Spinal Tap has nothing on this. Via RW70, aka Rob Warmowski:

So what happens when you’re Van Halen, the last song in your set list is the million-seller “Jump” with its synthesizer-keyboard opening…and the recording you’re using to play back the synth is accidentally run at 48K instead of 44.1K?

What happens is exactly this (recorded in Greensboro, NC four days ago)

Yes, just as disturbing as the possibility that your backing tracks could spontaneously introduce a new tuning system in front of thousands of fans, hundreds of thousands more may know about it within days on YouTube. Techs everywhere just felt a chill go up their spine. Erm, once they stopped crying they were laughing so hard.

If you enjoyed this musical performance, get ready for Guitar Hero IV: Quartertone! Charles Ives Expansion Pack!

And Van Halen, the American Festival of Microtonal Music here in New York may be able to welcome you soon.

  • Goobs


  • Dan

    Van Halen actually did an impressive job of adapting his voice, while the guitarists wandered around stage wondering why their guitars suddenly sounded like shite.

  • Freddy

    what amazes me more is the fact that the audience didn't seem to care about, or for that matter even take notice.

    advice for guitarrists: plug an octaver pedal on your rig to be able to save days like this 🙂

  • _object.session

    that was incredibly bad.

    but i'm not sure if that's because of the tuning. 😉

  • mike

    Dan, this is not van Valen singing. van Halen plays guitars and drums :-), eh there's two of them, see.

    Btw, the video is just priceless.

  • mike

    Pardon, it's even 3 of them (+ bass player). The singer's name is David Lee Roth, he's quite well-known in Rpock for his solo career, too.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Oh god that was horrible!

  • Tris

    This was actually a tribute to StSanders's shreds…

  • Sarah

    Ow my ears!!!!!!!

  • Maybw its my super awesome ears, or the fact that ive heard that song about 700 thousand times but you can tell its out of tune like three notes into the intro.

    As a live sound guy, would it be so hard to stop the track? whats worse, eastern remix, or no backing track?

  • Major LULZ.

    A couple things come to mind.

    First, it's F-ing VAN HALEN, and they can't afford to bring a keyboardist on tour with 'em? … WTF?? That's a new level of cheapness there. I mean … I KNOW the TICKETS weren't that cheap.

    On top of that … I mean it's not even like they needed to hire a GOOD keyboardist … that has to be THE easiest keyboard part in all of rock-n-roll history (awesome though it is).

    Second … it doesn't phase Eddie in the slightest … my man just keeps on doing his thing. At the end of the keyboard solo, the detuning sounds almost bagpipe-esque.

  • I was at this show. It was amazing all the way through (heavy, with no stopping between songs), but the played back synth at the end did sound off, and I wishing someone was there to /actually/ play it — but I was having too good of a time to call them on it.

    If you have a chance to go see these guys this year, definitely go! The energy was much better than in 04 and it was a great set.

  • I think I actually like the song better like that.

  • disturb

    oh boy !

  • Yeah, actually, that's a really good question that the YouTube commenters seemed to miss —

    Van Halen can't hire a keyboardist to play this signature synth line?

    What, did they blow that budget on the giant inflatable mic?

  • Doug Theriault

    Thats showbiz 🙂

  • j.

    That FOH dude is SOOOOOOOO fired….lol

  • "What, did they blow that budget on the giant inflatable mic?"

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. That was a mic?! Oh thank god. 😉

  • cdmr

    For the record, the tour has been absolutely incredible so far. Check out the other videos from the shows.

  • wow.

    This is the best real water-mark on backing tracks since Milli Vanilli.

    …if that was played by a keyboardist, and he were so out of tune, you fire the keyboardist. If the FOH engineer were responsible for cue-ing the synth part, you fire the FOH engineer. But if it really is the case that a track-player came out in the wrong speed, who do you fire for that.


  • Lolz.

    On stage, sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

  • Count Rockula

    This isn't true. The sample rate wasn't off at all. I have almost every show from this tour, and every time Jump is in the same key. It sounds to me like Eddie broke a string and it threw his Floyd Rose out of tune, which is exactly what happens when you break a string using a Floyd Rose. It's pretty rancid, but this deal about the sample rate being off is not true. If you notice, Wolfie is right there in key. If the sample rate were off changing the key of the song, Wolfie would have been off from the get go too until he figured out the problem. But he was right on. So, Eddie had to have broken a string. I wasn't there, so I don't know for sure.

  • Ha … could point, Count.

