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Thread: Tuning Down

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    Default Tuning Down

    Hi.
    I've checked this out on the web and I seem to be missing something.
    How, exactly do I tune the guitar down like Sabbatch does in so many of their songs.
    From my understanding I should tune down the open E to the C on the A string?? Ant from there simply tune the guitar as I normally do?

    Thanks,
    James

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    Depends on what Sabbath tunes you're playing. For example, if you're playing something from "Paranoid", you'd use: E-A-D-G-B-E (standard tuning). If you're Playing something from "Heaven and Hell", you'd use: Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb (Half step down), Something from "Born Again": D-G-C-F-A-D (Full step down), or something from "Vol. 4": Db-Gb-Cb-E-Ab-Db (One and a half step down).
    Sabbath tuning by albums AFAIK:

    - Black Sabbath (Standard Tuning)
    - Paranoid (Standard Tuning)
    - Master Of Reality (One and a half step down) Except "After Forever" (Full Step Down)
    - Vol. 4 (One and a half step down) Except "Laguna Sunrise" (Standard Tuning)
    - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (One and a half step down) Except "Fluff" (Standard Tuning)
    - Sabotage (One and a half step down) Except "Supertzar" (Standard Tuning)
    - Technical Ecstasy (Standard Tuning)
    - Never Say Die (Standard Tuning)
    - Heaven & Hell (Half Step Down)
    - Mob Rules (Half Step Down)
    - Born Again (Full Step Down)
    - Seventh Star (Full Step Down) A little sharp of a full step.
    - Eternal Idol (Half Step Down)
    - Headless Cross (Half Step Down)
    - TYR (Half Step Down)
    - Dehumanizer (Half Step Down)
    - Cross Purposes (Half Step Down)
    - Forbidden (Half Step Down) Except "Forbidden" and "Can't Get Close Enough" (Not sure what tuning they're in, I'm sure someone on here knows.
    Last edited by Axe fiend; 11-27-2011 at 01:09 PM.
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    Not sure of the note terminolagy.
    ON the Vol. 4 example Db means what, the lowest string "E" is tuned to a D? Not sure what the b signifies.

    James

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaesJ View Post
    Not sure of the note terminolagy.
    ON the Vol. 4 example Db means what, the lowest string "E" is tuned to a D? Not sure what the b signifies.

    James
    Db is the same thing as a C sharp (C#) which is between D and C.
    The "b" (meaning flat) is a half steo down, and "#" (sharp) is a half step up on the fret board.
    If you have your guitar tuned in standard E, the easiest thing (for me) would be to play the 9th fret on your thin E-string and use it as a reference when you tune your heavy E string down. The 9th fret on E is a C#/Db.

    ---------- Post added at 05:39 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:38 PM ----------

    By the way, welcome to the boards!

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    I got it. I don't read music but I know where the notes are on a guitar. Sort of like I don't swear but I know all the words!

    Thans much,
    James

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    Cheers James, hope we helped. I first learned how to play guitar by ear, jamming along with Sabbath records, and I didn't realize that the tuning varied from album to album, so I'd get frustrated, not knowing the notes back then (Sabbath tabs were unheard of at the time, let alone the Internet!). So I hope we saved you some aggravation.
    Last edited by Axe fiend; 01-20-2011 at 02:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe fiend View Post
    Depends on what Sabbath tunes you're playing. For example, if you're playing something from "Paranoid", you'd use: E-A-D-G-B-E (standard tuning). If you're Playing something from "Heaven and Hell", you'd use: Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb (Half step down), Something from "Born Again": D-G-C-F-A-D (Full step down), or something from "Vol. 4": Db-Gb-Cb-E-Ab-Db (One and a half step down).
    Sabbath tuning by albums AFAIK:

    - Black Sabbath (Standard Tuning)
    - Paranoid (Standard Tuning)
    - Master Of Reality (One and a half step down) Except "Sweet Leaf" and "After Forever" (Full Step Down)
    - Vol. 4 (One and a half step down)
    - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (One and a half step down)
    - Sabotage (One and a half step down)
    - Technical Ecstasy (Standard Tuning)
    - Never Say Die (Standard Tuning)
    - Heaven & Hell (Half Step Down)
    - Mob Rules (Half Step Down)
    - Born Again (Full Step Down)
    - Seventh Star (Half Step Down) Actually somewhere between half and full, if you're playing along with the album.
    - Eternal Idol (Half Step Down)
    - Headless Cross (Half Step Down)
    - TYR (Half Step Down)
    - Dehumanizer (Half Step Down)
    - Cross Purposes (Half Step Down)
    - Forbidden (Half Step Down) Except "Forbidden" and "Can't Get Close Enough" (Not sure what tuning they're in, I'm sure someone on here knows.
    That's great info on the tunings! Thanks! But I think Solitude from Master Of Reality is in E?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axeman77 View Post
    That's great info on the tunings! Thanks! But I think Solitude from Master Of Reality is in E?
    I think it's either in E or D, not sure. I'll listen to Geezer's bass to come up with some kind of idea what tuning it's in.

