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hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?

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GUEST,leeneia 18 Jun 09 - 07:10 PM
s&r 18 Jun 09 - 07:11 PM
Leadfingers 18 Jun 09 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Jun 09 - 07:21 PM
Peace 18 Jun 09 - 07:27 PM
s&r 18 Jun 09 - 07:30 PM
Jack Campin 18 Jun 09 - 07:31 PM
Peace 18 Jun 09 - 07:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jun 09 - 07:42 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 18 Jun 09 - 08:06 PM
Bernard 18 Jun 09 - 08:09 PM
Melissa 19 Jun 09 - 01:31 AM
The Barden of England 19 Jun 09 - 02:15 AM
Peace 19 Jun 09 - 02:31 AM
banjoman 19 Jun 09 - 06:34 AM
Mr Happy 19 Jun 09 - 06:44 AM
matt milton 19 Jun 09 - 07:16 AM
theleveller 19 Jun 09 - 07:36 AM
Grab 19 Jun 09 - 07:44 AM
Betsy 19 Jun 09 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Jun 09 - 10:25 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Jun 09 - 10:45 AM
PoppaGator 19 Jun 09 - 11:28 AM
breezy 19 Jun 09 - 12:00 PM
PHJim 19 Jun 09 - 04:46 PM
Stringsinger 19 Jun 09 - 05:28 PM
Don Firth 19 Jun 09 - 05:30 PM
JohnInKansas 19 Jun 09 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Jun 09 - 12:29 AM
Claymore 20 Jun 09 - 02:27 AM
Don Firth 20 Jun 09 - 04:32 PM
Eve Goldberg 20 Jun 09 - 11:37 PM
Murray MacLeod 21 Jun 09 - 06:55 AM
The Sandman 21 Jun 09 - 08:18 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 09 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Silas 21 Jun 09 - 08:47 AM
Don Firth 21 Jun 09 - 01:55 PM
wysiwyg 21 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM
Melissa 21 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM
Don Firth 21 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM
Murray MacLeod 21 Jun 09 - 02:23 PM
Murray MacLeod 21 Jun 09 - 02:30 PM
Don Firth 21 Jun 09 - 04:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 09 - 05:53 PM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Jun 09 - 07:15 PM
Mooh 21 Jun 09 - 08:51 PM
Mooh 21 Jun 09 - 08:56 PM
Commander Crabbe 21 Jun 09 - 09:10 PM
Don Firth 21 Jun 09 - 10:19 PM
Songster Bob 22 Jun 09 - 12:00 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Jun 09 - 08:43 AM
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Songbob 22 Jun 09 - 04:05 PM
Richard Bridge 22 Jun 09 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Jun 09 - 09:34 AM
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Grab 23 Jun 09 - 11:28 AM
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McGrath of Harlow 23 Jun 09 - 06:55 PM
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SharonA 23 Jun 09 - 08:32 PM
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GUEST,leeneia 24 Jun 09 - 10:31 AM
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McGrath of Harlow 24 Jun 09 - 06:24 PM
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Subject: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:10 PM

I have a question for the luthiers among us.

I sometimes play the guitar to accompany hymn at church. Those hymns are usually too high for the group. Trouble is, I don't know a whole lot of chords and have never been able to play a barre chord.

So if a song is in D, I find myself going all the way down to A, and that can be too low.

Would it put too much tension on my guitar if I tuned every string up a step? I think I could use the same hand positions as for A, but it would actually be playing in B. I think.

There are two guitars I could use. One is a half-size classical about a year old and another is a full-size Global which I got in an antique shop. It is not what you would call top of the line, but it sounds nice. Both have nylon strings.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: s&r
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:11 PM

Use a capo

Stu


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:16 PM

A Capo , or put a lighter guage set of strings on if you would rather tune up . Too much tension can do ALL sorts of nasties if the guitar is not built for it !


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:21 PM

I've tried capos. I can't find the chords and the guitar sounds strangled.

Let me put it this way. Suppose you hurt your index finger and said, "I can't write." Somebody comes along and says, "No problem. Just put the pencil between two other fingers." Would that work? No, it wouldn't.

That's how a capo feels for me.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:27 PM

You haven't yet said you tune in concert. Do you?


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: s&r
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:30 PM

Use a better capo.

Stu

(asking about potential damage on a Forum is like asking a doctor what's wrong if you feel queasy)


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:31 PM

Capo the congregation. Matthew 19:12.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:38 PM

Tuning up from concert and any guitar puts more strain on the neck. Period. Nylons (full size) have already got 120 pounds pressure. That's what it is 'stressed' for or 'built' for. So, your choices are

1) get a better capo (as was suggested)
2) learn other keys
3) go to an open tuning (which will still at times require a capo if you don't do Barre chords)

That's all I can suggest. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:42 PM

It sounds as if you might have tried the wrong capo. They vary, and some are much easier to use than others. No reason a capo should make a guitar sound strangld, just higher, which is what you'd be aiming to achieve by tuning higher anyway.

And any problem in working out what chord you are actually playing which you get with a capo would arise just the same if you retune higher. Tune one semitone higher, as you said, and your A shape would gve you Bflat, and your D shape woudl get you Eflat.

It'd be unlikely to hurt the guitar, but working out what chord you were playing might hurt your head.

And of course the sound would be just the same as if you stuck a capo on the first fret and didn't worry about retuning.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 08:06 PM

Your "half-size" guitar may not only have a smaller body, but a shorter than standard scale length as well. Take a measurment from the saddle to the nut. If it's around 26", it's standard scale length. Don't try tuning it a step high. But if it's 24" or less, do it. Short-scale guitars are actually meant to be tuned higher.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Bernard
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 08:09 PM

You could try heavier tension strings and tune DOWN a tone - that way, a song with D shapes would really be in C... if the gauge was right, the strings wouldn't slop about!

I wouldn't recommend playing guitar with a pencil stuck between your fingers, though...!!

If the half size classical is short scale (distance from bridge to headstock) - compare it with a standard instrument - there shouldn't be a problem going up a tone with standard tension strings. It would be just like playing with a permanent capo. Then you could use the full size one tuned normally for times when you need it.


