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  1. #1
    On Fire Stealth5150's Avatar
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    11.10.17 @ 05:45 AM
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    Default Why are many VH songs 'off-tune?'

    Maybe someone can help me understand this: When trying to play along with many VH songs, many are not out of tune, but off-tune. The strings are in tune with each other, but the entire tuning of Ed's guitar is off--either sharp or flat.

    I don't believe this to be the result of the harmonizers either (could be wrong though). When I have my Eventide on for the harmonizer tunes, most sound correct and in tune.

    Here are some specific examples that I can think of off-hand:

    Around 1/2 step down:
    Beautiful Girls
    Panama
    Take Your Whiskey Home
    Simply Rhyme
    Light Up the Sky
    A.F.U.Wired (way off)
    Source of Infection (not sure if this is actually supposed to be in standard or not)
    Humans Being (LOVE to figure out how to tune to this!)

    Around standard tuning:
    Hang 'Em High
    Full Bug
    Sucker in a 3 Piece
    Girl Gone Bad (I think)
    Little Guitars (not quite a step and a half higher than standard)

    I tune all my guitars to 440 and use a Polytune tuner. I've checked my tunings against other tuners and it's pretty dead-on. I've tried different pitch-shift values in my Eventide but nothing seems to get me close. I've also tried to figure out if there's a pattern to these tunings but can't. Other songs that use heavy harmonizer sound perfectly in tune if I play along (Black and Blue, just about anything from Carnal Knowledge, and Balance.)

    Hope someone can make sense of this!

    Thanks very much in advance!

  2. #2
    Eruption
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    I believe this is largely done based on the singer and the range. For example, DLR is key of E and nothing else, Sammy had a much larger range which allowed for a lot of movement
    And sometimes a guitarist will change tunes to get a different sound, or go lower for more flexibility in the strings. These are guesses, I play guitar but tune by ear and never took a lesson, just kind of grabbed a feel for it

  3. #3
    Forum Frontman Double Down's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth5150 View Post
    Maybe someone can help me understand this: When trying to play along with many VH songs, many are not out of tune, but off-tune. The strings are in tune with each other, but the entire tuning of Ed's guitar is off--either sharp or flat.

    I don't believe this to be the result of the harmonizers either (could be wrong though). When I have my Eventide on for the harmonizer tunes, most sound correct and in tune.

    Here are some specific examples that I can think of off-hand:

    Around 1/2 step down:
    Beautiful Girls
    Panama
    Take Your Whiskey Home
    Simply Rhyme
    Light Up the Sky
    A.F.U.Wired (way off)
    Source of Infection (not sure if this is actually supposed to be in standard or not)
    Humans Being (LOVE to figure out how to tune to this!)

    Around standard tuning:
    Hang 'Em High
    Full Bug
    Sucker in a 3 Piece
    Girl Gone Bad (I think)
    Little Guitars (not quite a step and a half higher than standard)

    I tune all my guitars to 440 and use a Polytune tuner. I've checked my tunings against other tuners and it's pretty dead-on. I've tried different pitch-shift values in my Eventide but nothing seems to get me close. I've also tried to figure out if there's a pattern to these tunings but can't. Other songs that use heavy harmonizer sound perfectly in tune if I play along (Black and Blue, just about anything from Carnal Knowledge, and Balance.)

    Hope someone can make sense of this!

    Thanks very much in advance!
    The large majority of songs in the DLR era are tuned a half step down. Not "around" a half step down....a half step down.

    Vice versa for the Sam era. Majority in standard tuning.



    Who knows why. I have my doubts that it was about the range of the singer. Slash did a bunch of stuff in E flat and obviously range was NO issue with Axl.
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    VH with Dave ('78-'84) - The best years....the "real" VH.
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    VH with Gary ('98) - Fucking disaster. WTF was that??
    VH with Wolf/Dave ('12-'15) - Amazing comeback. Smokin' album and tours.

  4. #4
    On Fire Stealth5150's Avatar
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    With all due respect, I realize what they are supposed to be tuned to for both eras of VH. My point is, they're not tuned to an even half step down or standard. Both I'm the One and Simple Rhyme are supposed to be a half step down. If I play along with I'm the One the tunings match. Simply Rhyme is off pitch. Likewise with Full Bug vs. Black and Blue--Full Bug is off.

    Please know that I'm not trying to come off like a smart ass--I'm just genuinely curious if others have tried to play along with these songs too, experienced the same thing.

