RickyThomson
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Join date: Apr 2012
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#1
Hi all. For a long time now, i've always thought that half-step tuning was literally halfway between D# and E (for the 6th string) when tuning down, because it's conveniently halfway between the 2 notes.

Until today, when browsing a few guitar sites (not this forum) i noticed several posts mentioning that half-step tuning is also called D# tuning. So that with the guitar, Eb is apparently the same note as D#. I had assumed D# tuning would be a whole-step down.

For some reason, many tabs i've learnt from the internet that were written as Eb, sounded correct with "quarter-step-down" tuning. But some other tabs that label the song as Eb tuning, need to be tuned down to D#.

I regularly use my chromatic tuner set to 435Hz when tuning down to what i assume is half-step, instead of the 440Hz for standard. What is this called if it isn't half-step tuning? Is it just called quarter-step tuning?

Is D# tuning identical to Eb tuning?
Last edited by RickyThomson at Jan 28, 2013,
gquady09
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#2
D# and Eb are literally the same note. How they are notated depends on the Key Signature of the piece you are writing/playing. As for the A440 part of the post, I never change that setting on my tuner, even when tuning down from standard.
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RickyThomson
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#3
Quote by gquady09
D# and Eb are literally the same note. How they are notated depends on the Key Signature of the piece you are writing/playing. As for the A440 part of the post, I never change that setting on my tuner, even when tuning down from standard.


I only change the 440Hz setting, as my tuner (not expensive) only shows Sharps And Flats. I read somewhere that changing the tuner to 435Hz is the equivalent of tuning down when the sound hits "E" on the tuner.
Andy Pollow
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#4
Is D# tuning identical to Eb tuning?


yep and you could also call it Fbb tuning too
Mister A.J.
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#5
Technically, Eb and D# are the same tone, not the same note. One or the other is used, depending on the key and function of the note. Guitar tuning for Eb and D# is the same though, just two different ways of writing it.

Quarter-tones are finicky bastards because it's hard to achieve them in tune. A quarter tone is the note between A and A#, or B and C. A few band's songs actually do use quarter tunings (1/4 down, 3/4s down, 1/4 up, etc.) for some weird reason. From what I remember, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica is one such song.

A440 is what you should ideally tune to, as most Western music tunes to A440 (although I've heard 441 and 442 used as well). If you tune to 441 and you play a song with an orchestra or something tuned to 440, it is going to sound really weird, and not in the good way. You should keep your tuner in A440, and just tune the guitar until the note reads as whatever you want.
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Last edited by Mister A.J. at Jan 28, 2013,
zero_wing
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#6
The A440 is the reference the tuner uses. It's basically saying that you're expecting A to be 440Hz (which it should be for western music) and relates all other notes from that, so the A an octave down would be 220 Hz etc.
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#7
For Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden used Dropped D down a 1/4-step.

Pantera played everything either a 1/4-step down, or 1-1/4 step down.

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cdgraves
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#8
How did you not notice you were out of tune with recordings?

I suggest going to the guitar store and asking the person behind the counter how to tune your guitar to the tunings you like.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jan 28, 2013,
RickyThomson
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#9
Quote by cdgraves
How did you not notice you were out of tune with recordings?

I suggest going to the guitar store and asking the person behind the counter how to tune your guitar to the tunings you like.


Did you not read anything? I noticed that many tabs which say "half-step down" for the tuning, didn't sound right when i was tuning down a quarter of the way and i found my self tuning down again to make it sound right.

For example the song by 'Generation X' called 'Kiss me deadly' is what i understand to be a quarter-step down as of now. But i had always thought that tuning was called half-step down. I didn't realise D# was the same as Eb, and i thought D# was called a whole-step down.

I know how to tune my guitar thanks.
RickyThomson
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#10
Quote by Mister A.J.


Quarter-tones are finicky bastards because it's hard to achieve them in tune. A quarter tone is the note between A and A#, or B and C. A few band's songs actually do use quarter tunings (1/4 down, 3/4s down, 1/4 up, etc.) for some weird reason. From what I remember, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica is one such song.


That's why i adjust the hertz on my tuner. If i set it to 435Hz, and match up the markers to EADGBe/standard, it now becomes what i understand to be quarter-tone tuning. Obviously if i am playing in standard i tune to 440Hz.

I guess you could go down another 5Hz and that will be D# tuning, although the E string will read as an E on the tuner.
BlueIceBox
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#11
There really is no need to adjust it though. When tuning down, you tune down until you see 'Eb' on your tuner.
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RickyThomson
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#13
Quote by BlueIceBox
There really is no need to adjust it though. When tuning down, you tune down until you see 'Eb' on your tuner.


Yes... that's the point though lol. My tuner doesn't show Eb.
I thought half-step a.k.a Eb tuning was "between D# and E". But i know now that Eb is the same as D#. So what i thought was "half-step" was really "quarter-step".

A tuner set to somewhere between 433Hz / 435Hz when reading "E" (green light matched up) is technically 1/4 step down. I've known this for a while, but reffered to it as 1/2 step wrongly.

I was just confused about the whole Eb thing.

Does any understand me? sorry if i'm being awkward.
Last edited by RickyThomson at Jan 29, 2013,
Funk Monk
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#14
Off Topic Question: Why is 440hz for "Westerern Music" and what would eastern music call for?

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cdgraves
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#15
Quote by RickyThomson
Yes... that's the point though lol. My tuner doesn't show Eb.
I thought half-step a.k.a Eb tuning was "between D# and E". But i know now that Eb is the same as D#. So what i thought was "half-step" was really "quarter-step".

