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Tuning half step flat

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by telefoo, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. telefoo

    telefoo TDPRI Member

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    I'd like to tune half step flat all the time. To me, It just sounds and feels better. Most of the guys that make me want to play guitar have tuned a half step flat at one point or another. I use hybrid slinky .009 to .046 strings on my main guitar, an American Deluxe Tele. I retune that to open E on a few songs. Another guitar I keep tuned to open G. Another has a locking vibrato bar. I bend the **** out of the strings when I play lead. Sometimes a step and a half+.

    The bass player (who has exactly one bass) just texted me asking to retune to 440. I do not want to do that but I'm not sure how to go about explaining why.

    I'm the band leader. Me and the drummer pay the rent on the rehersal space. He doesn't care where I tune ;) We just agreed to bring in a new singer who we've rehersed with 5 or 6 times. He's only commented on one song where it affected his range (Mary Janes Last Dance). I think they actually tune UP a half step, so we're actually playing it a whole step flat.

    I guess the main reason for posting this is because I like to keep the band strife down to a minimum. I fired our last bass player a few months ago and that SUCKED!

    I'm going to rehersal in about an hour. I never texted the bass player back.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle Tele-Meister

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    I hate tuning 1/2 step down. HATE.

    edit - I guess for advice if the bass player plays a 5 then it's no big deal, but if it's a 4 then IMO play in standard.
     
  3. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's how you explain it. I don't care for it either but it's not my band and it doesn't matter to me other than I would want to use bigger strings.

    I don't quite understand the comment about having exactly one bass. That seems like exactly the right number.
     
  4. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    My MIM Tele is strung with .011's, just for the occasion.
     
  5. TeleTim911

    TeleTim911 Friend of Leo's

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    I've been in a quite a few bands that tuned 1/2 step down. Never a problem for us. It's actually easier on the singers doing 4 or 5 sets a night, like we used to do.
     
  6. Guitardvark

    Guitardvark Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    :mad: bass players. I never thought them or singers deserved a full share.
     
  7. grinchmonkey

    grinchmonkey Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I can't imagine playing on .009's tuned down 1/2 step, it seems like they would just be floppy. I like to tune down to Eb on acoustic if I am doing any lead stuff, though. Maybe explain to the bass player why you like it and ask why he doesn't like it. Maybe there is an easy solution if you two just talked about it.
     
  8. MonkeyKing

    MonkeyKing Tele-Meister

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    Why doesn`t your bass player just tune down too?
     
  9. gpasq

    gpasq Friend of Leo's

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    +1
     
  10. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle Tele-Meister

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    Depending on the bass setup and scale tuning down might sound really bad.
     
  11. kylejf90

    kylejf90 Tele-Meister

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    I don't like to tune down a half a step, it just sounds off to me. If i do tune down its a whole step.
     
  12. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I did a pick up top 40/oldies gig last Saturday.
    The day before the gig I get an email (band email) from the leader that he's decided his voice hits the sweet spot a 1/2 step down.
    So be it, he's the leader and he pays me so 1/2 step down it is.
    Thank god I use .011s and play a Tele. No issue really, other than when the two 'guests' got up to sing a few in the 'actual' keys. Which I knew was gonna happen so I brought a capo.

    It's frustrating right before a gig to lay that on a player but if you're rehearsing it shouldn't really matter too much.
    *I play with a bass player in one band that plays a 5 string and tunes down a 1/2 step - ?
     
  13. telefoo

    telefoo TDPRI Member

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    So it went much smoother than I expected. The bass player asked where're we tuning. I said a half step flat and that was that. And again the only song the singer had an issue with was Mary Janes Last Dance. I suggested I capo at the 2nd fret, putting it closer to the studio version pitch. The bass player said it didn't sound as good. :/

    I just meant by the "exactly one bass" that I have 4 guitars to maintain. I have them set up for a half-step flat. If I retune to 440 I'll have to readjust. To my ears the half step does affect the intonation.

    I've been thinking about moving to 10's for a while now. But like I said I do a lot of bending and I guess I've just gotten used to the rubberyness of the 9's. The hybrid strings I'm using are already 10's on the top (E A D), but I don't bend them near as much as the bottom three. I've got 10's on my open-G tuned ibanez but it's mostly for slide and chording. Very little bendy leads.

    All in all it was a good rehersal. Everyone left feeling pretty good. Found out the singer has a pretty good Rod Stewart voice. We rocked the ****e out of Stay With Me ;)

    Thanks for the input.
     
  14. dlb1001

    dlb1001 Tele-Meister

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    The guitar player tunes down a half step on her acoustic; that's why I use a 5 string. But, her electric guitars are tuned normally so she has had a couple of instances where she forgot when she switched back to acoustic.
     
  15. joshigh

    joshigh Tele-Meister

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    We now tune down to Eb. I had my main Tele setup for that and went up to 10s from 9s. Made a big difference. The only problem I'm having is feeling like I'm playing wrong notes in songs I'm used to playing. I think it's part of the "perfect pitch" phenomenon I'm hearing.

    You get used to 440 and drop it a half step and things sound weird. Our singers love tuning down, they say it really helps.

    I have another Tele at home tuned at 440 and I use that for playing along with songs to practice.
     
  16. JCSouthpawtele

    JCSouthpawtele Friend of Leo's

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    Whatever makes the Singer most comfortable. If his voice has to last for three or 4 sets over a two night weekend. Your fingers will adjust to whatever tuning, be it 440 or a half step flat.
    That being said, I call slight BS on the difficulty of singing. If the song is higher,wouldn't it be easier if you didn't have to strain to hit the high note? I know most of the cover bands I work with tune down a half step.
     
  17. telefoo

    telefoo TDPRI Member

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    Someone did mentioned that if they had been playing a song in a given key for a long time, then play it a half step off it just doesn't *sound* right. I can kind of see that but to my ears notes are relative, not absolute. If I pick any random note on the low E string I can sing the rest of the major scale starting at that note. I guess I'm refering to intervals when I say notes are relative.
     
  18. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I have played in several bands that tune to E flat.
    No big deal for me, it's kinda fun.
    I know two seasoned, professional bass players who refuse to "play along".
    This too is no biggie, for me.
    As a sometime bass player, I have not had to decide.
    I'd probably just cooperate.
    Hendrix, SRV, and Buck Owens all detuned, with happy results.
     
  19. Delta Blues

    Delta Blues Tele-Afflicted

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    As did Van Halen.
     
  20. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This is the principal reason for doing it and if the bassist isn't a vocalist I can understand why he reasons the way he does. For him he may not like how that forces him to alter his bass patterns on a 4 string unless he tunes down as well.

    If he plays a 5 string it really shouldn't become an issue and if he plays a 4 string I'd simply suggest the next higher gauge set of string or a set with greater tension to cope with the lower tension of an Eb tuning. I go through that constantly when I'm playing bass sometimes with one band in standard tuning and the other in Eb. All it takes is the right strings and a tweak in his setup.

    You may also want to move up one notch in the gauge of those guitar strings too. .009s will get pretty flimsy feeling dropped even a half step. I'd think about going to at least a .010 set if not .011s.

    Good Luck with that bassist.
     
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