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Subject: RE: hurt my gtr to tune it a step high?
From: Melissa
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:31 AM

I'd think tuning up a step would make the guitar harder to fret, even if the extra tension didn't damage it.

I sure wouldn't try it with a guitar I liked. If you do it, I hope you'll check back in after a while and let us know how it worked for you.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: The Barden of England
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 02:15 AM

And remember, there are capos for classical guitars that don't have a slight curve, which the ones for western (steel strung) guitars do have. If you use slightly curved one on a classical, it will sound bad.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Peace
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 02:31 AM

Good point, B of E.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: banjoman
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 06:34 AM

Having played in Church for over 40 years using all sorts of guitars and banjos, I appreciate your problem. At the end of the day its really not worth risking damage to an instrument just to accomodate a different key. All the advice about using a capo is good and i suggest that you try finding the right one for your guitar and using it properly. Also. if you can already play most of the main chords (c.D G etc) it shouldn't be too difficult to learn a few more. I have also always had problems playing barre chords and avoid them if at all possible. There are all sorts of "Cheat" ways of playing a lot of them using only a barre on 3 or 4 strings - well worth learning. The other point worth making is that from experience I have learned that a strong vocal lead in the music group singing in the key which you have decided on will usually have the congergation in tune with you. You should lead the singing, thats what you are there for.
Persevere with your efforts and good luck
Pete


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 06:44 AM

Using a capo, you'll achieve various keys as on this guide:

Majors:



Fret                  C Shapes        A Shapes        G Shapes        E Shapes        D Shapes
1.                C#        A# or Bb        G#        F        D#
2.                D        B        A        F#        E
3.                D#        C        A# or Bb        G        F
4.                E        C#        B        G#        F#
5.                F        D        C        A        G
6.                F#        D#        C#        A# or Bb        G#
7.                G        E        D        B        A
8.                G#        F        D#        C        A# or Bb
9.                A        F#        E        C#        B
10.                A# or Bb        G        F        D        C
11.                B        G#        F#        D#        C#
12.                C        A        G        E        D


Minors:

Fret         Am Shapes        Em Shapes        Dm Shapes
1        A#        F        D#
2        B        F#        E
3        C        G        F
4        C#        G#        F#
5        D        A        G
6        D#        A#        G#
7        E        B        A
8        F        C        A#
9        F#        C#        B
10        G        D        C
11        G#        D#        C#
12        A        E        D


Hope this helps


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: matt milton
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 07:16 AM

why not just buy a cheap 2ndhand guitar for playing in church? If it gets damaged, it gets damaged. (though you may as well fit lighter strings too)

I have one song in which I tune the top E string up one semitone. It never occurred to me that I might be damaging the guitar in any way - it's only one song after all, so it's only in that position for 3 minutes at a time (or, when practising that particular song, say 15 minutes).

Surely back before the advent of digital tuners and the like, musicians were frequently playing guitars that were often a bit sharp? I mean, I find it hard to believe that itinerant blues musicians were all that bothered about whether their tuning, which would inevitably have drifted from concert pitch up or down, was damaging their guitar...


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: theleveller
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 07:36 AM

Good job you don't play the piano - that would be a bugger to tune.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Grab
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 07:44 AM

Suppose you had to put some food somewhere, and the normal shelf is full. Someone says "Put it on the empty shelf above instead." You reply, "But how will I find it? No, I'll unscrew the shelves and move the empty shelf down to where the full shelf currently is." ;-)

Seriously, if you're never leaving the basic first-position chords (C/G/D/A/E), your hand isn't moving so a capo really shouldn't be a problem to get the hang of. The movements between chords and finger positions are identical. Just work at it, and you'll get there. For sure, if you only ever play with a capo once in a blue moon, it might feel funny, but if you make a habit of practising with it then it'll become second nature.

In reality, with nylon strings I don't think it's going to be any kind of problem to tune a couple of steps higher. But it's unnecessary.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Betsy
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 09:18 AM

strings won't last as long - exposure to snapping - get a decent capo (curved, flat or other )or learn to play using different chord shapes


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 10:25 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Banjoman, it's good to hear from somebody with the same problems I have. I do sing along with the songs, and we have a good soprano who also leads. Trouble is, our little congregation has only one actual soprano. The rest do their best but really appreciate a lower key. For this week, the pastor picked a song that goes up to E. I want to say, "Get real!"

I only play when our pianist is not available. The guitar is not my main instrument. What I am trying to say is, those who think I ought to shop for the perfect capo and master it by Sunday, or that I should master barre chords after failing for 25 years, are not going to get their wish.

BWL, I'll measure the little guitar and see if it's 24" or 26." Thanks.

Bernard, thanks for the idea about tuning low. Why didn't I think of that? Actually I know why. A friend died this week, the tomatoes needed attention, and I've hurt my right thumb.

Now the good news. The Global is my "second-hand flea market guitar." I can tune it, set it aside, come back two months later, and it will still be in tune. People who don't know I paid $37.50 for it praise its tone. I should see if it has a model number, so I can say "I have a Global PW3750..." the way Martin owners do. (The PW is for plywood.)


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 10:45 AM

Mastering a capo is a bit like mastering a door key, and a lot easier than mastering a tin-opener...


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 11:28 AM

Amen to Kevin. All due respect, I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could have any difficulty using a capo.

I have come to accept that some folks have legitimate difficulty with the basic arithmetic required to figure out what key you're in with a capo in a given position (which always seemed pretty simple to me). But claiming inability to use a capo at all ~ I don't get it. Must be some kind of irrational mental block, perceiving some kind of difficulty that doesn't really exist.

If you don't like the sound of the guitar capoed up a step or two or three, you're not going to like its sound with the strings tuned up a step or two or three. Same sound. (Except for the sound of wood splintering, if you tune the wrong guitar up too high).


