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  #16  
Old 12-04-2022, 02:55 PM
Cecil6243 Cecil6243 is offline
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Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
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.
I turn 65 tomorrow and can't sing half the songs as high as I did when I was the lead singer in a garage band in my early 20's. For me a half a step lower makes all the difference. Been told I may be able to get it back via vocal exercises. Not so sure but I guess it's worth a try. Nothing to lose.
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  #17  
Old 12-04-2022, 02:58 PM
Cecil6243 Cecil6243 is offline
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Originally Posted by rmp View Post
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.
Fortunately for me I play with myself (don't tell anybody!), and my Martin has a built in tuner.
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  #18  
Old 12-04-2022, 05:17 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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I turn 65 tomorrow and can't sing half the songs as high as I did when I was the lead singer in a garage band in my early 20's. For me a half a step lower makes all the difference.
That can only be for a small handful of songs though - where the top note is right at your upper limit.

I mean, I'm an elderly untrained singer too , and I do understand that a half-step lower can make a song more comfortable. But the number of songs I sing (or want to sing) where I'd need to tune the guitar down a half-step is approximately ... er ... zero. I really can't think of any.

If the top note of a song is too high for me - even if only by a half-step - I'm going to be lowering the key a lot more than a half-step, so as that top note is well within my range; which usually means transposing the shapes, and maybe using a capo.
Sometimes I will keep the same shapes (if they are important to the song) and use a capo, taking the vocal down an octave - e.g., capo 5 frets up, vocal 7 half-steps down. (That's not common though.)

I guess, for me, I prefer to stay with EADGBE as much as possible, partly out of habit, mainly because it suits the band I play in (they tune to standard too). But I have no problem transposing chords to other keys, and I understand that some do.

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Originally Posted by Cecil6243 View Post
Been told I may be able to get it back via vocal exercises. Not so sure but I guess it's worth a try. Nothing to lose.
Absolutely! Good vocal exercises ought to take care of a half-step anyway - plus they will strengthen your voice in other ways too. Go for it!
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  #19  
Old 12-04-2022, 07:50 PM
Italuke Italuke is offline
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Originally Posted by A Scot in Otley View Post
Two of my songs are Blackbird and the Boxer, both of which were recorded with the guitar detuned a half tone. .... I understand.
Malcolm, Macca played his new at that time D-28 on Blackbird, at pitch, not tuned down. It's in G (with the licks he copped from Bach's first lute suite, the bouree' I believe) and sounds in G on the record.

You may be thinking of Yesterday, where he played his Epiphone Texan, tuned down a whole step. I think he permanently kept the Texan down a step.
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  #20  
Old 12-04-2022, 08:11 PM
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Chriscom Chriscom is offline
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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...
Yes, another way to say something similar is, the voicings will be different. I don't know enough about guitar music theory to say they will *always* be different but as far as I understand it, usually so. To take one example off another site, a same chord but with different voicing could have "two 5th and one 3rd notes instead of the opposite." (Referring to steps above the root.).

Put simply it's going to sound a little different apart from just being down, in this case, a half step. Sometimes jarringly so even though it's the right chord in the transposition.

It's a wonderful boon of the current age that I've been able to instantly transpose many songs down into my range, but I have five or six that I only perform live on my detuned second guitar. In a couple cases they're originals that are easier to sing down there and have detailed fingerpicking riffs I'd never even try to reconstruct in a lower key.
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  #21  
Old 12-05-2022, 08:40 AM
A Scot in Otley A Scot in Otley is offline
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Originally Posted by Italuke View Post
Malcolm, Macca played his new at that time D-28 on Blackbird, at pitch, not tuned down. It's in G (with the licks he copped from Bach's first lute suite, the bouree' I believe) and sounds in G on the record.

You may be thinking of Yesterday, where he played his Epiphone Texan, tuned down a whole step. I think he permanently kept the Texan down a step.
Cheers, Italuke. Conflating songs is something I have increasingly become subject to, although I usually say things with absolute conviction, irrespective of their accuracy. Except in this forum, of course, where the 'truth is out there.'
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  #22  
Old 12-06-2022, 03:26 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
That can only be for a small handful of songs though - where the top note is right at your upper limit.

I mean, I'm an elderly untrained singer too , and I do understand that a half-step lower can make a song more comfortable. But the number of songs I sing (or want to sing) where I'd need to tune the guitar down a half-step is approximately ... er ... zero. I really can't think of any.

