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Tuning Down to accommodate voice

Songwronger 02 Aug 11 - 08:37 PM
GUEST,SeanSiegfried 02 Aug 11 - 08:46 PM
Crowhugger 02 Aug 11 - 09:13 PM
saulgoldie 02 Aug 11 - 09:22 PM
Crowhugger 02 Aug 11 - 09:44 PM
Songwronger 03 Aug 11 - 09:36 PM
Crowhugger 03 Aug 11 - 10:48 PM
Nigel Parsons 04 Aug 11 - 11:51 AM
Lox 04 Aug 11 - 11:54 AM
Will Fly 04 Aug 11 - 12:05 PM
Lox 04 Aug 11 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Doug Saum 04 Aug 11 - 04:39 PM
Crowhugger 04 Aug 11 - 05:02 PM
Little Robyn 04 Aug 11 - 06:02 PM
Richard Bridge 04 Aug 11 - 06:26 PM
alex s 04 Aug 11 - 07:27 PM
Songwronger 04 Aug 11 - 07:50 PM
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Subject: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Songwronger
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 08:37 PM

I searched Tune Down, Tuning Down, Full Step, Half Step and so on but didn't turn up another thread on this topic. Please attach this post to the end of one if it exists.

My voice has deepened over the years, and some time ago I began tuning my guitar down to accommodate it. I'd gladly use different chordings if that would do the trick, but most of the pieces I play have fretboard work that would be lost in the change.

Just wondering if anyone else has had to tune down in this way. Any tips, stories? Be nice if there was a device like a capo that worked in the opposite direction.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: GUEST,SeanSiegfried
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 08:46 PM

The most important advice, in my opinion, is to start using a slightly thicker gauge of strings if you're tuning down. I initially found it hard to hit the high notes on some of the songs I was trying to learn, so figured I must have a fairly low singing voice. For quite a while now I've been using medium strings and tuning down a half step, sometimes a whole step and leaving the guitar thus. If you tune light strings down low they start to become very difficult to keep in tune, whereas with medium strings you're actually striking a nice inbetween: In which they're a little slacker and easier to play, but not too slack, as lights would be at that sort of tension.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Crowhugger
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 09:13 PM

That's exactly what my mother used to do, heavier strings, also took her guitar (a smallish late 1940s Martin) in to be set up for it. "It" was 3 semitones down from regular, so the E strings were down to C#. Worked well on that guitar, which didn't have the best high end. I don't know what they did, probably something with the nut but I didn't ask. She's long gone as is the guitar (too small for my hands) so I can't ask or look.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: saulgoldie
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 09:22 PM

SW,
Search the site for the word "key" going back 7 days, and you will find a couple of other threads that deal with aspects of this issue.

Saul


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Crowhugger
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 09:44 PM

One of the threads saulgoldie mentions is "What key" .

The other is about transposing.

Definitely both include a variety of interesting related info. But nothing can save you having to change what your fretting OR picking/strumming fingers do if you change to different chords to accommodate your voice.

An acoustic baritone guitar might help.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Songwronger
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 09:36 PM

Yes, heavier strings definitely. I've done that.

When tuning down a full step I sometimes get a little string buzz (looser strings hitting the frets), so I need to experiment some more with strings and maybe raise the bridge a bit.

The problem with transposing is that things like fingerboard slides and hammer on / hammer offs would be sacrificed. So down I go. The guitar seems to like it--nice lower vibrations in its guts, not so tense.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Crowhugger
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 10:48 PM

A slightly deeper nut & saddle may lift the loosened strings away from the frets.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 11:51 AM

Keep the guitar tuning the same.

Capo the throat! :)

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Lox
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 11:54 AM

capo brings the tonality up though - the OP wants to come down ...

Thicker strings is definitely the answer .. until eventually you buy a tenor guitar!!


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 12:05 PM

Mmm... my tenor guitar is tuned CGDA - with the A being the equivalent of the A note on the 1st string/5th fret of a conventionally tuned guitar - might be a bit high!


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Lox
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 12:31 PM

ok - I've only seen them with a string 'missing' off the top and an 'extra' one on the bottom ... the only practical difference under those circumstances would be having string 2 as an F# instead of a G ...


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: GUEST,Doug Saum
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 04:39 PM

I suggest the simplest solution is to play the song in a key that suits your vocal range. even if it's not the key you're used to. e. g. If you're used to playing the tune in D, try C, etc.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Crowhugger
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 05:02 PM

An acoustic baritone guitar, perhaps with a capo, will mean you can still play the identical riffs and sing a tone or two down. Maybe you'll need to accustom yourself to the slightly wider fret spacing, but could be it's the same if you're capoed at 3 or 4. Been ages since I saw one and never played up the neck even a little.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Little Robyn
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 06:02 PM

Mitch has his guitar tuned down so he can play along with my smallpipes (in F), then he just puts his capo on the second fret when he wants to play along with the regular group.
My pipe music is written in G but the pipes play at F and a bit!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 06:26 PM

Strings need to be at the "right" tension to sound like guitar strings. Get a chart of string tension against gauge. If your guitar sounded nice to you with the strings you used to play in the keys you used to play, check the string tensions off the chart at that pitch. Now look up the gauge for the same string tension or a LITTLE bit more at the lower pitch.

If you used to play 13s in standard tuning, you may find you want 14s to go down a semitone. A B string on a set of 13s is likely to be a 17 or thereabouts.


BUT you will find that the ring of chords is somehow less clear, or muddier.   I tried a long-neck guitar that tuned on standard strings to D once, and the sound was not helpful to me.


I have one concert cutaway strung with 9s that I tune up three semitones. Try for 4 and the strings break! But I did need a whole new setup for the 9s in G.

Gordon Newton will make you custom sets but his strings are not standard construction. Strings Direct got me a set of non-standard bass strings to play a 3/4 bass tuned as a violin (GDAE) and they sound just right - but of course it isn't about chords.


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: alex s
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 07:27 PM

we recorded with Nick Dow, a song in B, very nasty for Dave on the fiddle. So he tuned down a semi-tone and played in C. No prob...


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Subject: RE: Tuning Down to accommodate voice
From: Songwronger
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 07:50 PM

Good information. Thanks.

Yeah I guess I could capo my throat. A necktie ought to do the job.

Or I could capon myself. That might raise my voice back to where it used to be. One testicle a half-step and both for a full-step? I'll try the necktie first.


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