collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

* Support Weenie!

Shop on Amazon using these search boxes and Weenie earns a small commission:
USA
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

United Kingdom
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

Canada
Search Now:
In Association with Amazon

* Weenie's CD!

Dang! This is the worst doughnut I ever did eat - Bill Monroe takes his first bite of a bagel, newspaper article on the 50th anniversary of the St. Viateur bagel shop

Author Topic: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning  (Read 6619 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« on: May 26, 2011, 11:03:46 AM »
I've been fooling around with this tuning, which has been discussed in the Clifford Gibson lyrics thread, and elsewhere on Weenie in discussing Furry Lewis and others. Given the number of songs we've been uncovering that likely use this tuning (and by 'we' I mean mostly JohnM), I thought it was time to start a thread.

I use the word 'likely' since there are songs that could be played either in standard tuning or EAEGBE tuning, and are just easier in the latter. There are other tunes, like the Clifford Gibson songs that JohnM has identified, where it is unlikely, IMO, that they were played in standard tuning. I am convinced that Furry Lewis used this tuning as well, though one can play songs like Mistreatin' Mamma out of standard easily enough.

Here is what JohnM has to say about the tuning in the Clifford Gibson thread, which he has described as a modified cross-note tuning:

"The modified cross-note tuning preserves every aspect of E position in standard tuning on the first through third strings and the fifth and sixth strings. The primary difference is that you have an octave bass on the fourth string that does not need to be fretted, freeing up the left hand a great deal, and because you have that octave on the open fourth string, you can not voice the V7 chord with its third on the fourth string."

Here is a list of songs (listed by artist) that likely employ this tuning (updated 03/04/12):

Ed Bell
From Now On
Mamlish Blues
Mean Conductor Blues
My Crime Blues
Squabblin' Blues

Tom Bell
Corrina
Cross E Shimmy Dance Tune

Clifford Gibson
Blues Without a Dime
Don't Put That Thing On Me
Drayman Blues
Jive Me Blues
Keep Your Windows Pinned
Sunshine Moan
Whiskey Moan Blues

Guitar Shorty
Jessie Jones (and all other recorded works)

Son House
Clarksdale Moan

Furry Lewis
Creeper's Blues
Mistreatin' Mamma
Mean Old Bedbug Blues
Jelly Roll

Henry Spaulding
Cairo Blues

George Torey
Lonesome Man Blues

Henry Townsend
No Home Blues

Lane Hardin
California Desert Blues
Hard Time Blues

I have been listening a lot to Ed Bell recently and am starting to wonder whether he played some of his E position material out of this tuning. When I play in this tuning, there is a certain distinct sonority to it, which I think comes from having more open strings. The E played on the open 4th string has a tone that differs slightly from an E played on the 2nd fret in standard. I wonder if there is also a little sympathetic vibration coming off the open string as well, and in some cases perhaps a little accidental striking of the 4th string occurs when playing the open 5th string.

The Ed Bell material in question can be played out of standard tuning and there is no decisive advantage I can find to playing it in EAEGBE tuning, the way there is in Clifford Gibson material. But it is more comfortable and easier, and Bell has a very "open string" sound to his playing. He also knew, played with and recorded with Clifford Gibson, who almost certainly used the tuning. I have not been able to identify the fourth-string third in the V7 chord in any of the Ed Bell songs in question so far. I am still exploring this and am curious about other opinions, but here are the songs that I think might use this tuning. They all fall into the Mamlish Blues model, using essentially the same accompaniment:

Mamlish Blues
My Crime Blues
From Now On
Squabblin' Blues

Frisco Whistle Blues is also played out of E position using a different accompaniment, but there is definitely a spot at the end where he walks into the fourth string E playing a D#. So I would stick with standard tuning there.

I'll be listening more to Ed Bell to see if I hear more clues, in particular to Squabblin' Blues, which has a lot of ringing strings.

One additional minor point - when I play in this tuning, I have usually been tuned down below concert pitch and capo as needed. Not essential but a precaution some might want to take if trying this stuff out.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 02:25:07 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10412
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2011, 02:44:53 PM »
Thanks for starting this topic, uncle bud.  The EAEGBE tuning has long merited a thread of its own, like the "Adventures in Spanish", "Adventures in Vestapol", et al.

I agree with you concerning the possibility of the Ed Bell tunes you named as being likely candidates for having been played in the EAEGBE tuning.  One other that I would add to your list is "Mean Conductor Blues".  In the course of playing it, Ed Bell does not once hit the major third of his V7 chord (first fret fourth string D# in standard tuning, E position), and in fact, avoids his fourth string altogether against his V7 chord, as did Clifford Gibson on all of his songs played in this tuning.  One Ed Bell song that I believe is conclusively played in E position standard tuning and not in the EAEGBE tuning is his "Hambone Blues".  Had he used the EAEGBE tuning for the song, he would have had to finger his V7 chord using the very awkward and reachy 2-4-4-7 position on his top four strings, in addition to ending up with a wonky left hand for the descending boogie bass line under his IV chord, which sits easily in standard tuning.

