How to tune the guitar for singing while playing.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by gearmeup, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. gearmeup

    gearmeup Member

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    I asked this in the sound lounge but it didn't get much traction or answers.

    I'd say I'm very knowledgable when it comes to the guitar and simple theory but I've never had a singer/ guitarist teacher.

    That being said I've always questioned what is the best way to tune the guitar when singing is involved and why.

    Capo?standard?tune down half a step?

    I'm pretty curious and don't want to start writing/ singing till I know what direction to head.if any for that matter. I may be terrible or disillusioned by my singing.
    Thank you ahead of time mates.
     
  2. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    What would you do with a piano? Do the same thing with guitar.
     
  3. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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    I think it depends on what key is more natural to you. A lot prefer G and use a capo there. Funny enough, I was learning a cover with another singer, where the original version had a capo on the 3rd fret and was in Eb. She had a really hard time with it, and since her wheelhouse were songs in C, I took off the capo and played the progression in C. She freestyled it a bit and sounded great, plus it made it so much easier for me to play as well. Not sure if this is what you're talking about?
     
  4. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    Well your question is kinda confusing. Most singers have a range they're strongest in. If the song the key is in is out of their range then you adjust the key to suit. Sometimes that can mean using a capo, adjusting your tuning or just playing different voicings/in a different position to suit. IE you need to know a singer's range. So to answer your question- start writing/singing and then figure out if changing these things can help.
     
  5. gearmeup

    gearmeup Member

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  6. ari

    ari Member

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    Yeah, the question is a bit unclear but I feel like I know where you may be coming from.

    When I recorded my first solo album I did it all half-step down, as my range is not high or big but sometimes when I write I disregard those limitations. ;-) But then the mistake I made was that I did that for all songs, even those that stayed in the middle of my range. But then I struggled to sing in tune some of the songs, and in the hindsight I felt that it was a mistake to believe that if the key is lower it's easier to sing.

    Every song is unique and how the phrasing, timing and natural weak and strong places in your vocal range interplay is different from singer to singer, song to song. So ideally you make a decision of the guitar tuning or where to capo the guitar on a song-by-song basis. If it happens that you do need to tune down frequently to do justice to the guitar parts and sing at the same time, then it may make sense to just have a guitar tuned down (assuming you don't have the luxury of switching guitars for every song) and then capo up.

    ari
     
  7. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Each vocalist has a unique range-- I'm a baritone; I can get about an "E" on top but it will be very loud. I can make it all the way down to a Bb two octaves and a third below, but it will be quiet.

    Each song has a unique tessitura (range) as well. The highest note of the melody might be the tonic, it might be the third, it might be the fifth, or if the song has harmonic motion that dips into another key or keys, it could be any note!

    When playing with a singer (or singing yourself), choose a key for each individual song that flatters that vocalist's (your) range.

    Because I can get a comfortable D or Eb on top, I find myself playing quite often in the keys of D, G, Bb, Eb, B, etc. Depending on the highest note of the melody, those keys allow me to maximize the top of my range.

    But really anyone can sing in any key, and more experienced vocalists will sound more-equally-good in any key.

    Similarly, it is of course eminently possible to play guitar in any key without the benefit of capos or re-tuning, and more experienced players will sounds more equally-good in any key.

    Sometimes the sound of open strings or certain chord voicings is important for the vibe of the piece, and this is where capos or re-tuning can come into play (I have and do utilize both, in addition to good-old-fashioned "just play it in the other key).

    One thing you can try is to sing your song away from the instrument, and find the place where it feels most natural to sing. Find a comfortable top note of your range, sync that up with the top note of the melody, and start there. How does that feel?

    Then pick up the guitar (or go to the piano) and figure out what key you're singing in. Then put it in that key, and off you go.

    Good luck!
     

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