Who tunes their B strings flat?

MothAttack

Member
Messages
799
The B string can be a PITA as far as tuning and intonation goes. EVH used to tune it flat where you could play a 7th fret-position E barre chord and it would be in tune. This would mean having to compensate by slightly bending it up when playing an open D chord.

How many in TGP land do the same? I’m debating starting to tune that way but I’m wondering how hard it’ll be to adjust to after 40-plus years of even tempered tuning. Would I clash with my keyboard player?

EVH's tuning (I've just learned from a TDPRI thread) was more complicated than tuning the B flat. Pretty cool actually.

(Weber) “I figured, ‘Ed’s got a hell of a left hand.’ I’m going to have to set the intonation flat enough so that when he grabs the neck, the notes are right.”

The move worked. But Weber wasn’t done. He thought about Van Halen’s classical training and his guitar playing style.

“When you strike a guitar to tune it, the note starts out sharp, then it settles into pitch,” Weber said. “Ed Van Halen is not going to stay in one place long enough for the note to settle into pitch.

“He’s also a classically trained pianist, so the strings open on the guitar don’t mean anything. They have to be in tune with themselves when he’s playing in any given song.”

To solve the issue, Weber tuned the guitar in the fifth position and, as he says, “split the difference,” which left the high D-sharp string 14 cents flat but in tune with the other strings. “If I played one of Ed’s guitars the way that I play my own guitars, I’d sound like a blithering idiot. I’d be so out of tune,” Weber offered.” "
 

ChickenLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,567
I tune as follow:
The B string must be 100% for damn sure NOT sharp. Same with all the wound strings...NOT sharp! Which means they will often be flat but not enough for a Boss tuner to show it strong.

The high E string must be as perfect as possible. And the G string should be NOT flat. Probably because I'll bend it and it won't come back perfect.

So NOT SHARP!! is more how I look at it.
 

KiwiRocker

Member
Messages
295
There's a Paul Davids you tube vid that talks about John Frusiante's tuning which seems very similar to VH's. Paul gives a good demonstration of why it works.
 

Bossanova

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,597
The B string can be a PITA as far as tuning and intonation goes. EVH used to tune it flat where you could play a 7th fret-position E barre chord and it would be in tune. This would mean having to compensate by slightly bending it up when playing an open D chord.

How many in TGP land do the same? I’m debating starting to tune that way but I’m wondering how hard it’ll be to adjust to after 40-plus years of even tempered tuning. Would I clash with my keyboard player?
The G as well. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll sound. No, it won’t clash with anyone else who is in tune.
 

Bossanova

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,597
The B string can be a PITA as far as tuning and intonation goes. EVH used to tune it flat where you could play a 7th fret-position E barre chord and it would be in tune. This would mean having to compensate by slightly bending it up when playing an open D chord.

How many in TGP land do the same? I’m debating starting to tune that way but I’m wondering how hard it’ll be to adjust to after 40-plus years of even tempered tuning. Would I clash with my keyboard player?
EVH didn’t invent this solution. The guitar is always going to be imperfect. Here’s how one master addresses it. Even if you’re not a fan of his songs, this man is one of the most in-tune mf’ers I’ve ever heard
 

jjaaam

Member
Messages
1,408
EVH didn’t invent this solution. The guitar is always going to be imperfect. Here’s how one master addresses it. Even if you’re not a fan of his songs, this man is one of the most in-tune mf’ers I’ve ever heard

I literally just came across this same video tonight.

Now my problem is the tuner in my POD Go doesn’t measure by cents…
 

Rotten

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,626
I tune the G string depending on where I am going to spend the most time on the neck.
 

DJ_17

Member
Messages
283
I do. Intonation is off just slightly no matter how much effort I put in. The D or G chord sounds horrible if I tune in perfectly.
 

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,162
My experience is that playing technique can factor into it greatly, as is evident from some of the stories referenced in the thread.

For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with inexperienced players whose Les Pauls go sharp when fretting notes/chords near the nut, and either they or another band member is hearing a problem but they can’t figure out why the open strings show perfectly in tune on the tuner but the D chord is horribly out of tune.

“The tuner is miscalibrated! I’ve seen this before!!” says the bassist.

“No he’s playing a Les Paul! They are notoriously out of tune - that’s why I only play Fenders!” says the keyboardist who doubles on guitar.

“I didn’t hear an issue??” says the drummer.

“Try lightening your grip” says the MD/lead guitarist. “Push the G string just far enough that it gets the fretted A note without buzzing, but no further”.

“Voila!” Issue fixed.

(for the record, I’ve probably been every one of the above at some point in my progression as a player!)
 

Chicago Matt

Member
Messages
104
I've tuned my B string a couple of cents flat for 50 years or so. Today I use a Petersen Strobo Clip and have it set to the "guitar sweetener" mode so it does it for me. :)
 

romiso

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
991
I've been playing piano 55 years - my undergrad was in music and piano was my primary instrument. So, my ear is totally attuned to even tempered tuning.

And I've been playing guitar a while, although not as long. My ears are hyper sensitive to the strings being the slightest bit out of tune - specifically, out of even tempered tuning. I hear intonation when I fret strings. I think my hands automatically and unconsciously adjust pressure to compensate as needed.

I've suspected that most professional fretted instrument players do the same thing - although there is nothing scientific to my assumptions here.

If it's true, then I would suggest you NOT change your approach to tuning, even though I'm guessing you would probably adjust for it fairly quickly.

I'll be curious to see what others have to say.
I'm in the exact same boat in terms of well-tempered (or even, as you call it) vs equal. For me it's just a matter of compensating, including not playing certain chords in certain positions.

I have a Rhodes piano, and the tuning guide tells you how many cents sharp or flat to tune each note, which I thought was pretty neat.
 

tabb74

Member
Messages
1,236
I went down this rabbit hole with the G string on my ‘92 SG. Drives me crazy. I tried an Earvana compensated nut and that just made intonation issues WORSE up and down the neck on some of the other strings. So basically my understanding with that guitar is I can choose to have the G string sound in tune when played open, by tuning it right on the money with a tuner set to 440, so not sharp or flat (strumming a “cowboy chord” G) and it’s out of tune on all the fretted notes, OR tune the G string a few cents flat while grabbing a D chord ( so G string fretted at the second fret while tuning) so it’s in tune on all the fretted notes but sounds like garbage when played open. Aaargh! None of my Les Pauls have this issue.
 




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