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wrong-note-rod

rain song tuning question

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I know about the odd guitar tunings.

I'm confused as to why its in A on the live albums and in G on the studio.

Some people say he slowed it down after recording it for the studio album, resulting in a lower key and some say the band decided, for whatever reason, to raise it up a whole step when they began to rehearse it for the live show.

Has Page ever explained?

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its alternate tuning in studio, standard tuning live, that's the genius of Jimmy

Nope - not standard tuning live.

Studio is DGCGCD

Live is EADADE - which means you only have to re-tune two strings to bring it back to standard for Stairway, rather than all six, as Matjaz pointed out.

It is possible to play in standard, but the very last bit is a real bugger.

Edited by woz70

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so they changed it to A, simply to make it easier to change it back to standard for Stairway to Heaven? That means Jonesie had to relearn/transpose the song just because the guitar tech couldnt change the tuning on 4 extra strings in time?

that seems crazy to me, but, maybe thats the truth. Did Page ever confirm this?

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so they changed it to A, simply to make it easier to change it back to standard for Stairway to Heaven? That means Jonesie had to relearn/transpose the song just because the guitar tech couldnt change the tuning on 4 extra strings in time?

that seems crazy to me, but, maybe thats the truth. Did Page ever confirm this?

Transposing from G to A is pretty easy for a keyboard player, so it was hardly a case of relearning the part - Jonesy is quite a talent musically, and he was constantly changing the way he played it anyway.

Only having to re-tune 2 strings is very helpful in a number of ways, and not just because of the amount of time it takes: less chance of strings breaking; more chance of the two necks being in tune with each other when you tuned them back (there were no handy pocket sized digital guitar tuners back then); if you were a roadie with Zep then you've got to consider the amount of partying that might have gone on too... if there's less to do, there's less to fuck up. If Page had two double neck guitars, I doubt it would've been an issue.

The transition from TSRTS (which ends on a Dm7 chord) to Rain Song (which starts on an A, live) from a musical point of view makes a great sounding plagal cadence (sometimes called the 'amen' cadence) which, from a western harmony point of view, has no feeling of 'finality' or 'ending' and prepares you to listen to more music. In the original tuning you end up with a perfect cadence (Dm7 - G), which implies 'the end' from a harmonic point of view. I think, from a point of view of one song running into the other, as they did them live, that having the Rain Song in A sounds much better than it would've done in G, especially with Robert singing that long C during the transition between the two songs - to the point it sounds a bit odd listening to the Rain Song on Houses of the Holy for me now.

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well said, and as good an explanation/speculation as I've heard.

BUT

Has Page ever spoken on why they did it this way?

Not that I'm aware of....

But for further evidence of my thinking I'd also point you at 'In My Time Of Dying' and 'Kashmir', which were both performed on the same guitar (until the Outrider tour).

Kashmir was always DADGAD

The Studio version of IMTOD was and open A (EAEAC#E), but live it was in open G - DGDGBD. Again, only two strings to re-tune, rather than 5 - I'd put money on it being the same reason. Add to that the fact that tuning the Danelectro could be a bit hit and miss, because of the crappy bridge.

Edited by woz70

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OK.

Certainly they had Strobotuners behind the amps, back then.

Still, I've used those, and they're a pain in the arse compared to even the crappiest tuner pedal we have today.

I dont know, from the modern point of view, it seems weird to change the key of a song, because you dont want to tune 4 extra strings.

However, given the time frame, that may have been the case.

I also find it odd that in all the interviews he has given to guitar magazines, not once was this question asked...

oh well.

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OK.

Certainly they had Strobotuners behind the amps, back then.

Still, I've used those, and they're a pain in the arse compared to even the crappiest tuner pedal we have today.

I dont know, from the modern point of view, it seems weird to change the key of a song, because you dont want to tune 4 extra strings.

However, given the time frame, that may have been the case.

I also find it odd that in all the interviews he has given to guitar magazines, not once was this question asked...

oh well.

Well, like Woz said - imagine you're a roadie and you've been out partying before the show and instead of having to retune the four strings with the much highers chance of breaking them, you have the option to only retune two. You're gonna opt for the two because

1) it's quicker

2) god knows how the show woulda went if each night Stairway was delayed because they were having difficulty re-stringing the guitar

3) everything runs smoother

4) in the words of woz, "if there's less to do, there's less to fuck up"

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OK.

Certainly they had Strobotuners behind the amps, back then.

Still, I've used those, and they're a pain in the arse compared to even the crappiest tuner pedal we have today.

I dont know, from the modern point of view, it seems weird to change the key of a song, because you dont want to tune 4 extra strings.

However, given the time frame, that may have been the case.

I also find it odd that in all the interviews he has given to guitar magazines, not once was this question asked...

oh well.

I agree. It's odd that despite all the interviews he's given for guitar mags etc. it's never once come up.

The only other thing I'd point at is the physicality of that double neck - those tuning buttons are damned close to one another between the 12 string and the 6 string. Changing the strings must be a bit of a bugger without scuffing your knuckles (you can't fit a string winder in that gap), let alone doing anything other than fine tuning. The newer versions seem to have changed the offset/angle of the necks so there's a (little) bit more space to get your fingers in there.

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I dont know. Havent you guys retuned guitar strings during a show? I've done it thousands of times. Its not like they break very often for simple retune to a couple of steps down or up.