    ---------- Post added at 07:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:50 PM ----------

    Been playing along with it on the bass, I think it's in D, but it's easily playable in E as well, So I'm not sure.
    Last edited by Axe fiend; 01-22-2011 at 01:12 PM.
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    i always thought MOR and such were recorded 2 full steps down in C? it sounds right when i play those riffs on C anyway
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy ivan View Post
    i always thought MOR and such were recorded 2 full steps down in C? it sounds right when i play those riffs on C anyway
    nothing lower than C#
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    Quote Originally Posted by gl797 View Post
    nothing lower than C#
    yeah my mistake, i was tuned to C# when i was playing along it was my other guitar tuned 2 steps down
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    So does anyone know the tuning of "Forbidden" and "Can't Get Close Enough"?
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    btw is it just me or is tony tuned to Eb on cross purpose live? even on tracks that were down tuned?
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    does anyone know phil cope of witchfinder general is tuned in, i've tried c# and c, but none sound riight when i play along to the album

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axeman77 View Post
    does anyone know phil cope of witchfinder general is tuned in, i've tried c# and c, but none sound riight when i play along to the album
    Maybe tabs will lead in you in the right direction for the tuning (Songsterr.com seems to be the most accurate imo). I'm sure like most bands they used different tunings. The one song I looked at was in Standard E.
    Anything below C on a six string guitar usually doesn't work because of the strings having too much slack.

    Then there's always the possibility that they are tuned slightly off the tuning (like "Paranoid" is for example, if you search YouTube for videos of Paranoid you will hear many bass and guitar covers not in tune with the backing because the player(s) didn't fine tune).

    Good luck.
    Last edited by gl797; 05-16-2011 at 08:02 AM.
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  16. #16

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    Very interesting info on different tunings on albums.

    If I'm not mistaken 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' was played a half step down from the original on the Reunion tours, does that mean they tuned all the way down to C?

    And repeating someone else's question, is Tony in Eb on Cross Purposes Live? Does that mean he plays songs originally in lower tunings in a different position?

    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarthTyr View Post
    Very interesting info on different tunings on albums.
    If I'm not mistaken 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' was played a half step down from the original on the Reunion tours, does that mean they tuned all the way down to C?
    On the Reunion album, it's in C#, not sure about the tours that came after that.

    And repeating someone else's question, is Tony in Eb on Cross Purposes Live? Does that mean he plays songs originally in lower tunings in a different position?

    Thanks.
    Yes, On CPL, Tony plays The Wizard and Symptom Of The Universe in a different postition than the original studio recording (I watched CPL to be sure), While Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Into The Void and Children Of The Grave are played normally, though in Eb.
    Last edited by Axe fiend; 05-18-2011 at 10:25 AM.
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    Nice one, cheers dude.

    Trying to put a little Sabbath tribute band together, gonna pass this info on to the guitarist...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe fiend View Post
    Depends on what Sabbath tunes you're playing. For example, if you're playing something from "Paranoid", you'd use: E-A-D-G-B-E (standard tuning). If you're Playing something from "Heaven and Hell", you'd use: Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb (Half step down), Something from "Born Again": D-G-C-F-A-D (Full step down), or something from "Vol. 4": Db-Gb-Cb-E-Ab-Db (One and a half step down).
    Sabbath tuning by albums AFAIK:

