This song, for example:
I've tried the notes in the intro on both standard tuning and half-step down, and they both match pretty closely. (How) Can one determine by listening the tuning used?
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Can one determine by listening the tuning used?
It might be more or less difficult from case to case. Several ways to get hints:
Search for live performances and look what the guitarist is playing.
Identify the lowest pitch. If the lowest pitch is below E2, then certainly the tuning is not E-standard.
Listen to the tone of each note.
Try playing the tune along with the recording. If it's easy to play in Eb-standard, while in E-standard requires awkward, difficult or perhaps impossible fingering, that's a strong hint.
Look for other information. Some guitarists are known for their preference for certain tunings. Perhaps they use the same tuning on the whole album.
I believe it is standard tuning but even if it is Eb tuning it’s irrelevant because there are no open strings being used. The first 3 chords are all being played around the 6th-9th frets until the Gb chord, where you can clearly hear a downward slide to the 2nd to 4th frets. You can even hear it in the timbre of the chords, they are darker sounding, typical of chords that are played higher up the neck.
This is what I hear in the first 4 bars in TAB standard tuning:
In this case there are no obvious clues as to what tuning is used but in general some things to listen for are open CAGED chord shapes and the lowest note played, If it is below an open E that’s a dead giveaway.
The opening pitches of the song make up an
Eb minor chord, suggesting either the playback is slow or the guitar is tuned a half-step low.
In light of Edward's comments below, a further thought on the tuning. One can hear fret noise, suggesting that the tuning used does not allow for entirely open strings -- limiting the advantage an
Eb tuning. Instead, it could be a standard
E tuning with a capo on the 2nd fret. This would accommodate both the lowest pitch used,
Gb (in the fourth chord), while also simplifying the overall fingering.
It sounds like you are trying to determine the Key that this arrangement of the song is being sung/played in. I do a lot of transposing music from arrangements like this and there are the steps I take:
we’re just people made of broken pieces / i got secrets you got secrets in your eyes /
why does sad love always taste the sweetest / we got reasons we got reasons you and i /
That is your key. From there you can determine the rest of the chords / notes in the song.
This sound sounds to me to be in G-flat major. If this is correct, you are looking for a tuning that can easily play G-flat, C-flat, and D-flat chords. Standard tuning capoed at the 6th fret would achieve this. Or Open-D tuning capoed at the 4th fret.
Bear in mind it's not always possible. Songs can be, and are, speeded up or slowed down, which may (or may not) change their pitch from original.
The obvious is that if there are notes lower than E♮, the song's not in E! If no chord is played as an open shape - everything is barred - then it's well nigh impossible to tell. Although guitarists do like to use open voicings on a lot of songs, and it will depend who that guitarist is. In fact, if open voicings are used, that's a good clue. An open E sounds different from an open A, open C, open G.
A telltale is sometimes the sloppy changes between chords - particularly just before chord changes occur. Some guitarists are in the habit of playing an open strum there - maybe can't reach the next shape in time - and that's going to sound like all the open strings. Isolate that, and there's your answer.
Having listened, it could even be that standard tuning was used, but the guitar had a capo on the 2nd fret - giving an open sound to the F♯ low note.