A tuner set to somewhere between 433Hz / 435Hz when reading "E" (green light matched up) is technically 1/4 step down. I've known this for a while, but reffered to it as 1/2 step wrongly.

I was just confused about the whole Eb thing.

Does any understand me? sorry if i'm being awkward.



You don't need a tuner to change tunings. Just check the 6th fret against the A string. When that's good, tune the A down and check it against the D string, etc.

If you have a floating trem bridge your tuning may not hold when the tension changes, but there are lots of online tuners. If you have an iPhone, I use the free app "Guitar Tuner" that includes pretty much all common tunings.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jan 29, 2013,
Drew-A
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#16
As was previously stated Eb and D# are the same pitch (what you call it depends on the key).

Tuning down to Eb (D#) is literally tuning all the strings down 1/2 step. This is very easy to do on a chromatic tuner.

1/4 step down must be that the original recording was not tuned to a tuner, and just wound up being somewhere between 82.41Hz and 77.78 Hz (E and Eb on the sixth string).

Lots of recording from the 70s are a little bit off like this. Might be best to tune to ear for those.

And "A 440" tuned down a 1/2 step would be approximately 415.3Hz - you can multiple or divide by 1.0595 to get this value. Never heard of anyone tuning to 435Hz, though.
Last edited by Drew-A at Jan 30, 2013,
JimDawson
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#17
This whole quarter step tuning thing is all wrong. A quarter step down isn't simply subtracting 5-7 Hz off of your reference note. It's actually about 427.5 Hz if you wanted to do it that way.

Here's the equation to figure that out:

440*2^(x/12)

x is the number of tones higher/lower than 440 Hz you want to find the frequency of. The 12 is there because usually you would use this to find the pitch of something out of a twelve tone octave. Since in this case you would be wanting to find one quarter tone lower the bracketed part would be (-1/24).
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Last edited by JimDawson at Jan 30, 2013,
RickyThomson
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#18
Quote by Drew-A
As was previously stated Eb and D# are the same pitch (what you call it depends on the key).

Tuning down to Eb (D#) is literally tuning all the strings down 1/2 step. This is very easy to do on a chromatic tuner.

1/4 step down must be that the original recording was not tuned to a tuner, and just wound up being somewhere between 82.41Hz and 77.78 Hz (E and Eb on the sixth string).

Lots of recording from the 70s are a little bit off like this. Might be best to tune to ear for those.

And "A 440" tuned down a 1/2 step would be approximately 415.3Hz - you can multiple or divide by 1.0595 to get this value. Never heard of anyone tuning to 435Hz, though.


Hmm, for the songs i've learnt that appear to be tuned to 435Hz standard, do actually come from around 70-80's era. So it's not necessarily a "normal" tuning?

So would i be right to assume the bands simply tuned to each other when they recorded the song, or rather a side-effect of analog recording (tape stretching etc)?

Quote by JimDawson
This whole quarter step tuning thing is all wrong. A quarter step down isn't simply subtracting 5-7 Hz off of your reference note. It's actually about 427.5 Hz if you wanted to do it that way.

Here's the equation to figure that out:

440*2^(x/12)

x is the number of tones higher/lower than 440 Hz you want to find the frequency of. The 12 is there because usually you would use this to find the pitch of something out of a twelve tone octave. Since in this case you would be wanting to find one quarter tone lower the bracketed part would be (-1/24).


Ah that makes sense. I think this is solved now.

Thanks all.
Last edited by RickyThomson at Jan 30, 2013,
Drew-A
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#19
Quote by JimDawson
This whole quarter step tuning thing is all wrong. A quarter step down isn't simply subtracting 5-7 Hz off of your reference note. It's actually about 427.5 Hz if you wanted to do it that way.

Here's the equation to figure that out:

440*2^(x/12)

x is the number of tones higher/lower than 440 Hz you want to find the frequency of. The 12 is there because usually you would use this to find the pitch of something out of a twelve tone octave. Since in this case you would be wanting to find one quarter tone lower the bracketed part would be (-1/24).


So, if you wanted to find the this for "quarter tones", it would be the 24th root of 2 or 2^(1/24) which is about 1.029, instead of 2^(1/12), which is about 1.059?

So for 1/2 steps 440/1.059 is about 415 (G#/Ab), which is right. And 440/1.029 is about 427.5. That's not 435. Not sure where that number comes from.

Seems this is all pretty academic!

Maybe sometimes tuning by ear would be easiest, if the tuning seems a little off (which could be due to a variety of reasons). For your normal playing tune to whatever reference pitch your band wants to!
Last edited by Drew-A at Jan 30, 2013,
cdgraves
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#20
435 was an orchestra tuning standard a long time ago.
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#22
Quote by RickyThomson
So would i be right to assume the bands simply tuned to each other when they recorded the song, or rather a side-effect of analog recording (tape stretching etc)?


Depends who you're talking about and when; I've heard a bunch of different things regarding who did what and why:

Metallica, For Whom The Bell Tolls was apparently either slightly sped up after they recorded it or they tuned up so they were in tune with the bell sample at the start of the song.

Pantera... because Dime wanted to, I think he said it was a string feel thing.

Van Halen, apparently have some songs that are slightly out because they (or just EVH) tuned to an old piano that was sitting around in the studio and they all tuned to each other or something like that.

Machine Head either because Pantera did it, tuning to Robb Flynn's vocal range at the time or for the feel of it while playing.


None of these have been properly confirmed as far as I know and for the most part it doesn't really matter.
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Drew-A
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#23
Quote by cdgraves
435 was an orchestra tuning standard a long time ago.


Maybe that explains it! Still seems odd that bands from the 70s would tune to an old orchestral standard, though. Who knows...