Playing with guitarists who tune down

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Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby j_tour1 » Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:17 pm

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on dealing with the "tuning down" guitar players -- or has any stories about this kind of thing (my experience has been that most of them just call the tune in concert key even though they're playing down a half-step, which is irritating until you get used to their "system").

For me, the only keys I don't *enjoy* playing in are F# and B -- I'll play them, but it seems like these come up pretty often when folks tune down, and less often when they leave their instruments in concert pitch. The flip side is Eb and Ab come up pretty often, which is cool. It feels like a waste to just sort of chug along in F# and B and not really have too much of that G and C action going on. So what do you guys do? Just tough it out or is there anyone who really learned how to *enjoy* these sharp keys, from a playing perspective. If so, how did you get over?
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby jellyroll baker » Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:35 pm

I love my capo. A lot.
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby j_tour1 » Thu Sep 01, 2005 3:01 pm

You're talking about the clamp-action keyboard capo -- a kind of a pistol grip to the left of the keyboard which you slide in the direction of the key you want to play? I want one of those bad, but they're pretty expensive.
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby fred » Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:50 pm

LOL! Nobody has to remind me about what a DA I am, but I must really be missing something in this PBP thread. Sure, I play guitar, & I've got a couple of capos. And, I play piano/keyboard too, but I don't have a keyboard capo--at least I don't think I do. Soooo--where might I find one of these?
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby dblues » Thu Sep 01, 2005 7:56 pm

Well unless you are playing an acoustic piano, I see no harm in the help provided by the electronics industry. I have on occasion used my transpose feature on my keyboard when I know I will be soloing in a key I don't play nearly as well as some others.




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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby jeffl » Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:08 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Sep-02-05 AT 07:08 AM (EST)]dblues: I've used that transpose button when jammin' in my livin' room,occasionally- but, I hope Doc doesn't see that post...in a previous thread,he responded very negatively to the idea of using digital transposition. I used to own a Bflat trumpet with a rotary slide that would tune the instrument to C, and I used the slide constantly when jammin'- ALL THE TIME. I wish I had the trumpet now.
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby j_tour1 » Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:24 pm

I'm sure some of you might have heard the story of how Reese Wynans used to deal with SRV -- I think he'd transpose his electronic gear using the usual buttons, while playing the Hammond 1/2 step down. Imagine playing a LH chord on the organ in Eb, while playing a fill on a digital piano in E.

One of the problems for me is that I like to have tunes as the basis for getting really comfortable with the keys. For every key *except* for F#, I can think of at least a couple of awesome blues piano examples that keeps me grounded. F#? I think George Jones's "If Drinking Don't Kill Me" is in that key, at least it sounds that way on the record, but what else?
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby dblues » Sat Sep 03, 2005 1:13 am

>dblues: I've used that transpose button when jammin' in my
>livin' room,occasionally- but, I hope Doc doesn't see that
>post...in a previous thread,he responded very negatively to
>the idea of using digital transposition.

Well there's always a purist to make things debatable. So be it. But for that rare occasion I may need to solo in F# or B for that matter (depending on the tune) I will gladly press the button. Unless the person paying me says otherwise.




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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby j_tour2 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:28 pm

I've had a couple of weeks to experiment with the "odd" keys, so I thought I'd report back. Just from playing around and doing some transcriptions I learned somethings new. I could already "get by" in the less-used keys, but the real problem is how to get *awesome* sound from the funky keys.

The main benefit was from transcribing pieces written in the less common keys. So I learned James Booker's solo and accompaniment on "Goodnight Irene" (from the "King of the New Orleans Keyboard" CD -- it's a German live set which includes a real grand tribute to Ray Charles which I'd be willing to share with whoever wants it, although I don't want to get the board in trouble by talking about bittorrent and all that). It's in Db and there's a s-load that can be done in that key. Also, Ron Levy's piano on "Thrill Is Gone" from Cook Co. -- he showed me that you *can* absolutely slide in the key of B.

But what do people who play real pianos -- Rhodes (my favorite -- great blues instrument) Wurlitzer, Hammond, acoustic piano do when you have to play legit? Also the other problem is that I'll often forget I have the transpose button on when using synths. I haven't touched the button in a few years, but maybe somebody has some new ideas on how to really fly in these keys, and not just wait until a comfortable key comes along to play at the max.
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby jeffl » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:38 pm

One of the reasons that "less common" keys are considered harder to play in is 'cuz,DUH, we don't play in 'em that often. Some of these less common keys are actually easier to play in, from a physical standpoint, i.e. any key that has alotta black keys in it. IMO,jammers seem to play in different keys than veteran pro giggers,although they share a coupla favorites.
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby j_tour2 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 9:19 pm

>One of the reasons that "less common" keys are considered
>harder to play in is 'cuz,DUH, we don't play in 'em that
>often. Some of these less common keys are actually easier to
>play in, from a physical standpoint, i.e. any key that has
>alotta black keys in it. IMO,jammers seem to play in
>different keys than veteran pro giggers,although they share
>a coupla favorites.

Right on. Although I don't really know what beginning piano players (are these the "jammers"?) play in most of the time -- would that be Eb, F, Bb? The good thing about a lot of the keys is that there are amazing piano solos in *every* key (except F# or maybe B). But there not being much in the way of listening material for those uncommon keys, it puts a crimp in my bag of tricks for those particular keys.

I guess the problem for me is that I can't stand not being able to play *excellent* solos in F#, for example.
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RE: Playing with guitarists who tune down

Postby jeffl » Tue Oct 11, 2005 9:30 pm

Since I'm a jammer on piano,who can play scales in all major concert keys,I'll throw in my observation on keys that are easy to learn: I learned blues riffs in C,first,cuz I had a C harp that I was playin' racked,in first position. However, the keys of A and D share riffs, and the keys of G and C share riffs,including the the V riffs from the I and IV riffs in the other two keys. Economical. It's one thing to jam keyboard with a band,where you can "hide" a little bit,and still sound good,since the bassist and rhythm guitar player cover for you- but,it's another thing to play solo. I personally have found it's easier for me to play piano tunes I've written,than it is to play tunes written by somebody else,since my reading skills are weak. Since I mostly play by ear on piano, it's sometimes not as difficult to play in uncommon keys.
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