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Guitar Music/Tuning Down on Instrumentals


I understand why a band might tune down the guitar a half step or more when there's a singer singing (ostensibly so the singer can hit the high notes better or to put the song in a better key for his/her voice).  But what about when the guitar is tuned down in an instrumental?  For example, the song "Sparks" on the Tommy album by The Who.  The guitar is tuned down 1 1/2 steps.  Here's a link to the first page of the sheet music:

Why would Pete Townsend do this?  Or in general, why would a guitarist tune down the guitar strings like this, maintaining the intervallic relationship between the strings, in an instrumental?

Hi Lance,

Alternative guitar tuning has been used for a lot of years for guitar and other stringed instruments.
Numerous musicians are know for this type of tuning including Jimmy Hendricks , Dick Dale and Stevie Ray Vaugh.

Tuning a guitar down gives it a more dynamic bite, a low roar and makes the strings loose and bendable.

Yes, some do it to match their vocal range, but more times then not, it is done to get a pacific sound.

I like to play around with different tunings...... One of my favorites is to tune my 6th E string down to a D and play in the key of D. It's a cool sound and you can
Do a lot of things with it.....

If you google, alternate guitar tuning.... There are some web sites you can access for free that teach you how to do it.

I hope this helps you and gives you more of an idea about alternative tuning.

Thanks for writing

Patrick Foy

Guitar Music

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