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The further jazz moves away from the stark blue continuum and the collective realities of Afro-American and American life, the more it moves into academic concert-hall lifelessness, which can be replicated by any middle class showing off its music lessons - Imamu Amiri Baraka

Author Topic: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning  (Read 7616 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2012, 06:16:30 PM »
Which of Mance's albums was that on originally, Chris?  Was it on "Trouble In Mind"?  I'll check when I'm down in Seattle this week.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2012, 08:06:16 PM »
Yes, on "Trouble in Mind."

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2012, 05:20:39 AM »
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

I don't have the Parable book (need that), but it would be interesting to find this tuning named "in the wild", as it were, by a practitioner. 

Offline banjochris

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2012, 09:31:48 AM »
I'll see if I can find the reference tonight. I thought it was interesting when I first came across it, because Mance definitely tunes down for vestapol, so I wouldn't think he'd refer to vestapol as an E tuning.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2012, 04:01:03 PM »
Hi Chris,
I think that "Which Way Do Red River Run" is in E, standard tuning, after all, because in the third line of each verse, when he slides up to the fourth fret of the first string, you can hear the bass, which has been doing an octave alternation from I on the sixth string to I on the fourth string, switch to an alternation from I on the sixth string to II on the fourth string.  In standard tuning, that II note lives on the fourth fret of the fourth string, same as the note he's sliding into on the first string.  In the EAEGBE tuning, the II note would live at the second fret of the fourth string, and it would be a quixotic choice to coincide with a slide to the fourth fret on the first string.  The song is also definitely not in Vestapol, because you can hear a hammer from the minor to the major third on the third string that would only be available in cross-note, EAEGBE or standard tuning, E position.  I think you figured it right in the first place, as E position in standard tuning.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2012, 08:52:08 PM »
Thanks, John. I still need to track down that "triple E" reference, though.

Offline ScottN

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2012, 12:03:54 AM »
In the paperback copy of Parable I have there is areference on page 456 to "thribble e" but the reference seems to be to a tuning used by Muddy Waters for slide and "Near about like one style Blind Willie Johnson would tune his gittah in."

Gotta say I'm pretty impressed by your memory banjochris :-)

Offline banjochris

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2012, 09:55:45 AM »
That's the one Scott, thanks! He must be referring to vestapol there. Oh well.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2012, 09:18:16 AM »
Here's one that's bugging me. A Library of Congress recording made by John Lomax in 1941 of Tom Bell in Livingston, Alabama.

The song is called "Cross E Shimmy Dance Tune". I am wondering if it is a candidate for EAEGBE tuning but danged if I can nail it down yet. I think the whole thing could be played in E standard, a more likely scenario. But why the title? I don't believe it is Cross Note tuning as the song title might suggest, as you can hear the A bass on the IV7 chord, as well as a hammer-on or walk-up to the B bass in the V chord. The V chord does not have the 7th on the 4th string as far as I can hear. There is a rather ringy sound to the bass strings in the I chord. Sample attached.

Another possible clue: Tom Bell does another song called "Corrina" which uses the ED Bell signature lick from Mamlish Blues and other songs in that family. As I've speculated before, Ed Bell may very well have used EAEGBE tuning for some of his material, the Mamlish stuff in particular.

Tom Bell does at least one other tune in an E position that sounds more like E standard to me - "I Can Eagle Rock, Lord I Can Ball the Jack".

Finally, does anyone know anything about Tom Bell? I only have a digital version, so no notes. The tunes appeared on I Can Eagle Rock: Jook Joint Blues Libary of Congress Recordings 1940-41 (Travelin' Man). Was anything known about him? Any relation to Ed Bell? He uses the same Mamlish lick, has a rather African sound like Ed Bell. (And therefore, he's pretty great in my books.)

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2012, 09:22:28 AM »
And here is that version of Corrina as additional reference. It's not the usual Corrina, he's just using the name in the song.

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2012, 10:35:55 AM »
Thanks very much for putting up those tunes, uncle bud, they're terrific and I've never heard them before.  Without any conclusive evidence that would absolutely disqualify E position in standard tuning on the basis of what Tom Bell played (and Vestapol and cross-note are disqualified, as you noted), I would say that both pieces are played out of the EAEGBE tuning.  For "Cross E Shimmy Dance Tune", the descending lick he plays at the very beginning of the song ends up each time with him hitting a I note on the fourth string an octave above the sixth string.  In E standard the lick is by no means undoable, but it makes the left hand a bit busy and crowded.  In EAEGBE, the same lick is simple and clean in the left hand.  As he gets into the same piece, the varied and nuanced activity on the second and third strings at the base of the neck over the I chord would not be too ambitious in EAEGBE, because you can free-hand the whole thing--in E standard it would be much more difficult, having to hold down the octave E at the second fret of the fourth string.
For "Corinna", the EAEGBE tuning makes the execution of the tune simple and transparent in the best possible way.  What is played just makes so much more sense if you assume the fourth string is never fretted and is only struck when it is open.
Great finds and great catches!  I really like that first verse of "Cross E Shimmy Dance", too:

