AC/DC “Highway To Hell” -Pitch Corrected [Is This True or False?]

25 Mar AC/DC “Highway To Hell” -Pitch Corrected [Is This True or False?]


Matt Sharayko
  • avatar
    Posted at 02:33h, 07 February

    Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation actually doesn’t even sound like standard either really

    • avatar
      Posted at 03:46h, 07 February

      Actually there’s more from the Bon scott era that are standard which most people wouldn’t even think are…..Will finally get around to post a video which you will see some neat facts and should be posted tomorrow when I have time πŸ™‚

  • avatar
    Posted at 04:45h, 31 January

    Very few songs in the Bon Scott era are in Standard Tuning. The Jack, Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation & Down Payment Blues (Borderline), and Riff Raff are the only ones from Bon Scott era that are truly Standard. Several are close but just a bit off.

    Here is an example of songs and their different tunings.

    Gimme A Bullet- E Flat (1/2 Step Down)

    Highway To Hell- 1/4 Step Down

    Shot Down In Flames- 1/8 Step Down (Half way between 1/4 and Standard).

    Riff Raff- Standard

    Cold Hearted Man- 1/8 Step Up (Exact opposite of 1/8 down).

    Dog Eat Dog- 1/4 Step Up

    It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)- E Sharp (1/2 Step Up)

    • avatar
      Posted at 12:33h, 31 January

      there is a section here on the site that states (from Tony Platt) why some songs are off pitch some by a speed reduction in mixing other just what they were tuned to at the time

    • avatar
      Posted at 00:16h, 01 February

      I will post something really helpful and that a lot of people have missed regarding the tuning. Soon as just have a make a short video πŸ™‚

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:11h, 03 September

    Hi Guys,
    I thought I might help you out as to why some of the AC/DC songs prior to Back In Black are out of Std. tuning. I spoke to one of the AC/DC guys a few years ago when I was Living in Sydney. He told me the reason was that they used to do a lot of the recordings almost as live, in the studio, after they had just done a Pub gig. As a result they would be a bit “hyped” up and do the songs a little too fast. In those Analogue days, slowing or speeding up the song, put the pitch up or down a little. Bon Scott would then sing over the recorded song.
    When digital recording came in after the Hwy to Hell album, they could speed them up or slow them down without effecting the Pitch. —- so there you have it.

    • avatar
      Posted at 09:01h, 03 September

      Pretty much finally giving a perfectly credible reason to all of this, Tony: thanks! πŸ™‚

      Sounds just right. So, the original tuning might have been just right at 440hz; however, the intended tempo for that given song wasn’t! I.e., the boys had envisioned a certain type of atmosphere to the song that hadn’t been captured correctly due to a change during live play. Hence at the mixing desk later, things would have been slowed down (or sped up, as for example, with Whole Lotta Rosie).

      Pretty neat and compatible with what I – humbly – had been thinking for a few years now πŸ™‚

  • avatar
    Posted at 01:47h, 27 March

    i usually tune down a quarter step which is between E and Eb, i was having the same problem months ago until after listening very carefully i realized they got the sound from tuning just under E. You can hear them do this on albums high voltage through highway to hell. After that they started recording in E tuning.

  • avatar
    Chris Garbutt
    Posted at 01:10h, 27 March

    I’ve tried to play the whole ‘Highway to Hell’ album one song after the other and I had to tune my guitar a few times… I can’t remember which ones off hand but seems like there are a couple other albums like that too. I don’t think the band did it intentionally because it’s not even like it’s “exactly” a half step down or anything. It’s somewhere in between… just enough to make you go “aww maaaaan…” and have to stop the song and start it again so you can re-tune! lol I do find that being tuned just a little lower like a half step for instance, adds a darker ambiance to a song. I think that album has a dark and playfully sinister quality to it anyway…. and I love it πŸ™‚

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:12h, 25 March

    I don’t think there’s any reason to harshly critisize this guy. πŸ˜‰
    We already , potentialy, scared off the the guys from STRUMR with our comments. (myself regretably included)
    So much so that Fil deleted their video.