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: breezy
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 12:00 PM

a capo is an integral part of guitar playing

But

you put it on the fret spaces with the flat part holding down the strings


not your finger


sighs


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 04:46 PM

leeneia said,"What I am trying to say is, those who think I ought to shop for the perfect capo and master it by Sunday, or that I should master barre chords after failing for 25 years, are not going to get their wish."

There is NO learning curve to using a capo. If you can play the chords WITHOUT a capo, it is even easier to play them WITH a capo. I have a seven year old student who was having difficulties forming chords, so I loaned her my capo, put it on the second fret and she found it much easier to make the chord shapes. The capo means the strings are closer to the frets and the frets are closer to each other. Other than that, you just play the guitar as though there was no capo.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 05:28 PM

Leenia, there are some guitars that would stand the tension. The smaller scale guitar can probably be tuned up a whole step without problems. Use a lighter gauge classical guitar string.

Also, if you tune up a half-step you would be in Bb. Tuning up a whole step to B might do serious damage to your full-sized guitar.

If the hymn is in D, why don't you just play chords in the key of D?

If you want to use the A fingering, you would have to capo up to do this. On a standard size guitar, you would capo on the fifth fret and play in A fingering for the key of D.

There is another solution. Open string tuning. You could use D,A,D,F#,A,D for the key of D (playing open strings). Here's the problem. To play G or A, you would have to barre
across all of the strings (which you don't like to do).

Since you don't like to barre, have you thought of using a steel-type guitar which is in an open chord and using a left-hand metal bar (as the steel or dobro players do)?

The other alternative is to have a specially made guitar to do what you want it to do (not too practical and expensive).

There are electric instruments that will transpose keys for you (another expensive
proposition). This can be done with an electronic attachment to your guitar.
(Also expensive).

Another idea, instead of tuning your guitar to standard pitch, experiment by tuning it a half or whole step and finding a key that would accommodate your fingering
in the left hand. If you tuned your standard sized guitar down to D,G,C,F,A,D you could play in the key of D by playing a fingered E chord. A fingered A chord would put you in the key of G. A fingered B7 would be an A7. If you did this, you would want to use a heavier gauge classical guitar string to accommodate the lower tension.

There is no easy solution to your problem.

Frank


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 05:30 PM

It's my understanding that string tension goes up exponentially. A guitar is built to handle a particular level of string tension, and tuning it a full step over what it is built to take can do all kinds of nasty things. Among other things, it can warp you neck or tear your bridge off. Also, you would increase the chances of string breakage, and when a string breaks, it can have the combined characteristics of a cheese cutter and a bullwhip. Not nice!

Don't do it!!   Find another way

There is not that much to learning to use a capo. It simply has the effect of shortening the neck of the guitar so that, with a capo on the second fret, if you play a D chord, it comes out an E chord. Simple as that.

Get a good capo (I use a Shubb) and spend some time getting used to playing with it. Also, learn to play in at least two keys (C and G would be good, because you also have easily available relative minors: Am and Em).

If you get a Shubb capo, be sure you get the right one for your guitar. Most steel string guitars have a slightly curved fingerboard, so you need the slightly curved capo. But some guitars, such as classics and earlier designed parlor guitars have flat fingerboards so you need the straight one. Shubb makes both kinds. If you get the wrong one, it won't fret the strings evenly and you might get string-buzz.

But don't tune your guitar higher than it was built for. Concert pitch (440-A) maximum.

Don Firth

P. S. By the way, if the guitar is built for nylon strings (more lightly strutted than a steel string guitar and with no truss rod in the neck) the effect of tuning the strings higher than normal can be just as damaging.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 08:24 PM

As Don F comments, guitars are usually designed for a certain string tension.

In addition, the strings are usually chosen so that the stress level in the string is at, or near, a fairly common value.

When you tighten a string, it is stretched and the pitch rises. For low tensions, the stretch is pretty much linear, and if you back down the string will go back to a lower pitch. This is called "elastic stretching."

A string that is "too loose" has a tendency to sound "flabby," so guitar design and string selections for the design generally seek to have the string - or the core in a wound string - stressed to about 80% of the "yield stress." If the stress level reaches the "yield point," the string stretches plastically rather than elastically and becomes "permanently longer."

Once you reach the "plastic yield point" the string will not pull back to it's original length when the stretching force is removed. In addition, once plastic yield occurs, the permanent deformation tends to be localized at the "soft spots" on the string (there are always some) and is not uniformly distributed on the string. You end up with a "lumpy string" that cannot possible produce normal "true overtones" and will - to use the technical term for the condition - "sound like crap."

If the "design setup" for the string puts it at the fairly common 80% of yield, tuning up one full tone will, if the string stays "elastic," put the string at about 89% of yield. Since you have to stretch the string additionally to fret it, and even more to pluck it, you are dangerously close to the point at which the string will deform plastically and turn to crap - or to a couple of shorter pieces of string.

Even if the guitar doesn't break.

You could put on a full set of strings that will get (almost) any pitch you want at the same tensions as the original string, but that amounts to "redesigning the guitar." Moving each string one notch down, and using the appropriate new string at the top would pitch the guitar up a fourth with small change in the string loads that the guitar must support. Tenor banjo players do this sometimes, to change the open strings from the normal "C-tuning" to a "G-tuning" so they can use mandolin/fiddle fingerings without transposing.

There is no guarantee that this "string translation" wouldn't affect the tone and projection of a guitar, but it apparently doesn't matter all that much for a banjo (gentle dig, I hope).

John


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 12:29 AM

Thanks, Don and John for the scientific answers. I accept your advice.

To certain others, my problem with a capo is that my hand has a fixed idea of where on the neck a certain chord is. When hovering over a different fret, it doesn't want to make, let us say, the A shape. This may have to do with years of playing piano, in which it is essential to develop an inner sense for unseen lengths. And to all of you who think I am an idiot, consider this.

Sometimes I ask my husband to put a dart in a garment I am making. It is inconceivable to me that a human being cannot pick up some fabric and fold it gracefully and naturally into just the right curve. Yet in his hands the fabric turns devilish, and the folds turn out lumpy and distorted. He does his best, and I fix it as best I can.