   I can stand in Bessemer, light in Birmingham

All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2012, 12:20:33 PM »
Thanks John. He's pretty cool, isn't he? There are 5 other songs from 1940 and they are all interesting. There is another recording from 1937 of Stagolee (listed as unaccompanied vocal in B&GR) that I haven't heard.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2012, 10:46:56 AM »
Hi all,
Two more songs that I've come to believe were played in the EAEGBE tuning, though pitched at D, were Robert Wilkins' songs "Jail House Blues" and "I Do Blues", both recorded on September 8, 1928 in Memphis.  They were the only tunes Robert Wilkins recorded that day.  The two songs are perfectly in tune with each other, and both were played out of the same position.  As with several of the Ed Bell songs cited earlier in this thread, "Jailhouse Blues" and "I Do Blues" could both be played in E position, standard tuning, and I've transcribed them and played them that way, but  they turn out to be considerably easier and "more natural" to play out of the EAEGBE tuning.  What are some of the factors in Robert Wilkins' sound on these songs that suggest the EAEGBE tuning as opposed to E position standard tuning or cross-note?
   * Cross-note is disqualified from the word go, because Wilkins plays a low root in his IV chord on both of these songs, with a conventional A7 sound in the treble.
   * Robert Wilkins never sounds a note lower in pitch than the root of the I chord on his fourth string in either of these songs.  This means, in effect, there are no hammers into the octave root on the fourth string, nor is the third of the V7 chord ever struck or sounded at the first fret of the fourth string.  In fact, Robert Wilkins avoids striking the fourth string altogether on his V7 chord, choosing instead to skip right over it and hit the third string, much as Ed Bell does on his songs in the EAEGBE tuning.
   * In "I Do Blues", Robert Wilkins in his third bar does a thumb drag-through from the open sixth string to the fourth fret of the fifth string to the second fret of the fourth string, as played in standard tuning.  This lays so awkwardly in the left hand that I was always somewhat bemused by his choice to make the lick an integral part of his arrangement.  As played in EAEGBE tuning, the only note in the drag-through that would be fretted would be the fourth fret of the fifth string, which could easily be free-handed.

As has been noted earlier in this thread, it is easier to disqualify songs from having been conclusively played in the EAEGBE tuning than it is to say with certainty that songs were definitely played in that tuning.  In recent years, though, we've been discovering that country blues players often altered their tunings slightly to gain subtle advantages for the left hand, so as to allow it to free-hand more rather than be stuck holding down a chordal position.  I believe that is what Robert Wilkins did on these two songs.  They can certainly be played in E standard, but they work better and are easier in the EAEGBE tuning.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2012, 01:12:06 PM »
Thanks for that, John. I will have to explore this a bit more. I Do Blues has always been a favourite that I've wanted to learn one day. I do play Jail House Blues occasionally, and funnily enough, when playing some other stuff in EAEGBE tuning, often tuned down a whole step, I have launched into the song without bothering to retune, simply because the 4th string is unnecessary to the song. I'll also play it in E standard at concert pitch, also out of laziness re. retuning :), but it's cooler tuned down.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2014, 06:35:05 PM »
Hi all,
I've been working on "Peg Leg Howell's "New Prison Blues" the past couple of days for a lesson, and am convinced that he played it in the EAEGBE tuning.  In the entire course of his rendition, he never hits a note except the I note on his fourth string, which is what that string would be in this tuning.  He pretty much side-steps the V chord altogether, and does lots of thumb brushes in which he's sounding the I note on the fourth string while moving around fairly freely on the third string--nothing that would be absolutely impossible to play out of E position in standard tuning, but all considerably easier to play out of the EAEGBE tuning.  There is so much droniness, too, with that fourth string never changing in pitch.
One of the major advantages of this tuning I'm coming to realize after having worked on material that was played in it by Clifford Gibson, Henry Spaulding and Furry Lewis is that it makes it possible to free-hand in the treble over both the I chord and the IV chords, or E and A, if you prefer to think of them that way.  It really frees things up so much to be able to move around in the treble without having to worry about holding down chordal positions.  You almost feel as though you could start to enter Robert Pete Williams territory, where you can free-hand everything.  It's certainly something well worth exploring.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 11:59:00 AM by Johnm »

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2014, 02:48:39 PM »
First time I've seen this thread.
I'm definitely going to try this tuning.
Thanks.