    I would just chalk this up as one theory of many. It MIGHT have been that way, it MIGHT not have been. πŸ™‚

    My opinion is, as with most of pre BIB albums, they went in the studio each day and just tuned to each other being close to standard. As any player should know, the temp of the surroundings can change your tuning in a heartbeat.
    Maybe this is something else needed to be “de-bunked” here at SoloDallas’ site?

    • avatar
      Posted at 18:25h, 25 March

      Good call, thank you bro’.
      I don’t know, I really don’t know why it is so.
      We can for now say that:

      – not true that AC/DC always played at 440hz. Acutally in the early days, they almost NEVER tuned 440hz lol
      – it might just be guitars tuned randomly. If you play in a band with guitars (bass guitar and two other guitars) tuning is a nightmare. Especially if you bang your instruments – and they did – tuning is a main issue. You can just realize by listening to several live shows where Angus had one or more strings out of tune: not good.
      The guitar with the lightest gauge is the first to go lol. So it may well be that they rehearshed each take several times, tuned among themselves (though they DID have a tuner in evidence, many pictures show one, the same old style one, at least by the end of the ’70s) and just re-do the take. It’s a possibility.
      – OR either Platt or Lange thought it wound sound meaner, “weirder” detuned by slowing the tape down, which was common practice back then (I had a Studer 24 tracks tape at the studio, just like one AC/DC had recorded several stuff).
      – on this track, there is no specific guitar licks that needed detuning
      – vocals might have been an issue, but the detuning here is not enough to seem to help Bon get it better. So, this last point may be ignored, maybe.

      These would seem to be the several possibilities.
      Anything else coming in mind to you guys?

      • avatar
        Posted at 18:31h, 25 March

        re: anything else, how would slowing the tape down affect the pitch???

        • avatar
          Posted at 18:34h, 25 March

          Heh. Sounds weid huh?
          When I was “young” I had a little SOny tape thingie, a tape recorder and play back. I used already that one at the time (I think I was 14) to slow down the solos and try to grab them. Naturally, I used to do a terrible job.
          However, the knob said “pitch” and it was made by slowing the motor down. The motor of the recorder.
          I swear πŸ˜›

          • avatar
            Posted at 19:02h, 25 March

            I’m sorry, I wasn’t disagreeing I was looking for the technical explanation. Must have been hell trying to work solos out in the wrong key, lol πŸ™‚

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:45h, 25 March

    Hello, I guess he’s right, ’cause my guitar teacher said that, too

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:22h, 25 March

    Yeah, I dont think this guy really knows what he’s talking about

    Its A Long Way To The Top is tuned a half a step up
    I think Who Made Who is half a step down

    He’s just trying to sounds smart, imho

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:05h, 25 March

    (answering to the guy who made the video)

    that’s ridiculous. AC/DC recorded songs in other tunings in all albums at that time. Listen to Powerage, almost each song has a different tuning.

    It’s stupid to think that there’s no way to play guitar if it’s not is at 440hz.

    And he’s 12, are you kidding me?

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:12h, 25 March

    So I was surfing around on the Internet when I found this video. The guy who posted it makes the claim that AC/DC recorded the title track of “Highway to Hell” in standard tuning, however it was slowed down in final production. Personally, I do not believe this at all. Am I right when I say that AC/DC recorded this a half-step down and that this practice was/is quite common? From my listening experience, AC/DC did not start using standard tuning until “Back in Black” (correct me if I’m wrong). Additionally, the guy who posted this video disabled comments on this video; now I can’t tell him what a numb-nuts he is… Anyway, I found this video quite intriguing seeing as how I’ve never heard anyone mention this kind of theory before. It would be great to have the Solodallas community to dissect this!

    Have a good weekend everyone,

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