Do I sneer at him and tell him he's just making it up? No. Different bodies can do different things.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Claymore
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 02:27 AM

Leeneia,

I highly accept the advice from such guitar masters as Don Firth and the others but I am going to fly in the face of their comments by saying I have been tuning high for years and it is relatively easy with some very distinct provisions. Hidden in all the discussions was a very common phenomenon that all have missed. Generally the highest tuned string on a guitar is the high "G" on a 12-string guitar. It is usually an .08 gauge string and will tune down nicely to the F# you need to start your tuning to "D". Since the highest string is usually the one to break, start from there. From highest to lowest try a .10 or .11 for "B", something around a .14 or .15 for "G", a wound .22 to .24 for "D", a 35 for your "A" and a .45 for your low "E". Now tune the whole lot up one whole note to get your C to D tuning.

It's the gauge of the strung that counts and many single string ordered from good music stores will specify the draw strength for each string for three different notes tuned on that string. At the other end, I have used extremely heavy gauges on my Larrivee, starting a .14 for my high E and dropping to .60 on my low E. I play a Baritone uke that is tuned like a soprano, that is GCEA and the only problem was finding a high tension nylon E that would stay the course, Augustine Flamencos. I have two guitars that can take the heavy strings, the Larivee and a Tacoma. DO NOT DO THIS TO A MARTIN, THEY ARE VERY WEAK AT THE BRIDGE. And I used tenor banjo strings on my five string Wildwood Soloist with a .13 fifth sting.

My advice would be to go to a good music store and ask to see their string catalogue. If you buy custom strings as I do, then you won't be looking at the packaged strings, except to see what note is specified at what tension. Unless the store has a box of broken package single strings, you may have to order them four at a time. If they tell you that they only have packages and not singles, then fool'em. Buy a package of light gauge banjo strings which have loop ends, and use an old guitar string button to secure the lightest string (usually an .08 or .09) in your bridge. Then buy a package of light gauge guitar strings and start with the light "E" string in the package as your next "B". You'll be tuned to "D" in no time with no increase pull on your bridge on your bridge. If you do hear a buzz from the string on your frets try one of two things; have the guitar shop loosen the tension bar in the guitar neck, since you don't play many bridged chords, or step up slightly in your string gauges. Good Luck!

BTW, while I don't use a capo very often, I carry a couple curved and straight Kysers just in case. And I do used a cut Shubb for a very heavy strung guitar with the whole guitar tuned down to D and the capo bring the highest 5 strings to E, giving you every bridged cord except a natural Em and that dropped D sound.

You really should learn to use the capo…

And responding to your comment about the "A" chord, do not make the mistake of many players and mash all your fingers together to make the common A chord. If you played the piano you know how to stretch an octave. Play the A chord by bridging all four of the lighter strings at the second fret with one finger and then let your little finger catch the high E string at the fifth fret (stunningly, an A note) for a much easier and much fuller A chord.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 04:32 PM

Good information there, Claymore, but a couple of very important things should be considered. First of all, most 12-string guitars are built like a battleship:   heavy strutting and strong. And even though a particular 12-string may be built solidly enough to take the stress, most of the 12-string players I know tune their 12's well below standard guitar pitch. Pete Seeger, I understand, tunes his 12-sting a major 3rd low (the lowest course [pair of strings] tuned to C two octaves below middle C and the other courses relative to that).

Walt Roberson had an incredible 12-string guitar made by Pietro Carbone (at the Village String Shop in New York). Huge guitar. Amazing sound. Walt tuned it a full step low, partly to save stress on the guitar, but largely because he wanted the growling bass (4.5 on the Richter scale!). But even so, it started to pull apart, and it wound up spending more time in one repair shop or another than it did being played.

But most important. I believe leeniea said that both of her guitars are built for nylon strings, so her options are limited. The wide variety of string gauges just isn't available.

However, there are options.

I have three guitars. A regular classic, a very good quality Japanese made guitar imported and sold by San Diego luthier José Oribé. It looks exactly like the concert Ramirez that Segovia played. I've played it before the Seattle Classic Guitar Society, and they (some of whom own real José Ramirez's) assumed—from both it's appearance and its rich, full sound) that it was a concert Ramerez. I use D'Addario EJ45 normal tension strings on it. I may try the EJ45C composite strings on the next change.

My second guitar is an Arcangel Fernandez flamenco guitar, which I got direct from the luthier in Madrid in 1961. This is a real flamenco guitar! I got it for peanuts back then, and it turns out that 1961 "Arcangels" in good condition are worth a small fortune now ($18,000+!!). I use D'Addario EJ45s on it as well (but I'm almost afraid to take it out of the house!).

And my third guitar is a little travel guitar made by Sam Radding of San Diego—a "GO-GW," made for nylon strings. It has a 24.5 string-length, and Sam recommended that I use D'Addario EJ44s (extra-high tension) on it. Sounds pretty good for such a small box and something that looks more like a canoe paddle than a guitar.

I keep them all at concert pitch (440-A).

Cranking a guitar higher than it's supposed to go?

Not in this guy's house!!

Don Firth

P. S. Regarding the fingering of the A chord with a 4 string bar and the pinky on the 5th fret: that's just one inversion of the chord. It depends on the sound that you want. For a first position A, I usually hold the 4th and 3rd strings down with my first finger at an angle and the 2nd string with my second finger. This avoids sudden leaps of the note on the top string. Works for me.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 11:37 PM

Leeneia,

It sounds to me like you just need a little time to get used to playing the guitar with the capo on.

The thing to remember is, once you put the capo on, you want to pretend the capo is the nut of the guitar. And with the capo on, you will make your chords exactly the same as before, counting your frets up from whatever fret you have put the capo on.

In this case you would be putting the capo on the 2nd fret. So now the 2nd fret is like the nut, the 3rd fret is the 1st fret, the 4th fret is the 2nd fret, and the 5th fret is the 3rd fret, and so on.

The thing about using a capo is it gives you a LOT of flexibility with very few chords. You can transpose your songs into whatever key feels comfortable and still be playing the basic chords that you know and love.