Offline Zoharbareket

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #31 on: February 25, 2014, 04:07:17 AM »
Great thread!!

Thanks

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2017, 12:18:45 PM »
Hi all,
This is the only one of the ""Adventures in .  ." threads that already lived on this board, and now they're all adjacent and easy to find (for now).
All best,
Johnm

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2017, 02:45:30 PM »
Great to have them all for easy reference in one place! Excellent.

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #34 on: August 06, 2017, 03:00:37 PM »
Thanks, Prof!  Sometimes it takes the longest time to do the most obvious and sensible things--no excuse.
all best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 03:44:30 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2018, 11:54:13 AM »
Hi all,
There are a couple of performances from the Miller's Breakdown thread that were played out of EAEGBE tuning that were not previously noted in this thread:  Ranie Burnette's "Hungry Spell", Arthur Weston's version of "Stack O' Dollar" and Myrt Holmes' "Come Here, Fairo" [sic].
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 06:39:48 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2019, 01:27:38 PM »
Hi all,
I have long suspected that two Lemon Jefferson songs that have long been considered to have been played in A position in standard tuning were, in fact, played in A position, but in EAEGBE tuning.  The two songs are "Shucking' Sugar" and "Stocking Feet Blues".  Here is "Shucking' Sugar":



Lemon is sounding in G on the recording, so he is tuned a whole step low, whether in standard tuning or EAEGBE.  What aspects of Lemon's sound point to the possibility that "Shucking' Sugar" might be played in EAEGBE tuning?
   * Lemon never hits a note lower in pitch than an E note (relative to his tuning) on the fourth string, from beginning to end of the tune--this despite the fact that for a song played in A position in standard tuning the root of the IV chord is sitting there, waiting to be played on the open fourth string in standard tuning.  Lemon does not play that note once in the course of his rendition, choosing instead to leap from the open fifth string up to the second and first strings every time he goes to his IV chord.  Were he in EAEGBE tuning his choice to avoid the root of the IV chord would be less quixotic, and would be driven by the tuning itself, and the fact that it makes that root of the IV chord unavailable, except at the fifth fret of the fifth string.
   * When Lemon goes to his "Shuckin' Sugar" mini-refrain in the seventh and eight bars of his form, he is maintaining an octave alternation from a low V note on the sixth string to the V note on the fourth string against a I chord in the treble, while playing melody on the first two strings.  Were Lemon in EAEGBE tuning, his octave alternation would be between two open strings and would not require any fretting in the left hand, thus enabling him to do his melody work in the treble free-handing, and not having to hold down any chordal position while playing it.  In standard tuning, to get the octave alternation from the open sixth string to the fourth string, the fourth string would have to be fretted at the second fret for the entire phrase.  It's not that that is so horribly difficult, but it is so much easier in EAEGBE tuning, because the tuning gives you the open string alternation.

Let's take a look at "Stocking Feet Blues".  Here is Lemon's performance of it:



Not surprisingly, "Stocking Feet Blues" has some different moves in it.  What is it in its sound that suggests EAEGBE tuning as a possibility?
   * When Lemon goes to his IV chord in verse one, he hits a sharp V note on the fourth string as a pick-up note, resolving up from there by half-step into a VI note, the third of the IV chord, D.  In standard tuning, this would have him working out of the following chordal position, going from the fourth string to the first: 4-2-3-5.  This is a fairly "spread out" position in the left hand.  In EAEGBE tuning, the same pitches would be fingered 2-2-3-5, which ends up being much easier to finger and find with the left hand.  In the second verse in the D chord, Lemon goes from an A at the fifth fret of the first string to an F# at the second fret of the first string.  In standard tuning this would require a partial barre at the second fret.  It would in EAEGBE tuning, too, but would be easier to finger.
   * In the verse that begins "Don't mistreat me because I'm young and wild", Lemon goes from a V note to a VI note on the fourth string under the I chord, which has the high root at the fifth fret of the first string.  In standard tuning, this would have Lemon fingering 4-2-2-5 on the top four strings, going from the fourth string to the first.  Putting the VI note on the fourth string in EAEGBE tuning has him fingering the same sound by playing 2-2-2-5 on the top four strings.  Once again, EAEGBE makes for an easier left hand.
   * As in "Shuckin' Sugar", Lemon never hits a note lower in pitch than the V note of the key he is playing in on the fourth string in "Stocking Feet Blues".

