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Playing a half step down problem(s).

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Ignar Hillström
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To be honest I've never used a capo. I'm just going by what I've heard other people say about them/

I suggest listening less to what people say and try more yourself. Imagine Hendrix just going by what people said at the time!


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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Imagine Hendrix just going by what people said at the time!

"Get that bloody thumb behind the neck - you'll never be a decent guitarist if you play with it on the fretboard all the time!"

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Tommy Guns
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Hey Vic, that is a great suggestion. I've never tried changing the key using a capo before. Honestly I've never needed to. We do use a capo on (1) song "Wreck Me" by Tom Petty and I'm not opposed to using one on any other song(s). I am opposed to all of the "push back" I get from the other band mates on "changing things" though. What happens is I hear from them "it changes the 'feel' of the song, it takes away the (insert your favorite musical reference here)."

Honestly it's not really worth it to me. Maybe my next band will be more open minded.

Ambition is the path to success...persistence is the vehicle you arrive in!!!


   
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Kevin72790
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Imagine Hendrix just going by what people said at the time!

"Get that bloody thumb behind the neck - you'll never be a decent guitarist if you play with it on the fretboard all the time!"

:D :D :D

Vic
Lol.

I don't always Sleutelbos, that's what I was being slightly sarcastic. I was in the music store the other day and had the urge to buy one for about $3 just to see what I could do with it.

>_> So yea back on topic.


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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Kevin 72790 wrote; "So yea back on topic."

Er - what was the topic? Oh - yeah - tuning down a half-step. I don't think you're storing up problems for yourself as long as YOU know what you're doing, and where you are on the fretboard whichever tuning you're in. I regularly swap between standard and open G, and because I know the fretboard fairly well - and there's not much difference between the two - I can play a lot of songs in either.

Seems to me all you've got to remember, if you're playing in Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb tuning, get a capo and stick it on the first fret if your mates are in standard! Otherwise play everything one fret higher than written.

Where the problems lie are if you're playing open chords with altered bass notes. Kevin, I know you're a Floyd fan so here's an example.

Look at "Brain Damage." Fairly easy song, in standard tuning. But if you're tuned down a half step, it becomes more difficult.

(D) The lunatic is on the (G7) grass..... here you've got two simple open chords. But you can't play them as open chords - you'll have to play the D as a barre at the 6th fret, and the G7 as a barre at the fourth. That line's repeated, then in the next line....

(D) Remembering games, and (E/D)daisy chains and laughs.....here's where your problems start. You're OK with the D chord as a barre, but how are you going to do the Echord with the D bass note? It'd mean putting your index finger (or thumb)on the Ab string at the sixth fret, playing a mini-barre at the 10th fret (try THAT!) and muting the top E.

Whereas if you're using a capo and you're in Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb tuning, all you have to do is stick said capo on the first fret and you can play the song as written. Don't denigrate the humble capo - it's used far more often than you'd think, and in a drop tuning, you'll need one if you're going to play the song as written.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Diceman
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A capo is a marvelous tool and I see nothing wrong with using one . However it doesn't DROP the tuning . By tuning down you make it easier for the singer and don't have to change any fingerings .
Let's face it , some songs use open chords or pull offs to an open string that are much more difficult (almost impossible) to play with a barre finger . Is it cheating ? Is using a fuzz box cheating ? An electric guitar ? Alternate tunings ? Who set in stone that a guitar had to be tuned EADGBE ? Is it the eleventh commandment , deleted for lack of a smaller font ?

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .


   
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MrJonesey
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By tuning down you make it easier for the singer and don't have to change any fingerings .

How? This is the point I don't get. If it's easier for your singer to sing in F#, then play everything in F#. I don't understand why tuning down a half step helps singers. I have heard this from several people and had some serious discussions with my brother-in-law, who is insistent that it helps you sing better, regardless of the key.

Diceman, I'm not knocking it, but can you (or anyone) explain why it makes it easier for the singer to sing?

Jim

"There won't be any money. But when you die, on your death bed, you will receive total conciousness. So, I got that going for me. Which is nice." - Bill Murray, Caddyshack ~~ Michigan Music Dojo - http://michiganmusicdojo.com ~~


   
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Ignar Hillström
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I'm with Jim, with the exception that I am knocking it. Making it easier for vocalists means fitting a song within the vocal range of that person. This has to do with the notes to be sung, and not even the key on itself. Just kicking all songs down half a semi-tone might, at best, work for people with an extremely low range, for the rest it's nonsense. Figure out your range and play the music in a way that best fits that. One-tuning-fits-all is nonsense.


