Half Step Down Tuning

Half-step down tuning is a popular guitar tuning that can offer a unique sound and feel to your playing. In this article, we’ll learn about half-step down tuning, its benefits, and how how to tune your guitar down a half-step.

What is a half-step down tuning?

Half-step down tuning, as its name suggests, involves tuning each string on the guitar down by one half-step from the standard tuning. In standard tuning, the notes of the six strings, from the thickest to the thinnest, are E, A, D, G, B, and E. In half-step down tuning, each of these notes is tuned down by one half-step, resulting in the notes Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, and Eb, respectively. However, most digital tuners don’t show pitches in terms of flats. So, this tuning also can be written using sharps instead: D#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D#. That’s why this tuning is also called Eb (E flat) tuning or D# (D sharp) tuning.

What is a half step down tuning?
What is a half step down tuning?

This guitar tuning is often used by guitarists to achieve a fuller, more resonant sound and can make playing certain chords and techniques easier due to the looser tension on the strings. 

Benefits of down tuning

Half-step down tuning can make playing the guitar easier for some players. By lowering a half-step, the strings will feel looser and require less tension to fret. This can make playing barre chords and other complex chord shapes easier, as it can reduce the strain on your fingers and hands. In addition, the lower tuning can give your playing a more relaxed and laid-back feel, which can be desirable for certain styles of music.

Another benefit, which makes this alternate tuning a favorite of musicians, is that it can add depth and richness to the sound. By lowering the pitch of each string, you can create a fuller, more resonant tone that can be particularly effective for heavy or distorted guitar sounds. This tuning also makes the strings easier to manipulate, making it easier to achieve certain effects such as vibrato and bending. 

How to tune your guitar down a half-step

Getting tuned your guitar to half-step down tuning is a relatively simple process, and can be done manually or with the assistance of a tuner/ guitar tuning app. To tune your instrument down a half-step by ear, you can use a reference pitch, such as a piano, and adjust each string until it matches the corresponding pitch in.

  • E → E♭/D♯
  • B → B♭/A♯
  • G → G♭/F♯
  • D → D♭/C♯
  • A → A♭/G♯
  • E → E♭/D♯
Half Step Down Tuning
Half Step Down Tuning

If you prefer to use a guitar tuner to tune down your guitar a half-step, follow these steps: 

  • Step 1: Turn on the tuner and select the “flat” setting.
  • Step 2: Play each string and adjust the tuning until the tuner displays the note in half-step down. For example, the low E string should read “Eb” instead of “E”.
  • Step 3: Once you have tuned all six strings to the correct pitch, your guitar will be in half-step down tuning.

Tune your guitar to half step down with Guitar Tunio

Alternatively, you can check out our guitar tuner app – a tool that’s more saving,  more convenient and gives the exact same performance as expensive digital tuners. In the paid version, we provide musicians with a rich list of alternate guitar tunings including half-step down. Simply drive to “Tuning mode”, choose the “half step down” option, and tune your string to the indicator’s guides. This app is available for both Android and iOS smartphones, visit our stores to learn more about it. 

Iconic guitarists and popular bands who use half-step down tuning

Half-step down tuning has been used by many famous guitarists over the years. Here are some of the best-known guitarists who have used this tuning, and each of them used it in their own unique way, showcasing the versatility and flexibility of this tuning:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Jackson Browne
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Neil Young
  • B.B. King
Iconic guitarists and bands who use half step down tuning
Iconic guitarists and bands who use half-step down tuning

Likewise, plenty of popular bands play in this tuning as well. It’s often used by rock, punk, and metal bands. Here are some bands using this tuning:

  • Black Sabbath
  • Nirvana
  • Green Day
  • Slayer
  • Def Leppard
  • Guns ‘N Roses


Half-step down tuning is a popular alternative guitar tuning that can offer many benefits to players of all skill levels. By tuning your guitar to this tuning, you can experiment with new sounds and enhance your playing. So, give it a try!