I don't believe any of this aural evidence proves conclusively that Lemon played "Shuckin' Sugar" and "Stocking Feet Blues" in EAEGBE tuning, but it sure is plausible, and the choice to do so would make a number of Lemon's musical choices in the songs more logical, and a function of the tuning as opposed to a quixotic choice made more difficult by standard tuning.  I think I'll figure out both tunes in EAEGBE (I've already transcribed them in A position in standard tuning) and see which way of playing the songs I prefer, both for sound and ease of execution.
All best,
Johnm   
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 06:49:01 AM by Johnm »

Offline matt milton

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2020, 03:34:52 AM »
I've been recently trying to learn Clifford Gibson's Ice and Snow Blues. I found the lyrics here, for which many thanks, really helpful -
https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?Itemid=128&topic=169.msg54976#msg54976

But I've been wondering if he really does play it in Vestapol, rather than EAEGBE? Main reason is the second note in the recording, which is very pronounced minor third (i.e. a "G" rather than a "G sharp", capo and pitch notwithstanding). Personally I'm also finding it a lot more comfortable and natural to play in an EAEGBE tuning, but that might just be a reflection of what I'm accustomed to. There is admittedly a lot of "G sharp" in the song.

Ice and Snow Blues, Old Time Rider and Keep your Windows Pinned have very very similar vocal melodies. Did he definitely play the first two in Vestapol and yet the last one in EAEGBE?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2020, 05:54:49 AM by matt milton »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2020, 09:35:04 AM »
Hi matt milton,
I re-listened to "Ice And Snow Blues" to check as to whether the identification of it being played in Vestapol was correct, and it is.  The second note of the song is in fact a major third note played on the open third string.  The song begins with a triplet moving from the open second string to the open third string and then the open first string.  The triplet is a pick-up triplet, falling on beat four of the phantom measure preceding the downbeat of the intro.  For the downbeat of the intro, Clifford Gibson lands on a bent third fret of the first string, which is a minor third of the key, holding it for a full beat.  On beat two, he plays a broken triplet, going from the bent third fret of the first string to the open first string, landing on the open second string on beat three, following that with a downward brush of the first two strings, open on beat four.  In the second measure of the intro on beat 1+ he goes from the third fret of the first string to the second fret of the first string.  On beat 2+ he moves from the open first string to the second fret of the second string.  On beat three he sounds the open second string, and on beat four he hits and releases a bend of the second fret of the first string.  On beat one of the next measure he hits the open first string.  On beat two he plays a triplet, pulling off from the second fret of the second string to the open second string and following that with a bent third fret of the fourth string (a minor third of the key). On beat three he plays another triplet, moving from the open fourth string to the second fret of the fifth string and finishing up with a brush of the open fourth and third strings.  On beat 4+ he brushes the open fourth and third strings and then hits the open fourth string, resolving to the open sixth string on the downbeat of the fourth measure of the intro.
Other give-aways that Clifford Gibson played the song in Vestapol rather than EAEGBE tuning:
   * He never once hits the hammer from a minor to a major third on the third string that is easily available in EAEGBE, cross-note and E position standard tuning.  The lowest-pitched note he ever sounds on the third string is a major third, which is the open third string in Vestapol.
   * He never once plays a IV chord with its root in the bass, an option which EAEGBE makes easily available but which is not possible in Vestapol except by voicing the low root of the IV chord at the fifth fret of the sixth string.  For "Ice And Snow Blues", Clifford Gibson routinely plays the Vestapol IV chord, X-2-0-1-0-0, and he never frets a note lower in pitch than the V note on the fifth string, which in Vestapol is the open string.
   * He plays a Vestapol V7 chord, X-0-2-1-0-2, throughout the course of the song.  To get the equivalent voicing in EAEGBE tuning, one would have to fret X-2-2-2-0-2, and Guitar Shorty is the only player who played in EAEGBE tuning who recorded using that voicing of the V7 chord.

I hope this helps.  I hope you'll post the song, once you have it figured out--it's not one that many people have covered or played since Clifford Gibson recorded it.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 04, 2020, 12:13:28 PM by Johnm »

Offline matt milton

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Re: Adventures in EAEGBE tuning
« Reply #39 on: January 10, 2020, 04:24:07 AM »
I re-listened to "Ice And Snow Blues" to check as to whether the identification of it being played in Vestapol was correct, and it is.  The second note of the song is in fact a major third note played on the open third string....

Wow, many thanks John for such a detailed and helpful response. I had been playing it EAEGBE but I've switched to Vestapol. I'll post it up when I've got it down properly.

It's an odd one. Part of its oddness, to my ears, is that he starts playing considerably more solidly in the bass in the last two  verses or so, when compared to a relatively bass-free and much more elusive first couple of verses.

 


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