  5. #5
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
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    Default Why are many VH songs 'off-tune?'

    Ed has said he would often tune to what his low E was at and then Mike would tune to that. So yes there are some times where they're a little off pitch. It hasn't been glaringly bad when playing along with them but yes there are subtle differences from time to time.
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  7. #6
    On Fire Stealth5150's Avatar
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    Thanks for that reply! I never knew that. Any chance I'm paying just a little 'too much' attention to detail? I'd love to figure out Humans Being though. Seems whether I go sharp or flat of a half step down still nothing sounds right to my ears.

  8. #7
    Forum Frontman Double Down's Avatar
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    11.17.17 @ 12:11 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth5150 View Post
    With all due respect, I realize what they are supposed to be tuned to for both eras of VH. My point is, they're not tuned to an even half step down or standard. Both I'm the One and Simple Rhyme are supposed to be a half step down. If I play along with I'm the One the tunings match. Simply Rhyme is off pitch. Likewise with Full Bug vs. Black and Blue--Full Bug is off.

    Please know that I'm not trying to come off like a smart ass--I'm just genuinely curious if others have tried to play along with these songs too, experienced the same thing.
    Ok, sorry about that. Not knowing your experience I guess I wasn't following your point how you meant it. And I honestly didn't know that was an issue of songs being off from the correct pitch.
    .
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    VH with Dave ('78-'84) - The best years....the "real" VH.
    VH with Sam ('86-'96) - Incredible era....."We have renamed this town 'New Halen!'.
    VH with Gary ('98) - Fucking disaster. WTF was that??
    VH with Wolf/Dave ('12-'15) - Amazing comeback. Smokin' album and tours.

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  10. #8
    On Fire Stealth5150's Avatar
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    Oh no problem at all man! I'm sorry too--hope I didn't come off the wrong way. I'm 37 years old and have played since 1990 and never took lessons. I still got a long way to go though! I went through a time where I didn't play along with any given song/album (and I'm kicking myself in the ass for it!). My setup now accommodates playing along again and I noticed a while back that certain songs are a bit off. Brett's explanation makes perfect sense, though.

  11. #9
    Baluchitherium thismusicsux's Avatar
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    12.13.17 @ 10:54 AM
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    Yup... and E flat is the only way to go Well I like it better, gives a little more ooomph.

  12. #10
    Unchained RogueNT's Avatar
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    As a general rule, Ed moved to standard A440 tuning on "Diver Down" and subsequent albums because of the presence of keyboards...he tuned back up to standard to match them.

  13. #11
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    Default

    I haven't had too much of a problem with playing along to VH, but for other famous songs the tuning is so off I don't even bother to play along. The one that comes to mind specifically is Layla.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  14. #12
    Eruption garbeaj's Avatar
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    I have worked especially hard on notating the correct tunings from the Roth era albums over the last few years. I have posted a thread on the MetroAmp forum which is pretty comprehensive at explaining the various tunings:

    http://forum.metroamp.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=42944

    In the beginning of the thread I was using a StroboClip clip-on Peterson digital strobe tuner, but I switched to using the Peterson StroboPlus HD tuner because it is easier to use cent references when discussing variation in pitch (the Peterson StroboClip does not have variable cent reference, so I needed to upgrade to the Peterson StroboPlus HD because it DOES have a variable cent reference feature).

    I am working with my Peterson StroboPlus HD tuner to notate as many of the songs on all the Roth albums as I can as closely as I can. If you read through my thread you will see that there are very different and obviously purposeful tunings on many songs, most especially on the first album. The albums are NOT generally tuned exactly one-half step down or even to concert A=440 pitch.

    For example-and I've mentioned these in the above linked thread- there are several songs that feature guitars with individual strings that are out of tune with each other. I believe this was done purposefully. At first I thought it was because Ed did say that he just tuned by ear and had Mike tune to him, but there are reasons why the guitars are often tuned with individual strings that are not in tune with each other. The fact that individual strings are out of tune with each other eliminates the possibility that the variance in pitch is completely down to tape speed manipulation or anything done in the mastering process. Recordings that have all strings tuned with each other (like "Girl Gone Bad" for example) but tuned higher than standard pitch may have higher pitches due to tape speed or deliberate manipulation in the mastering process or it may be because of deliberate higher pitch tuning.

    Here are a couple of tunings that I have found so far...