If the top note of a song is too high for me - even if only by a half-step - I'm going to be lowering the key a lot more than a half-step, so as that top note is well within my range; which usually means transposing the shapes, and maybe using a capo.
Sometimes I will keep the same shapes (if they are important to the song) and use a capo, taking the vocal down an octave - e.g., capo 5 frets up, vocal 7 half-steps down. (That's not common though.)

I guess, for me, I prefer to stay with EADGBE as much as possible, partly out of habit, mainly because it suits the band I play in (they tune to standard too). But I have no problem transposing chords to other keys, and I understand that some do.

Absolutely! Good vocal exercises ought to take care of a half-step anyway - plus they will strengthen your voice in other ways too. Go for it!
Out of interest what's the range of the typical songs you sing? I mean low to highest.
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  #23  
Old 12-07-2022, 02:05 AM
Laughingboy68 Laughingboy68 is offline
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I keep one guitar in Eb. There are a handful of songs that have distinctive guitar parts that sound best in their original voicings, but down a half step are much easier to sing. I'm usually hitting an Ab (or there abouts) in those songs. I can hit the A, but I'm at the very top of my range and it just sounds much better with the throttle back a bit.
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  #24  
Old 12-07-2022, 03:09 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Okay this may be odd to some people, but sometimes, I tune a guitar a whole step down and then capo it on the second fret to bring it back up to standard pitch. I don't do it to lower pitch, I do it for the slack sound the guitar gets when tuned down.
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  #25  
Old 12-07-2022, 08:37 PM
Benjo Benjo is offline
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I found that all my guitars seem to like being tuned down a 1/2 step. This especially holds true for when using medium gauge strings.

It's easier on the hands too and probably better for the guitar because it decreases tension.
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  #26  
Old 12-08-2022, 01:23 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Creative people mess around with stuff, if for no better reason than to see what happens.
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  #27  
Old 12-08-2022, 01:54 AM
jstroop jstroop is offline
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Ed Gerhard says he tunes his six string guitars down a half-step, partly because it means no mandoliners will try to play along with him.
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  #28  
Old 12-08-2022, 03:09 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Out of interest what's the range of the typical songs you sing? I mean low to highest.
I can't say I've ever worked that out. My own range is bass, but I'm untrained, I don't practice singing much, and my comfort limit is G2-C4; I can actually get down to E2 (open 6th string) but not with enough power to be useful; and I can stretch up to D4 now and then. So I very nearly have two octaves absolute max, but only really an 11th (octave and 4th) within that.

So whatever song I want to sing, I'll bring it down (very rarely up!) to within that range. But if a song covers two octaves, that's obviously too wide for me in any key.

I think the only singer whose songs I never have to transpose is Leonard Cohen! I could probably manage some Johnny Cash in the original key, but I've never tried (given my vocal quality, even if the range is OK, I would just sound ridiculous). I can manage most Bert Jansch songs in his key, but sometimes prefer to lower those a half-step or two (easy when he uses a capo).
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  #29  
Old 12-08-2022, 09:14 AM
Golffishny Golffishny is offline
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I used to keep a guitar strung with medium strings tuned down a full step. A capo at the 2nd fret put me back in standard tuning. The fretboard dots lined up similarly and the width at the 2nd fret mimicked 1 3/4" compared to 1 11/16' open. Gave me options.
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  #30  
Old 12-08-2022, 12:36 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
I can't say I've ever worked that out. My own range is bass, but I'm untrained, I don't practice singing much, and my comfort limit is G2-C4; I can actually get down to E2 (open 6th string) but not with enough power to be useful; and I can stretch up to D4 now and then. So I very nearly have two octaves absolute max, but only really an 11th (octave and 4th) within that.

So whatever song I want to sing, I'll bring it down (very rarely up!) to within that range. But if a song covers two octaves, that's obviously too wide for me in any key.
.
G2 wow that's quite a rumble, careful you don't set off a seismograph somewhere!

But that's a useful range you have, most folk pop blues songs are no more than an octave, the more interesting melodies are an octave +1 and some traditional songs have variations that might go octave + 2 scale tones but really most songs sung by untrained singers are no more than an octave.
So you can pretty much sing any vernacular type song you want and for the vast majority you get a choice of more than one key.
You might even be able to sing the Star Spangled Banner which unfortunately is beyond most Americans ( why did they choose that one?)

My useable range is an octave + 1 tone and that's after a lot of effort over a few years to stretch it beyond the octave.
A semitone either way makes a real difference to the degree I can make notes resonate or not so for any song over an octave I mostly don't get a choice of key that works for me.
I don't think you should judge people who alter the tuning of their instrument to suit their voice.
We don't all have your options.
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