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  1. #1
    Baluchitherium Jedi McFly's Avatar
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    11.16.18 @ 05:39 PM
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    Default Guide to Eddie's Tuning Technique

    Brett's mention of flattening the B string for his RWTD cover video reminded me of this. Lonnie Totman was Ed's guitar tech for the 2004 tour, and I believe he was slated to work on the '07 tour as well. He did an interview on Guitars101 IIRC and explained the process of tuning Ed's guitars. Here's what Lonnie wrote. (I tried to clean up the formatting a bit)

    Ed's bizarre tuning:

    This all MUST be done by ear with exception of first pitch. Programming offsets into a tuner will NOT work.

    Notes:
    • This tuning sequence typically needs to be done a couple times because everything "floats" so much (finger pressure, bridge etc.)
    • This tuning is TOTALLY dependent on mimicking Ed's finger pressure. If you press differently it all changes
    • A couple chords like "open D" usually sound fairly out. Ed has a pretty heavy hand and naturally pulls them in. So if this is a little weird sounding its normal.


    Tuning:
    1. Reference the 4th string open D to 440 with tuner this is ONLY time tuner is used with exception of a few strings while doing intonation
    2. Next step (by ear) - on 9th fret barre with 3rd finger on 4th, 3rd, 2nd strings. Your aiming for NO BEATING BETWEEN THESE 3 PITCHES. The whole tuning revolves around this section.(this drops the B sting a lot (approx. 14 cents or more) (its very important to make sure first finger is placed on 5th string 7th fret even though you don't play it, changes everything if you don't).
    3. Get the 1st string open E by playing it against the 2nd string open B WITH NO BEATING. (drops the E approx. 11 cents or more).
    4. To get the 5th string do a simple open A barre on 2nd fret with your first finger. Match the 5th and 3rd string for no beating. (4th string should be pretty much in).
    5. To get the 6th string C# PULL OUT THE D TUNER. Barre the first fret with your first finger. Match the 6th string first fret with the 4th string first fret with NO BEATING.
    6. To set D Tuner fine tuning push the D Tuner back in (normal setting). Place first finger on 7th fret and 4th string 9th fret with third finger. Fine tune these two pitches with no beating (allen screw on D Tuner)


    Intonation:
    1. Intonation for 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th strings can be done with a tuner like normal. If a little fine tuning is required trust your ear.
    2. To get 2nd string intonation play a B major triad on 9th fret (B-9th fret/4th string, D#-8th fret/3rd string, F#-7th fret/2nd string). Play one pitch at a time staring with B. Typically the F# will be way out. Adjust the 2nd string intonation to make the F# in with the rest of B major triad.
    3. To get the 5th string intonation play an E major on 7th fret (E-7th fret/5th string with first finger, Barre with 3rd finger on 9th fret for B,E,G#). Typically the E on 5th string will be out. Adjust the 5th string intonation to make the 5th string E in with rest of E major chord.


    None of this was explained to me. I compiled it by watching him fine tune during sound-checks etc. He totally freaks out when a tech doesn't "just know this". Unreasonable like usual.
    Have fun!!
    Have fun, indeed. I've tried this before, and while it sounded great on the main riffs tunes like Unchained and Panama anything in the first five frets or so sounded odd, especially open chords (as Lonnie mentioned). I think us mere mortals would likely get better results fine tuning per song/riff.

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  3. #2
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
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    Default Guide to Eddie's Tuning Technique

    Yeah that’s some crazy shit. When I flatted the b string I just did it by ear until it sounded right, I guess the “no beating” thing. I was also pretty careful when I did the rhythm under the solos not to hit the b on those open chords. It all was kind of a pain really.

    One reason I did switch guitars when I did the solo part of the song was I noticed it sounded just a bit strange with the flatted b.

    I am not a heavy-handed player. I never break strings (and I mean never I could go years on one set if I wanted to), and I have a light touch so bending stings to get chords into tune ain’t for me.
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  4. #3
    Atomic Punk Get The Show On The Road's Avatar
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    11.16.18 @ 06:38 PM
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    Default

    I always wondered why when I had my guitar in "perfect tune" according to my ear and tuner, if I played along with the recording on VHI or whatever it would sound "off." Now I know why.

    It's weird because like this mentions if you get your guitar in tune in the open positions (like if you're going to play AC/DC or something) whn you play RWTD or DTNA or Unchained or any of the stuff that's up the neck it doesn't sound right. And if you get those songs in tune it doesn't sound right when you play an open chord or even a power chord down by the nut.

    I tune similarly to that, not that in depth but depending on the song I'm playing I'll tune to diads up further on the neck with the "no beating" rule.

    Fortunately I'm just playing in my basement and posting silly videos to youtube so my method is close enough.
    The only genre I really know is Van Halen.

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  6. #4
    Atomic Punk RRvh1's Avatar
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    "It's very important to make sure first finger is on the 5th string 7th fret, even though you don't play it, changes everything if you don't."

    Yowza... I never got that in depth or even close to being that meticulous. And never did the tempered thing or the +/- cents tweaking. Sorry, Garbeaj!

