Amp Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Simulators)

Top 6 Overdrive Pedals For Worship Guitar 

Best Small/Mini Guitar Pedalboards 

Top 12 Small Guitar Volume Pedals  (Mini Pedals)

Top 12 Audio Interfaces For Guitar (On All Budgets)

Top 7 Available Arpeggiator Guitar Pedals 

The 5 Best Autopan Guitar Pedals 

Top 12 Guitar Pedals Great For Telecaster 

11 Best Effect Pedals For Jazzmaster Guitar 

Top 12 Effect Pedals Great For Les Paul Guitar 

Top 9 Pickups For Worship Guitar 

Top 12 Guitar Pedals Great For Stratocaster 

12 Best Mics For Recording Acoustic Guitar 

Top 12 Multi FX Pedals For Acoustic Guitar 

Can You plug a Guitar into a Keyboard Amp?

Top 17 Best Guitar Pedal Brands In The World 

How To Make My VST Guitar Sound More Realistic? – 8 Tips

How To Make Bass Guitar Sound Like Synth – Tips & Advice

Do Left-Handed Guitar Players Have An Advantage?

How To Make Bass Guitar Sound Deeper / Get a Great Bass Tone?

Top 12 Electric Guitar Brands In The World 

Top 13 Acoustic Guitar Brands In The World 

Top 7 Acoustic Guitar Plugins (And 4 Best Kontakt Libraries)

Top 6 Electric Guitar VST Plugins (Best PAID & FREE Picks)

Top 6 Classical Guitar Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (And FREE Guitars)

Top 10 Guitar Libraries For Kontakt  (Acoustic, Electric, Bass & Freebies)

Top 12 Plate Reverb Guitar Pedals 

Top 12 Plugins For Mixing Guitar (Acoustic, Electric & Bass)

Why Did My Guitar String Break While Tuning Down?

Are Guitars A Good Investment? Cons & Pros & What To Look For

Can You Use A Pa Speaker As A Guitar Cab? Answered!

How To Use Guitar Pedals In Logic? Answered

Top 7 BitCrusher Guitar Pedals Available 

12 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners 

Top 12 Guitar Pots For Strat & Telecaster 

11 Best 4×12 Guitar Cabinets (Marshall, Diezel, Messa…)

Top 12 Guitar Wiring Kits (Three Types)

11 Best Guitar Humidifiers on Any Budget 

Top 9 Left-Handed Bass Guitars (With Best Value)

The 11 Best Ambient Guitar Pedals 

The 12 Best Guitar Amp Attenuators 

Top 8 Bass Guitar Strings For Metal 

The 7 Best 1×12 Guitar Cabinets (All Budgets)

12 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000

Top 12 Classical Guitars Under $1000

Does Playing Guitar Strengthen Your Hands? Answered

9 Best Bass Guitar Plugins (And 2 Best Freebies)

Top 10 Doubler Plugins For Vocals, Guitars & More 

Top 12 Spring Reverb Guitar Pedals Available in 

Top 14 Harmonizer Guitar Pedals (Best Rated)

The 20 Best Guitar Preamp Pedals  (Best Rated)

How long does it take to learn Fingerstyle Guitar?

Top 7 Bass Guitars For Stoner, Doom & Sludge Metal 

12 Best Ample Sound VST Plugins (Guitars & More)

How to Fix Crackling & Popping Bass Guitar?

How To Use Channel Strip Plugins in Your Mix (Drums, Bass, Guitar)

How To Use Preamp Plugins? (On Guitars, Vocals, Bass & Drums)

How Loud Should My Guitar Amp Be For Recording? 6 Factors

Best Lo-Fi Guitar Effect Pedals For Unique Tone

Can I Run Vocals Through The Guitar Pedals? Answered

Why Do My Guitar Strings Smell Like Metal/Garlic/Pee?

Top 4 Limiter Pedals You Can Get (Best Guitar Limiter Pedals)

Do Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

Should I Learn 4, 5 Or 6 String Bass Guitar & Why? (Complete Guide)

Can I leave My Guitar Tuned Down a Step? Yes, But Is It Safe?

Can You Play Two Guitars Through One Amp?

How often guitar necks need reset? Answered & Explained

Can I Play Classical Guitar On A Steel-String Guitar?

How Often Does A Guitar Need a Setup? (Acoustic, Electric, Bass)

If I Learn Acoustic Guitar Can I Play Electric Guitar?

Do Fender Guitars Appreciate In Value? (Are They Worth It?)

Top 2 Best Guitar Sidechain Compression Effect Pedals 

How to Record Electric Guitar Into Logic Pro X?

Is Electric Guitar Too Loud for an Apartment? Can Neighbors Hear it?

Top 6 Guitar Amplifiers For Prog Metal 

How To Chain Your Guitar Effects Pedals? Ultimate Guide

How To Fix Distorted Bass Guitar Sound?

Should You Put Stickers On A Bass Guitar? Does It Affect The Done?

Why Are Bass Guitars So Heavy? Answered & What You Can Do

Top 10 Guitar Pickups for Low Tunings 

Top 14 Pedals For Garage Rock (Distortion, Overdrive & Fuzz)

Is It Worth Upgrading Bass Pickups? Answered

Overdrive vs Distortion vs Fuzz: What’s The Difference?

Top 14 Looper Pedals For Bass 

How Long Do Batteries Last in Your Active Bass?

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top