Forum

Notifications
Clear all

Tuning down a half step  

Page 1 / 2
  RSS

(@sparky1ma)
Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 55
23/06/2008 1:53 pm  

I recently purchased a new MIM strat (I love it). I'm getting more into the blues(ie. Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc.)and I would like to tune it down a half step to: Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb. A few :? Questions:

1)All I have is a cheap tuner that came with my Les Paul Special II starter kit, when tuning it will read 6E or 2B etc. I guess what I mean is it won't show me Eb, Ab, etc. I can adjust the Hz but I don't know if I can get the results I want doing this. Long question short (too late): Can I get this tuning with this tuner and how?

2)I like my strings to be tight, the way I understand it, lowering the tuning will loosen the strings. I have 10's on it right now, so should I go to 11's or are 10's going to still be tight?

3)Will I need to have another full set up done on it (to adjust intonation, etc.)?

4)Can I play regular (standard tuning) chords or do I have to transpose them, and/or play them differently?

Thanks in advance, :)

Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?


Quote
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7850
23/06/2008 2:09 pm  

Tune with your standard tuner by holding the strings on the first fret.

You might get by with 10s. If not, go up to 11s or 12s.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 503
23/06/2008 2:15 pm  

1 - a chromatic tuner would be the best, and you can always tune the old fashioned way (by ear.... :wink: ).
2 - I'd recommend 011s, they'll be less 'floppy' and stay in tune better when you tune down a half step.
3 - intonation may need some minor adjustement, at least if you change string gauges, and if you have the trem set up floating you'll need to readjust that a bit too. I don't think the neck needs to be adjusted, the MIM Strats seems to have very stiff necks,- I bought a 2001 model a couple months ago and it came with 009s, I replaced them with 011s and the neck didn't move one bit..

"Play to express, not to impress"Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
(@sparky1ma)
Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 55
23/06/2008 2:20 pm  

1 - a chromatic tuner would be the best, and you can always tune the old fashioned way (by ear.... :wink: ). :lol:

3 - intonation may need some minor adjustement, at least if you change string gauges, and if you have the trem set up floating you'll need to readjust that a bit too. I don't think the neck needs to be adjusted, the MIM Strats seems to have very stiff necks,- I bought a 2001 model a couple months ago and it came with 009s, I replaced them with 011s and the neck didn't move one bit..

a)Not sure what you mean, b)how would I do that? (sorry stupid noob here)

Thanks

Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 503
23/06/2008 2:35 pm  

a) - Ricochet's suggestion is very good, simply press down the strings at the first fret and use your tuner to get the standard EADGBE (low to high). Tuning by ear would mean tuning the 5th string to an A, as normal, then press down the 6th string at the 4th fret and tune it to the 5th string. From there on you tune as you would normally do when tuning by ear; Press the 6th string at the 5th fret and tune the 5th string to that, then the 5th string at the 5th fret and tune the 4th string to that, etc... Remember that the 3rd string needs to be fretted at the 4th fret..
One thing - if you have a floating trem you will need to go through this procedure several times until the trem has settled with the new string tension (see below).

b) - a floating trem balances between the tension from the strings and the tension from the springs in the tremolo cavity. When one of those tensions changes, the bridge position will also change. So if you put on heavier strings or tune to a heavier tension, the bridge will raise. If you reduce the tension from the strings (as by tuning down a half step with the same set of strings the trem is adjusted for) the bridge will move closer to the top of the guitar.
What you need to do, if you want to get the bridge back to the same position it used to be in, is to remove the tremolo cavity's cover plate and adjust the springs. Lower string tension needs lower spring tension, and vice versa.

Hope this helps! :)

"Play to express, not to impress"Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
(@sparky1ma)
Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 55
23/06/2008 4:04 pm  

Thanks guys, but this leads me to another question: how do I adjust the bridge? Do I move the springs in one hole or out one hole or is there an adjustment screw? (sorry stupid noob)
And
Can I play chords normally? I'm guessing not, but I'm just a noob so I truely don't know.

Thanks Again

Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?


ReplyQuote
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7850
23/06/2008 4:15 pm  

You can play your chords normally, but they'll be pitched 1/2 step lower. If you want to play the same chords in the same key, you'll have to learn new shapes or barre them up 1/2 step. No point in tuning down 1/2 step if you're not going to lower your key 1/2 step, I think.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 503
23/06/2008 4:55 pm  

how do I adjust the bridge?

Adjust the two big screws at the end of the tremolo cavity:

If you plan to use several different tunings perhaps you should consider putting in all 5 springs and block the tremolo completely, like this:

"Play to express, not to impress"Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
(@sparky1ma)
Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 55
26/06/2008 8:59 pm  

Steinar, thank you for the diagram and the pics that helps a lot.

Should I put more springs on it I have 3 on there now, that's what it came with, and what is the advantage of having all the springs on there? Does it make the trem more stable there for stay in tune better?

