In this recent question Why is the double bass the only instrument in the violin family tuned in fourths?, there was this answer:

The early history (from about 1500 to 1850) of bass tunings are very variable, with anything from 3 to 6 strings and tunings in anything from thirds to fifths. Reference.

In the classical period, the virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti played a 3-string bass tuned C G D an octave below the cello, which was more or less the standard instrument that Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven wrote for.

The current "standard" (E A D G tuning with a string extension down to low C) is a relatively modern invention.

This answer has 6 upvotes and 1 downvote, but it doesn't address the question. The question is clearly about Why the bass is tuned in fourths. But this answer says this kind of tuning is relatively new, and earlier in history there were other tunings as well.

I flagged this post, but it was declined

declined - I don't think the questions presupposition of an explicit reason makes this answer less useful.

I do think that it is useful as a comment, but as an answer to the question per se, isn't it a bit useless?

  • 2
    The answer reads to me as "A bunch of different things have been used, we happened to settle on this." There's not a clear single originator with a clear single purpose.
    – user28
    Jun 26, 2015 at 22:19
  • I think it was a good answer. I, personally, like a bit of context to the answers, so the user might've been adding to the previous answers, as an edit with this added info would've been rejected. Jul 3, 2015 at 4:52
  • Downvote it. This is what downvotes are for. the tooltip reads: "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful". emphasis mine. that answer definitely falls in the unclear and not useful place. Aug 25, 2015 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't say useless, but I would say that the poster needs to draw a clear correlation between the information and addressing the question. The way it is currently written, it's implying that basses are tuned in 4ths because it is the most recent / current tuning style / preference for instrumentalists.

While I am unconvinced as to the validity of this correlation, such a correlation would need to be more clearly made before it could be refuted.

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