PDA

View Full Version : tuning down a half step to Eb : Pros and Cons


blindtc
05-06-2009, 05:43 PM
hey guys!

recently i have been noticing that the guitar seems to sound and stay in tune better on my strat when i tune it down to Eb! Is there anybody out there who does this regularly? why? what do you guys find the pro and cons of tuning down a half step would be? i find that on strat type guitar the tone is much more full and richer.

joel98z
05-06-2009, 05:46 PM
I do not do it regularly but if needed I would do it Generally to accomodate a singer.

EricPeterson
05-06-2009, 05:47 PM
Pros: you wont have to worry about harp guys sitting in... j/k

shredtrash
05-06-2009, 05:53 PM
Pros: you wont have to worry about harp guys sitting in... j/k

Funny!

I agree with Sonic Emergence. If you have to help the singer out, especially on those long gigs, it's a good idea.

Rockin J
05-06-2009, 06:06 PM
Pros - sounds great, strings are easier to bend
Con - if you play with others they may not want to tune down

eurotrashed
05-06-2009, 06:07 PM
Pros: Allows you to cover Weezer's Blue Album. aka the best album ever.

Trebor Renkluaf
05-06-2009, 06:21 PM
Hendrix, Trower, SRV all tuned down.

testing1two
05-06-2009, 06:53 PM
Tuning down is great for vocals and the feel of the guitar. The only drawback is if somebody plays an analog keyboard (actual B-3, Rhodes) or acoustic piano. Modern keyboards will have a transpose function.

jeffwith1f
05-06-2009, 06:56 PM
Most of Nirvana as well is E flat.

strings are slinkier with less tension as noted above easier to bend.
just sounds more agressive for some reason.

Jim Soloway
05-06-2009, 06:58 PM
I don't understand these transposition comments. It's just a change in key and really no different than leaving the guitar in standard pitch and transposing to different key. Pianos aren't key specific. For that matter, neither are singers or basses. It changes the notes of the open strings, but I don't think piano players worry about that much.

EDIT: And a pro is that some guitars become much more resonant when you tune them down, especially if you're using heavier strings.

townsend
05-06-2009, 07:14 PM
Hendrix, Trower, SRV all tuned down.

IIRC, Trower tunes down to D, at least on some of his material. He may have discussed this on his Hot Licks video.

bjjp2
05-06-2009, 07:42 PM
Green Day, GnR, U2.

khromagi
05-06-2009, 07:42 PM
Pro: When playing along with others it forces you to play in keys not so familiar.

I keep my guitars in Eb cause that's the way they have been for 35 years

AnthonyL
05-06-2009, 07:51 PM
My Strats are in Eb always...

atquinn
05-06-2009, 08:08 PM
I don't understand these transposition comments. It's just a change in key and really no different than leaving the guitar in standard pitch and transposing to different key. Pianos aren't key specific. For that matter, neither are singers or basses. It changes the notes of the open strings, but I don't think piano players worry about that much...

I take the transposition comments to mean that, for example, it would be more difficult for a piano player to play with you if everything was played a half-step down, which I could definitely see as being an issue!

-Austin

Bankston
05-06-2009, 08:09 PM
I prefer the sound of a guitar in Eb (especially if it's in drop D) but the vocals also play a role.

I liked EVH better when he was tuning down to accomodate Dave.

Sniper-V
05-06-2009, 08:13 PM
Eb

Pros:
• sounds warmer
• sounds more brown
• feels slinky'er
• a lot of guitars play better
• easier for vocals

Cons:
• Eb with some tunes don't sound right
• can throw other instruments/players off
• some guitars don't tune down well
• some guitars may need a setup to do so
• getting too use to it...

steelhead
05-06-2009, 08:55 PM
I always keep one guitar tuned down for certain songs/styles and have the others in whatever tuning I need. Good reason for gas and more guitars!

Jim Soloway
05-06-2009, 10:07 PM
I take the transposition comments to mean that, for example, it would be more difficult for a piano player to play with you if everything was played a half-step down, which I could definitely see as being an issue!

-Austin

Why? For a piano player, E is not an easier key than Eb. And even the Eb idea is entirely arbitrary. For a lot of musicians, including some guitar players, playing in different keys is not considered a particularly big deal and even with a guitar tuned down, it is still able to be played in any key.

re-animator
05-07-2009, 12:45 AM
I like Eb for a few reasons:

- much easier for my vox
- grants a fuller, throatier sound with my strat
- makes action easier for my trem
- less string tension for bigger strings
- gives you more useable range on the instrument (how much time do we spend on that 21/22nd fret anyway??)
- makes it easier for a trumpet player i guess....

don't like it for:

- playing along to cover songs when practicing

dumbell78
05-07-2009, 01:56 AM
Same here! My Strat is always Eb.

I always keep one guitar tuned down for certain songs/styles and have the others in whatever tuning I need. Good reason for gas and more guitars!

grungebob
05-07-2009, 02:13 AM
Since learning to play guitar some 17 years ago all my guitars have been a 1/2 step down from concert pitch and i've never given it a second thought. I do sing as well and i suppose it makes it easier for me. I do have one strat I keep in standard E tuning but thats just a throw around for learning/playing along to tunes im either going to cover or trying to work out.