    - Black Sabbath (Standard Tuning)
    - Paranoid (Standard Tuning)
    - Master Of Reality (One and a half step down) Except "Sweet Leaf" and "After Forever" (Full Step Down)
    - Vol. 4 (One and a half step down)
    - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (One and a half step down)
    - Sabotage (One and a half step down)
    - Technical Ecstasy (Standard Tuning)
    - Never Say Die (Standard Tuning)
    - Heaven & Hell (Half Step Down)
    - Mob Rules (Half Step Down)
    - Born Again (Full Step Down)
    - Seventh Star (Full Step Down) A little sharp of a full step.
    - Eternal Idol (Half Step Down)
    - Headless Cross (Half Step Down)
    - TYR (Half Step Down)
    - Dehumanizer (Half Step Down)
    - Cross Purposes (Half Step Down)
    - Forbidden (Half Step Down) Except "Forbidden" and "Can't Get Close Enough" (Not sure what tuning they're in, I'm sure someone on here knows.
    This is one hell of a piece of information right here and has saved me lots of...let's say trouble,lol. This would make a great "sticky", I'd hate to see it get buried. Thanks for this AF

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    Quote Originally Posted by gl797 View Post
    This is one hell of a piece of information right here and has saved me lots of...let's say trouble,lol. This would make a great "sticky", I'd hate to see it get buried. Thanks for this AF
    Here is another hint on how to know what song is tuned to what key when ever you see Iommi live :

    - If Iommi is playing with his Red or Black Custom Gibson guitar (the ones with innlay crosses) then whatever song he is playing live is definitely in C# ! both these guitars are tuned to C# (Step and half down) , you will notice that Iommi switches to the Black custom Gibson on 'Follow the tears' live (thats the only song in C# tuning from TDYK along with Rock N Roll Angel , the rest of the album is all in Eb) , also you would notice Geezer switching to a 5 string Lakland as well , obviously also tuned to C#!

    - If Iommi is playng his John Diggins Custom SG (known as the 'Old Boy' and has that distinctive stressed look and Inlay crosses) then definitely the song he is playing live in in Eb tuning ! (half step down)

    - On Black Sabbath's recent classic albums Paranoid DVD , you will notice that Iommi is actually using one of his standard Gibson SG guitars and none of the aforementioned famous guitars , thats probably because Paranoid is in standard tuning and thus I believe the guitar he is using is also in regular standard tuning.

    So basically , and just to make his life more easier , Iommi owns a couple of guitars that are tuned differently , its almost impossible and such a pain in the @ss to keep changing tunings in a live situation not to mentioned that actually the strings could snap easily due to the constant change in tensions between the Eb & C# tunings !

    cheers !

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    Quote Originally Posted by IRON-MaN View Post
    Here is another hint on how to know what song is tuned to what key when ever you see Iommi live :

    - If Iommi is playing with his Red or Black Custom Gibson guitar (the ones with innlay crosses) then whatever song he is playing live is definitely in C# ! both these guitars are tuned to C# (Step and half down) , you will notice that Iommi switches to the Black custom Gibson on 'Follow the tears' live (thats the only song in C# tuning from TDYK along with Rock N Roll Angel , the rest of the album is all in Eb) , also you would notice Geezer switching to a 5 string Lakland as well , obviously also tuned to C#!

    - If Iommi is playng his John Diggins Custom SG (known as the 'Old Boy' and has that distinctive stressed look and Inlay crosses) then definitely the song he is playing live in in Eb tuning ! (half step down)

    - On Black Sabbath's recent classic albums Paranoid DVD , you will notice that Iommi is actually using one of his standard Gibson SG guitars and none of the aforementioned famous guitars , thats probably because Paranoid is in standard tuning and thus I believe the guitar he is using is also in regular standard tuning.

    So basically , and just to make his life more easier , Iommi owns a couple of guitars that are tuned differently , its almost impossible and such a pain in the @ss to keep changing tunings in a live situation not to mentioned that actually the strings could snap easily due to the constant change in tensions between the Eb & C# tunings !

    cheers !
    Otherwise a good post, but I think that The Old Boy is actually tuned a whole step down (D) live, atleast on the recent H&H tours.
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    Quote Originally Posted by -E5150 StarWanderer- View Post
    Otherwise a good post, but I think that The Old Boy is actually tuned a whole step down (D) live, atleast on the recent H&H tours.
    I guess you're right on this one , probably the Old Boy is a whole step down ! it certainly made some original songs sound more heavier such like 'Neon Knights' , 'Children Of the Sea' ..etc , and of course it definitely made life a bit more easier for RJD and Ozzy.

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    Sometimes E standard tuning can sound the heaviest to me. Songs like "Electric Funeral" "Hand of Doom", etc.
    For other bands as well, "Spiel Mit Mir" by Rammstein sounds like one of their heavier songs but it's in E. Most of their stuff is in Dropped D or C. (Kruspe and Landers come up with some killer riffs. They get a bad rap because they don't play that many leads. But their songs require precise timing to play correctly, I don't find it as easy as many make it out to be).