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 06:55 AM

I concur with Don about the fingering of the A chord. It all depends on the sound and the effect you want.

Personally, I favour the pinky on the second string, ring on the second and middle on the third, as I find that this facilitates the rapid "hammering on" of the second string and occasional forays onto the third fret with the pinky to give a quick transient Asus4, the sort of sound typified by Leo Kottke's playing.

The A chord described by Claymore does have its place in Travis/ Atkins type picking, but doesn't really lend itself to the more "earthy" styles of folk guitar imo.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 08:18 AM

[And responding to your comment about the "A" chord, do not make the mistake of many players and mash all your fingers together to make the common A chord. If you played the piano you know how to stretch an octave. Play the A chord by bridging all four of the lighter strings at the second fret with one finger and then let your little finger catch the high E string at the fifth fret (stunningly, an A note) for a much easier and much fuller A chord]quote claymore
it is just a differnt inversion,it is not fuller,here is another amajor inversion,fret second string at 5 fret,3 string at 6 fret ,4 string at 7 fret.a major again
or take claymores inversion,to get along a or a modal,by fretting,second string at fret 5,as well as ist string at fret 5.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 08:34 AM

Don Firth suggests usig a smaller guitar, tune dhigher because of the shorter neck. Fine and good - I've got a tiny guitar whch I always keep tuned a full tone higher, and it works fine and sounds good.

But if leeneah has a problem with playing the guitar when the neck is shortened (which is effectively what a capo does), precisely the same problem would surely arise when playing a smaller guitar.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 08:47 AM

Tuning a short scale guitar up a tone or two is much worse that trying to do it with a normal scale guitar.

JUST USE A CAPO - It really is not that difficult!


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 01:55 PM

To correct the record, McGrath, I did not suggest that.

The shorter guitar I mentioned (GO-GW with 24.5" string length) uses higher tension strings, recommended by the maker, which I keep at concert pitch (440-A), as he also recommended. I do not ever, in any way, at any time recommend tuning a guitar above concert pitch. Ever!

Like everyone else here says, use a capo.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM

Leenia, just start using the capo on 2-chord songs in keys that work for you. Once your mind makes the connections, which it will do automatically after just a few practices that feel awkward, the problem you have in using it will vanish.

Think not, "I can't do this because..." and instead try thinking, "How I can make this work for me is...."

This approach also will work in trying new chords. Soon you will own them.

~S~


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Melissa
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM

..or learn a couple more chords?


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM

To continue, Kevin:   If you do tune your smaller guitar a full step high (above a 440-A) and you haven't had any structural problems with it, I'd say that either it's a very stoutly built instrument, in which case, due to its heavy construction, it could never reach its full potential as far as tone quality is concerned, or you have just been very lucky--so far.

A good friend of mine liked the sound of steel strings, but he also preferred the flat, classic width fingerboard. He bought a beautiful Martin classic (00-28-G, spruce soundboard, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard). He put steel strings on it!

Aware that it wasn't built for that, he used very light gauge steel strings and tuned the guitar a full step low. But even so--   All else being equal, steel strings exert about 2 1/2 times as much tension as nylon strings, and even with a lighter gauge string and tuning it low, over several months I watched in horror as stress lines (noticeable when light reflected on the soundboard of the guitar around the bridge) developed and gradually got worse.

My friend passed away, and someone else inherited the guitar. The fellow into whose possession it came, immediatly changed the strings, but the damage had already been done. The guitar will never sound anywhere near as good as it could have had it been treated properly.

I used to sit there apprehensively watching him play it and expecting it to explode at any time!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 02:23 PM

intwewarunf poat A


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 02:30 PM

some of the figures on this thread don't add up.

Bruce says that the total tension of nylon strings adds up to 120 lbs, and Don says that steel strings exert 2 1/2 times as much tension as nylon, but that would mean a tension of 300lbs.

shome mishtake shurely ?


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 04:28 PM

Mistake? Then what are the correct figures?

The 2 1/2 figure I quoted was what I was informed by a luthier. If this is not correct, I'm open to new information. But I would like some substantiation.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 05:53 PM

The midgie guitar in question only has a 21 inch string length. With standard tuning the strings just don't feel right, and don't sound right either.

It sounds a lot better tuned a tone higher, which means the (nylon)string tension is about the same as it would be on a bigger guitar.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 07:15 PM

Well, it's certainly worthwhile to hear all the possibilities about different kinds of guitars.

It's Sunday evening, now, and here's what happened.

I told Our Leader that I needed to play songs that I've already played. I submitted a list, and she picked 'Come thou fount (Nettleton)' 'Beautiful Savior' and 'Sent Forth (Ash Grove)'

As I mentioned, almost all songs in the hymnal are too high for our little band. So I worked on my C chords and lowered them from D to C. Apparently the pastor (80 years old) couldn't hear me playing, so he started songs at whatever tempo he felt like, and I struggled to match him. i felt like an idiot.

You wouldn't think anybody could mess up Ash Grove, would you? A simple AABA tune. Well, he sang the second verse ABAB while I tried to figure out where he was.

I had practiced the responses on a tenor recorder ("Let's just speak the responses today.") During the sign of peace I said to myself, "I packed this thing in here, and I'm going to play it." I quickly leafed through the hymnal and found a hymn using the melody Prospect from Southern Harmony. I had never seen it before, but I played it three times without any glitches. That spare, country sound filled our wood-lined church with a haunting resonance, and I felt great contentment and a feeling of oneness with all those 19th-century worshippers.

After church everybody told me how lovely it all was. Well, there was a woman who said, "Thanks for the music. I enjoyed your recorder playing." (For those of you not from the Midwest, this translates to "Gosh, you're a lousy guitarist.") But I forgive her. She's only 28 and has no idea what socks full of sand life keeps in store.

I'm happy to say that next week, when our pianist is still out of town, I'll be out of town too.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Mooh
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 08:51 PM

86.9 lbs tension for D'Addario Pro-Arte EJ-46 Hard Tension.

163.2 ibs tension for D'Addario Phosphor Bronze EJ-16 light guage.

