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Post new topic Retuning to play a specific melody or song...?
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Author Topic:  Retuning to play a specific melody or song...?
Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 11:13 am     Reply with quote

Have you ever done this? You want to play a certain melody, let's say a fast song with single notes, but none of your favorite tunings work well for that melody. There's too much bar hopping from fret to fret, and it's not smooth. So you retune your open strings to match the notes you need for that song. Then it plays smooth and easy with minimal bar movement. You're no longer tuned to one of the chord tunings, C6, A6, E7, D9, etc. You're tuned to a series of notes, possibly a diatonic tuning. Of course, it only works for that song (and possibly a few others) and there may not be many chords available, but it does work excellent for that one song. Ever done that?
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George Piburn


From:
The Oklahoma Hills, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 11:25 am     Boot Heel Drag Reply with quote

At the Dallas Show Herb Remington did that for Boot Heel Drag.

He also did it by ear during his set; after; he re tuned back to his normal , I believe A6.

Don't know what he actually did note wise, but I have it on video.

If it is good enuff for Herb it's good enuff for me - Ha!
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 11:30 am     Reply with quote

Yep, I saw Herb retuning at the PSGA show many years ago. It think Jerry Byrd did that a lot too. I was thinking more of "inventing" one's own tuning just to play one specific song... not retuning to another one of the standard tunings.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 12:09 pm     Reply with quote

Absolutely.. I usually keep those secret because they are so unique and cool.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 12:43 pm     Reply with quote

Me too, Mike. We can't give away all of our secrets!

I used to think that retuning for certain songs was somehow "cheating". Laughing Like we are supposed to find a way to play things on the standard tunings. I think that comes from many years of teaching students and not wanting to deviate from the standard tunings.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 1:16 pm     Reply with quote

One of the key points I wanted to make in my book on open D was that by changing just one string as little as a half step you can really change the character of a tuning, make some passages easier to play, and/or facilitate different different voicings of chords. I tend to do things backwards from what you described, Doug. I'll try a tuning and THEN realize a certain song works well in that tuning.
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Last edited by Andy Volk on 9 Sep 2017 10:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jack Aldrich


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 1:40 pm     Reply with quote

If I only have my C6 (I use a high G - (from bottom) G Bb E G A C E G), I can play most of my B11 repertoire by tuning the middle G down to F#. It is then the same as the B11 but pitched to C rather than A on the top 5 strings. It's nicer to play on a B11 neck, but, when asked, I do my best with this tuning - "(from bottom) F# A C E G. I'm playing Mapuana at the Live Aloha Festival here in Seattle on Sunday, and I'm only bringing my Asher Alan Akaka Special.
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 1:51 pm     Reply with quote

I have only done that with one string to get a seventh, but then my playing is pretty basic.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 1:52 pm     Reply with quote

That's the reason I played a T-8 Stringmaster. Some songs just lay out better and sound better in a particular tuning.
I also chose a neck according to the key the song was written in, I liked to play in the middle of the fret board.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 2:14 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
I'll try a tuning and THEN realizes a certain song works well in that tuning.


Sometimes I do that too. Like when I put E13 (Tom Morrell's) on my 10-string Epiphone and strummed across the middle strings... the melody for "Sleepy Lagoon" popped out! It was right there. Just strum across the strings. As Jeff Newman used to say... "a monkey could do that!" But other times I'll spend a couple of hours trying different tunings to play a song and none of them work smoothly. So I retune the strings to the exact notes I need to play that song and it works great. Just don't ask me what that name of that tuning is... !
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Kay Das


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 11:44 pm     Reply with quote

Prefer using separate necks (C6, A6, B11, Dmaj); on occasion (e.g., "Waikiki") will retune but limit tuning any one string up/down to one semitone. Reason: I am rather particular about the string gauges I use and I like the feel of uniform string tensions as I move across the strings.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 4:16 am     Reply with quote

Kay Das wrote:
Prefer using separate necks (C6, A6, B11, Dmaj)

Me too. But since all my lap steels are single necks, I use different guitars for different tunings.
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Bill Galvan


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 8:29 am     Retuning Reply with quote

Doug: I certainly have done this. See my posting, "Morphing' Is More Fun",
in this section on July 4th 2017. Any new D.B. tab in the works?
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Greg Booth


From:
Anchorage, AK, USA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 8:50 am     Reply with quote

I do that a lot, probably more than most dobro players. Coming to the dobro after playing the psg most of my career is probably why. Here is an example, Jobim's Corcovado. Starting with my drop E tuning EBDGBD low to high I realized I could get the melody easily by raising the high B to C which yields a whole tone interval on the top 2 strings.

https://youtu.be/XvqAH9tLlKA
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 9:41 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for the great replies. I'm glad to hear that other players sometimes tune a string(s) up or down to get licks in certain songs. Like I said earlier, I used to think it was somehow "cheating", but it's actually being creative. Guitar players have been doing it for years... i.e. Chet Atkins' version of Black Mt. Rag, drop D (string 1). I spent many hours trying to play his version before I realized that it was drop D... just tweak the tuner and there it was!

Greg, I really enjoy all of your videos! Awesome technique and style. One of my favorites is Little Rock Getaway, but all of your stuff is great.

Bill, I know what you mean about morphing from tuning to tuning. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities. I was surprised to read that you play the old standard "Tangerine". I recently discovered that song and I like it a lot.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 10:16 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
"Tangerine". I recently discovered that song and I like it a lot.


Love that song! Two favorite renditions ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DejuUCwDOqw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihrx7KRxaOk

Can't wait to hear the Beaumier version. Smile
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 11:01 am     Reply with quote

Laughing Andy, my version would probably be a swing/melody arrangement. I'm primarily a melody player, although I do like improv too. I discovered "Tangerine" in a fake book. It sounded good on paper, so I went to Youtube and heard this old vocal version. I like how they morph from soft melody to swing.

---> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-JDUnZv1N0
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 1:27 pm     Reply with quote

I'm a novice pedal steel player who used to play bass, so I've never really taken much notice of what guitarists get up to; but my impression is that they do from time to time retune for a particular song and that this doesn't strike anyone as unusual.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong and these are just repeated attempts to get in tune in the first place.
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Barney Roach


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 18 Sep 2017 9:18 pm     Reply with quote

Isn't this an off-shoot of the same song?

SEGO GIRL- 1967



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVOjzdl6n0
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Mick Hearn


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 19 Sep 2017 11:56 am     Reply with quote

My main guitar is my National D8. The tuning buttons are still original so even putting on new strings or tuning I have to gently put some pressure on then release then a bit more for fear of them breaking. Changing tunings would have my heart in my mouth. I know I can replace them but I would sooner keep it original.
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 19 Sep 2017 3:37 pm     Reply with quote

Sure. I don't have much... luck? Skill? PATIENCE with getting a roar out of a wee winkie 0.012" or 0.011" string, so on a ten-string I'm pretty much set with a spread of a 0.014" or 0.015" down to a 0.070", but what ARE they? Heh. I devolve backwards from pedal steel back to slide guitar, more or less. I finally have enough of the buggers around that I can now LEAVE one in a, say, Croatian Upsilonic b7*, which is critical - it's the retuning to get "back to normal" that'll take the fun out. I've heard of people who actually WRITE THEM DOWN, yikes!

*(Which is admittedly just the 3rd mode of the ol' Sumerian/Assyrian "whistle-while-you-sacrifice" Morphonic-scaled theme song. Joni Mitchell used like SIXTY different tunings on a mere six-string, and look at them teeth!)
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