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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The point is, Kevin's tuning down a half-step because he prefers the sound, the slacker strings, whatever. The point I'm trying to make is that to play the song in standard, he's going to have to change the way he plays the song - try, for instance, playing along to the CD of "Wish You Were Here" or "Brain Damage" in drop tuning. Easy enough with a capo, hellishly difficult without.
By tuning down you make it easier for the singer and don't have to change any fingerings."

Maybe, if the singer can't quite reach the top note, and you tune down 1/2 a step, that'd be true. You wouldn't change the fingerings, but you WOULD be changing the key. But Kevin's not in a band yet, as far as I know, and he didn't mention singing, so that's not the issue.

I agree, it's not written in stone that you have to play in standard, but it is called STANDARD tuning for a reason! It's the tuning we all start off in, and the one we're most familiar with. Other tunings are just as good for some purposes, and if you want to play around with them, that's fine - you don't need my (or anyone else's) permission for that. If you want to take the "cop out" theme to extremes, what about overdubbing? Isn't it "cheating" to have ,say, three guitar tracks, four vocal tracks, bass, drums, keyboards and harmonica on a song when there's only four or five people in the group? And what about adding strings? You going to lug an orchestra around with you?

Use the tools at your disposal, I reckon. The capo's a useful tool - in Kevin's position, playing around with Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb tuning, I'd certainly want a capo on the first fret if I wanted to play along with a CD.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Vic Lewis VL
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Oh - and by tuning down to the singer's range, so you don't have to alter the chord voicings, you're making it easier for the guitarist, not the singer. He doesn't care if you're in standard or half a step down as long as HE'S in key.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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Ignar Hillström
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Oh - and by tuning down to the singer's range, so you don't have to alter the chord voicings, you're making it easier for the guitarist, not the singer. He doesn't care if you're in standard or half a step down as long as HE'S in key.

Haha, good catch. In what little experience I have (with not so brilliant vocalists) singers tend to sing to whatever chords they're thrown. Most don't even know what 'range' means, nor do they have a good grasp of what 'key' exactly means. In other words, if I want them to sing well I need to find the right chords for them. Tuning down would in such cases only work if the song heavily relies on open chords, using a capo high up the neck won't work and the song is almost within reach of the singer. In all other cases down-tuning, in my experience, has nothing to do with vocalists.

On a sidenote, downtuning allows you to use thicker strings without needing more strength. As such it could be worth it to play downtuned with thick strings instead of standard with thin strings.


   
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Kevin72790
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Kevin 72790 wrote; "So yea back on topic."

Er - what was the topic? Oh - yeah - tuning down a half-step. I don't think you're storing up problems for yourself as long as YOU know what you're doing, and where you are on the fretboard whichever tuning you're in. I regularly swap between standard and open G, and because I know the fretboard fairly well - and there's not much difference between the two - I can play a lot of songs in either.

Seems to me all you've got to remember, if you're playing in Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb tuning, get a capo and stick it on the first fret if your mates are in standard! Otherwise play everything one fret higher than written.

Where the problems lie are if you're playing open chords with altered bass notes. Kevin, I know you're a Floyd fan so here's an example.

Look at "Brain Damage." Fairly easy song, in standard tuning. But if you're tuned down a half step, it becomes more difficult.

(D) The lunatic is on the (G7) grass..... here you've got two simple open chords. But you can't play them as open chords - you'll have to play the D as a barre at the 6th fret, and the G7 as a barre at the fourth. That line's repeated, then in the next line....

(D) Remembering games, and (E/D)daisy chains and laughs.....here's where your problems start. You're OK with the D chord as a barre, but how are you going to do the Echord with the D bass note? It'd mean putting your index finger (or thumb)on the Ab string at the sixth fret, playing a mini-barre at the 10th fret (try THAT!) and muting the top E.

Whereas if you're using a capo and you're in Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb tuning, all you have to do is stick said capo on the first fret and you can play the song as written. Don't denigrate the humble capo - it's used far more often than you'd think, and in a drop tuning, you'll need one if you're going to play the song as written.

:D :D :D

Vic
Interesting...you really convinced me on the capo. Thanks Vic. And I never realized how easy of a song Brain Damage looks like it is too play (the chords atleast).

And on the down-tuning for my singing. No, I never really thought of down-tuning for that reason. And Vic, I'm not in a band yet. Not ready for that step yet. Maybe for the for the Senior Year Talent show. Hmm..

