#1
My band was talking about learning some new covers and the drummer wanted to learn "Manic Depression" and "Wait Until Tomorrow." Both songs are in Eb tuning and I was wondering if it was a big deal to play them in standard tuning. Just something feels wrong about playing those songs transposed differently. Should I suck it up and play them in standard or convince the bass player and keyboardist to either bring a second bass tuned to Eb or transpose the keyboard?

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#2
If you don't like the sound then change it. OR WAIT!!! Why doesn't your band just play a half step lower. So if a note is an A, you play a G#.
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#3
If it were me I'd just down tune for the songs. Are we talking about playing them for a show or just at band practice?
#5
Quote by Birdy266
If it were me I'd just down tune for the songs. Are we talking about playing them for a show or just at band practice?


They would be for shows.
#6
The reason that those songs were written in that tuning is, more likely than not, the vocalist had an easier time singing them a half-step lower than he would have otherwise. If your vocalist can sing the vocal line a half-step up, it's no biggie. Especially if you're playing them live, that requires your bassist and guitarist to either have to retune for a couple of songs or bring along an extra instrument. That's not an option for a lot of people and for those for whom it is an option, it's a hassle. No one will crucify you for playing a song in a different key or tuning.
#7
A half-step isn't much. It doesn't matter whether you play a song in Eb, E or A#, just as long as all the other instruments are playing the same note.

And I'm not buying the "guitar was tuned one half-step lower for the singer" argument, it's much easier to simply transpose a song down and play the chords. Additionally one half-step isn't much at all. It's more likely to do with the effects on tone or ease of pushing the strings down than the singer's melody.
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#8
I respectfully disagree. It is normally prudent to tune to the strength of the vocalist and the vocalist's style. Singers with deeper voices may have an easier time utilizing their strength range 1/2 or a full step down. Obviously there are exceptions, and yes, tunings can be used for tonal effect, but more often than not my money would be on the strength of the vocalist.

Which key makes your vocalist sound the strongest? As much as I am a guitar player and love guitar playing, a live show's success can (unfortunately? :-P) often be measured by the quality of night the vocalist was having...in my experience.
#9
Quote by Piinball
I respectfully disagree. It is normally prudent to tune to the strength of the vocalist and the vocalist's style. Singers with deeper voices may have an easier time utilizing their strength range 1/2 or a full step down. Obviously there are exceptions, and yes, tunings can be used for tonal effect, but more often than not my money would be on the strength of the vocalist.


I understand, but I can still play an Eb chord in standard.
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#11
Quote by AlanHB
A half-step isn't much. It doesn't matter whether you play a song in Eb, E or A#, just as long as all the other instruments are playing the same note.

And I'm not buying the "guitar was tuned one half-step lower for the singer" argument, it's much easier to simply transpose a song down and play the chords. Additionally one half-step isn't much at all. It's more likely to do with the effects on tone or ease of pushing the strings down than the singer's melody.


If youve ever sang, youd know that a half step makes a huge difference.

Especially depending on where your singers break is
#12
Quote by thebassiestbass
If youve ever sang, youd know that a half step makes a huge difference.

Especially depending on where your singers break is


Yes and you have a pre-determined range from birth. One you should be aware of.

Seriously, if you play with a singer and a song is too high, you can change the key without changing the tuning. However if you NEED to play that Eb with an open Eb note on the low E string, sure, drop the tuning. That's your preference as a guitarist, not the singer's preference.
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#13
There's nothing worse than having the audience up for a good time, loving what you are doing and then killing the moment by making them wait for the next song whilst you re-tune. Even changing guitars too often is a pain. Transpose it or drop it from your set is my advice. If there are a load of songs in problematic keys you could get your bassist to move to a 5 string but transposing songs is just part of playing covers.
#14
Our band plays everything in E std, except for the occasional drop D. We play lots of covers originally done in D#, but as long as the singer is cool with the range, then it doesn't really matter. The audience won't really be able to tell.

If playing live, I agree, DO NOT kill your set by a bunch of tuning up or down just to be some kind of idealistic purist. The ROI just isn't there. Pick a tuning, and do all of your songs in it.
#15
Quote by cheapr2keepr
Our band plays everything in E std, except for the occasional drop D. We play lots of covers originally done in D#, but as long as the singer is cool with the range, then it doesn't really matter. The audience won't really be able to tell.

If playing live, I agree, DO NOT kill your set by a bunch of tuning up or down just to be some kind of idealistic purist. The ROI just isn't there. Pick a tuning, and do all of your songs in it.



This (in better words) was the point I was trying to make with the 'vocalists strength'. I wasn't meaning tune down for this song then back up for another, your vocalists strength will be in a certain range and you should stay there. Depending on your style (lots of chugga chuggas?) you may need to tune down or you may not.

Re-tuning your whole guitar in a live situation will a) destroy the momentum of your performance, and b) really compromise your setup and intonation. Both very good reasons to pick a spot that works and roll with it, like cheapr suggested (good call)!
#16
Quote by AlanHB
It's more likely to do with the effects on tone or ease of pushing the strings down than the singer's melody.

yea I agree, I've always been playing in Eb because it's a bit easier to play, and more control over vibrato
#17
tune everything to Eb. I play in a RATM tribute and had to do this since bulls on parade is in Eb. We tried it tuned to standard and it just doesn't sound right at all, where as all the other songs sound great tuned down half a step. with 4 different tunings we're going through, it's easier to just only have to worry about 2 different tunings instead of 4.