    "You Really Got Me":

    High E: +25.5 cents from Eb
    ......B: +23.0 cents from Bb
    ......G: +23.0 cents from F#
    ......D: +25.5 cents from Db
    ......A: +25.5 cents from Ab
    -Low E: +23.0 cents from Eb

    "Running With The Devil"

    1st string: Eb +15.0 cents
    2nd string: Bb +29.0 cents
    3rd string: F# +35.0 cents
    4th string: C# +35.0 cents
    5th string: Ab +35.0 cents
    6th string: Eb +29.0 cents

    (I used my '75-'76 Ibanez Destroyer strung with .009 strings to measure these two songs...this roughly approximates the '75-'76 Ibanez Destroyer with .009 strings that Ed used on the original recordings. I used the Guitar Hero isolated tracks and the DCC Compact Classics gold CD Master Recording of the Van Halen album for reference...both the DCC Compact Classics Master Recording and the Guitar Hero isolated tracks are identical in pitch.

    "Girl Gone Bad"

    Tuned Up from standard pitch at +14.0 cents

    (I used my '58 reissue Gibson Flying V with a standard .009 set of strings which roughly corresponds to Ed's original '58 Flying V and .009 strings used on the original recording. I used the remastered HDCD of 1984 as the reference.)

    "Panama"
    1st string: Eb +38.0 cents
    2nd string: Bb +33.0 cents
    3rd string: F# +29.0 cents
    4th string: C# +39.0 cents
    5th string: Ab +30.0 cents
    6th string: Eb +32.0 cents

    (I used my Musikraft Kramer guitar to measure this recording. The original recording was done with Ed's Frankenstein with the early fine tuner Floyd Rose. I don't have a Frankenstein replica with a Floyd Rose, but I do have a vintage 1984-1985 Floyd Rose on my Musikraft Kramer...this was the closest guitar I had to the recording on hand. I used the remastered HDCD recording of 1984 and the Guitar Hero isolated track for reference.)

    In order to follow these tunings you specifically need:
    1. a guitar that is in good repair and has been intonated correctly without any issues.

    2. a Peterson digital strobe tuner with variable cent reference. This would include the Peterson Strobo Plus HD (this is the tuner I use) or StroboStomp Classic or any of the rack mounted digital tuners. Here is a link to the Peterson website so you can see which models have the variable cent reference. http://www.petersontuners.com/

    All guitars are intonated with the EQU setting and all tunings are referenced using Peterson's exclusive "Sweetened GTR" mode which is an offset specific to electric guitars. Read more about "Sweetened" tunings on the Peterson website.

    I'll be posting more tunings on MetroAmp as I find and notate them. If you follow my methodology and you have a Peterson digital strobe tuner with variable cent references it would be great to see what you come up with and compare my findings with yours. I haven't found anyone out there who cares or has the correct equipment, but it would be great to have multiple people confirming or correcting my findings.

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  16. #13
    Forum Frontman Double Down's Avatar
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    .
    .
    .
    VH with Dave ('78-'84) - The best years....the "real" VH.
    VH with Sam ('86-'96) - Incredible era....."We have renamed this town 'New Halen!'.
    VH with Gary ('98) - Fucking disaster. WTF was that??
    VH with Wolf/Dave ('12-'15) - Amazing comeback. Smokin' album and tours.

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  18. #14
    Unchained AsIs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garbeaj View Post
    I switched to using the Peterson StroboPlus HD tuner because it is easier to use cent references when discussing variation in pitch
    Garbeaj... just want you to know that I bought one of these last week solely based on your talking about it in your posts. Am loving it. -- All your transcription work is very much appreciated. Can't wait to get started learning some of this stuff the right way!

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  20. #15
    Eruption garbeaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsIs View Post
    Garbeaj... just want you to know that I bought one of these last week solely based on your talking about it in your posts. Am loving it. -- All your transcription work is very much appreciated. Can't wait to get started learning some of this stuff the right way!
    Fantastic! It will really help you immensely...I'm excited for you! It is great to really learn how to play things as close to the way they were actually played and learning how to tune your guitars to the recordings with a Peterson strobe tuner will make a HUGE difference in your understanding and learning. And of course this doesn't just apply to Van Halen recordings (though the Van Halen recordings feature some of the most complex and unusual deliberate tuning offsets that I have ever heard!)...the Peterson will be helpful in learning ANY recording properly.

 

 

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