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  #16  
Old 08-06-2021, 07:44 PM
wguitar wguitar is offline
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Hi David,

Lots of great advise so far, but as a practical matter a lot depends on how much time we can (or choose to) spend on voice lessons or whatever. I'm 67 and took both guitar and voice lessons a few years ago (something I always wanted to do and finally have the time). Both were very helpful but I discontinued them after a few months. I have played guitar for 45+ years but never took a lesson. All this being said, what I learned about singing in that short time continues to help me continuously improve. What I have found works great for me is BEING MYSELF vocally (and instrumentally) and not trying to sing "Crying" like Roy Orbison (his vocal range is amazing). The other thing that works for me is transcribing songs into a key more suitable for my voice. This encourages (and even necessitates) that I learn new chords -- which has improved my guitar playing immensely. For me, "continuous improvement" is the operative phrase and I'm good with that. Voice lessons (coaching), study and practice are the way to achieve the most vocally. Some are available on YouTube for free in addition to in-person lessons.

All the best!
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  #17  
Old 08-06-2021, 08:10 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
Friends, I would be very interested to know how you accomplished singers determined your vocal range.
For operatic singers, I think knowing a range is important and integral to their work, for what the rest of us do, probably not so much. I've never sat down and figured out my vocal range and that's probably because depending on the style of the song and how I'm choosing to sing it, my range will be different.

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Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
I am two years into the guitar. I took it up after decades of jazz woodwinds in order to give life to songs I was writing; songs that were vocal pieces. And I learned and worked up these songs with open chords, for better and worse. I never sang much, so that was new too. As my speaking voice is quite low, I assumed that my singing voice would have the same pitch. I tread on the cusp of bass/tenor.
There's no bass/tenor cusp because in between those two is the baritone. Most males are going to be either tenor or baritone. I'm a baritone most of the time but I can change my singing style and alter my voice slightly to move into tenor territory. Whether that style produces results with which I'm happy really depends on the song.

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But all that changed when I went to a bluegrass camp a couple weeks ago, and was introduced to the mystery of the capo. Seems that most of the tunes we did were in B with the capo on the second fret. It obviously brought my singing voice up correspondingly, and it felt pretty good to be out of the basement. The tunes had limited range so I did not top out.

Since then, I have played a few of my songs with the capo on the second and even third fret. It feels, voice-wise, pretty comfortable, so long as the range of the song was somehat condensed. I also rather like the sound of my guitar with the capo on as well (Fairbanks SJ), though I do find that the intonation can suffer, with my cheap capo.
Singers don't have a "key" that they sing all their songs in. The key in which someone sings any particular song is going to depend on the highest and lowest notes in the song. You have to be able to hit both well. In the end there may be several keys for which you can hit the highest and lowest notes, at that point you factor in which key you think is most flattering to your voice.

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So, am I on the right track - basically figure out what the range of the song is and try to match it to my vocal comfort level. Or is there a more "scientific" approach to determine one's optimal range.
Nope. That's really it. You put the capo where you can sing the song best. The vocal is the most important part of any song with lyrics. I don't care how great a guitar player anyone is, the vocal makes or breaks the song.

Also, the more you sing, the better you'll sing. The voice is an instrument, and like any instrument, you'll get better with practice.
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  #18  
Old 08-06-2021, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Couple thoughts. Even though it sounds counter intuitive (understanding that placing a capo up the neck will raise the pitch) sometimes the key change actually works better for a lower vocal range At lease that has been my experience

I have always just assumed I was an upper Baritone

Like Glenn stated I use a capo to find what feels best for my vocal and any particular song

Here I am doing a cover and have the Capo @2 I am playing from the G form so I assume it is in the Key A


Your singing and playing sound great Kev! Thanks for sharing!
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  #19  
Old 08-06-2021, 10:20 PM
nightchef nightchef is offline
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Singing in a chorus is a very good way to get more familiar with your vocal range and perhaps extend it. And most choruses are chronically short of male voices, especially tenors.
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  #20  
Old 08-07-2021, 07:54 AM
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Your singing and playing sound great Kev! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, I guess like many we are often prototypically our own worst critics, and feel I am only adequate to the task to get the song across but not great ...Or maybe I've just heard my own playing and singing too much
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  #21  
Old 08-07-2021, 08:35 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Put down your guitar!!!

All joking aside, it's easiest to find your key by simply singing acapella, all the way through a chosen song. You'll quickly figure out which direction you need to go (down or up...) and by how much.

When you can comfortably sing your chosen selection, THEN pick up your instrument of choice and find the key that closely matches your ability to sing that selection comfortably.

Oddly enough, you sometimes need to do this over again depending on the song. The key that fits one song may not work for others.

For me personally, I have a couple of keys that work well for me depending on the material.

Practice this technique a few times and you'll easily figure out what works for you. A capo is quite useful when you find the chord shapes you like to use don't match your vocal range. Don't let anyone tell you it's not "proper" to capo. It's just a tool.
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  #22  
Old 08-07-2021, 09:50 AM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Don't let anyone tell you it's not "proper" to capo. It's just a tool.
OP here, so I guess it is OK to poach my own thread. In my readings I have come across other comments similar to this one, typically defending the use of a capo. As I am new to the guitar world, and even newer to capos, using one for the first time just a couple weeks ago, I am interested to know why the disaffection. Is the argument that you should transpose into a different key if you want to play in a different key, and dispense with the use of a device like a capo; ie: “real” players transpose....
David
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  #23  
Old 08-07-2021, 10:06 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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There is a view that using a capo is a cheat, to avoid too many barre chords in tricky keys. But why is that "cheating"? There is no value in making things difficult for the sake of it!