And yea Sleutelbos, tuning down it feels like I'm using 9's again. I use 10's right now, still sounds like tens, but feels like 9's now. I've had no neck relief or whatever, would (eventually, I still have 2 packs of tens left) moving up to 11's in down tuning screw up my neck?

And on Vic's standard tuning post- Yea. You got me. You're right about the capo. I was wrong to say it's a cop-out, especially if you're in down tuning.


   
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Diceman
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By tuning down you make it easier for the singer and don't have to change any fingerings .

How? This is the point I don't get. If it's easier for your singer to sing in F#, then play everything in F#. I don't understand why tuning down a half step helps singers. I have heard this from several people and had some serious discussions with my brother-in-law, who is insistent that it helps you sing better, regardless of the key.

Diceman, I'm not knocking it, but can you (or anyone) explain why it makes it easier for the singer to sing?

Jim

Singing notes that are at or near the top of one's vocal range is taxing on the vocal cords . Many of rock music's male vocalists sing in very high registers . Often times a song will lose its intensity if you sing it a lot lower than the original . So to make it easier on the singer to reach the highest notes in his range, bands often tune down a half step . This keeps the singer from straining to reach notes and saves his voice for the rest of the performance . It is only a half step so it still has the energy but it becomes a little easier to sing . A little easier is the key phrase .
This having been said , I went to see a Journey concert some years ago at a venue 60 miles from home . There was no opening band , and no following band . Journey played 9 songs and that was it . Concert over . Prior to the last few songs you could hear the strain in Steve Perry's voice as he struggled to sing all those tremendously high vocal parts he had recorded in the studio . Singing one high E is one thing . Sing 25 and you can see maybe where a half-step drop might help preserve a voice . I cannot explain it any clearer than this .

If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .


   
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MrJonesey
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By tuning down you make it easier for the singer and don't have to change any fingerings .

How? This is the point I don't get. If it's easier for your singer to sing in F#, then play everything in F#. I don't understand why tuning down a half step helps singers. I have heard this from several people and had some serious discussions with my brother-in-law, who is insistent that it helps you sing better, regardless of the key.

Diceman, I'm not knocking it, but can you (or anyone) explain why it makes it easier for the singer to sing?

Jim

Singing notes that are at or near the top of one's vocal range is taxing on the vocal cords . Many of rock music's male vocalists sing in very high registers . Often times a song will lose its intensity if you sing it a lot lower than the original . So to make it easier on the singer to reach the highest notes in his range, bands often tune down a half step . This keeps the singer from straining to reach notes and saves his voice for the rest of the performance . It is only a half step so it still has the energy but it becomes a little easier to sing . A little easier is the key phrase .
This having been said , I went to see a Journey concert some years ago at a venue 60 miles from home . There was no opening band , and no following band . Journey played 9 songs and that was it . Concert over . Prior to the last few songs you could hear the strain in Steve Perry's voice as he struggled to sing all those tremendously high vocal parts he had recorded in the studio . Singing one high E is one thing . Sing 25 and you can see maybe where a half-step drop might help preserve a voice . I cannot explain it any clearer than this .

So, what's the difference between playing a song in G, but tuned down a half step and just playing a song in F#? Are you not playing the exact same notes, same chords, etc? How is one any easier or better for the singer than the other? I mean, you are keeping the same range, but just dropping the whole thing down one half step. Right?

Am I missing something here?

Sorry to go slightly off-topic, but this has always bothered me, and I simply don't understand how this helps the singer. I can understand how it makes it easier for the guitarist to play. No problem. But for the singer, I think you are just as well off (perhaps better) to find a key they are comfortable in singing and play in that key - even if it's just a half step down.

Jim

"There won't be any money. But when you die, on your death bed, you will receive total conciousness. So, I got that going for me. Which is nice." - Bill Murray, Caddyshack ~~ Michigan Music Dojo - http://michiganmusicdojo.com ~~


   
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biker_jim_uk
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Jonesy,
I'm no expert but it seems to me that tuning down half a step you play all the standard chord shapes, but the sound is flat, for eg you'd play a regular D chord but it would sound 1/2 step lower so the singer can sing it. Playing in F# would possibly require some strange shape chords to match the song. From a guick google it seems F# key chords are mostly barres whereas the 1/2 step down you can still play open chords in the main. That is unless I have missed a point or two which is entirely possible :D


   
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