August 31, 2023

How To Tune Your Guitar a Half-Step Down

Tuning a guitar a half-step down (formally known as Eb Standard) is a popular and versatile tuning method used by guitarists across various genres.

By lowering the pitch of each string by one semitone, you can achieve a darker and warmer tone, easier playability, and accommodate a singer's vocal range. In this article, we'll explore how to tune your guitar a half-step down using a tuner, as well as without one, and discuss some tips for playing in this tuning.

To discover new songs in alternative tunings such as half-step down (formally known as Eb Standard), Rocksmith+ is an invaluable resource for guitar learning, offering a built-in chromatic tuner and a library of over 7,000 songs, including many that use this alternative tuning. Let's dive in and discover the benefits of tuning your guitar a half-step down!

Why Should You Tune Your Guitar a Half-Step Down?

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Tuning your guitar a half-step down offers several benefits, making it a popular choice among guitarists of various skill levels and genres.

Here are some of the main reasons why you might want to try tuning your guitar a half-step down:

Easier To Play

Lowering the string tension by tuning down a half-step can make playing certain chords, bends, and techniques easier, especially for beginners. This can be particularly helpful for those using Rocksmith+ as their primary learning platform, as it allows you to focus on mastering the basics without straining your fingers.

Richer and Warmer Tone

Tuning down a half-step provides a slightly deeper and warmer tone, often preferred in genres like blues, rock, and metal. This can give your playing a unique sound and help you stand out among other guitarists.

Singing Along

If you're a vocalist, tuning down a half-step can make it easier to sing along with your guitar, as it lowers the pitch of the song, making it more comfortable to sing in your natural vocal range.

Playing Along With Songs

Many popular songs are recorded in Eb tuning, so if you want to play along with your favorite tunes, you may need to tune down a half-step. Rocksmith+ offers a vast library of over 7,000 songs, including many in Eb tuning, making it a valuable resource for practicing and learning new songs in this tuning.


Trying out different tunings can inspire creativity and lead to new songwriting ideas. Experimenting with a half-step-down tuning might spark your imagination and help you discover new musical possibilities.

How To Tune Your Guitar a Half-Step Down Using a Tuner

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To tune your guitar a half-step down, you'll need to lower the pitch of each string by one semitone. This tuning method is also known as Eb tuning or E flat tuning, as each string is tuned down to the nearest flat note. Using a tuner, like the alternative tuning options or the chromatic tuner in the Rocksmith Tuner app, makes the process simple and accurate.

Here's the step-by-step guide to tuning your guitar a half-step down using a tuner:

  • Start with the lowest (thickest) string, which is the 6th string. Tune it down from E to Eb (D#).

  • Proceed to the 5th string and tune it from A to Ab (G#).

  • Tune the 4th string down from D to Db (C#).

  • The 3rd string should be tuned from G to Gb (F#).

  • Lower the 2nd string from B to Bb (A#).

  • Finally, tune the 1st (thinnest) string from E to Eb (D#).

How To Tune a Half-Step Down Without a Tuner

If you don't have a tuner handy, don't worry - you can still tune your guitar a half-step down using relative tuning. This method relies on your ears and the relationship between the strings.

Here's a step-by-step guide to tuning a half-step down without a tuner:

  • Start with your low E string (6th string). Pluck the E string at the 6th fret, which is normally an A# (Bb) note. Loosen the string until it sounds like an A note. This A should match the current 5th string's open A.

  • Follow the standard 5, 5, 5, 4, 5 tuning pattern:

  • With the 6th string now at E flat, playing the 5th fret will play an A flat. Tune the 5th string to match this tone.

  • At this point, playing the 5th fret of the 5th string will play a D flat note. Adjust your 4th string to match this tone.

  • Next, play the 5th fret of the 4th string playing a G flat note, adjusting the 3rd string to match.

  • On the 3rd string, play the 4th fret playing a B flat, adjusting the 2nd string to match.

  • Finally, on the 2nd string, play the 5th fret playing an E flat note, tuning the 1st string to match this tone.

This method of tuning is based on the lowest string, the 6th string. This means if your low string is not accurately tuned to an E flat, the rest of the guitar will also be incorrect.

With this in mind, the guitar will be in tune with itself, which may not sound wrong when played by itself but may sound very wrong once played with other instruments. This creates a false sense of tone and is never recommended.

Instead, download thefree Rocksmith Tuner app on your phone. It's free, and it makes your playing more precise and enjoyable.

Get Down, a Half Step Down

Tuning your guitar a half step down is an exciting way to explore new sounds and expand your musical horizons.

This tuning provides a slightly deeper, warmer tone that can enhance the emotional impact of your playing. It's also helpful for playing along with songs originally recorded in this tuning or for making it easier to hit those lower notes if you're a vocalist.

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned player, experimenting with half-step down tuning can be a refreshing change that adds a new dimension to your guitar playing. So, give it a try, and remember to have fun while learning and exploring new techniques with Rocksmith+.


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