Both 25.5" scale.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Mooh
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 08:56 PM

http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 09:10 PM

Ash Grove simple AABA? Is this the Ash Grove which goes to the tune Llwyn Onn or another one perchance?

CC


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 10:19 PM

Thanks for the specific info, Mooh!

Kevin, with a guitar with a 21" string length, I wouldn't think there'd be a problem. I've seen small bodied, short scale guitars like the Tacoma "Papoose" or the Mini-Martin, referred to as "terz guitars," that use standard strings, but are intended to be tuned a minor third higher than a standard guitar. That would mean that an E chord fingering would come out a G chord—which is to say, it would be like a standard guitar with a capo on the third fret.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 12:00 AM

"The midgie guitar in question only has a 21 inch string length." -- That's a bloody ukulele!

Seriously, short-scale guitars, like the Requinto, do very well at giving good tone when tuned higher (the short scale means "higher" isn't "tighter"). I have a short-scale classical that tunes to F# instead of E (1&6 strings). So I play a C position and get a D, etc. So the A position, uncapoed, gives a B key (pretty useless for most musics; the keys I find in my church tend toward the flats -- F, Eb, Ab, and even Db-- and when they don't, the music director changes them to those keys to suit himself).

Leeneia says she's a keyboard player, and used to certain reaches, making use of a capo "odd." But guitar use frets, which have differing spacing -- it's how fretted instruments work -- so she'll have to get used to it. With a capo, and practice, practice, practice. There's no other way. It's the nature of the instrument.

Bob


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 08:43 AM

'practice, practice, practice'

Some people can't believe that with the guitar, I have made a commitment to mediocrity. I am willing to be a good sport once in a while and keep the congregation together, but I'm not going to really work on the guitar.

If I'm going to practice, practice, practice, it will be on something I actually enjoy.
===========
Commander, yes Ash Grove and Llyn Onn are the same tune. I have a friend who travels to Welsh Heritage Week and has a Welsh triple harp. Through her, my group of friends has developed an interest in Welsh music.

Of course, this tune is so famous that one doesn't have to be Welsh to know it.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 01:50 PM

I would like to know a little about tension in strings. I suppose a high-tension string is more taut than a low tension, is that correct?

I assume it exerts more pull on the guitar body, correct?

To get a high-tension string, would I start with a thicker one, so it has to be pulled more to be in tune?

Why would I want one kind rather than another?

Thanks


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 02:26 PM

Hi Leeneia,

No offence, but I think a "commitment of medicrity" on the guitar, as an instrument that is not your primary one, would make the use of a capo all the more attractive and practical. You not only eliminate the need to learn more than a small handful of chords, you make every chord a little easier to play when you capo-up a couple of frets; your action is a little lower, and the frets are a little closer together.

I think I understand your problem , but I believe that it's something you can overcome, more of a mental than a physical issue. Just my opinion, of course.

And I do undertand the "commitment to mediocrity" comment, and I intend no sarcasm in quoting it back at you. It's not your primary instrument and you have other demands on your time ~ I get it. But I do believe that a brief commitment of familiarizing yourself with the crutch, er, I mean, capo, will pay off in your gaining a great deal of additional flexibility without much effort at all, and without having to learn any new chords or fingerings beyond whatever you currently know.

If I may thread-drift a bit:

About that "long A" chord (002225):

"Easier" than 002220 ~ I don't think so! Not for everybody, that's for sure. Using the left pinky AT ALL is difficult for some of us ~ not only beginner-types, but also some of us older folks who used to be able to do it but are now hurting with arthirtis.

"Fuller sound" ~ matter of opinion; some might discern a fuller sound from a chord which allows more open strings to resonate (like the humble 002220).

"..doesn't really lend itself to the more "earthy" styles of folk guitar imo..." ~ I would observe that the chord in question is quite commonly used in various blues styles, including Piedmont and Delta, especially in the keys of A and E.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Melissa
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 02:50 PM

If I hurt my finger and needed to write, I would definitely try holding the pencil between different fingers. It would work if I was determined to make it work.

You asked for advice.
A capo was a good, sensible answer. If you don't want to use a capo, wouldn't it be easier to just SAY that? I personally do not want to use a capo..so I've learned enough chords to be able to play in whatever keys I might need.
I was determined and I make it work.
If a time comes when you're determined to play in different keys, you'll be able to find a way to do it.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Songbob
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 04:05 PM

Did my post get et?

I wrote in answer about string gauges in classical (hard vs. soft tension) and steel strings (varying gauges in 1/1000-inch increments, pick-and-choose till you find what you like), but somehow it hasn't appeared.

C'est la vie (or, as the French say, "That's life.")

Bob


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 04:27 PM

Have you read "I'm OK, You're OK"?

There is a game going on here that such books call "Yes but".


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 09:34 AM

Thanks, poppa gator. I might give a capo another try.

You are certainly right about the uselessness of the little finger. My little fingers are only 2.5 inches long and very weak. All they are good for is decorating a tea cup. In order to play songs in C on Sunday, I worked out an F chord of my own that doesn't use the little finger.

Like CLW, I would like to learn more about string tension.

Richard Bridge: did you read my post about what actually happened on Sunday? I doubt it. Why don't you find out what happens in the real world before appointing yourself amateur shrink?

Though perhaps instead of shrink I should speak your dialect and say 'trick cyclist.'


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 10:05 AM

Imagination again. I read the whole thread.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Grab
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 11:28 AM

A thought about arm position, Leeneia. You say that you're unconsciously moving your hand to a particular point in space, not to a particular fret - the fret just happens to be at that point. OK then. As the joke goes about how many men it takes to fix a lightbulb, we can hold the lightbulb in place and let the world revolve around us. ;)

If you're currently playing with the waist of the guitar sat on your right leg, like most folk players, try switching to classical position with your left foot raised on a footstool or cushion (or just braced against your right ankle) and the waist of the guitar on your left leg instead. This puts the headstock further away from your body, which means the location that you say your body has learnt will be further down the neck, probably around the fourth fret or so. So your hands are likely to naturally fall into a higher fret position. Slap a capo on there, and see how it goes.

