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  #1  
Old 12-02-2022, 07:18 PM
Cecil6243 Cecil6243 is offline
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Default Anybody regularly tune down half a step?

In my old age I'm more comfortable singing down a half a step on some songs. I know some artists do it on some of their songs, but does anyone do this on a regular basis?

Thanks!
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:29 PM
Rogerblair Rogerblair is online now
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Always, every guitar. Same reason you cited.

Rb
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Old 12-03-2022, 06:24 AM
Italuke Italuke is offline
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In my Beatles tribute band, we're all down a half step. At our age, even that little does help!
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Old 12-03-2022, 06:32 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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If a song is too low for you to song, tuning down is not always the answer. If it's only a matter of half a step (or a whole step), then maybe; certainly if you want to keep the original chord shapes.

But the normal way to bring a song into your own vocal register is to transpose it. You need to do this if the song is a lot too high (or a lot too low). You will need different chord shapes, of course, but you can usually use a capo to keep the chords as simple as possible.

E.g. if you have a song in G which is too high (and tuning down even a whole step is not enough), then you can play it in EADGBE in E (3 half-steps down) or in D (5 half-steps down). Or play it with G shapes with capo on 5, which is key of C, because 5 half-steps up is the same key as 7 half-steps down.

Of course, the problem with transposing to other shapes is if the guitar part has distinctive and important riffs or finger patterns that simply don't work with other chord shapes...
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Old 12-03-2022, 07:31 AM
rmp rmp is offline
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it helps the voice for sure, think about it, we can sing flat all night and be on pitch!

!LOL!

But it's a pain the .... when you are around and playing with others at 440.
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Old 12-03-2022, 07:58 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I've read that Stevie Ray Vaughn tuned and played a half step down. I know several blues and rock musicians who do.

I figure since I know enough chords and inversions (and of course can use a capo) to play any song I choose in any key I choose on guitar, there's no reason for me to tune down.

And as a fiddle and mandolin player, I'm just not going to retune out of standard to play with someone playing everything in Ab, F#, Db, etc.

None of the old guys I pick bluegrass, old time or old C&W with (some in their 80's) seem to need to do this.
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Old 12-03-2022, 08:23 AM
marciero marciero is offline
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A half step hardly seems worth the bother. For me I need a step at least.
Another thing is that it seems counter to the design of some guitars, although some guitars may be more amenable.

Another take on transposing is that it can open up new arrangement possibilities for a fresh take on a song. You can still access cowboy chord type arrangements via capo. For example transposing C down to A but capo 2 and play out of G shape. This type of thing is great for folk or bluegrass arrangements of pop or jazz tunes. Sort of related - you can do same key capo/transpose as a way of varying the timbre. When playing with another guitarist, rather than playing a different part, this is a simple way to avoid playing the same thing.
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Old 12-03-2022, 08:31 AM
marciero marciero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
I've read that Stevie Ray Vaughn tuned and played a half step down. I know several blues and rock musicians who do.

I figure since I know enough chords and inversions (and of course can use a capo) to play any song I choose in any key I choose on guitar, there's no reason for me to tune down.

And as a fiddle and mandolin player, I'm just not going to retune out of standard to play with someone playing everything in Ab, F#, Db, etc.

None of the old guys I pick bluegrass, old time or old C&W with (some in their 80's) seem to need to do this.
I think it is different on electric. SRV and others were going for the darker timbre from tuning down. Its the reason 7 string is a thing with metal.
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Old 12-03-2022, 09:46 AM
rmp rmp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
I've read that Stevie Ray Vaughn tuned and played a half step down. I know several blues and rock musicians who do.

I figure since I know enough chords and inversions (and of course can use a capo) to play any song I choose in any key I choose on guitar, there's no reason for me to tune down.

And as a fiddle and mandolin player, I'm just not going to retune out of standard to play with someone playing everything in Ab, F#, Db, etc.

None of the old guys I pick bluegrass, old time or old C&W with (some in their 80's) seem to need to do this.
SRV for sure.

the list is long of Eb tuners.