    I always found it strange that Sabbath went back to E for TE and NSD if the reason for the change in the first place was to make it easier on Iommi's fingers. I've never seen that question asked in interviews.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ochlocracy View Post
    So does anyone know the tuning of "Forbidden" and "Can't Get Close Enough"?
    I'm 99.9% sure they're in Drop Bb (low to high: Bb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb, where only the low E string is tuned down 3 whole steps while the other 5 are left a half step down) or some variant thereof, but the lowest note is DEFINITELY Bb. I think Tony uses this one again on a couple of songs from the first Iommi album (namely "Meat" and "Flame On")

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    Thanks for the info SabbathFlesh. Now my Sabbath tuning guide is complete.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gl797 View Post
    I always found it strange that Sabbath went back to E for TE and NSD if the reason for the change in the first place was to make it easier on Iommi's fingers. I've never seen that question asked in interviews.
    I think one reason they went back to standard was because they had keyboards (which can't be tuned down) in most of the songs on those albums. It makes it easier on the keyboardist to not have to transpose. They also wanted to be more like Foreigner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Boy View Post
    I think one reason they went back to standard was because they had keyboards (which can't be tuned down) in most of the songs on those albums. It makes it easier on the keyboardist to not have to transpose. They also wanted to be more like Foreigner.
    LOL, were the first two albums like Foreigner as well. Plus there are keyboards on SBS and Sabotage.
    I find it hard to compare "Dirty Women" to "I've Been Waiting for a Girl Like You", because there isn't one.

    *as for the Forbidden tuning , I'd double check that. six-string guitars have a hard time handling anything below C. Those two songs may be like "Paranoid" and just slightly off tuning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gl797 View Post
    LOL, were the first two albums like Foreigner as well. Plus there are keyboards on SBS and Sabotage.
    I find it hard to compare "Dirty Women" to "I've Been Waiting for a Girl Like You", because there isn't one.
    There were not as many keyboards on SBS and Sabotage. Technical Ecstasy is loaded with em. And yeah, the reason they went to standard tuning on TE and NSD must be the same as the reason they started out using standard tuning, brilliant logic there skippy. Ozzy says in his last book that they were trying to sound more like Foreigner, probably half joking, which I was as well (have to remember to put joking in parentheses from now on I guess?) They were definitely trying to be more like other bands at the time though. Song titles like RNR Dr, It's alright, She's Gone, big difference from Hole in the Sky, Symptom of the Universe, etc. More standard song structures, more major key stuff, more standard overall, standard tuning seems to be just another example of the band attempting to become more mainstream.

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    LOL, you obviosly have no f***ing idea of what you're talking about....Skippy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gl797 View Post
    LOL, you obviosly have no f***ing idea of what you're talking about....Skippy.

    Now there's an argument. Brilliant, I stand corrected.

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    I played along the first two albums in Standard (E) Tuning, which works fine enough.

    I do believe they play in D Tuning, though, as you get a far more "muddier" sound by doing that.

    If I remember correctly "Evil Woman" can not be played in standard (E) tuning and has to be tuned down.
    Anyway, try playing both Albums in D Tuning, it will sound better anyway (Plus, I believe it is the correct tuning for these two albums).

  32. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tilman View Post
    I played along the first two albums in Standard (E) Tuning, which works fine enough.

    I do believe they play in D Tuning, though, as you get a far more "muddier" sound by doing that.

    If I remember correctly "Evil Woman" can not be played in standard (E) tuning and has to be tuned down.
    Anyway, try playing both Albums in D Tuning, it will sound better anyway (Plus, I believe it is the correct tuning for these two albums).
    do you mean the bottom e string to d? i personally wouldn't do that

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axeman77 View Post
    do you mean the bottom e string to d? i personally wouldn't do that
    No, not the drop D tuning, all strings tuned down 1 note (D-G-C-F and so forth, I´m a bass player )

    So it´s (D - G - C - F - A - D) on guitar.

  34. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tilman View Post
    No, not the drop D tuning, all strings tuned down 1 note (D-G-C-F and so forth, I´m a bass player )

    So it´s (D - G - C - F - A - D) on guitar.
    OK, i understand

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tilman View Post
    No, not the drop D tuning, all strings tuned down 1 note (D-G-C-F and so forth, I´m a bass player )

    So it´s (D - G - C - F - A - D) on guitar.
    Addendum:

    If I´m not completely wrong, then Sabotage is in D (see above) as well. I never played any songs of that album a lot, though.