Of course, if you're already using classical position then this won't work. But if you're not, then it might be worth giving it a try and seeing how you get on. Another way of making your body get used to your hands being in a slightly different position would be to play standing up with a strap on the guitar, if you usually play sitting down. Or vice versa if you usually play standing up.

Or it might be that the capo doesn't "feel" like the top of the guitar, because you can see accessible fretboard above it. In that case, maybe tape a stick to the capo so your hand can't easily go past it and you've got something definite to aim for. Or wrap a towel round the neck of the guitar at that point, or have a friend put their hands round the neck at that point, or something like that. If your mind sees it can't get your hand there, and that this position is very definitely the end of the guitar, it might adapt.

I suspect once you've broken that initial block, you'll be OK - it's just how to get past it without stressing yourself out over it. Advice of "practise, practise, practise" is true enough, but practising doing the wrong thing is only going to reinforce the problem. If you can throw your brain a curve which stops it following the same rut, then you've got a better chance of sorting it.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 01:34 PM

Leeneia, it sounds to me that, from the difficulties you seem to having with the left hand, part of the problem may be hand position.

This is highly controversial among many folk guitarists. Many folk guitarists hold the palm of the left hand right up tight against the back of the guitar's neck, with the thumb wrapped around to the bass side, often with the idea of fretting notes on the sixth string with the thumb. I have argued this since Sunday breakfast with a number of folk guitarists (many here on Mudcat), but this can be counter-productive. It inhibits what the left hand can do and restricts the action of the fingers.

True, there are really good guitarists who play this way. But they are good despite this, not because of it.

Okay, that said, please bear with me for a bit.

I would like to be able to give you a brief lesson in hand positions, which I believe would go a long way toward clearing up your left hand problems easily, and making chord fingerings a whole lot easier—but I'm here and you're there.

So, as an alternative, let me introduce you to one of the finest guitarists in the world today. This is Sharon Isbin, giving about a ten minute interview, in which, about three minutes in, she demonstrates efficient hand positions, both left and right, for classic guitar specifically, but for just about any style of playing. Just like correct piano hand positions are also efficient for any kind of music you want to play on the piano. Her control of the tone of the guitar through the use of her right hand is also quite revealing.

Sharon Isbin.

(I understand that she and Joan Baez are good friends, by the way.)

Now—when someone tells me that their left hand is too small to play a wide-necked classic-type guitar, I show them THIS.

I hope this helps. Good pickin'!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 06:55 PM

There are advantages and disadvantages to both hand positions. Sometimes it's best to use one, sometimes the other. It is quite possible to make use of both, and pool the advantages.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 07:27 PM

True indeed, and I've been known to do that when the situation calls for it. But I use the classic left hand position as my "default." I find that it keeps my fingers a lot freer.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: SharonA
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 08:32 PM

"If I'm going to practice, practice, practice, it will be on something I actually enjoy."

...and yet it sounds as though you enjoyed performing a tune you'd never seen before (Prospect from Southern Harmony), and you enjoyed the praise you received afterward. My humble opinion is that if you grit your teeth and devote the time to improving your skills on the guitar and discovering what the instrument has to offer you, you WILL have more enjoyment with it in the long run. Put in the time; it will be worth it.

But for short-term results that are required for an upcoming service within the week, I suggest a compromise with your choir: tune your guitar up a HALF-step and have the choir sing a half-step lower.

More thoughts:

Why not accompany the choir using an instrument that you enjoy?

Why not recruit other musicians in the congregation to help you out? (If you are playing flute, let's say, and someone else is playing clarinet and a third is picking out single notes on a piano, you have a three-tone accompaniment.) Jeez, are there no families in your congregation who have kids who play in the school band?

Others here have entreated you to quit your bellyaching and open your mind, but you seem unwilling to budge. Here's a URL of an article on what the Bible has to say about stubbornness: http://www.ehow.com/about_4587766_what-does-bible-say-stubbornness.html

:-)

Sharon


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 11:05 PM

"My humble opinion is that if you grit your teeth and devote the time to improving your skills on the guitar and discovering what the instrument has to offer you, you WILL have more enjoyment with it in the long run. Put in the time; it will be worth it."

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Sharon. I use the guitar primarily to accompany songs, but I have also studied classical guitar and have a small but very satisfying repertoire of classic pieces. And it can be most gratifying to stick a classic piece into a program of songs, and then hear people mutter, "Ye gods! He can actually play that thing!!"

I found that learning some classic guitar was a smooth, easy, and quick way to learn new chords, chord fingerings, and chord variations, that I could then put to use accompanying songs.

No less a person that Beethoven referred to the guitar as "an orchestra in miniature." Franz Schubert was perpetually broke, and lots of times he didn't have access to a piano, so he did a lot of his composing (including some of his songs) on the guitar that he carried around with him. The guitar is a complete musical instrument, with a huge repertoire of its own, plus it can play most lute music directly, and transcriptions from both piano and harpsichord (I have a friend who is transcribing some Chopin pieces to the guitar—Chopin sounds great on a nylon-string guitar!), along with such things as Bach cello suites.

But you don't have to aspire to such lofty heights. Fernando Sor wrote about 120 graded studies for the guitar, from dead simple to extremely difficult. Even the simplest of these studies sounds good and all of them are real music, in the sense of "etudes," not just exercises.

Practicing and learning some of this music is highly satisfying in itself, and it will aid immensely in learning new chords and chord variations (inversions, added notes, etc.), bass runs, little bits of melody or counterpoint to song melodies, and in working out song accompaniments in general.

A little concentrated practice on the guitar can yield a great deal of satisfaction for its own sake, and aid you immensely in making your song accompaniments easy and tasteful. More than just simple rhythms and block chords.

Get something like "Solo Guitar Playing, Vol. I" by Frederick Noad or "Classic Guitar Technique, Vol. I" by Aaron Schearer and give it a shot.

