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Old 10-18-2009, 04:11 PM   #1
thekidkid32
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Why tune a half-step down?

Hey so I've been really enjoying playing some John Mayer lately and have noticed that on a number of his songs (and many other bands I've seen) he tunes all the strings a half step down. My question is why? I understand it would be beneficial if you were playing open strings but he doesn't in, for instance, "heart of life" which I'm playing right now.

Why can't I just play everything a half-step down instead of tuning it that way? Am I missing something obvious here? I feel like I must be. Thanks
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:16 PM   #2
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The same reason capos were invented.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:19 PM   #3
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that halfstep makes a difference on some vocals and it makes the strings more bendy
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:20 PM   #4
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Also the strings feel softer and they are easier to bend when you tune them a half step down, many blues players like Hendrix or SRV have done that
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:20 PM   #5
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Usually because of the vocalist.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:20 PM   #6
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Tuning a half step lower reduces the overall tension on the strings giving it a different feel and sound then simply playing the notes a half step down.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:21 PM   #7
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Also, try playing the chords Eb Ab Bb7 Eb ... good luck doing that in standard.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:23 PM   #8
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I tune half step down because there is less tensions thus making bends easier and nicer.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:28 PM   #9
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Sometimes lower sounds better.
Or its because else the singer can reach certain notes...
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwrmax
The same reason capos were invented.



but capos are rarely used on first fret. there usually 2nd fret or higher, because otherwise there isnt enough different for it to matter, which makes his question once again very much a good one, the answer, to make the strings easier to bend as previously stated.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:17 PM   #11
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my playing is split half n half between jazz and metal and from a jazz side of things it makes more sense, i play in the key of Eb and lot more then E and and open strings can be utilized a lot more.
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:07 AM   #12
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If you only tune down a half step because "it makes the strings easier to bend"....then you're possibly not the sharpest tool in the shed...

You can accomplish the same thing by reducing your string guage by one numerical value (from .10's to .09's etc)

SRV and Hendrix didn't tune down because it made bends easier. They tuned down mostly because of their vocal range.

SRV actually did the opposite - he played on .13's because he wanted to keep a higher string tension - he didn't tune down because he wanted to make bending easier, he increased his string guage to make bending harder despite his lowered tuning which allowed him to play "harder" and gave him his awesome tone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahammock
but capos are rarely used on first fret. there usually 2nd fret or higher, because otherwise there isnt enough different for it to matter, which makes his question once again very much a good one, the answer, to make the strings easier to bend as previously stated.


I'm going to venture out on a limb here and guess that you don't know what the hell you're talking about...

A capo is just as usefull and serves the same purpose at the first fret as it does at any other fret.
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwrmax
Also, try playing the chords Eb Ab Bb7 Eb ... good luck doing that in standard.

...What?
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Forkman
...What?


Yeah....you could still play them - just an octave higher....
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:35 AM   #15
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All of those chords can easily be played in either tuning.
More notably Bb7!

In my opinion the whole 1/2 step tuning thing is just annoying.... i have to retune to play along to SWeet Child Of Mine
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:00 AM   #16
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Open chords sound different. Strings are slightly looser. Some just prefer the sound of it.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:27 AM   #17
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I think it's a matter of necessity to some degree, then it's preference.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:48 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by branny1982
All of those chords can easily be played in either tuning.
More notably Bb7!

In my opinion the whole 1/2 step tuning thing is just annoying.... i have to retune to play along to SWeet Child Of Mine


thats nothing to brag about, I bet mostly everyone on this site knows how to play along to that.

And different tunings are mainly for the singers range, if you notice one band always plays in a certain tuning, it's cause it helps the singer match the key of the song easier. For me, when I try to sing (I said try), I like to be a half step down, and play songs in standard tuning on a lower key, cause my voice has a better range half step down.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:03 PM   #19
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when i write my music i tune a half step down from D A D G B E to Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb honestly i really couldnt tell you why, i just did it because i thought it gave my music a little bit of a darker tone, i guess it just feels like it gave the sound a little bit of a harder edge but thats just me.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:04 PM   #20
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usually its just because of the singer, but i do beleive it gives certain songs darker tones.
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