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Down tune 1/2 step?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jalepina, Mar 26, 2002.

  1. jalepina

    jalepina Guest

    Mar 6, 2002
    SW Colorado

    The first cover band I played with down tuned their guitars 1/2 step... I believe this is called concert tuning? They said it gave a "beefier" live sound. (it wasn't to accommodate the singer. Most of the songs were played in the identical key as the original, just on down tuned instruments)

    So, the habit was formed from the beginning. My five string is always tuned down.

    I crashed a jam session a few days ago, and a guitar player jumped my sh*t. "Well, I just can't see how that can be done.. I mean, how do you hit the chords???" WHAT????? I guess I have to work a lot harder, and don't hit many open strings, but it doesn't bother me.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I'm not sure I got the last part of your post, but thanks to the vocal skills of our singer I never had to do tune down for him.
    I use my D-Tuner occasionally, but not to play a song 1 or 2 semitones lower to help out the singer.

    Some guitarists claim that tuning down a halfstep improves the sound (on a strat), though. Hendrix used to play like that.
  3. There is something about Eb on a Stratocaster.

    I did it for years when I played a lot of Hendrix and SRV and was really into the slightly... darker and meatier sound that the tuning along with heavy strings (.12-.54) provided.
  4. Yes. Sometimes. Quite a few bands use .5 step down tuning. When we write origionals, it's usually in D# or C# as lowest note. Plus I like the string tension better, sounds cooler. And isn't that what's important??:D
  5. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    i don't think tuning down 1/2 step is "concert tuning." standard would be.

    prove me wrong if i happen to be.
  6. jalepina

    jalepina Guest

    Mar 6, 2002
    SW Colorado
    I'm not wondering whether standard tuning is the same as concert tuning. I only wanted to know if anyone else down tuned 1/2 step.
  7. I play in a metal band with 2 guitarists that use different tunings. Our lead guitarist tunes his E string a whole step down, and our rhythm guitarist switches between a drop-D guitar and a 7-string tuned a full step down. I tune my 5-string down a full step and transpose my patterns on the A, D, and G strings. It gets really fun when we learn cover songs and both guitarists have to deal with the tuning disparity.

    Some guitarists can get funny about transposing because they have to rely a lot more on open strings. Also their intonation gets messed up when they tune down.

    I had some religeous fanatic approach me one time with a petition to prevent musicians from tuning down as it somehow defiles music and makes it satanic!
  8. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    [manic evangelist voice: ON]


    [said voice: OFF]

    so...to answer your question, no, i don't drop 1/2 step. it's just not me.
  9. PICK


    Jan 27, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    I have down tuned half a step for years. I think it sounds better. Probably cause im in a metal band. It sounds more evil but the string tension stays bearable not too loose just right. Eb rules!
  10. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    Even if your guitar players are tuning down you really don't have to unless they are riding that Eb.

  11. Commandment #11: Thou shalt not tuneth thy bass to Eb... Tunest thou not unto 439, nor to 441, but unto 440... :D

    oh crap... am I going to burn for posting this over Easter?
  12. I'd love to hear the logic behind dropped tuning being evil. I don't get to big cities often, so I don't get to see the fun crazies much.
  13. It had something to do with taking music the way it's supposed to be played (God's creation) and perverting it by playing it at a lower pitch. The people that asked me to sign their petition obviously didn't know much about music, and at the time I think it was just a dig at heavy metal. Those were the good ole' PMRC days.
  14. Hah. Illogical on so many levels, but funny. :)
  15. weezer does it. i don't like the looseness, i would probably just buy a five string if i had to play with guitarists that tune to Eb.
  16. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    neglected to mention that i have a fiver, which is one of the many reasons why i don't change tunings much.

  17. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    The band I'm in now tunes down a whole step.. D-G-C-F. Kinda cool.. makes things sound heavier. Except, when the guitarist is showing me new tunes, he still refers to things in terms of standard tuning. I caught on to that pretty quick..
  18. I played in a hard rock/ heavy metal band a few years ago and our guitar player was always trying to get us to tune down a 1/2 step. It does give the overall sound a thicker tone but I also felt it made things sound a bit dull so I was always campaigning for standard tuning. After I left the band they got a bass player who either had no opinion on it, or had no say because the started tuning a whole and a half step down (C#)... Now that was thick.:p
  19. I like the lower tone, and it is really heavy, but it's getting so played out these days too. When I was shopping for a 5-string to match my guitarist's 7-string, I was concerned about a flabby B-string. After looking around awhile though, I bought a Fender Jazz Bass and the string tension is just fine.

    A few pitfalls I found about tuning down so much:

    The B on my 5-string (tuned down to an A) is so low it doesn't sound right through my 410. I'm thinking of biamping a bigger speaker, which means getting a new head. Oy!

    In the studio, it was a little tough for the engineer to eq everything and avoid excessive overlapping in the frequency spectrum.

    At frequencies that low it's hard to discern certain pitches. If we're not careful we could be playing wrong notes and not notice!

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