Hendrix was dropped down a half step too
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Old 12-03-2022, 11:18 AM
A Scot in Otley A Scot in Otley is offline
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Yup. I sing, and I'm getting on, the voice ain't what it used to be. Therefore, rather than relearning the song on guitar (new chords etc) I detune. Nowt wrong with that. Just as you capo, you detune (the capo in the opposite direction ) Two of my songs are Blackbird and the Boxer, both of which were recorded with the guitar detuned a half tone. .... I understand.
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Old 12-03-2022, 10:19 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
I've read that Stevie Ray Vaughn tuned and played a half step down. I know several blues and rock musicians who do.

I figure since I know enough chords and inversions (and of course can use a capo) to play any song I choose in any key I choose on guitar, there's no reason for me to tune down.

And as a fiddle and mandolin player, I'm just not going to retune out of standard to play with someone playing everything in Ab, F#, Db, etc.

None of the old guys I pick bluegrass, old time or old C&W with (some in their 80's) seem to need to do this.
Many of the old time players I know play cross-tuning or other tunings, so it wouldn't be a big stretch to use standard tuning a half or whole step lower.

When I was relatively new to fiddle I played a lot of old time tunes but also played Cajun music in a bar band. My first trip to Balfa camp in Louisiana started with a pre-camp jam session on Friday night at a private party before camp officially got under way. There were several fiddle players already there and I QUICKLY figured out I'd left my fiddle in standard tuning, everyone else was down a whole step.

The camp was several days long and I only saw 1 person playing in standard tuning the entire time. That was, ironically, one of the Savoy brothers.
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Old 12-04-2022, 05:19 AM
cdkrugjr cdkrugjr is offline
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VERY common to be in Eb or D Standard.

Eb seems to be Everybody’s Favorite Strat tuning. In CCR’s version of Proud Mary, one guitar is Standard, the other in D-Standard.

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  #13  
Old 12-04-2022, 08:00 AM
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Yep. it matches my voice better, but I really started to do it when I got some older guitars in an attempt to put off neck resets as long as possible. I know that's a dubious claim, but I figure everything is on a continuum, and any reduced tension will help. Then I discovered it works better with my voice.
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Old 12-04-2022, 09:26 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmp View Post
Hendrix was dropped down a half step too
Not at the beginning - Hey Joe, Purple Haze and Wind Cries Mary are all in standard - but he was the guy who made it fashionable, from around Voodoo Chile on.

The idea that it makes it easier for the voice only applies if (a) you are losing your upper register as you get older (and we all do!), or (b) if specific songs you want to sing are too high and you don't want to transpose the chords.

But both those only make sense if the difference required is only a half-step! In both cases, it's much more common for the difference to be a lot more than that. A half-step down is hardly going to help at all. IOW, if you are doing it for that reason alone, you are probably fooling yourself.

A much more practical reason is the ability to be able to bend strings more easily without fitting thinner strings. A half-step can make quite a lot of difference there. You can keep the tone of heavier strings, but make them more playable.

With acoustic guitar there is a more subtle reason to do with the resonance of the instrument. Downtuning does make the guitar sound a little different, and might bring out some resonances you don't get in EADBGE. But again, a half-step is not going to make a whole lot of difference. Not as much as alternative tunings anyway.
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Old 12-04-2022, 02:53 PM
Cecil6243 Cecil6243 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
If a song is too low for you to song, tuning down is not always the answer. If it's only a matter of half a step (or a whole step), then maybe; certainly if you want to keep the original chord shapes.

But the normal way to bring a song into your own vocal register is to transpose it. You need to do this if the song is a lot too high (or a lot too low). You will need different chord shapes, of course, but you can usually use a capo to keep the chords as simple as possible.

E.g. if you have a song in G which is too high (and tuning down even a whole step is not enough), then you can play it in EADGBE in E (3 half-steps down) or in D (5 half-steps down). Or play it with G shapes with capo on 5, which is key of C, because 5 half-steps up is the same key as 7 half-steps down.

Of course, the problem with transposing to other shapes is if the guitar part has distinctive and important riffs or finger patterns that simply don't work with other chord shapes...
Thanks and what you say is so true and familiar with me. However some songs as you say have those distinctive opening riffs that can't be duplicated with different finger patterns or changing the key.
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