    Just getting the open string to read on a tuner was my quick and easy go-to.
    **Walks away with tail between his legs...**
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  7. #5
    Hot For Teacher joezlo's Avatar
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    Default

    For as much of an Ed head as I am, I've never done any of his tuning tricks. Mine hays always been match the open a string of I'm the one and use the harmonics on 5th frets to tune the other strings. Double check chord harmonies on b and e using a open d chord shape higher up. and using an a based barre chord shape on b and g strings. I tune till the harmonies sound right to my ears and finger pressure.(Come to think of it, that does make an occasional open chord sound off)

  8. #6
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Where's our guy that could go one for days about Ed's tunings? Garbeaj? Was that his name?
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

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  10. #7
    Good Enough 5150rob's Avatar
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    reading all of this is pretty cool no doubt.... really cool. I guess what makes me laugh is when you actually listen to Ed back in 04 and how awful his playing was and out of tune he was it makes me chuckle that he actually pounded his techs to do all this ha ha haaaa.... I mean really? The 04 tour. I have so many live recordings from that tour and they are basically painful to listen to sometimes as Ed was so out of whack playing wise back then.

    glad hes razor sharp again for sure and I can see his "mad scientist" mindset for tunings being important again like in the past days. Very cool stuff for sure,

    Rob

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  12. #8
    Atomic Punk RRvh1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5150rob View Post
    reading all of this is pretty cool no doubt.... really cool. I guess what makes me laugh is when you actually listen to Ed back in 04 and how awful his playing was and out of tune he was it makes me chuckle that he actually pounded his techs to do all this ha ha haaaa.... I mean really? The 04 tour. I have so many live recordings from that tour and they are basically painful to listen to sometimes as Ed was so out of whack playing wise back then.

    glad hes razor sharp again for sure and I can see his "mad scientist" mindset for tunings being important again like in the past days. Very cool stuff for sure,

    Rob
    Absolutely! Good to see you around again, btw....

    Did you ever see that video where they preview/hype the 2004 tour, the "It's really all about Eddie..." one? Ed was saying that he still put marker/sharpy lines on the side dot edge of his fretboard to help him gauge his hand positions...

    After seeing and hearing some of the 2004 bootlegs, I thought he put those markings in all the wrong spots! Like he swapped the 12th for the 9th, and maybe put the 17th on the 16th etc. Haha.
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  14. #9
    Atomic Punk Get The Show On The Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5150rob View Post
    reading all of this is pretty cool no doubt.... really cool. I guess what makes me laugh is when you actually listen to Ed back in 04 and how awful his playing was and out of tune he was it makes me chuckle that he actually pounded his techs to do all this ha ha haaaa.... I mean really? The 04 tour. I have so many live recordings from that tour and they are basically painful to listen to sometimes as Ed was so out of whack playing wise back then.

    glad hes razor sharp again for sure and I can see his "mad scientist" mindset for tunings being important again like in the past days. Very cool stuff for sure,

    Rob
    I thought the same thing.

    How would he have even known if that process was followed?
    The only genre I really know is Van Halen.

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  16. #10
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    Default



    With A 440 as the reference, D is like 537.33 Hertz

    Besides that being messed up, I thought Edward usually tuned lower, especially for live, non keyboard songs

    Maybe this guy was Ed's dealer
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  17. #11
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    I always tune the b slightly flat to the rest to get the chords on the 7th-9th frets to sound right, but that's about it. Other than that, I don't have the patience to do the rest of that stuff.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  18. #12
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    God bless you guys, way too much effort for me.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

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  20. #13
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bsbll4 View Post
    I always tune the b slightly flat to the rest to get the chords on the 7th-9th frets to sound right, but that's about it. Other than that, I don't have the patience to do the rest of that stuff.
    The only problem I found doing that was you really knock open chords out of whack with the b tuned flat.
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    Good Enough 5150rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRvh1 View Post
    Absolutely! Good to see you around again, btw....

    Did you ever see that video where they preview/hype the 2004 tour, the "It's really all about Eddie..." one? Ed was saying that he still put marker/sharpy lines on the side dot edge of his fretboard to help him gauge his hand positions...

    After seeing and hearing some of the 2004 bootlegs, I thought he put those markings in all the wrong spots! Like he swapped the 12th for the 9th, and maybe put the 17th on the 16th etc. Haha.
    lol yeah I saw that.... matter a fact I have it on video somewhere in my collection. He's got sharpie all over the neck ha ha with all these weird tunings and stuff. He was a total wreck back in those days. Glad he cleaned up and got back to normal for sure.

    [QUOTE]I thought the same thing.

    How would he have even known if that process was followed?/QUOTE]

    I know what you mean "Get the Show on the Road" exactly!!! how the hell would he have known any better back then. I mean I listen to the bootlegs of that tour sometimes just to get a good laugh and make myself feel better as a player ha ahahaha.... but actually they are kinda fun to hear sometimes. But damn man talk about bad playing and just down right wrong, sour chords sometimes.... he could have played his guitar not in ANY kind of tune in that tour and not sounded any different...lol

    Rob

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