Don Firth

P. S. A piano is a great instrument, but a guitar is easier to carry around.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 10:31 AM

You're right, Don. When I got my first guitar, I also bought a book on playing folk guitar. I just couldn't seem to get all those fingers down at once. So I bought a book of classical guitar, learned the scales, and accompanied songs by putting each finger where it had to go and picking a pattern. After a while, I could play the chords in one go.

(Did you notice me saying up above that I developed a new F chord so I could drop 'Beautiful Savior' from D to C? That was my classical method at work. )

But no matter how many other people are okay with a capo, I find it uncomfortable and unnatural. Some people can't whistle, some can't type, and some can't play with a capo. I had a choir director once who couldn't trill an R. Accept it that different people are different.

Also, I just don't need another complication on Sunday morning.

Some time ago, Bernard said to use heavier tension and tune down. Since then, Crazy Little Woman has asked for more info about tension. I'd like to hear more about that, too.

If I could tune down the little guitar a half step, then drop songs a step, the final product would be down 1.5 steps, which would be just about right. (The little guitar is only 21.5 inches from nut to bridge.) It's easier to haul up the staircase, and if a hobo steals it, it didn't cost much.

(Bee-dubla, I know you said such guitar should be tuned high. Sorry about that.)

As for some suggestions offered by others, as Joe Offer says, "Do not respond to trolls."


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 11:37 AM

To tune down, you want long-scale or heavy strings. Or both.

Apart from some very expensive classical guitars, steel string ones are louder. This will help to get your pastor or whatever you call him in time and in tune, and likewise the choir.

Custom strings for steel guitars can be obtained more easily than for classical.

BUT the lower you tune a guitar, relatively speaking the quieter it seems (a function of the ear's sensitivity curve).

The best answer is a steel strung guitar, a capo, and some practice.

When I was in the school choir (and unable to get out of it) not only was there choir practice for a whole evening a week, but also there was "congregational practice" in which the whole school was taught how to sing new hymns.

There is no miracle cure. The capo is the nearest. It doesn't take much figuring out where to position it since you know there are twelve semitones in an octave.

D'Addario offer some good charts for string tension, but they are for steel strings. There are also java applets that you can download.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 12:50 PM

Leeneia, I would think that a small guitar with a 21.5" string length, unless it is very lightly constructed, would have no problem with a standard set of nylon strings tuned a full step above concert pitch.

I would never try it with the usual 25.5" string length, but since your smaller guitar sounds pretty close to the dimensions of the "terz" guitar (normally tuned a minor third above concert pitch), it sounds to me as if should work fine with no danger to the guitar.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 06:24 PM

...The little guitar is only 21.5 inches from nut to bridge...)

As I said up the thread, my midget guitar is that size, and sounds a lot better tuned a full tone higher than concert pitch. (Sounds and feels not dissimilar to a standard sized guitar with a capo on the second fret...)


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 04:24 PM

Well, well. I'd never heard of a terz guitar, but my "half-size classical" could be one.

Here's what I found out: "The Terz guitar is tuned a minor third higher than a regular guitar, the same tuning as if you put a capo at the third fret of a normal guitar (e.g. open strings are G-C-F-A#-D-G). It has a much shorter scale length, typically 530-560mm, compared to the Torres 650mm scale, or even the period 625-635 scale."

My half-size classical is only 545 mm long from bridge to nut.

Right now I am busy sewing a glamorous blouse to wear to the opera this weekend. After that, I'll take the guitar back to the place where I got it and ask for more info about it.

Meanwhile, I have been having fun listening to Swiss folk music while I sew. So far I have heard the sounds of blues, boogie, rock & roll, gypsy, and (of course) pure polkas, all performed on alpeninstrumenten.

Others I enjoyed might be called 'Homage to Flight of the Bumblebee' and 'Homage to the Minute Waltz.' And finally, there the piece you would hear if J.S. Bach had written a clarinet polka. I stopped the sewing machine to listen to that one.

And now for a trial fitting...


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 04:50 PM

Keep us posted, leeneia. I'm curious to know what you have also.

I know there is a company in Rumania (I think) that makes a couple of small-size classic guitars for children. Real classics, just smaller.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 10:27 AM

I'll be back. My small guitar is an Austin, made in China.

Now I'm off to Des Moines to visit friends and go to the opera. (They know I won't go if an opera has rapes, abuse or stranglings, and they accept my bizarre ways.)

As for the pastor who starts at the wrong time, I realize that I need to explain to him that I do a little preliminary strumming in order to figure out the first note of the song. (He is used to doing services with organists who have had years of training and are very precise in everything they do.)

But no matter what happens, people tell me that the singing is better with some kind of accompaniment. It gives the group a referent and keeps them in tune.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 02:23 PM

"...people tell me that the singing is better with some kind of accompaniment. It gives the group a referent and keeps them in tune."

Amen to that. I would add that, without instrumental accompaniment, group singing tends to be out of TIME even more noticeably and seriously than to be out of TUNE. People can't wait quite long enough between verses unless some instrument, any instrument, fills in the beats between verses.


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 03:58 PM

545 mm - that's about 21 2/2 inches.

"Amen to that. I would add that, without instrumental accompaniment, group singing tends to be out of TIME even more noticeably and seriously than to be out of TUNE. People can't wait quite long enough between verses unless some instrument, any instrument, fills in the beats between verses."

I can think of any number of folk venues where that just isn't true, and where the singing is all; the better for having no instruments. And I've even known church congregatins who have learnt how to sing without instruments.

"Tends" is a dodgy word - it can mean anything from "almost invariably" down to "quite often".


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Subject: RE: hurt my guitar to tune it a step high?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 10:22 PM

1. Use a capo.

2. Make sure, however, that it is the right kind of capo for YOUR specific guitar(s), because capos are not all the same, just as guitars are not all the same. Some capos will be fairly useless on your guitar. Others will fit it like a dream.

3. You must position the capo correctly for a good result. If you do, the guitar will sound just as good as it does with open strings.

4. Get a well qualified guitar player at a good music store to demonstrate all of the above to you and show you exactly how to do it and why it's done that way.

(and I am just repeating what many others have said earlier in this thread)


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