Tuning Down A Half Step

by Mark Starlin

Many popular bands and guitar players tune their guitars down a half step (one fret in pitch.) Sometimes this is done to accommodate a singer. Other guitarists tune down to get a deeper/heavier sound. Of course, using an electronic chromatic tuner is the easiest and fastest way to tune down. You simply tune to these notes:

  1. 6th string: E Flat
  2. 5th string: A Flat
  3. 4th string: D Flat
  4. 3rd string: G Flat
  5. 2nd string: B Flat
  6. 1st string: E Flat

You can also do it quickly and easily by ear. Here's how:

Simply fret the guitar at the 6th fret (E Flat) on the 5th string and pick.

Tuning down a half step diagram

Now, while that note sounds, tune the open 6th string down (a half step) to the note you just picked (E Flat.) The 6th string will actually be an octave lower than the 5th string, but they will still both be E Flat notes. If you have ever tuned your high E string (open 1st string) to your low E string (open 6th string) you have used this technique (the E strings are 2 octaves apart.) Listen carefully and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Once you have your open 6th string tuned down to Eb, then continue to tune the guitar by ear as you normally would.

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