Still, again, thats from a modern perspective and perhaps it was different back then.I also wonder if perhaps his double-neck was an unstable or sort of prickly beast that didnt respond well to tuning.

Jonesie once called it "The Aerial" because it picked up local broadcasts, either FM or TV, I cant remember.

Maybe it was a weird beast and they didnt want to mess with it, or even touch it, any more than they had to.

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I had years ago an Ibanez double neck copy of Jimmy's.Now it wasn't a Gibson but it was still still a good guitar.But it was a bugger to tune.Once tuned it was ok but keeping those two necks in key was a chore.

Edited by grasbo

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Just one correction Page replaced the standard junk Dano bridge with a Tune-a-matic with the regular 6 string saddles. Pretty sure

he also put Grovers in place of the std tuners. Still, that rattletrap often went out of tune. Although sometimes Page's dissonance

would sound interesting, ultimately during IMTOD or Kashmir for me I would end up irritated. Kashmir IMO sounded so much

Better when Page moved over to his trans-performance Les Paul.

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Just one correction Page replaced the standard junk Dano bridge with a Tune-a-matic with the regular 6 string saddles. Pretty sure

he also put Grovers in place of the std tuners. Still, that rattletrap often went out of tune. Although sometimes Page's dissonance

would sound interesting, ultimately during IMTOD or Kashmir for me I would end up irritated. Kashmir IMO sounded so much

Better when Page moved over to his trans-performance Les Paul.

Actually he had the bridge changed to a badass all-in-one with adjustable saddles, but not until the 80's - that metal plate with a bit of wood glued to it was still in use at Knebworth.

Edit: Just found out the badass bridge was added after Knebworth but before the 1980 Europe Tour.

http://www.led-zeppelin.org/studio-and-live-gear/999

Edited by woz70

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Excellent detective work. But if that was the setup for the 80' tour, that damn Dano still had ill tuning stability. In fact, I'm pretty sure

Page used 2 different ones, you can see this in that they had two different size pick guards. Not in the same show, however.

Could be wrong, This info came from another Zep site.

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Excellent detective work. But if that was the setup for the 80' tour, that damn Dano still had ill tuning stability. In fact, I'm pretty sure

Page used 2 different ones, you can see this in that they had two different size pick guards. Not in the same show, however.

Could be wrong, This info came from another Zep site.

During the Outrider tour Page played Midnight Moonlight (DADGAD) back to back with IMTOD. He needed two guitars to save having to re-tune. The 'old' Dano with the swoosh pick-guard was used for MM and the 'new' Dano with the kidney-bean shaped pick-guard was used for IMTOD. There's a couple of video clips from the tour where he mentions using different versions of the same guitar.

I think some of the tuning problems with the Dano after the Badass had been fitted were down to Page's handling of the guitar. He wasn't exactly on top form in 1980 and the Dano needs a lighter touch (especially left hand) than he seemed to be giving it. The bloody thing sounded awful at the Atlantic 40th concert, but when I heard him play it in '88 it seemed to be fine.

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Boy, you must know somebody, be a sharp observer, or know someone who knew Jimmy's tech at various times. I totally agree that

Jimmy not only mishandles the Dano, which requires a delicate touch, but all his guitars at times. When you are using Extra super

slinky strings, you can't have a sledgehammer attack. Even going back to Zep's start, Jimmy would pick too hard and cutoff the

Sustain, volume, and tone sometimes. Towards the end and also with the ARMS shows Jimmy had a big problem with the attack/

Left-right hand coordination, squashing and cutting notes off unintentionally.

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On 3/18/2015 at 11:08 AM, woz70 said:

Transposing from G to A is pretty easy for a keyboard player, so it was hardly a case of relearning the part - Jonesy is quite a talent musically, and he was constantly changing the way he played it anyway.

Only having to re-tune 2 strings is very helpful in a number of ways, and not just because of the amount of time it takes: less chance of strings breaking; more chance of the two necks being in tune with each other when you tuned them back (there were no handy pocket sized digital guitar tuners back then); if you were a roadie with Zep then you've got to consider the amount of partying that might have gone on too... if there's less to do, there's less to fuck up. If Page had two double neck guitars, I doubt it would've been an issue.

 

The transition from TSRTS (which ends on a Dm7 chord) to Rain Song (which starts on an A, live) from a musical point of view makes a great sounding plagal cadence (sometimes called the 'amen' cadence) which, from a western harmony point of view, has no feeling of 'finality' or 'ending' and prepares you to listen to more music. In the original tuning you end up with a perfect cadence (Dm7 - G), which implies 'the end' from a harmonic point of view. I think, from a point of view of one song running into the other, as they did them live, that having the Rain Song in A sounds much better than it would've done in G, especially with Robert singing that long C during the transition between the two songs - to the point it sounds a bit odd listening to the Rain Song on Houses of the Holy for me now.

The unfinished quality you're describing as a plagal cadence is a half cadence, possibly a deceptive cadence, although you are right about that transition forming a plagal cadence. There is definitely finality to a plagal cadence, hence the name "Amen" which concludes a prayer. Also, in traditional harmony a perfect cadence V (5) can't be a minor quality chord (a v). A few not so prominent musicologists/theoreticians believe in a "minor dominant," but that would be included in naming the cadence even for them.  So, that Dm7 -G is a very different thing than a perfect cadence. A real snob would also have a problem with you calling them cadences, but for your point it is the best way to describe the importance of transition. Your overall point is compelling, but those details are important to note so folks don't learn these terms wrong.

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