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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
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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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