• OVERVIEW •
Though immortalised by Hendrix in the late 60s, ‘half-step down’ has been in use for many centuries – both in its own right as a timbral/register choice, and as a natural way of breaking in new strings on virtually any lute-style instrument. Jimi himself had a mix of motivations:
The Eb root matched better with his voice, and the ~10% lower string tension allowed for wide, vocalistic bends, as well as reducing hand strain – a significant factor for someone so inseparable from their strings. (Interestingly, his tech Roger Mayer adds how it also helped him counteract intonation issues from playing a right-handed Strat upside-down).
Since adopted by countless others – often those who wield longer-neck electrics (e.g. the scale length of a Strat is about 3% longer than that of a Les Paul, meaning it can go lower with less risk of buzz. Although you can just re-string a Les Paul one gauge thicker for Eb and it will work great).
Pattern: 5-5-5-4-5 | Harmony: Ebm7(11) | Intervals: 1-4-b7-b3-5-1
• TUNE UP •
• SOUNDS •
Countless Hendrix devotees & more – including most output by SRV, Slash, Slayer, Van Halen, KISS, Motörhead, Rise Against, Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, Yngwie Malmsteen, Weezer, etc. Many other examples of bands sometimes going lower…often for their biggest tracks – e.g. Song 2 (Blur), Highway to Hell (AC/DC), Get the Funk Out (Extreme)
- Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix (1968):
• NUMBERS •
- See my Tunings Megatable for further such nerdery: more numbers, intervallic relations, comparative methods, etc. And to any genuine vibratory scientists reading: please critique my DIY analysis!
• RELATED •
—Associated tunings: proximities of shape, concept, context, etc…
- D Standard (this -1): one lower & slacker
- Baritone (this -4): why not go right down?
- Gothic: another ‘6str tuned to Eb’ arrangement
• MORE INFO •
—Further learnings: sources, readings, lessons, other onward links…
- Roger Mayer on Hendrix: more from his longtime tech in an interview for Guitar World
- Eb tuning: Tim Lerch features Eb in his Low-Tuned Telecasters talk – and read a pros and cons discussion on Jazzguitar.be forum (“…the Eb-strat-in-a-hat cats…”)
Browse 100+ tunings: type in names, notes, artists, sequences, words, etc. Also see tags below & the Full Menu.
—Rāga Junglism’s World of Tuning—
Everything you didn’t realise you wanted to know about guitar tuning – fresh perspectives from Ming Dynasty manuscripts to modern psychoacoustics via jazz, Joni Mitchell, Madagascar, & more. Ad-free, open-access multimedia resources, continually updated (‘tuned’) over time. Feedback encouraged!
George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and other global improvised traditions. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them. Site menu above, follow below, & get in touch!
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