If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

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Andrew Fryer
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If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:03 am

Suppose you were playing session blues guitar or rock guitar and you were asked to play in Eb; how would you do it?
Would you tune the guitar down a semitone, or would you do it some other way?
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bear
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by bear » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:31 am

Self taught, so I apologize if I'm missing something.
Eb Maj. -I play as written.
Eb minor -I use to start a fire
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Blondie » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:44 pm

Very few blues or rock tunes or guitar are actually written for the key of Eb for obvious reasons, its not a key that sits well on the guitar, particularly for this music.

However, many blues and rock bands are known to tune down a semitone (AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Hendrix, SRV...) it's a pretty common practice, so whilst their songs in E are technically (pitch) in Eb they would be normally be referred to as 'being in E', and chord/tab books would be written to reflect this and the correct riffs/chord voicings used.

..so tune down.

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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by PeteJ » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:50 pm

I'd expect a session player to play in Eb as requested. For blues and rock it's not big deal to noodle a fret up or down from the usual places. If it's a struggle then it may sometimes work to use a capo on III and play in C. All depends. Or, as advised, to tune down a semitone. Anytime a guitarist plays with brass or a singer limited in range the problem is likely to appear.

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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:04 pm

In terms of Jazz guitarists, they are trained to play in just about any key imaginable, as they have to fit in with the rest of the jazz ensemble.

It can be done fairly easily for those who are decently trained, it just means playing shapes on the inner strings and making sure that the outer two strings are always damped.

Any well trained musician should be able to play outside of the usual idioms of their instrument.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:43 pm

Yes but the OP was about blues or rock in a session, the authentic practice would surely be to tune down, not make as if it was jazz. Completely different sonority - in classical terms its kind of a Historically Informed Performance question.
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by JohnW400 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:50 pm

Depends on the song or what the producer wants

if , for example, they want an "E" blues type of tune where they want that SRV kind of open string jangle sound then tune down to Eb. Same for an A blues in Ab.

or you could do a drop D keeping the other 5 stings 'at pitch' but still have access to a low Eb

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:04 pm

Thanks, everyone. I deliberately kept the question vague-ish to invite all styles of reply. I think I now remember reading somewhere that Hendrix tuned down, so it no longer surprises me if it's common practice.
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:46 am

I'm not an ex-rocker by any means! (I still rock to this day- even when I'm not playing classical guitar!)

I tune down to E-Flat, or sometimes a Capo with other Drop tunings.

Another advantage I've had with alternate tunings, in addition to the different voicings; it's helped
when working with a vocalist.

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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:11 am

Also the style of music lends itself to tuning down:
You can't really play the right riffs without open strings,
the strings bend more easily, and tuning down is a heavier sound!

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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by PeteJ » Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:13 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:43 pm
Yes but the OP was about blues or rock in a session, the authentic practice would surely be to tune down, not make as if it was jazz. Completely different sonority - in classical terms its kind of a Historically Informed Performance question.
I think you're right. It's a performance question so depends on the music.

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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:37 pm

If assassinating the composer is not an option, then tune down. Or get everyone to agree to step up to E. I've played in rock bands for nearly 50 years and I have never once seen a rock song in Eb. So I think this is one of those esoteric and/or rhetorical questions that has no basis in actual usage.

But going with the esoteric for a moment, tuning down on a locked nut tremolo system, like the Floyd Rose II, takes a lot more time than tuning a standard nut. This will also affect action and intonation. So the real choice would be to form consensus and do the song in E.

I wouldn't really suggest assassinating the composer, although that might be easier than down tuning a Floyd Rose II. :D
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:23 pm

Well, obviously I'm just asking why some songs are in Eb. I didn't want to post an example, because I didn't want the thread to drift to a discussion of that song. It could just have been a matter of tape speeds. But "some people tune down" is what I wanted to see, so I'm happy.

Also I didn't want to post a Youtube link, as then there's the additional problem of possible PAL sampling rates making things a semitone sharp (but I've got the CD, so I know that's not what's happening).
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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by Wuuthrad » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:01 pm

I would add that Eb, in most cases, isn't the key of choice, but the result of down tuning due to preference and style, which can also make singing in key easier or even possible.

It's also somewhat common, in rock and metal, to tune down, sometimes as far as C.

But maybe more people will start writing tunes in Eb now just for kicks?

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Re: If you are an ex rock and roller, how would you play guitar in Eb?

Post by pmiklitz » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:05 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:03 am
Suppose you were playing session blues guitar or rock guitar and you were asked to play in Eb; how would you do it?
Would you tune the guitar down a semitone, or would you do it some other way?
Play in D with a Capo on the 1st fret? This technique is also useful for arrangements.

Peter
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