    Sure, we all wanted to blame the tech and not the guitar. 😉

    I am impressed how they brave it anyway. I'll keep that in mind the next time something disastrous happens to me (albeit in front of a much, much, much smaller crowd…)

  • NOT THEIR FAULT! somewhere a tech is fired.

  • Ugmo

    So Count Rockula, Eddie broke a string but tried to play the song anyway, including the solo (which he completely butchered)… rather than simply CHANGING GUITARS?

    Highly doubtful.

  • Okay, Count … ain't no way. Just went back and listened again. Not only is the keyboard clearly sharp, but you can compare … definitely wrong. Back to blaming the tech.

  • You are all overestimating musical achievement amongst the general population – it's tremendously low.

    Yesterday I taught Kindergarten. I sang "The Farmer in the Dell," but without the words, and asked if anyone had heard it before. Not one person responded. Then I sang it with the words, and there was a huge outburst – oh, we know that one, they all exclaimed!

    A concert for a non-musical audience has to be about everything BUT music: the poetry, the sounds, the lights, the energy. Of course the audience doesn't notice or even care about a clash in tonality. Music education in the States is a dismal failure. Some of us are hard at work trying to improve things, but it's not easy.

  • I can explain that, Jonathan. I'm suspecting your Kindergarten was most familiar with Bob Dylan's classic *cover* of "The Farmer in the Dell," which falls a bit into Dylanian Sprechstimme.

    "Hi HOOO, the derry -Ohhhh… and the CHEEEESE stands ALoooooooone. Cheeeeseee… it's a good snack … for a war."

    Pure poetry, really. Kids don't need to study acoustical dissonance in Van Halen performances gone wrong. They just need a good, solid dose of stature.

    (Sorry, couldn't resist. Erm… yes, we need more musical education.)

  • seattle98104

    I'm confused, if the bassist and the guitarist know the synth is a backing track, why the fuck couldn't they use their EARS and adjust accordingly into the right key?

    or hell just drop out and let the backing track lead? and join in on riding the mic?

  • R2Dude

    The track is off; the actual key is C and this was playing (roughly) C#. This had nothing to do with breaking a string. Plus, having been in that situation before, especially for a song where you ride the root note for over half of the arrangement, you can always bend the string up so at least the verses & chorus match the synth key.

    My guess is that a) they don't have the keys in their individual monitor mixes (so they didn't know) and/or b) for all of Eddie's "guitar prowess" he has no idea how to transpose up 1/2 step. Or ) he didn't because he knew his son couldn't do it, and he'd rather they both hang together than expose his kid as overmatched by musical theory.

  • Me

    It's Sammy Hagar on vocals. Not Dave Lee Roth.

    I agree, get a keyboard player.

    But the other person who said about the string/floyd rose.. He could have easily switched guitars.


  • Ugmo

    Sammy Hagar? LOL.

    It's the most highly anticipated reunion of the decade! Eddie, Alex, Sammy Hagar and Butterball Van Halen!

  • Ugmo

    In other words, no it most definitely is not Sammy Hagar on vocals.

  • Show of hands: how many people can easily play up an approximate quarter tone? I think if you listen closely he tries to pitch up, but because it's actually C#+ (sounds like a new programming language from Microsoft) or somewhere thereabouts, that's going to be … tricky. Only the vocalists are able to easily adapt. And as for why they didn't just stop playing, well, I can imagine a certain amount of panic clouding one's judgment in this situation, so I won't criticize. 🙂

  • I.T.

    Jonathan, musical education "is a dismal failure" everywhere, not just in US.

  • Scott

    "First, it’s F-ing VAN HALEN, and they can’t afford to bring a keyboardist on tour with ‘em?"

    They found money for the guy waving flags during the intro. Why isn't he playing keys?

  • jimmystigma

    The keys are mixed so much louder than the guitars and the bass, everyone but the drummer could have put down their instrument. Then they all could have hitched a ride on the big microphone together.

  • "They found money for the guy waving flags during the intro. Why isn’t he playing keys?"

    In my mind, there's a fist fight …

    Van Halen rocking out to backing tracks versus the time when Phil Collins started using drum machines .

    They're duking it out for the honor of planting their flag atop mount lame.

  • Most likely the guys didn't want to clutter the stage with a keyboard being out there for just one track out a 2+hr set — or to include some random session-guy at the end of an otherwise star-heavy performance — particularly for the last track.

