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  1. #1
    Hot For Teacher marcin's Avatar
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    Default Van Halen live tuning/fingerings

    Hey, my question is: how does Edward generally deal with different tunings?

    I always thought that he adapted fingerings to tunings but from quick looking at Tokyo Dome show i see he is using the red guitar (sure standard tuning) only for cradle will rock and tattoo. Everything else must be half step down or lower (like unchained). For example, he uses black/white guitar (half step down) for Hot for teacher and he definitely taps on the 12 th fret suring intro tapping - so he uses half step down tuning and standard tuning fingering positions?


    1:05:50 Hot for Teacher


    During Hagar era he played most stuff in standard, (with Jump and Panama in standard while atbl is only quarter step so it didnt make much difference). However, eruption was recoded in eflat but cathedral in standard, so when he is doing his solo spot... At the Tokyo Dome guitar solo right in the beginning (1:45:48) he plays this Good enough outro tapping part and it looks the fingerings are original - 12, 7, 5 etc, ending with 3rd fret on b string and tap at the 11th. It is even better visible in other videos:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=43&v=aczbEqcHzCg
    around 0:40
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=55&v=QJYMdGpJQFs
    around 0:50

    So, I guess he doesn't change fingerings but I always thought that doing like that is unprofessional. But who am I to teach him. Any opinions?
    "If it sounds good, it is good" - Eddie Van Halen, 1981

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  3. #2
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    Unprofessional?

    That's how everyone does it

    If he tried barring chords rather than using the proper tuning it wouldn't sound the same (not to mention be next to impossible to play most of his songs).

    It's like using a capo, you know what I mean?

    Most of the time you see a guitarist change guitars in the middle of a set it's usually for different tunings.

  4. #3
    Hot For Teacher marcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsbll4 View Post

    Most of the time you see a guitarist change guitars in the middle of a set it's usually for different tunings.
    Yeah, i know, but Ed did't change the guitar for "Hot for Teacher". Like i wrote earlier, he just played it half step lower on black/white guitar (while the red guitar was used for the other standard tuning stuff). I can only guess, but I believe black white wss in Eb while red was in standard tuning...

    So, the question is why didn't he change his axe then? Is playing the song half step down/up a "no big deal" kind of thing?
    "If it sounds good, it is good" - Eddie Van Halen, 1981

    "Don't give up, seroiusly. I mean if I can do it, you can do it, seroiusly" - Eddie Van Halen, 1985

    "If he ever talks to me like that again he better be wearing a cup" - EVH, 1996

    "Death by Hollywood, a little too fabulous for his own good" - Edward Van Halen, 2005

    Jeff Fiorentino - EVH style and tone master http://jfrocksguitarlessons.com/guitarlessons/vinheut/

  5. #4
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcin View Post
    Yeah, i know, but Ed did't change the guitar for "Hot for Teacher". Like i wrote earlier, he just played it half step lower on black/white guitar (while the red guitar was used for the other standard tuning stuff). I can only guess, but I believe black white wss in Eb while red was in standard tuning...

    So, the question is why didn't he change his axe then? Is playing the song half step down/up a "no big deal" kind of thing?
    It's because HFT doesnt have any backing keyboards. You'll notice he switches guitars for I'll Wait, Tattoo, and Cradle because those have keyboard tracks he has to play along to. I suppose they could have transposed the keyboard track down a half step with some processing, but they dont, so he still plays it in standard tuning.


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    Eruption AFU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcin View Post
    Yeah, i know, but Ed did't change the guitar for "Hot for Teacher". Like i wrote earlier, he just played it half step lower on black/white guitar (while the red guitar was used for the other standard tuning stuff). I can only guess, but I believe black white wss in Eb while red was in standard tuning...

    So, the question is why didn't he change his axe then? Is playing the song half step down/up a "no big deal" kind of thing?
    Why would anybody switch to a standard tuned guitar to try to play a song that's a half step down. Doesn't make any sense! Just use a properly tuned guitar for the song!

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  9. #6
    Hot For Teacher marcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFU View Post
    Why would anybody switch to a standard tuned guitar to try to play a song that's a half step down. Doesn't make any sense! Just use a properly tuned guitar for the song!
    Come on, man, Hot for Teacher is originally played in standard tuning, not half step down. Why are you bullshiting me?
    "If it sounds good, it is good" - Eddie Van Halen, 1981

    "Don't give up, seroiusly. I mean if I can do it, you can do it, seroiusly" - Eddie Van Halen, 1985

    "If he ever talks to me like that again he better be wearing a cup" - EVH, 1996

    "Death by Hollywood, a little too fabulous for his own good" - Edward Van Halen, 2005

    Jeff Fiorentino - EVH style and tone master http://jfrocksguitarlessons.com/guitarlessons/vinheut/

  10. #7
    Hot For Teacher marcin's Avatar
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    I think i need to clarify my point . I always thought that when you play a song in different tuning, ya need to transpose it. However, EVH doesn't do it.


    Example: back in Hagar years Eddie was playing Eruption or Mean Street jam (part of his live guitar solo) in standard and - as far as I am concerned - he didn't change fingerings. Now with Roth, Edward is playing Cathedral or Good Enough tapping part (part of his live guitar solo) in eflat and also does not change fingerings. Same applies to Hot for Teacher, written for standard tuning.