Just something to think about.
#18
Quote by Piinball
Me too ;-)

But it's different!


this...it doesnt sound the same...
#19
Quote by '93
this...it doesnt sound the same...


The voice still sounds the same.
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#20
Quote by blake1221
What's so bad about playing them a half step up?

E standard = noob-central. Eb is where it's at.

You're really ****ing manly if you drop tune to Bb though. IMO.
#21
Quote by AlanHB
The voice still sounds the same.


no the guitars...

Eb tuning seems to sound less bright. even on the same notes as E standard

plus i noticed that some people can tell when its a different pitch. not that it will obther anyone though but just saying and transposing wont give you the same feel (like when i play about a girl or little wing in E standard it sounds funny)
#22
Quote by '93
no the guitars...

Eb tuning seems to sound less bright. even on the same notes as E standard

plus i noticed that some people can tell when its a different pitch. not that it will obther anyone though but just saying and transposing wont give you the same feel (like when i play about a girl or little wing in E standard it sounds funny)


Read my argument about Eb tuning. All I'm saying is that Eb tuning is just the guitarist's preference, not the singers. You're just agreeing with me.
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#23
Quote by AlanHB
Read my argument about Eb tuning. All I'm saying is that Eb tuning is just the guitarist's preference, not the singers. You're just agreeing with me.



woops i forgot i wasnt talking about the guitars but about the song in general, hence my reply to your comment

what i mean was that when transoped the song sounds different. someone who has heard the song will realise the song is off.
Last edited by '93 at Jun 25, 2011,
#24
if song is in Eb, play it in Eb.
However if its in E you could do it in Eb, it doesnt sound waay diffirent, but rather gives more sludgy feel

if you play anything moderately heavy, any flat tuning is your friend, doesnt matter if its Eb or Gb
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#25
As a singer, I think it is sometimes important to change the key of the song to fit the singer, and sometimes, depending on the song, you need an alternate tuning.

Example: Man in the Box. Recording is in Eb. Sure, I can play Eb up on the neck, but that riff needs that sludgy/stomping low Eb. Now, you could just play low E and play it in the key of E, but the vocal part goes way high. I can sing it if I only need to nail that high Bb in the chorus.... but move that up to a B.... hells, no. It's just too damned high, and that one note really is a deal breaker. An alternative solution would be to drop the E string to drop D and play in D. Everybody wins. You've got the low bottom strings for the core of the song, and the singer only needs to worry about singing up to an A. MUCH better!

Example: Shine, by Collective Soul. If you don't down-tune and try to play that riff on the fourth string D, it sounds *completely* inappropriate.

There really are times when you have to work in an alternate tuning. To that end, my preference, rather than re-tuning, is to have another guitar with the alternate tuning at the ready.

CT
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#26
Now I understand that I am largely in the minority, but personally it almost always drives me crazy to hear a song played in its original arrangement transposed from its original key. I know you need to play to the singer's strength and its a pain to re-tune, but for me I'd just think to myself don't even bother if I was in the audience. If it was my band I would either have enough set of guitars tuned down to Eb or not bother playing them.
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#27
Now I understand that I am largely in the minority, but personally it almost always drives me crazy to hear a song played in its original arrangement transposed from its original key.


You must have extremely good objective pitch, then - I often can't tell, particularly when it's just a 1- or 2- semitone shift.
#28
Quote by slaptasticdave
Now I understand that I am largely in the minority, but personally it almost always drives me crazy to hear a song played in its original arrangement transposed from its original key.


You wouldn't survive in a covers band then. Or even at a pub with a covers band playing. At what point would you personally decide that the arrangement has been changed enough for you to accept the semi-tone change anyway?
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#29
I think there are two things at work with that.

1. He has perfect pitch. Otherwise, he would never notice something transposed a semitone. That puts him at about 1% of musicians, or, say, 0.1% of the population. So yes, he is in the vast minority.

2. People with perfect pitch do get *really* bothered when things are out of tune. Even small things are really offensive and make it difficult for them to enjoy something without fixating on something like that. However, assuming everything is in tune, but just transposed, I think that being really bothered by that speaks to his personality. Most people, perfect pitch or not, really wouldn't care. This puts him even further into the vast minority, which he self-identifies as.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#30
Quote by AlanHB
You wouldn't survive in a covers band then. Or even at a pub with a covers band playing. At what point would you personally decide that the arrangement has been changed enough for you to accept the semi-tone change anyway?


Well when I'm not the one picking songs for the band obviously I just do it and don't complain, but picking songs for myself I'll usually either play it in the original key or drop it if I can't sing it. Its not too much of an issue because I mostly play originals anyway.

As for a different arrangement an example could be Neil Young recasting a rocker like cowgirl in the sand as a solo acoustic number.
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#31
Quote by slaptasticdave
Well when I'm not the one picking songs for the band obviously I just do it and don't complain, but picking songs for myself I'll usually either play it in the original key or drop it if I can't sing it.


So it doesn't drive you to the edge of craziness in most circumstances, only if you've picked the song and it meets your original arrangement qualifications.
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#32
Quote by AlanHB
So it doesn't drive you to the edge of craziness in most circumstances, only if you've picked the song and it meets your original arrangement qualifications.


It always bothers me the same amount, but when someone's hired me to play with them I'm not going to complain about something like that if it doesn't bother them.
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