    Of course, a quick walk on with a keytar could have been justified 🙂

  • Hilarious! I love it! My favorite version yet.

    Honestly, I find many detuned works compelling–glad I don't have perfect pitch.

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  • PainoMan

    The synth part sounds fine to me. It sounds more like something wrong with Eddie's rig. An effect sounds stuck on, and his guitar is out of key.

  • Charles Ive's expansion pack?

    That my friend, is the funniest today.

  • dumafuge

    omg painfully funny. david lee roth just got punked by pythagoras.

    the synth sounds in tune to me. i think eddie is just fucking with roth for being a douchebag for the past 20 years.

    i'd buy the ejay ives pack…

  • Angstrom

    star wars trumpet girl comes to mind


    Now can DLR dance like that eh?

    no, he can't. That is the full package right there.

  • ILSB

    Van Halen have had a guy backstage doing the keyboards for the last 15 years or so.

  • Leslie

    I think it would have been brilliant if they all put down their instruments and started singing their respective instrumental parts! Anyone in the crowd on hallucinogens would have flipped.

  • ERS

    To The Farmer in the Dell Guy —

    Probably, if you need a theory class and "musical education" to appreciate/enjoy it – it's /not good music/

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  • jackmantas

    First of all, to all of the posters who are claiming that Eddie broke a string and his guitar went out of tune because of his floyd rose tremolo. That is absolutely ridiculous… while breaking a string would throw his guitar out of tune, there is no way he would have put up with that for a whole song. He would have just instantly called for his tech to hand him another guitar. (he probably has 10 or 15 different guitars ready to go at any one time) As far as any other explanation goes, I am fairly baffled. Starting the song over is completely unprofessional, although I know Van Halen has been known to do that from time to time when DLR is really drunk and clowning around and such. Why Eddie couldn't just transpose the key is beyond me with all his experience, although I have heard he cannot read music, so maybe that has something to do with it. Regardless, it sounded absolutely horrible and I'm sure alot of the audience could tell something was very wrong. This is absolutely inexcusable for a band at this level and something must be done to rectify this immediately.

  • oh! the humanity!

    I think the giant inflatable microphone is to blame. maybe there was a leakage of helium and it transposed the keys somehow?

  • Damon

    If I had not know that was a recording glitch, I just would have thought it was one of Eddie's guitar scream o ramas… And MTV style video editing makes the thing all look a whole lot more graceful. And yes, they could have afforded a keyboardist, but for 1 track, or maybe 2? Rush does the whole thing on MIDi, and no one takes issue with that.

  • bliss

    That Dylan comment had me in stitches!

  • Radek

    This is what means to have balls!

    Everything was falling apart and he didn't care

    and did his part. I guess if he would panic public would boo and throw tomatoes

  • iain010100

    And they just kept playing. Eddie should just turned is volume off.

  • M Frog Labbatt

    I think it was the guitar that was out of tune. David Lee Roth is not that agile a singer to cover that pitch change. Besides, the bass was in tune. I suspect a guitar tech grabbed the wrong ax… possible a now unemployed guitar tech.

  • jackmantas

    No way Frog, if the tech grabbed the wrong axe, Eddie wouldn't have suffered through the whole song before changing to the right axe.

  • kobe

    dunno, i think frog could be right.

    -do we know for a fact that playing something at 48 khz vs. 44.1 will increase the pitch by a microtone?

    -many times guitarists will have guitars tuned down a half-step. could have easily grabbed the wrong guitar.

    the floyd rose thing is bullshit. if the string broke and the floyd rose caused the pitch to change, yes the pitch would go up on most strings, but they would not all go up the same increments as the strings are at different tensions relative to their gauge. some strings go sharp, a few might be 'flat' in relation to each other (tho sharp compared to what ideal tuning should be).

  • OU812


    Someone explains what happened. A sample rate error can't put the keyboards exactly 1/2 step higher.

    Bottom line: Ed had the wrong guitar. Ed grabbed the one tuned to G# instead of the one tuned to A.

  • OU812

    Ed uses that specific guitar for Jump. The rest of Ed's axes are tuned to G#. My guess is that the tech tuned all of Ed's axes to G# and there was no other axe to switch to. Wolf is in tune with the keyboards. Clearly not a sample rate problem.

  • jackmantas

    Well then my question to all of you who think Eddie just grabbed the wrong guitar, (BTW I doubt he grabs his own guitar, I'm sure his tech hands him one) is why would he suffer through the entire song with an out of tune guitar? Don't you think his tech could have tuned a guitar to the proper key and handed it to him? I wouldn't expect this to take more than about 30 seconds for an experienced guitar tech.