It's worth pointing out - for the sake of the "anti-capo" argument - that you will never see a jazz guitarist using a capo (at least I never have).
But the reason for that is not that they have no trouble with barre chords. Of course they are adept at playing in any key (all 12 if they have to), but the main reason they'd regard a capo as silly is that cuts off part of the neck - they want the whole fretboard available at all times.
They also don't value open strings that much. Folk and rock guitarists often like the sound of open strings, aside from the ease of playing certain chords: the way they ring across each other and sustain across some changes. For a jazz musician, an open string is a string you have lost control of. It's a sound you might have to mute, and muting is a whole lot easier if you're using fretted notes all the time anyway.

Of course, you should still know how to transpose. Sometimes it makes sense to use a capo and to transpose chord shapes as well. E.g., if you have a song in C that you need to lower to Bb, you might find it easier to use a capo on 3 and transpose to G shapes. (You probably wouldn't want to put a capo on 10 to play C shapes... )

And sometimes players use capos for a particular effect, even when the key is easy enough without one. On Freewheelin', Bob Dylan sang Blowin' in the Wind in key of D (3 easy chords), but used a capo on fret 7 to play in G shapes. Why? Either because he preferred the way those shapes sat under his fingers, or he liked the higher sound, or both. (Other times he would keep the same shapes when singing it in a different key - sometimes with no capo, and singing higher.)
Of the three guitarists in the Eagles, two used a capo for Hotel California, one on fret 7, one on fret 2, while the other (Joe Walsh on lead) used no capo. The key was concert B minor, and all of them would have been quite capable of playing with no capo (or capo in either position), but those positions suited the sound and shapes they wanted to play.
In Radiohead's No Surprises, singer Thom Yorke uses a capo on 3 to play D shapes for key of F, while guitarist Ed O'Brien (playing a Rickenbacker) puts his on fret 15! Still D shapes, but in order to get a high tinkly music box sound.

Of course, where capos really become essential is when playing in open tunings, or tunings like DADGAD, where only one or two keys are easily playable, and the open strings assume much more importance, especially if fingerpicking.
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Last edited by JonPR; 08-07-2021 at 10:21 AM.
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  #24  
Old 08-07-2021, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
OP here, so I guess it is OK to poach my own thread. In my readings I have come across other comments similar to this one, typically defending the use of a capo. As I am new to the guitar world, and even newer to capos, using one for the first time just a couple weeks ago, I am interested to know why the disaffection. Is the argument that you should transpose into a different key if you want to play in a different key, and dispense with the use of a device like a capo; ie: “real” players transpose....
David
To add to what Jon said :

Jazz , Classical and many Electric players typically do not use a Capo because they often move up and down the neck, sometimes all the way up and down the neck in a single song .
So logistically using a capo would tend to inhibit that...

That said : None of really good Classical ,Jazz, and Electric players I know have any negative opinions on the use of capos at all ,,none nada zip ...........they also never use terms like "real players, do or don't do this or that" , probably they are too busy and focused on actually being good, as opposed to pontificating about it .
Terms and notions like that are purview of the insecure of ego, not the accomplished
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  #25  
Old 08-07-2021, 12:58 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Here I am doing a cover and have the Capo @2 I am playing from the G form so I assume it is in the Key A

Interesting. That's a great song for you. I'd love to hear you try it in G (no capo, same chord shapes) or ideally F# (capo up two frets with E and A chord shapes). In A, you seem a little tentative going up to those D's and it gets you out of that lovely warm chesty thing you do so well. In F#, those D's would become B's and you'd sail right through them.
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  #26  
Old 08-07-2021, 01:52 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Gents, than
Thank you for the tutorial on capo use and the sometime politics of it.
David
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  #27  
Old 08-07-2021, 02:03 PM
Nama Ensou Nama Ensou is offline
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A capo can be a tool or a crutch, and there are plenty examples of both.

I've bought quite a few capos over the years, but always lose them due to lack of usage. Times I wish I had one was when trying to follow someone on a song that is hard to mentally transpose in real time, but they also help deliver voicings that can't be achieved otherwise. Use what you want and let other players do the same; otherwise known as live and let live.
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  #28  
Old 08-07-2021, 07:07 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
OP here, so I guess it is OK to poach my own thread. In my readings I have come across other comments similar to this one, typically defending the use of a capo. As I am new to the guitar world, and even newer to capos, using one for the first time just a couple weeks ago, I am interested to know why the disaffection. Is the argument that you should transpose into a different key if you want to play in a different key, and dispense with the use of a device like a capo; ie: “real” players transpose....
David
Jon & Kevwind have the answers covered!

There are many reasons to use a capo that have nothing to do with "cheating", but you are now privy to the politics.

I play as a duet with a second guitar player and one of us usually has a capo on so the two instruments are presenting different voicings. Capo use can be as simple as that.
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  #29  
Old 08-08-2021, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Interesting. That's a great song for you. I'd love to hear you try it in G (no capo, same chord shapes) or ideally F# (capo up two frets with E and A chord shapes). In A, you seem a little tentative going up to those D's and it gets you out of that lovely warm chesty thing you do so well. In F#, those D's would become B's and you'd sail right through them.
Thanks I will play around with that, If I remember I have in the past also played it no Capo in C maybe ?
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  #30  
Old 08-08-2021, 07:53 AM
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This is getting into advanced territory, but it's good to see and hear what's possible.

There are three ranges available to a singer. The body or full voice, head voice, and falsetto. The full voice is obvious and lots of singers can manage two or more octaves range with it. Head voice can add an octave or more, and the falsetto allows even more range.

However, crossing over from one voice to the next in a way that sounds seamless is the challenge, but once learned it can be a great asset.

Here's a nice example, with Joey Landreth moving through all three vocal ranges, along with some great harmony singing and playing.

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