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What key is "Jumpin' Jack Flash" in ?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Sturg, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Sturg


    Nov 29, 2013
    So I am trying to learn the bass part, which is fairly simple, but I cannot really tell what key it is in.
    It actually seems to be between A and B, but it isn't quite A# either. The only way to play along with it is drop tuning all my strings.
    Does anyone know the actual key of the tune??
  2. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    Sounds close enough to Bb. Why would you need to downtune? Are you on a 4 string?
  3. Sturg


    Nov 29, 2013
    I am on a four string. I am not drop tuning to go to Ed or D, I am just trying to match pitch with the recording, that is all. I should have said "adjusting" my tuning to match pitch with the recording.
  4. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    Gotcha. I'm just confused as to why you'd want to tune down to match. Tuning up would probably make it easier (play in A instead of B). But maybe I'm thinking too guitar-like. Either way, it sounds close enough to Bb to me that I think you shouldn't have to tune down. What is the recording medium? CD/mp3? Youtube? Sometimes youtube can be off purposely.
  5. Sturg


    Nov 29, 2013
  6. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    try a different youtube. I just tried the "official" one from rollingstones.
  7. thomcat79


    Apr 9, 2014
    We used to play it in Bb:bassist:
  8. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    SPECIAL NOTE: you need the Super Duper Rolling Stones Official Out Of Tune Tuner to get it exact.
    IMO, they purposely played out of tune or never tuned with a strobe to sound different. Makes it hard or near impossible to listen to when you have perfect pitch(from hearing an older sister practice classical music and scales on a piano for years as a child).

    You could get the mp3 and use Goldwave or any other software to "fix" the pitch.
    It's what I do on any cover tune that we do in a different key.
  9. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Varispeed was common in those days. Many tapes were sped up just a bit to add energy to the
    recording. Studer decks and many others had Varispeed control. This accounts for a lot of
    recordings that went to pressing and were "between" keys. I'd suspect it was tracked in A.
    LM Bass likes this.
  10. Sturg


    Nov 29, 2013
    Thanks for all the suggestions and information here. I appreciate it.
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I definitely prefer to down tune just a tiny but. I usually just tune one string down to play along with it so I don't screw my whole bass up. Some Tom Petty songs are the same way...Just slightly off pitch. So Is Layla by Derrick and the Dominoes. For Layla I retune my whole bass just a fuzz lower.
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Bb. We play it in B, which is a mistake IMHO. Guitar players can no longer play in flat keys.

  13. I always remember this sequence.
  14. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    If I had to guess I would suspect Keith Richards used one of his Open G tuned guitars (with the lowest string removed) and a capo on the second or third fret, thus making the resultant key B flat (possibly sped up from A as noted).
    TomB and ddnidd1 like this.
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    True. A lotta things were "between" keys.
    No tuners back then...sometimes, the player providing the reference note for tuning was a bit off. IIRC, "Politician" by Cream is an example. Clapton was a bit "out"...it was supposed to be in "A" (not "G#/Ab"). :)

    The Hot Rocks 1964-1971 Bass Book has "Jumpin' Jack Flash" in "B" (5-Sharps).
    IIRC, Johnny Winter And's very cool version is in "A".
  16. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    In fact, Keith said exactly this (open-G tuned, 5-string, no mention of capo) in his autobiography "Life". JJF was the first hit song he recorded with this technique and he went on to use it for many others. ...a fun read, BTW!
    Tony B. Filthy likes this.
  17. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    I'd say "B", it makes the most sense when you get to the chorus of D, A, E, B, as there are(at least on the original recording)arpeggiation/embellishments on top of the chords, which would be a real pain in the ass for a guitarist to play in any other key. Recorded music is definitely not necessarily played back at proper pitch, due to a variety of reasons. In the "Rock'n'Roll Circus" clip, regardless of what Keith's tuning is, you can see Brian playing the chord as "B", second fret, "A" formation barre chord(but plays a 7th fret, "E" formation B for the crescendo at the end of the chorus). The riff is actually in A(E, Gb, A). But in that video, the pitch is "C".

    Bill is obviously playing it at the 7th fret, not really playing the riff, but alternates between rooting on B and A(on the original recording, he just pedals on "B"). It's interesting that by the time they were playing the tune live, Keith and Brian were just chomping away on chords, and those little embellishments dissappeared. In the original promo video from 1968, the audio track is an entirely different take, and the shot is so murky and the cuts are so quick that you can't really see what anyone's playing(there was also a second version with the original music bed of the record, but a different Jagger vocal track over it); the audio comes off as C#, and does sound sped up...

    Move ahead a year, and you can see Mick Taylor in the very first frame(and briefly through the rest of it) playing a barre chord at the 7th fret...
  18. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    Drop it into Audacity and experiment with adjusting the pitch. When you're happy with it, export it to MP3. I do this with a lot of songs that are recorded a half step down so I don't have to detune when practicing.
  19. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Since there's organ on the original track, it must have been vari-speeded....
    The Lurker likes this.
  20. Sgt. Rock

    Sgt. Rock

    Apr 10, 2010
    "Baba O'Reilly"" (The Who) and "Love is All Right Tonight" (Rick Springfield) are two that immediately come to mind as being impossible to play along with unless you tune to them. Whether it was tape speed, originally out of tune in the studio, I dunno, but it's a pain.

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