One player who was known to use the EAEGBE tuning exclusively was the North Carolina player Guitar Shorty, who recorded albums for Flyright and Trix.  Shorty used the tuning for conventionally fretted and slide playing, and was equally expert at both.  If I had to select a particular favorite of Shorty's tunes, I think I would go with "Jessie Jones", from his Trix album, which is a rocking strong number.

I'm reasonably certain that the recently discovered Son House cut, "Clarksdale Moan" was played out of this tuning, and believe that Henry Spaulding's "Cairo Blues" was played out of the EAEGBE tuning, too.

For any of you who have not fooled around with this tuning, I strongly encourage you to do so.  If you're not concerned with raising the pitch of your wound strings, the easiest way to get there from standard tuning is to raise the pitch of your fourth string one whole step, from D to E.  If you would prefer not to do that you may alternatively lower the pitch of every string except the fourth string one whole step, so that you end up with your guitar tuned DGDFAD.  If your experience is anything like mine has been, you may find that the more you play in the tuning, the more it starts to reveal unique aural and fingering possibilities distinct from either E position standard tuning or cross-note tuning, its other closest relative, and develop a distinctive character of its own.

All best,
Johnm

Offline Chezztone

  • Member
  • Posts: 293
  • Hey!
    • Steve Cheseborough 1920s-30s-style blues
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2011, 06:07:57 PM »
Very interesting...never tried this tuning before but it does make "Mamlish" and "Cairo" easier and truer-sounding. What about "Keep it Clean"? That also might be in this tuning.

Offline Chezztone

  • Member
  • Posts: 293
  • Hey!
    • Steve Cheseborough 1920s-30s-style blues
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 10:36:44 PM »
Oh yes. I think we can safely add "Keep It Clean" to the list.
Also I propose a name for this tuning: Raised E.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10412
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 06:21:57 AM »
Hi chezz,
"Keep It Clean", as played by Charley Jordan, has the third of the V7 chord struck on the fourth string in the ninth and tenth bars, and so must have been played by him in E position, standard tuning.  I think that all of Charley's E-sounding tunes were played out of E position in standard tuning.  In addition to "Keep It Clean", "Hunkie Tunkie" and Big Four" definitely were. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 09:36:00 AM »
Yes, I'd wondered about Charley Jordan as well, but the songs I went back and checked had the third in the V chord as JohnM describes.

A couple more songs to add to the list. Furry Lewis likely played the following songs, recorded in the 60s and found on the Shake 'Em On Down CD, in this tuning:

Shake 'Em On Down
White Lightnin'
I Will Turn Your Money Green
Long Tall Gal Blues

Interesting that I Will Turn Your Money Green is in here. It features a completely different accompaniment from his prewar recording of the tune. Rather than the Spanish-tuned accompaniment of the prewar performance, Furry uses the accompaniment for the Mistreatin' Mamma/Creeper's Blues family of tunes played in E position out of this tuning.

bayrum78

  • Guest
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2011, 06:19:35 PM »
Not sure whether I should start a new topic but after reading this thread I was inspired to once again work on playing Mean Conductor Blues this time using the EAEGBE tuning. I accidentally tuned to EADG#BE instead. Before I recognized my mistake I had worked the song out in this tuning and it sounds pretty good! The E lick is simplified and you are able to avoid travel past the 2nd fret when playing the ending lick on the 5th and 4th strings against an open E chord on strings 1-4. It also preserves the open string sound that Ed Bell favored. Not sure if this is even a recognized tuning but wanted to share my happy accident with everyone. Feel free to rule this tuning out as a possibility for Ed Bell's actual tuning in MCB.



Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10412
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 09:16:00 AM »
Hi Nate,
I don't think the EAEG#BE tuning would work for "Mean Conductor" as played by Ed Bell, because in his signature lick that follows each vocal phrase he does a hammer on the third string from the minor to the major third, G to G#, or open third string to first fret third string.  If the third string is already tuned to the upper note of the hammer, the hammer isn't available.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Chezztone

  • Member
  • Posts: 293
  • Hey!
    • Steve Cheseborough 1920s-30s-style blues
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 06:22:29 PM »
I still hear Charley Jordan playing "Keep It Clean" in this Raised-E tuning. He plays the "wrong" note in the V chord, the one you make with the open raised E string. And it makes it so much easier to play all the other little things he does. The older bluesmen I've met always had big fingers (from years of picking cotton as well as picking guitars). That movement of the left-hand fingers he does here becomes much more manageable in Raised E. Try it, I think you'll like it (even if your fingers aren't so fat).

Offline Chezztone

  • Member
  • Posts: 293
  • Hey!
    • Steve Cheseborough 1920s-30s-style blues
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 10:33:28 PM »
Hey -- Bo Carter's "Old Devil" might also be in this tuning (as one of my students pointed out after I showed her the tuning today)!