    The D tuning would make sense with Symptom of the Universe, as in the chorus, you play the first chord as an open chord (forget my guitar terminology, please )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Boy View Post
    There were not as many keyboards on SBS and Sabotage. Technical Ecstasy is loaded with em. And yeah, the reason they went to standard tuning on TE and NSD must be the same as the reason they started out using standard tuning, brilliant logic there skippy. Ozzy says in his last book that they were trying to sound more like Foreigner, probably half joking, which I was as well (have to remember to put joking in parentheses from now on I guess?) They were definitely trying to be more like other bands at the time though. Song titles like RNR Dr, It's alright, She's Gone, big difference from Hole in the Sky, Symptom of the Universe, etc. More standard song structures, more major key stuff, more standard overall, standard tuning seems to be just another example of the band attempting to become more mainstream.
    I'm just gonna answer this post... I have to... I know it's off topic but just one post... well alright. I won't start another off-topic debate, you probably already know what I would say about your statement that those albums are "an attempt to be mainstream".

    Instead I would like to stay on topic for once. I appreciate the list of tuning for each album you put on here Axe Fiend!! It should help a lot :D I have my guitar tuned down one half step just to be able to play "Sign of the Southern Cross". Also I finally got an explanation as to why Iommi only used his black SG on "Follow the Tears" on the Neon Nights DVD, thanks for that Iron-Man :D Even though I'm a keyboardist, I enjoy playing my Epiphone SG once in a while, so all this info is great!
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    That is a great list by Axe Fiend. The only contentions I have are that "Sweet Leaf" is also in C# tuning. I think because it comes out sounding in the key of A led people to believe it is standard tuning. But if you listen to the middle section, Tony hits the low C# string open, which is the key to figuring out the tuning. Also, watching them play Sweet Leaf live shows that it is definitely in C# tuning. The other songs I would contend are "Laguna sunrise" and "Fluff" which both seem to be in standard tuning.

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    I can tell you all one thing; you can play ANY Sabbath-song in ANY key or tuning, worst case scenario is you'd have to (for example) swap the darkest notes on a riff to an octave higher, which then again kinda ruins the riff, but my point is it's doable. (I'm really into the philosophy of breaking the rules, but i also know you can't truly break the rules until you know them)
    Not trying to ruin your conversation here, just wanted to point that out.

    Now i'm going to pick up my Epiphone EB-0 Bass and pretend to be Geezer ;-)
    Take a brake from your values!

  39. #39
    Monster Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Underdog View Post
    I can tell you all one thing; you can play ANY Sabbath-song in ANY key or tuning, worst case scenario is you'd have to (for example) swap the darkest notes on a riff to an octave higher, which then again kinda ruins the riff, but my point is it's doable. (I'm really into the philosophy of breaking the rules, but i also know you can't truly break the rules until you know them)
    Not trying to ruin your conversation here, just wanted to point that out.

    Now i'm going to pick up my Epiphone EB-0 Bass and pretend to be Geezer ;-)
    You are right for the most part, but when you have riffs that use a lot of open strings it definitely helps to be in the right tuning. A few riffs on Vol IV for instance use the open A (F#) string, Supernaut and Snowblind come to mind. You can still play them but it makes it more difficult without the open string. Actually, Supernaut has a pull off to the open string now that I think about it. Without that you have to have a 5 fret pull off, takes retardedly big hands. But you can play it almost right without the pull off.

  40. #40
    Billy Underdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Boy View Post
    You are right for the most part, but when you have riffs that use a lot of open strings it definitely helps to be in the right tuning.
    Ofcourse, its better to both play riffs like the player himself (now i'm talking guitarists in general) and then ofcourse use the same tuning. Or atleast, that works the best in 99,9 % of any time.

    I was just pointing out, there's always a way around, not only in tuning, but how you play the riff too. You mentioned that pull-off. It's probably possible to play that on a completely different place on the fret whitout any pull-offs. (Well, atleast if you have to differ between two strings), and how different it sounds will probably depend on the player.
    I learned all my Sabbath-riffs on Guitar when i was 15-16 by ear, but if i were to check up on it now, it's probably only Iron Man i'm doing right...

    I kinda started rambling here, so i hope you catch my point... This was written with my fingers on the keyboard and the bass-fret at the same time :-P
    Take a brake from your values!

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