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Why do a lot of bands tune to E flat?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by flareaga, Sep 11, 2007.

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  1. flareaga


    Mar 1, 2007
    Does it really make that much of a difference?
    As a bass player I have a hard time understanding.
  2. Some of the singers I played with actually liked it due to he songs being easier to sing for them. Also makes some a rock a little more ballsy IMO.
  3. Yup, it gives them "that" sound.....
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I have found that it's usually done to suit guitarists and vocals.

    Basically, the guitarist wants to use lots of open chords, but the singer is more comfortable in a lower key. So the guitarist tunes down.

    Also, hey man, like, Alice in Chains did it :bassist:

    Does it sound more ballsy? eh...maybe by half step:D
    Anders Barfod likes this.
  5. Muckaluck


    Oct 11, 2005
    Whitby, Ontario
    To make it a nightmare to learn new tunes on a 4 string.
  6. fyi - coheed and cambria tunes down to Eb. Check their stuff out - crazy high vocals (that actually sound ok IMO), great guitar and basslines.

    pretty balsy to me, especially things like welcome home, delerium trigger, and the final cut

    just my 2cents
  7. It just sounds cooler than A440 to me. I've been tuning down a 1/2 step most of my playing/performing life. My left (fretting hand) developed much strength and dexterity when playing standard tuned stuff on a flat tuned bass (starting with playing E on the first fret of the E string et al) when begrudgingly playing with those who refused to tune down back in the day. It helped me alot when it came to transposing as well. My brain just thinks Eb tuning when I'm thinking about music. For example, Rush's "Tom Sawyer" comes on the radio and I think to myself, "this would be so much better in Eb", lol. That's just how I operate. While my main band is tuned as such, I joined a second band earlier this year that uses both tunings and I'm (again, begrudgingly) going along with it, since they were already established and needed a replacement, they have a great following and I didn't want to come across to these guys as a jerk with my "flat nazi" train of thought. I know alot of musicians don't see the tuning in a favorable light, but I just like it better. Simple as that.
  8. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    Isn't A still 440Hz though?
  9. In flat tuning, it would be A335HZ (Ab), or so my tuner would indicate ;) .
  10. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    A4 is 440Hz wherever it is. A doesn't morph into Ab just because you tune the string down and you are playing Ab as the open string. Sorry if you missed that my question was rhetorical.
  11. \m/

    Let's not forget Slayer! They tune down to Eb as well.


  12. Phantopeth


    Jan 10, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Why do a lot of bands tune to E flat?

    Because with the right amount of distortion, an open Ab bar chord on a guitar tuned to Eb standard is the single greatest sounding chord ever within a rock setting.


  13. Johnny Crab

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

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    Before computers.
    Now you Pitch Shift(Moves song key)

    and Time Warp(restores song to original length to maintain tempo).

    Or you can Pitch Shift with Preserve Tempo checked.

  14. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned Jimi Hendrix yet. He often/usually/(always?) tuned down to Eb. I was just reading an interview with Billy Cox (who played bass on the Band of Gypsies and later recordings) where he said that Hendrix liked to tune down because it was more comfortable for his vocal range.

    I've also read an interview with Pat Cosey (played electric guitar in Miles Davis's early '70s electric bands) who uses CRAZY alternate tunings - going so far as to rearrange the strings - who says that he started using the Eb tuning early on and taught it to Hendrix. Pat Cosey is also on the Muddy Waters album Electric Mud, which is one of those "love it or hate it" albums. Really profound player - Miles Davis's Agharta is one of my favorites.

    Stevie Ray Vaughan also tuned down - got it from Hendrix perhaps?
  15. Easy8


    Sep 5, 2007
    Austin, Tx
    Stevie Ray Vaughan also tuned down - got it from Hendrix perhaps?

    Yes, SRV got it from Hendrix.
  16. a ton of bands tuned down a half step.. i know nirvana did it on alot of songs..
  17. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I should also add-
    horn players LOVE the keys of Eb and Bb...

    a Eb/Bb blues scale on the piano is mostly back keys...

    so a blues man might opt for Eb tuning to make sitting in easier
  18. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Yes, it makes a difference. Your strings have less tension on them so they sound slightly deeper/darker (however you wanna describe it) and also it can make a huge difference for the singer if it fits their voice better.
  19. dulouz


    Dec 7, 2006
    Get a 5 and it won't be an issue...
  20. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    +1, there's a big difference in the sound. It's not only to make the vocals easier, although it sometimes might be the case.

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