View Full Version : Transfer your G-C-E-A Ukulele Knowledge to Playing Bass … with a U-Bass Tuned G-C-E-A

03-17-2015, 10:39 PM
So now I play a baritone-size Kala U-Bass (http://www.roadtoadmusic.com/kala_ubass.html) that is tuned G-C-E-A.

After some discussion with Roadtoad Music, we were able to figure out that we could use their Roadtoad medium tension long-scale (22.5” to 24”) Pahoehoe U-Bass E-A-D-G string set to string on the Kala U-Bass 21” scale to hit a G-C-E-A tuning.


So, in effect, another way to look at it is like this … I am using RoadToad’s long-scale medium tension on a long-scale (22.5” to 24”) Pahoehoe U-Bass E-A-D-G string set on a long-scale U-Bass (22.5” to 24”). And then I tune it E-A-C#-F#. And then I put a capo on the third fret. This, in effect, cuts the scale down shorter (to about 21”) and tunes it G-C-E-A.

And then, for just very basic playing (based on Bass Guitar for Dummies), I just hold the chord, and hit the root note (of that chord) in accordance with the groove set by the drummer on our worship team. Some times I may bounce to the five, and exit on the three, which, as you may know is the other three notes in the chord.

This has been a great new horizon for me. Not only does it open up a new sound, and a new way to participate in making music; but I am also learning the ukulele G-C-E-A fret board better.

03-18-2015, 01:02 AM
Once upon a time, I contemplated about experimenting with this kind of tuning.
But learning to play bass in its original tuning (EADG) did not take long, and it actually makes more sense.

Tuning a bass to GCEA became a redundant idea.

Rather than narrow my abilities to GCEA tuning, I have broadened my abilities by learning to play guitar, bass and now violin (GDAE).
The default tuning to the respective instruments make sense for what they are designed to do.

Jon Moody
03-18-2015, 02:52 AM
If this is working for you, that's great.

However, and take this as a seasoned bass player imparting some hard earned wisdom on someone as they approach a new horizon, at some point if you really get serious about wanting to learn to play bass, take the time to learn the instrument as its own entity and not just another way to learn a different fretboard. You're short-changing your learning by trying to learn the same patterns on both. Much like a guitarist picks up a bass, thinking it's "just the bottom four strings of my guitar," and then they do poorly, I think you're going to find that while the short term learning curve is quick, the long term goals (mainly to learn a new instrument) are not going to be so easy, especially since you're learning it in an unconventional way.

03-18-2015, 02:14 PM
I recently took up the bass after playing guitar for about 50 years and ukulele for over 18 months. For years my guiter playing friends told me I should take up the bass, but I didn't want to be encumbered by a large electric bass (forget a stand up). When I learned of the small "U" bases available, and with the encouragement of our ukulele group leader, I went for it.

I didn't even consider different tuning because I take lessons from a traditional bass player, learning the normal tuning was absolutely necessary. It didn't take me long at all to get comfortable with going back a forth from uke to bass.

03-18-2015, 07:11 PM
OK I started on guitar so the EADG is easy. But the thing about bass is that there are patterns to it that are easy to learn. All fretboards have a pattern. It's best to think of relative positions. The only notes you need to memorize are EADG, the rest is relative.

If you want to be able to play the bass outside of a limited situation it is best to step outside of your comfort zone.

03-27-2015, 09:00 PM
Yeah, thank you very much, everybody, for responding. Yeah, my church needed a back up bass player. I've been playing a normall'y-tunned (B-E-A-D--G) five-string bass off-and-on for a while. But when our normal bass player is there, I play the ukulele, which is, by far, my "main" instrument. So, long story short, I more play to meet a need. (But don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it.) But with my schedule, I have been finding it beneficial to revert from the "normal" bass to the G-C-E-A-tuned U-Bass, to kill two birds with one stone.

03-28-2015, 04:26 AM
Love this idea. I don't want to "be a bass player" but sometimes it is nice to have the ability in a pinch. That strategy would do nicely.

03-28-2015, 10:22 AM
Love this idea. I don't want to "be a bass player" but sometimes it is nice to have the ability in a pinch. That strategy would do nicely.

Yes, that is a very good way to say where I am coming from. Thanks. And, it is helping me get better with the fret board of the ukulele, which is my main instrument. Maybe when I have more time, I'll broaden my horizons with new instruments. But for now, I'd prefer to get progress on the ukulele.

04-28-2019, 01:56 PM
SonSprinter, I just wrote to you on an even earlier thread about this. I was looking at getting Pahoehoe long scale strings in order to tune up to GCEA, so I'm excited that you've already tried it. Were you happy with how it turned out? Thanks