Offline Prof Scratchy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1577
  • Howdy!
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 01:20:45 AM »
I vote that someone should post a video of a song played in this tuning!

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10412
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 07:02:47 AM »
Hi all,
I will be playing in the tuning for the "St. Louis Blues DVD" I will be filming in July for Stefan Grossman.  I didn't include them in the original listing of tunes played in this tuning, but I've recorded several songs in this tuning.  From "This Old Hammer", "Rolling Log" is played in this tuning, and from "Deceiving Blues", the CD with Orville Johnson and Grant Dermody, "Deceiving Blues", "Trouble In Mind" and "Some Of These Days" were all played in the tuning.  "Deceiving Blues" may be a bit unusual in that it is played in the tuning in the key of the IV chord. I should add that I don't think my recordings should go on the list because I think that it is intended for historic recordings done in the tuning, not those of present-day artists.
The nature of the tuning is such that it is easier to absolutely disqualify a song from being in the tuning, e.g., when an artist plays a note or notes that are not available in the tuning, as per Charley Jordan, than it is to state with certainty that a song was played in the tuning, as in the many instances in which a musician hits the octave I note on the fourth string, easily available in either E position standard tuning or EAEGBE tuning, but then avoids the fourth string altogether for the V7 chord.  The Furry Lewis and Ed Bell tunes all fall into this second category.  With the Clifford Gibson songs, Son House's "Clarksdale Moan" and George Torey's "Lonesome Man Blues", the EAEGBE tuning eliminates the need to play various implausible reaches that would be required, had the songs been played out of E position in standard tuning.  Rarest category of all is the one that Guitar Shorty falls into:  he was recorded recently enough by Danny McLean and Peter B. Lowry to have been observed by them as playing exclusively in the EAEGBE tuning.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 10:38:41 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10412
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2011, 05:14:31 PM »
Hi all,
I've been listening to Guitar Shorty a lot recently, especially his Flyright LP and a bunch of unreleased titles that Danny McLean recorded (thanks, Lightnin').  One thing I've noticed about Guitar Shorty's playing in this tuning is that he routinely utilized an option for voicing the V7 chord in this tuning that I have not heard being used by any of the other earlier players who played in this tuning.  As has been noted earlier, most players working in this tuning, when confronted with the V7 chord, chose to finger it close to how they would finger the V7 chord if playing in E position in standard tuning, X-2-X-2-0-X, and would then play bouncing over the fourth string, avoiding it altogether, the idea being that the third of the V7 chord, normally available at the first fret of the fourth string when playing in E position in standard tuning, is not available there in EAEGBE tuning.

What Guitar Shorty chose to do when voicing his V7 chord in EAEGBE tuning was to take a different approach.  Rather than skip over the fourth string, he chose to voice the fifth of the V7 chord on the fourth string, ending up with a V7 chord that is fingered X-2-2-2-0-0.  It's interesting that other players hadn't chosen to employ this voicing, because it ends up being exactly the same as the voicing most commonly used at the base of the neck for a V7 chord in Vestapol, though it is fingered differently, of course.  In Vestapol, the voicing is fingered X-0-2-1-0-0, and in EAEGBE tuning it is fingered x-2-2-2-0-0.  In both instances, though, expressing the voicing by indicating what voice of the V7 chord falls on each string yields this result:  X-Root-5-7-R-sus4.  In both tunings, you can double the fifth of the V7 chord by fretting the second fret of the first string rather than leaving it open.  It is yet another example of how the EAEGBE tuning, so similar to standard tuning, ends up making a voicing easily available that is considerably more difficult to play in standard tuning, X-2-4-2-0-0, and thus tends to be avoided there.  The possibilities for different and distinctive sounds that the EAEGBE tuning offers have barely been plumbed, and that's one reason the tuning is so fascinating.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10412
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2012, 08:29:59 AM »
Hi all,
I transcribed Lane Hardin's "California Desert Blues" yesterday for a lesson, and it was definitely played in this tuning, though pitched at C#-F#-C#-E-G#-C#.  I'd say there's a much better than even chance that his "Hard Time Blues", recorded at the same session and pitched the same, was also played in this tuning, but because Lane Hardin avoided the playing of the fourth string altogether in that song, it can't be said to be in the tuning with absolute certainty.  In fact, the left hand would be exactly the same played in either the EAEGBE tuning (adjusted for pitch) or E position in standard tuning (also adjusted for pitch), since the fourth string is not struck.  I expect the guitar would ring better in the EAEGBE tuning, though.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 1998
Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2012, 02:06:35 PM »
Could Mance Lipscomb's "Which Way Do Red River Run" be a candidate for this tuning, do you think? It sounds different than his vestapol stuff, although it could be in E standard. I seem to remember a comment from him about "triple E" or something like that in probably the "Parable" book.
Chris

 


anything