  • I'm still confused, though. The tuning is clearly NOT exactly 1/2 a step higher … there's some crazy detuning happening there. Maybe it's just that the keyboard lick is (intentionally) sharp to begin with and it's more pronounced when you've got a guitar in the wrong key?

    I guess that it's a matter of, the guitar is tuned to the keyboard, so it's both the wrong key AND out of tune?

    It's so deafeningly awful, maybe my sense of pitch got thrown? 😉

    As far as the sample rate thing, it seems a whole lot more likely that someone would play the wrong guitar or an out-of-tune guitar than, suddenly, on a tour where they run this every night, they somehow figure out how to run the track at the wrong *sample rate*. So I certainly believe y'all who have found a way to debunk that… but I remain confused / skeptical.

  • a youtube user proves eddie is in tune and it's a sample rate problem:


  • Well, the ratio between the two sampling rates is about 1.0884… the ratio of a semitone is about 1.059. So a sampling ratio issue would be about a half step PLUS a quarter tone, so if it's supposed to be in C and it's actually a little higher than C#, that would be about right.

    As for David Lee Roth "not being a competent enough singer to adjust", most breathing humans sing to what they hear, so within a whole step isn't going to be that big a deal.

  • David Lee Roth does adjust, from what I can hear. But he gets (understandably) thrown by the guitar.

    Yeah, almost a perfect quarter-tone (the keyboard part itself having some detuning).

    It's all gone from a disastrous moment in rock to a really seminal moment in microtonal history.

  • You know what's really funny, is that the first time I watched this, I was so focused on this damn PITCH CONTROVERSY that I never noticed DLR was riding a giant inflatable SM-58 around a circular chicken walk.

  • David L Xenharmonic


    Welcome to the world of xenharmonics!!!

    David used to have a band with his own name as successful as yours. It must have been hard for him to work for the star for 15 years, so forgive him for switching the DAT to 48K, he was drunk and he did not mean it.

    Anyhow, it is about time that you get ride of the frets, so next time he can stick the big microphone up his aaasssssssssss!

  • ILSB

    If you check out the Youtube clip for the song before "Jump", "Ain't Talking Bout Love", you can tell that Eddie's guitar is out of tune.

    Also, if you compare clips of "Jump" from other nights on the tour, you can tell that it sounds the same from night to night.

  • 80sGtrShredr

    Agreed ILSB. Those of you with perfect pitch will notice the keys are the same the night of the Chicago show (more recent) compared to the Greensboro show (2nd show of the tour, and my old stomping ground, btw). So this has nothing to do with sample rates. The guitar tech got it wrong and EVH should have been playing his old franenstrat rather than the wolfgang guitar. The guitar tech was no doubt fired.

  • Eddie

    I meant to do that!

  • Dr. Rockso, the Rock

    I do cocaine!

  • The Master

    What's amazingly tiresome about this argument is the esoteric tweak-freakish strong-minded opinions toward one cause or another.

    Here's the bottom line. The mighty Van Halen is nothing but a dream, a dream best left remembered. To go out on tour in their current state, and with the current line-up, is a complete waste of time. Shame on them, and shame on anyone who promotes their ridiculous conceited behavior. I'm glad someone one was out of tune. Who cares if it was Eddie or the keyboard. They sucked, they sounded horrible, and people paid a LOT of money for it. Shame shame shame! If they all got on the same page way back in the day, they might have had a better chance of staying together as a band. If Eddie quit drinking and started smoking weed, or if David Lee Roth did the opposite, then they might still be together. You can't have a pot head and a drunk competing with each other for control of a band like that. They both need to be on the same page chemically.

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  • Patrick

    …there's something inherently wrong about trying to ride/hump a giant-size version of something while you hold the actual-size version of it really close to your mouth.

    …just saying.

  • I think it's a moot point to discuss who's to blame here, BUT:

    After having watched this repeatedly, I still don't get why EVH can't bend the strings so they roughly match the keyboard part. Doing that with just the root note isn't that hard; you need some string bending chops, but EVH no doubt has those. I mean – even I could do that and I acutally have done so when tuning problems arose.


