Bass Guitar – 6 String

6 String bass guitar fretboard tuning

144 Notes 6 string bass guitar

6 String bass guitar notes chart


Basic description:

6 string bass guitar is like 4 string bass guitar with two additional strings. One thickest string on one side and one thinnest string on other side. Additional thickest string is tuned 5 notes lower than the lowest (thickest) string on 4 string bass guitar. So, we get additional 5 bass notes. Additional thinnest string is tuned 5 notes higher than the highest (thinnest) string on 4 string bass guitar. So, we get 5 more treble notes.

On standard tuned 6 string bass guitar with 24 frets pitch range goes from 0B to 5C. This means 48 different notes (pitches). Open strings are tuned to (from thickest to thinnest): 0B, 1E, 1A, 2D, 2G, 3C. Like on other guitars many notes are repeated (same pitch, different timbre). For example, note 2G is repeated five times. The only difference between these five notes is in timbre.

Let’s observe the positions of some notes:

  • Notes 0B, 1C, 1C♯, 1D and 1D♯ on the left side (the thickest string) appear only once, just like the notes 4G♯, 4A, 4A♯, 4B and 5C on the right side (the thinnest string)
  • The first repeated bass note is 1E and the last repeated note on the treble side is 4G.
  • The most repeated notes are 2G, 2G♯, 2A, 2A♯, 2B, 3C, 3C♯, 3D, 3D♯ and 3E. Each of them can be played from five different locations.

Caution: circumstances can change when we change the tuning and/or we have the guitar with more or less than twenty four frets. I used three frets less when designing the 144 Notes application.

6 string bass is really like 5 string bass with one additional treble string. Therefore wider neck and stronger body is needed what makes guitar in most cases more heavy. If weight is more important to you than additional treble string, go for 5 string bass when you’re buying the guitar.

With ordinary tuned 6 string bass guitar we can play some really low notes. The lowest is 0B (like on 5 string bass). However if we want to compete with standard 88 key piano we need to retune thickest bass string even 2 notes lower, to 0A, so we get the same lowest note on both instruments. Of course bass guitar gives totally different timbre with much more bass in it, compared to piano which gives more light(treble) timbre.
Look at three treble strings 2D, 2G and 3C shows us that if we tune them two notes higher, to 2E, 2A and 3D, we get the same open strings like on ordinary guitar. Or we can tune ordinary guitar 2 notes lower. There are many ways to be tuned, and find unique sound of the band.
On the guitar same note (pitch) played further from headstock on thicker string gives timbre with more bass. That is good to know.


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9 thoughts on “Bass Guitar – 6 String

  1. I have become really confused and searching the net, yet finding no answers.
    If you can help……
    Took a few lessons on bass guitar which centered on reading sheet music and applying to the fretboard; fingering, picking, etc.
    Was taught that 1st ledger line below bass clef staff was open E. OK.

    I am seeing notational scores written before the intro/use of 5-6 string basses which have ledger lines representing B’s and C’s ?
    If I were to even play them on the 7th fret of the E string, sounds logical to me….but I would be stuck in the higher register of the fret board…B,C,D, octave E. No way to get back to even open A let alone B, C, open D, etc.

    If I play horizontally from E string 7th fret, its B,C,D,E@7,F@8,G@10.

    Where does a 4 string bass play the extended lower ledger notes. _D
    _ C
    _ B


    1. Hi Tony,
      if you want to play 0B, 1C and 1D notes on the 4 string bass you have 2 options:

      1. U tune 1E string 5 notes lower to 0B, 4 notes lower to 1C or 2 notes lower to 1D or

      2. U use pedal (effect) that gives you output 1 octave lower.

      As you’re mentioning… I preffer tabs, sheet music is optimised for the piano and ordinary doesn’t define you which of repeated notes to use (which timbre to use). So in one sense it gives you more freedom, but in other u have to figure it out on which fret you need (can) play the song…

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