I just read this off EVH wikipedia page and it wasn't really explained very well. Can someone clarify? Thanks


Though rarely discussed, one of the most distinctive aspects of Van Halen's sound was Eddie's tuning of the guitar. Before Van Halen, most distorted, metal-oriented rock consciously avoided the use of the major third interval in guitar chords, creating the signature power chord of the genre. When run through a distorted amplifier, the rapid beating of the major third on a conventionally tuned guitar is distracting and somewhat dissonant.[citation*needed]

Eddie tuned to "Hendrix's tuning" which is flat E, the open G and B reaches a justly intonated, beatless third. This consonant third was almost unheard of in distorted-guitar rock and allowed Van Halen to use major chords in a way that mixed classic hard rock power with "happy" pop. The effect is pronounced on songs such as "Runnin' With the Devil", "Unchained", and "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?".

With the B string flat, chords in some positions on the guitar have more justly intonated thirds, but in other positions the flat B string creates out-of-tune intervals. As Eddie once remarked to Guitar Player:

A guitar is just theoretically built wrong. Each string is an interval of fourths, and then the B string is off. Theoretically, that's not right. If you tune an open E chord in the first position and it's perfectly in tune, and then you hit a barre chord an octave higher, it's out of tune. The B string is always a mother****er to keep in tune all the time! So I have to retune for certain songs

A guitar can't be perfectly intonated over the whole neck, and it sounds like he when tuned to Eb some notes that he liked to play were better intonated.

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after 5150 some stuff he did sounds like he just picked up a different guitar without tuning it for every song. Not saying it sounds bad....its just a MF to try to figure out what he is doing. The earlier stuff is easy.
What the hell!!!
I think he tuned Eb Ab Db Gb B Eb ?

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he tunes to E flat what is hard about understanding that? Every string is tuned to the flat of that note.
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he tunes to E flat what is hard about understanding that? Every string is tuned to the flat of that note.
That's not what he's saying at all.

Yeah, the guitar is in Eb, but he's talking about the B string in particular. Basically, he has to detune the B string based on what chord shapes he's using because the B string cannot be perfectly intonated.