The Eddie Van Halen Special Tuning Thread

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by mrrstrat, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. mrrstrat

    mrrstrat New Member

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    OK: I just read some crap about EVH tuned his low E flat and his B flat so it had some novel sound because of lots of theory on harmonics.

    So its Eflat-A-D-G-Bflat-E...Wouldnt that sound like a kick in the nuts? I mean I do play 2nd degree intervals on the G and B string to be obnoxious and irritate bandmates, but this tuning is something else.

    Is this him BS'ing and protecting his tone (similar to how Robin Trowler would protect his tone)?

    I basically grew up playing guitar and never heard of this - whats the truth and whats BS?
     
  2. Marshall Mann

    Marshall Mann Well-Known Member

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    There is no way that tuning would sound like anything like what we hear from his recordings.

    I do know that Eddy is famous for contradicting himself and making shit up as he goes during interviews though.
     
  3. thrawn86

    thrawn86 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like BS again.
     
  4. metromutt

    metromutt Active Member

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    Ed tuned half a step down, that claim has either been reported wrong in the press or mag from what Ed said (all strings) or read wrong by the reader. Have you got the link to the interview?
     
  5. mrrstrat

    mrrstrat New Member

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    From the venerable Wikipedia ("Eddie Van Halen"):

    "Tuning
    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 bitch to keep in tune all the time! So I have to retune for certain songs
    "

    This is the same guy who threw those "180 dollar" guitars out of parts in the early 80's and admittantly did not have electronics and soldering skills (but we can forgive him for that because he ended up making up for that!).

    I am not convinced that a non-tech guy would be driven to persue the "beatless third". Im moderately technical and I could give a shit about the beatless third. After 30 years, Im still working on staying in tune, keeping my gear functioning, not writing compositional duds, and staying in time!
    :rock:
     
  6. AudioWonderland

    AudioWonderland Active Member

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    Total BS but its on the internet so it must be true
     
  7. Wycked Lester

    Wycked Lester Well-Known Member

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    I think what they are trying to say is basically this....

    He tuned his b string to be a perfect major 3rd harmony (which is what its supposed to be anyway but will alway be a few 'beats' out of tune) for tunes that he was using alot of 'A' shaped barre chords,....but would then tune, for instance, the B string 1st fret to be a perfect 4th to the G string [again, the way its normally tuned except made the 4th intervel beatless.

    In other words- you can never have these two notes ......

    ------------------
    ------2------------
    ------2-------------
    -----------------
    -----------------
    ----------------

    to be in PERFECT tune at the same time that these two notes are in perfect tune

    --------------
    ------3--------
    ------2---------
    ---------------
    ----------------
    ---------------

    so he would tune whichever one the song mainly required, to be beatless, or 'perfect'
     
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  8. mrrstrat

    mrrstrat New Member

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    Great explaination! It seems lazy to me - why not just fret the chords with the regular tuned B? I do tune to an open G occasionally and often tuned my kids guitars to open G when they were young so I did not have to hear an open G played without fretting an open G.

    Heres one for you:

    X---------------------
    ---2-----------------
    ---5-----------------
    X---------------------
    X---------------------
    X---------------------


    Its a favorite of mine to piss people off and sounds awsome loud and distorted.
     
  9. Wycked Lester

    Wycked Lester Well-Known Member

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    because that way your 'A' chord and your 'D' chord would both be equally -a little out of tune-.

    So like on a tune like Runnin WT Devil,...all those chords would have a major 3rd that was a hair sharp. ...which sounds fucked up because the major 3rd interval is VERY unforgiving,...its either on or it sounds way off....the 4th interval is not nearly as finicky

    What he probably did, as do many others,...me included ,...is flatten the B string a hair to sweeten the major 3 harmony in the "A" shaped chords, then you learn to bend the "D" shaped chords in tune.

    Its splitting hairs, but it does make you chords a little 'sweeter'
     
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  10. kramer.geetar

    kramer.geetar New Member

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    That wiki article is correct, and WL has the right explanation. Roth era songs were all tuned half step down, Sammy era went more into standard from what I recall but I just play everything in Eb :D
     
  11. SmokeyDopey

    SmokeyDopey Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Yes its true. Not a full half step.
    I did this as a kid without even realizing. I never used a tuner, and I always fought with my 3rd and 2nd strings.
    I'm sure there were intonation problems besides that, but when doing power chords on the 5th string, the 2nd string would ALWAYS sound sharp, so I always gave it a tug and a wiggle to stop the out-of-tune vibration.
     
  12. Australian

    Australian Green Beret VIP Member

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    Buzz Feiten. :dude:
     
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  13. SmokeyDopey

    SmokeyDopey Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    OH! I'll make a fuzz pedal called: Fuzz Beiten :headbanger:


    (I don't know how to make pedals)
     
  14. mrrstrat

    mrrstrat New Member

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    Cool - I wondered why I could never really nail that seemingly simple progression. It is a bitch to deal with the B.
     
  15. tresmarshallz

    tresmarshallz Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting information here, I love it.

    Isn't there a type of compensated string nut that is supposed to help with this? Earvana or something like that?

    I thought I read that the PRS guitars had some sort of built in compensation in the design for this issue, but I've never noticed it being completely solved on my PRS McCarty.
     
  16. Wycked Lester

    Wycked Lester Well-Known Member

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    ----------------------------------------------------
    -5--7-----7--8---10----9------------------------------------
    -5--7-----7--7----9----9-------------------------------------
    -5--7-----7--9---11----9---------------------------------------
    -3--5----------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------
     
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  17. JSJ900

    JSJ900 Active Member

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    The article mixed up three or four tuning issues; Eb tuning, tuning all stings slightly flat in standard , drop-D tuning and tuning to compensate for intonanion (tuning to a chord instead of open strings). Eddie did all four of these things. He did not tune to Eb, A, D, G, Bb, E. That would sound like ass.
     
  18. mrrstrat

    mrrstrat New Member

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    Thats what I thought! As a guitar player, I could not understand the article as this tuning did not make sense as I sounded the notes out in my head (again, the kick in the nuts sound..)
     

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