Most of the music/bands I listen to and enjoy playing along to use the Eb tuning (nirvana, smashing pumpkins etc).

khromagi
05-07-2009, 04:26 AM
Why? For a piano player, E is not an easier key than Eb. And even the Eb idea is entirely arbitrary. For a lot of musicians, including some guitar players, playing in different keys is not considered a particularly big deal and even with a guitar tuned down, it is still able to be played in any key.

Exactly!

atquinn
05-07-2009, 05:37 AM
Why? For a piano player, E is not an easier key than Eb. And even the Eb idea is entirely arbitrary. For a lot of musicians, including some guitar players, playing in different keys is not considered a particularly big deal and even with a guitar tuned down, it is still able to be played in any key.

I suppose it's just a reflection of my piano-playing acumen (or lack thereof). Playing in different keys makes no difference to me on guitar, but because of the difference in black and white keys, it does make a difference on piano. Now, I'm admittedly a hack, despite my years of forced piano lessons, but it's not like every guy playing keys in a cover band is a concert pianist, so I could see it being an issue :D

-Austin

bmetelits
05-07-2009, 06:27 AM
Pianists like the flat keys. Traditional American standards are usually written in F, Bb, Eb or the minor keys of Dm, Gm, or Cm. The black keys stand up taller than the ivories. It's easier for fingers to find them. Also, there aren't any black keys that bump against each other like B-C and E-F. Vocalists may find typical guitar keys of E, A, and D to be too high.

Though I do not tune my guitar to Eb, if I did, I would not ask the other musicians to alter there tuning or play in a different key; I would bear that responsibility.

thelionsden
05-07-2009, 06:41 AM
Though I do not tune my guitar to Eb, if I did, I would not ask the other musicians to alter there tuning or play in a different key; I would bear that responsibility.

The only problem i see with this is that with some songs there are sometimes techniques or chords that require open strings to make them sound right. If you have your guitar in Eb these open strings will not be available to you ...

Phil M
05-07-2009, 06:51 AM
Some songs just don't sound right unless you're tuned down if you need those open strings. My band plays mostly in Standard tuning but we do 8 or 9 tuned down to Eb. Some of these match the studio recordings but two of them were adjusted to fit the vocalist's range.

A Strat or other guitar the same scale length might sound or feel better to you because of the 25.5" scale. What feels stiff in A440 feels more comfortable down a half step. A lot of this depends on set up too of course. My Les Pauls get a little looser and sloppier tuned down because of their 24.75" scale but it works.

Mickey Shane
05-07-2009, 06:59 AM
Just got my band members to tune down to Eb recently. The last band that I played in tuned down a half-step. It was my first experience doing so. When I got into the current band, nobody wanted to tune down, so we gigged in standard tuning. I did keep badgering about it until the bassist asked me one day what difference it would make (he was the last hold out).

I told him: "If you tune down, you won't sound like every other kid on your block that owns a bass".

Bingo! It worked. It makes the whole band not sound like every other gigging band in town. It's a subtle thing. But, it matters to my ears. We've never sounded better.

andy888
05-07-2009, 07:03 AM
I agree with most of the posts here. Eb tuning is way easier to sing to, and has a much warmer sound to it, easier to bend strings, my personal choice is Eb with a drop D, that open D chord sounds beautiful.

SGNick
05-07-2009, 07:21 AM
I agree with most of the posts here. Eb tuning is way easier to sing to, and has a much warmer sound to it, easier to bend strings, my personal choice is Eb with a drop D, that open D chord sounds beautiful.

Wouldn't that be Eb standard with a drop Db then?

arthur rotfeld
05-07-2009, 07:36 AM
My acoustic guitar is often down a half step, largely because it's the only guitar I sing with. (Guild D-55 with 13s usually.)

I'm a baritone, so having the option to do songs in Eb rather than E is a big deal. I'm all about finding the best key for vocal reasons. OF course I could transpose, but I would lose the open strings I might want, voicing details, range. In that respect guitar is very different than the piano.

The pro is the con......your guitar will sound different tuned down.

Mickey Shane
05-07-2009, 09:49 AM
Wouldn't that be Eb standard with a drop Db then?No. Not really. Keep the lingo the same when tuned down. A G-chord barred is still on the third fret. Transpose your wav files down a half step if the recording is in standard tuning.

SGNick
05-07-2009, 10:27 AM
No. Not really. Keep the lingo the same when tuned down. A G-chord barred is still on the third fret. Transpose your wav files down a half step if the recording is in standard tuning.

Seems a bit lazy, why not just learn what the chords actually are? Won't take a second.

Like when you use a capo, you can usually say "It's an A, so D shape"

Mark EL
05-07-2009, 10:47 AM
It's an acoustic, but fwiw my Lowden O10 sounds WAY better dropped a full step than in standard concert tuning. Actually sounds like it was built that way.

I think it's not out of order to tune down a half or whole step just to find an individual guitar's inherent resonant frequency.

Also, tuning down a whole step if you're playing in an ensemble (band) allows 2 or more guitarists to play the same chord progressions using different voicings, much like an acoustic duet may capo up one of the guitars for the same reason.

As for the flat keys/piano black keys thing, don't forget that horns are typically Bb or other flat key instruments. If you want to play blues shuffle type stuff with a horn section and don't really like F, Eb is a nice option!

And if you want to play "standards" in their native keys but either want to or have to use guitaristic voicings (open strings, etc.) Eb works well for your well worn position playing.

Good topic! ML.