I tried to tune it at the first fret like ric suggested but I couldn't seem to get it right, I think that way is unreliable for me because my finger pressure and position is different every time I adjust the tension on the string. I got it real close by putting a capo on that fret (just for stable pressure), but I think I'll go and get a chromatic tuner, and then do it right. Besides after doing that I realized I deffinetly (sp) need bigger strings if that's the tuning I want to go with. I planned on keeping that guitar tuned that way indeffinetly (sp). On a side note you weren't kidding about the bridge as soon as I tune the third string I noticed my trem was down almost all the way.
Thank you all for your advice, you guys (& gals) are great. That's is exactly why I am always lurking around this site.

Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 503
26/06/2008 9:35 pm  

Steinar, thank you for the diagram and the pics that helps a lot.

Should I put more springs on it I have 3 on there now, that's what it came with, and what is the advantage of having all the springs on there? Does it make the trem more stable there for stay in tune better?

I only use all 5 springs if I want the bridge to rest flat on the body for max stability. You will need to decide on two issues:
1 - are you going to use the tremolo at all?
2 - will you stick with one tuning so the hassle of retuning with a floating trem isn't a problem?

Personally I've never had a problem keeping a Strat in tune with a floating trem, even when putting it through some pretty heavy abuse. My current Strat is set up with 3 springs and I can raise the 3rd string from a G to a Bb - I can put it through "3rd Stone From The Sun" and beyond and it stays pretty well in tune. The problem is if you need to retune or break a string, that's when a floating trem is murder.....

From what I understand you plan to stick to standard tuning a half step down, so see if the floating trem is for you (it may need some extra TLC to work poperly) - the way I see it God and Leo Fender invented the "synchronized tremolo" for us to use..... :cool:

Let me know if you need some help setting up the trem, I've had somewhere between 10 and 15 Strats since my first in '79 so I may be able to help you out.. :wink:

"Play to express, not to impress"Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
(@sparky1ma)
Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 55
27/06/2008 12:54 am  

I definitely want to use the trem. so 5 springs is not an option.

I figured it would be a pain to retune and restring a floating trem. but that is just the nature of the beast, I have to deal with that in any tuning.

1. If I put 11's on it will the trem (for the most part) stay in position, with only small adjustments needed?

2. Will the action be effected?

3.I'm guessing that with bigger strings the intonation is going to be off, is that correct?

4. What's the proper way to get the correct intonation?

Thanks for your advice.

Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 503
27/06/2008 3:52 pm  

1 - Normally a change from 010s to 011 will raise the trem quite a bit, but since you'll tune down a half step I'm not sure how much effect it will have.

2 - As the trem is raised the action will also be higher. Again,- it all depends on how much the trem responds to the 011s combined with a lower tuning.

3 - Maybe. Do a check with a chromatic tuner; Play a harmonic at the 12th fret, then press the string down (at the 12th fret) and check with the tuner.

4 - If the pitch is too high when you press down the string you'll need to move the saddle longer back, if it's too low then you'll need to move the saddle forward. This is done by adjusting the screws for the individual saddles at the back of the bridge.

A few tips for improving tuning stability with a floating Strat trem:
Next time you change strings, remove all strings AND the tremolo springs, then raise the six screws in front of the trem. Lower the two outside screws (under the 1st and 6th string) until there's contact with the trem (you'll see the trem move a bit) - then back off just a hair. Leave the other four screws a little higher off the trem so there's no contact between the screw heads and the trem plate.
Avoid using the string tree(s) on the headstock if you can, usually it's enough to only use it for the first string. The point is to elminate any points where the string can get caught and go out of tune. Also use a soft pencil to lubricate the string slots in the nut with graphite. It looks a little messy, but it helps the strings move smoother at the nut.
When you put on the new strings, check if they move freely through the nut slots by dragging the strings back and forth. If you notice unwanted friction then you may need to have the nut slot widened by a pro repairman (it only takes 5 minutes for a pro to file a nut, but it's one of the most important parts regarding tuning stability so it's best to leave it to a pro). It probably won't be a problem, but the wound strings on a 011 set may be a bit more than the nut is originally filed for.

Hope this helps!

Steinar

"Play to express, not to impress"Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7850
27/06/2008 9:55 pm  

All of the string makers likely have a string tension chart somewhere on their site. I've used one from D'Addario. If you want to take the time to do it, you can look up the tension for each string you're using now in standard pitch, and look for string gauges that closely match those tensions tuned a half step lower, or at least see how much the string tension will change with any given set tuned to your new tuning.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


ReplyQuote
(@sparky1ma)
Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 55
30/06/2008 4:30 pm  

Hey ric thamks for the tip, I printed that off. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use it :?

Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?


ReplyQuote
(@raistx)
Trusted Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 78
03/07/2008 2:39 am  

Tune with your standard tuner by holding the strings on the first fret.

So simple!!!
I went an bought a chromatic tuner because I didn't think of this.


ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2

Are you on the list? Join for free

Never miss another Guitar Noise lesson again.