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Retuning a standard six-string acoustic guitar is simple. This tuning technique is used most often to accommodate the vocal ranges of singers who sing in a lower tessitura. Or range, than other singers.
The construction of acoustic guitars is versatile in that they allow adequate resonance in systems that are not optimal for their construction. This article is to make you familiar with E flat tuning like a pro guitarist.
Traditional E Tuning for Guitars
The standard tuning for six-string guitars is based on the very open and resonant sound of the fundamental note “E.” Each of the first four thick strings create dominant harmonic relationships.
They are E, A, D, and G. The thinner strings are used to create third harmonic relationships. These string are normally tuned to B, and the ultimate finer E. Tuning “down” to E flat means the equal tuning of each string down a full half-step.
E Flat Tuning Guitar
The E flat tuning of a guitar can be disorienting and difficult for many guitar players. It is simply the loosening of each string exactly one half-step lower. In order to tune a guitar properly, certain amounts of string tension and a familiar vibrational tone is required.
Stringed instruments like the guitar, harp, and cello are extremely sensitive in how they produce sounds. Laws of acoustics govern how strings produce sounds, so exact tuning is important.
Wrapped and pure metal, synthetic, and natural strings sound according to the laws of acoustics. It is extremely important that any alternate tunings be made equally in order to produce harmonics that work well together.
When a guitarist tunes their instrument to a lower note they must be aware that a darker, more unpredictable tone is being constructed. Though the new tuning is equal in sound temperament, the overall feel of the strings will change.
The strings will be more lax and require a greater amount of force to activate fully. Still, the alternate E flat tuning is a rich and effective tuning for guitar performance.
Solid E Flat Tuning
The best way to ensure the proper tuning-down of a guitar to the E flat tuning fundamental register is with an electronic tuner. Half and whole step variations are marked by exact changes in the hertz registers of tones.
In order to achieve perfect half-step variances, electronic tuners are needed. Guitar players who are sensitive to aural perception of note changes however, can hear the proper drop in the first string from E to E flat. It's an equidistant drop that is between the notes E and D. Once the first string is settled on E flat, the other five strings can be tuned in the new E flat tuning system.
Any new tuning of a guitar can be achieved with equal release on a guitar's tuning heads. Many guitar players prefer the use of electronic devices that indicate exact tunings instead of fiddling with headstock components. Either of these methods are acceptable.
Treat It As Simple
Tuning a guitar to E flat is simple. Each string must be equally tuned one half-step lower. This means the first string should lower to E flat, the second string to A flat, the third to D flat, the forth to G flat, the fifth to B flat, and the sixth to E flat one octave above the first string. The proportional down-tuning should create an E flat chord when strummed together that is as rich and full as the normal E tuning.
It takes a very slight relaxing of strings to create a note that is only one-half step lower than optimal traditional tuning. Most guitar players will have trouble returning the fifth and sixth strings.
Because they are based on third relationships instead of fourths. This is why having an electronic tuner that will automatically indicate intervals is so important. Another problem that guitarists have when returning to E flat is overshooting the tone on the first string.
It only takes a slight release of tension to go from E to E flat. Over-loosening the first string will cause a guitar player to go through the time-consuming processes of finding a preferred fundamental tone.
The key to successful lowered E flat tuning guitar is making very small reductions in string tension. And also keeping all the other strings in a relative harmonic relationship. It also helps to develop the skill of hearing perfect fifth and third relationships.