  • pete

    Though rarely discussed, one of the most distinctive aspects of Van Halen's sound was Eddie Van Halen's tuning of the guitar. Before Van Halen, most distorted, metal-oriented rock consciously avoided the use of the major third interval in guitar chords, creating instead the signature power chord of the genre. When run through a distorted amplifier, the rapid beating of the major third on a conventionally tuned guitar is distracting and somewhat dissonant. Van Halen developed a technique of flatting his B string slightly so that the interval between the open G and B is a perfect, beatless third. This consonant third was almost unheard of in distorted-guitar rock, and allowed Van Halen to use major chords in a way that mixed classic hard rock power with "happy" pop. The effect is pronounced on songs such as "Runnin' With the Devil", "Unchained", and "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?".With the B string flatted the correct amount, chords in some positions on the guitar have perfect thirds, but in other positions the flat B string creates terribly out of tune intervals. Van Halen is quoted as saying, "…the guitar… is just theoretically built wrong. Because every string — the intervals are fourths, except for from G to B, which is a third, and it's always that damn B string that fucks it up. So I always tune it a little bit flat, and then when I need it in tune, I just bend it up. Because once it's sharp, you can't make it flat! Over the years, you know, it's just a feel thing, you develop a feel for when you hit a certain chord, you know how to manipulate the string to make it in tune."Despite his wording above, Van Halen does not flat the B string for everything. "The B string is always difficult to keep in tune all the time! So I have to retune for certain songs. And when I use the Floyd onstage, I have to unclamp it and do it real quick. But with a standard-vibrato guitar, I can tune it while I'm playing." (Here he was referring to an early version of the Floyd Rose system, which had no fine tuners on the bridge.)

  • Interesting insight, pete.

    This technique of his wasn't at fault for the Jump disaster seen in the video though as the low notes were also off.

  • The Master

    Yeah Pete, why don't you just add ammo to my argument already…

  • jackmantas

    Nobody cares about your silly attempt to be funny Master. Now run along and go troll somewhere else.

  • OU812

    deepstructure wrote:

    a youtube user proves eddie is in tune and it’s a sample rate problem:


    The ONLY thing that youtube user proves is that he is tone deaf. That guy needs to dig a hole and crawl into it. What a fool.

  • OU812

    At least that fool did something right. He pulled that video.

    Guess that makes him only half a fool 😀

  • jefferson

    well…they don't jump as high as they used to…

  • jmns

    I'm dubious of the wrong guitar excuse, but I can't say the sample rate excuse makes total sense either. Nobody has mentioned tempo. The difference between 44.1k and 48k is almost 10%. You would notice that, probably more than out of key guitar sololing if you are not musically inclined. The version they are playing neither lags, nor does it sound like they are rushing through it.

    If you don't believe me, try it for yourself if you have music software.

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  • eric

    i was at the show and didn't notice

    it was the best night of my life

  • Quick fix, Eddie pulls up on the tremolo bar by a quarter tone and plays the whole song with hammer-ons and pull offs…a musical feat!

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  • …I couldn't stand listen to the video longer than when it comes to that freudian microphone scene…

  • Ralf

    I´m realy impressed how the singer stays in tune during the whole song.May he doesn´t like to have the guitarsound in his in-ear monitor

    after all these years-ha! ( sorry for this joke !).

    I realy like them!

  • John

    You would think that Eddie Van Halen, greatest guitarist of all time, would be able to transpose his guitar parts up a half step.

  • i want a song

  • John Jamieson

    This has been solved with the help of professional sound techs, inside info, and listening to recordings of the other concerts.

    It was NOT the tracks or Midi gear.

    Eddie did damage the guitar prior to this song, and he did not swap it out.

    The Keys were in exactly the same pitch as every other concert on this tour.

    The keys ARE played in a differnt key than the original recordings. This is common when on the road so you do not wear out the vocalist.

    If it were the one of the VERY competent techs they have on this tour, they would be quickly (and possibly publicly) replaced.

  • xtian

    there is an ancient and far painless solution for these mishaps:

    midi panic button

    it turns al active sequences and recorded tracks off, leaving only live feeds alive.

    then, either you play in tune, fake it or stop.

  • keith

    how did the playback machine go to 48k ?

  • Buck3th3ad

    just wanna say that synthesizer was or tape call it what ever u wanna call it was not out of key … or out of toon or playing it to fast … guitarist fucked up majorly

  • Buck3th3ad

    they were and still try to spin it as it was techies fault … well it wasn't fuckem

  • love how the crowd still seem to absolutely love it

  • love how the crowd still seem to absolutely love it

  • love how the crowd still seem to absolutely love it