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Do you have two electrics, one in standard and one in Eb tuning?

townsend

Member
Messages
1,525
I play at home, and here is my situation. I have a
1) LP type clone (single cutaway) humbucker guitar in standard tuning, and a
2) Stratocaster (w/ Seymour Duncans in all 3 positions, humbuckers in bridge and neck, single coil in middle, etc.), in Eb tuning. I believe these are the two most common tunings for rock and I don't like to retune guitars unless I have to.

If I want to play any song in standard tuning, I just grab the LP. If I want to play a song in Eb, I grab the strat. I chose the strat for Eb tuning mainly because of Hendrix songs (a little Guns'n'Roses here and there).

I was thinking of learning Heart's Barracuda, and I wanted to play it on the Strat so I could do the whammy bar harmonics at the beginning. This song is, however, in standard tuning (I think). So my overall plan just doesn't work.

What to do? Do some of you throw a capo at the first fret and "convert" the Eb guitar to standard tuning? Or do you just retune it? Inquiring minds want to know. I know, having two nice electrics is such a pain.:(
 

navin johnson

Senior Member
Messages
725
who says you have to play ANYTHING in flat tuning? you've got a computer. try riffstation or something similar. i have a strat & LP as well. both are standard tuned. i just change the pitch of the song as necessary.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,784
When I was a kid, we had this thing colloquially known as a "record player" or more formally as a turntable. It played these large round flat discs. I would buy records to play on this contraption and learn the songs. Then I'd hear it on the radio and go to play along and realize the tuning was different (or I'd hear it in the car and think, gee this seems slower). It turns out, since I had a crappy sears turntable, it ran fast! AS a result, when I learned Van Halen songs, which were in Eb, they'd actually play in E so I didn't have to retune! It was only a problem when I tried to learn them off the radio.

I'm actually thankful for that fast-running turntable because it taught me early on about tuning down. I remember getting into bands and the bass player or keyboard player would always want to play it in Ab and I was like, no, it's in A, it's just tuned down and they were clueless.

They did make variable speed turntables and cassette players so if you had access to those (I used a reel to reel recorder early on and a variable speed tape recorder later) you could record it and then adjust the speed to get the pitch you needed to prevent re-tuning the guitar.

But nowadays we have SOFTWARE! And the bonus is, now, you can change the PITCH without affecting the SPEED.

Go to Seventhstring.com and download transcribe, or Sourceforge.net and download audacity.

You can import an audio file into either of these pieces of software and change the pitch as necessary.

Yes, 2 guitars would be the way to tackle this but as you've come to realize - there may be reasons you need to change. I'll also add that a lot of songs in the past are out of tune slightly - IIRC 867-5309 Jenny is slightly out - not E or Eb but somewhere in between (or sharp). It used to be common practice for studios to speed up a song during mastering to make it shorter and fit on a record album or 45, and I bet radio stations even rigged their turntables to play a bit fast to get more commercial time in. A few run a bit slow. I think I remember one Van Halen album was all over the place - it was like they came in and tuned to whatever the guitar was close to and went with it that day (would be hell if you had to go back and do overdubs later!).

Since you're playing at home and not gigging, the software route would be great - not only can you change an E to an Eb or vice versa, but you can get all of those "slightly out of tune" ones as well. For years I had a hard time figuring out 867-5309 Jenny becuase of it being slightly out. And who wants to bother with re-tuning the guitar for every song you want to learn!

So, option 1 - re-tune the guitar (or use the capo)
Option 2 - re-tune the song!

I prefer the latter because once familiar with the software, it's actually easier than re-tuning the guitar (especially with a floating trem or god forbid, a locking nut).

Also though, you don't HAVE to have the tremolo to learn the song. You could learn it without. Barracuda has a flanger on it too. Are you not going to learn it because you don't have a flanger pedal? (or would you if you didn't). Learn the song, then move to the other guitar and work on the tremolo bits without the record after you get where all the notes are. And BTW, learning by ear is great, but at some point you should go "off record" and try to get a "mental memory" of the song and then try to "hear it in your head" and figure it out without the recording. When you get better at this, you can hear a song that's been tuned down in the recording but you'll recognize the chords and be able to pick up a standard guitar and play it "in position" even though it sounds in standard tuning.