    That means he is performing them half step up/down respectively. With guitar solo, i understand that is extremely hard to switch tunings between short parts (trans trem maybe?). But with Hot for teacher - if he is not switching fingering positions why not switching the guitar?

    bsbll4 said that Edward disn't do that because HFT doesnt have any backing keyboards. So, does it mean that playing a song half step up/down from original version is a big deal/thing worth to bother?

    Thanx for your answers...
    "If it sounds good, it is good" - Eddie Van Halen, 1981

    "Don't give up, seroiusly. I mean if I can do it, you can do it, seroiusly" - Eddie Van Halen, 1985

    "If he ever talks to me like that again he better be wearing a cup" - EVH, 1996

    "Death by Hollywood, a little too fabulous for his own good" - Edward Van Halen, 2005

    Jeff Fiorentino - EVH style and tone master http://jfrocksguitarlessons.com/guitarlessons/vinheut/

  11. #8
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
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    Default Van Halen live tuning/fingerings

    Probably because it's easier to sing down 1/2 step. Maybe they don't think the keyboard tunes sound good transposed, so they play it standard.

    I'm not sure HFT was ever played in standard tuning other than the album.
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  13. #9
    Atomic Punk RRvh1's Avatar
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    I could be wrong here, and forgive me if I am, but I think you might be confusing two things:

    Ed wouldn't always need to transpose his fingerings on any given guitar, because the guitar would be in tune with itself on any certain song. Tuning a half step lower makes the guitar strings looser and easier to play - less tension/less effort from the fingers. It's also is a tried and true method for helping with vocals by making certain notes easier to hit. Eddie has often said that he basically plays 'patterns' and goes by the dots on the neck. This can be done on a standard tuning or half a step down, etc. The shapes would be the same, even if the notes vary slightly.

    Ed would have to transpose his fingers/shapes if he were to play a song in a different key signature altogether... That would be a different story, and it's the same for any player.
    Also, he have to use different fingerings for a "dropped D" tuning (for example) because the altered string(s) would have different pitches than the rest of them.

    Hope I explained that right? Haha.
    "There's too many people on this basketball that's floating around the sun, who are too afraid to allow themselves to FEEL" - Edward Van Halen
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  14. #10
    5150 GilmourD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcin View Post
    I think i need to clarify my point . I always thought that when you play a song in different tuning, ya need to transpose it. However, EVH doesn't do it.


    Example: back in Hagar years Eddie was playing Eruption or Mean Street jam (part of his live guitar solo) in standard and - as far as I am concerned - he didn't change fingerings. Now with Roth, Edward is playing Cathedral or Good Enough tapping part (part of his live guitar solo) in eflat and also does not change fingerings. Same applies to Hot for Teacher, written for standard tuning.

    That means he is performing them half step up/down respectively. With guitar solo, i understand that is extremely hard to switch tunings between short parts (trans trem maybe?). But with Hot for teacher - if he is not switching fingering positions why not switching the guitar?

    bsbll4 said that Edward disn't do that because HFT doesnt have any backing keyboards. So, does it mean that playing a song half step up/down from original version is a big deal/thing worth to bother?

    Thanx for your answers...
    Honestly, there's no rules for music. You'd be amazed, actually, at how many bands that used to play in standard have actually started tuning down to Eb because their singer's range has dropped slightly or it's just easier to sing in. That means that all songs, regardless of original tuning, are played half a step down, or sometimes even more.

    Honestly, I do the same thing as Ed. When I gig I take two guitars, one in standard and one in Eb. Depending on the song I'll switch up. And that's mainly because I have a keyboardist AND keytarist in my band. It's easier for me to switch to a guitar tuned differently than it is for a keyboardist to go through multiple menus to transpose the keyboard or to relearn the song in a different key because the chord fingerings are different.

    Led Zeppelin tuned down half a step for their reunion concert in 2007 because Plant had trouble hitting some of the higher notes.

  15. #11
    Romeo Delight
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    Probably because it's easier to sing down 1/2 step. Maybe they don't think the keyboard tunes sound good transposed, so they play it standard.

    I'm not sure HFT was ever played in standard tuning other than the album.
    That live HFT video from castle donnington 1984 is standard tuning. They tuned to standard for the 1984 tour in general which is weird

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    Good Enough garbeaj's Avatar
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    Check out my thread on Van Halen tunings on the MetroAmp forum for more information on Ed's precise tunings that I have transcribed using a Peterson StroboPlus HD from various recordings on various songs. Who knows why he used these various tunings, but the fact is he did use many different tunings on many different songs on many recordings.
    http://forum.metroamp.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=42944

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jps5150 View Post
    That live HFT video from castle donnington 1984 is standard tuning. They tuned to standard for the 1984 tour in general which is weird
    They tuned standard for the Diver Down tour also , the WACF tour was tuned down a whole step , now that is pretty weird

  18. #14
    Eruption
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    Quote Originally Posted by 51501984 View Post
    They tuned standard for the Diver Down tour also , the WACF tour was tuned down a whole step , now that is pretty weird
    I can't believe I never made that connection in my head before. You just blew my mind and now I'm going through the catalog of boots again.

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    Atomic Punk RRvh1's Avatar
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    I have a couple of early (pre first album) boots, where Eddie plays a whole step down. I remember thinking "WTF?" when hearing Eruption. Trying to play along with those familiar licks in that familiar style, and having it sound way off! Haha .
    "There's too many people on this basketball that's floating around the sun, who are too afraid to allow themselves to FEEL" - Edward Van Halen
    "Van Halen was never about the singer..." - a very wise fan.
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