That by the way is one of my pet peeves.

I won't play a song that was recorded down a half step down a half step. If it was Eb, I'll play it "using the same shapes" and "using the same positions" but in standard tuning. I'm not going to tune down, or bring a second guitar out just to suit a singer who can't sing a half-step higher. And I'm not going to play the song a half-step down if it's a guitar-driven song where the sounds of the positions are important (some songs you can transpose without ill effect). So you get it "in E". I only bring out the 2nd guitar tuned to Eb if I'm getting paid $200+ for the gig, or if the entire night is in Eb and I can just use one guitar tuned down the whole time.

When I used to bring a back up guitar with me, I had it in Eb at one point and I have had to pick it up and play a song "in E" with a capo or just by playing a fret higher when I broke a string on the E guitar and didn't have time to re-string - so not a bad skill to have. However, it ended up being more useful to have one guitar in standard and one in dropped D (which could be retuned quickly to standard in an emergency).
 

SmallStones

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
720
We play 1/2 step flat in my duet. I use the Roland Cube Jam app when I'm learning or practicing new songs with the record. It allows you to change the key as needed. Not in love with the interface but it's free and works well.
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
36,450
I have two of everything that I use. One for standsrd, one for flat.
2 LP standards
2 teles
2 p-90 guitars(one junior, one special)
2 semi hollow/hollow(riviera/rocket)
2 slide/open guitars (melody maker/silvertone

They switch roles sometimes, but not often.

I had 2 strats for a while. I need to fix that problem.
 

phazersonstun

Member
Messages
3,117
2 of the 3 groups I gig with tune to Eb.
I keep 2 guitars setup up in Eb & the rest standard.

As far as playing at home or learning new songs,
Ill play what ever guitar is within reach.
Unless the song I'm learning relies heavily on open strings, I'll transpose on the fly accordingly.
 

muzishun

Member
Messages
6,484
I need E, Eb, Eb dropped, D, D drop

The vibrato thing does complicate it.

I have to draw the line so as to not need too many guitars at a gig so my Floyd equipped are in standard, E and Eb.

My LP types can bounce from standard to drop tunings.

But yes actually at home I play my 2 '86 rg 440's. Eb and E.
 

dlguitar64

Senior Member
Messages
5,626
It is funny, I have been gigging with bands since the late 70s and have never been asked to tune down
once.
 

muzishun

Member
Messages
6,484
Yep. I have over a dozen guitars, all in standard tuning. If I need to I just tune 'em to whatever. Open G gets used more often than dropped tunings for me, though.
At a gig!

I don't think that will work. (Know it doesn't)
 

SteveO

Member
Messages
16,470
At a gig!

I don't think that will work. (Know it doesn't)
I only very occasionally brought more than one guitar to a gig (two guitarists, there was no issue covering each other if there was an issue), and we didn't really play anything outside of a few Stones tunes that were in alternate tunings (classic rock and older). And I gigged a LOT, too, but that was quite a while ago (nineties). As for the open G stuff, I can tune a guitar to that tuning in seconds.
 

Skeet skeet!

Senior Member
Messages
3,418
I love playing Thin Lizzy. And they arent the only band out there that plays down a half step so yes I have a cheaper guitar that is dedicated to eb
 

muzishun

Member
Messages
6,484
I only very occasionally brought more than one guitar to a gig (two guitarists, there was no issue covering each other if there was an issue), and we didn't really play anything outside of a few Stones tunes that were in alternate tunings (classic rock and older). And I gigged a LOT, too, but that was quite a while ago (nineties). As for the open G stuff, I can tune a guitar to that tuning in seconds.
Well there you go. It worked in this format.

So, why again is it funny?
 




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