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Does anyone play all (cover) songs in E Flat?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by imdkoz, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN
    I'm subbing in 2 other bands to help out some friends while they look for a perm bass player and both of these cover bands play all the songs in E Flat. It's a little weird at first but not that big of a deal. So I brought it up to my guitar player and said hey let's give it a shot, this way you won't need to bring 4 or more guitars and it will give my voice a break. I sing lead on about 60% of the tunes. Of course now it's an issue and he doesn't even want to give it a try. So, how many other cover bands play the songs in the correct tuning or just drop erverything to E Flat?
  2. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    You play the correct key for the vocalist, and instrumentation adjusts to that key. Having said that, you don't want to do everything in the same key - move it around a bit to keep ear boredom from setting in! :)
  3. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    My band plays nearly everything in its original key, which can be all over the place with c#m, dm, g major, f#m and everything in between. Now that I think about it we Barely have any songs that share a key...

    There may be one or two songs we transpose to make it easier for the singer (like nik kershaw's wouldn't it be good... Four semitones up! She just can't sing it otherwise...) but I can play everything with my trusty four banger and the guitarist uses the occasional capo.

    Don't quite get why it's such a big deal? I mean does he really bring four+ guitars? Can't he change tuning between songs?

    And doesn't playing everything in one key get kinda stale after a while? :bag:
  4. I think he's talking about what seems to be a fairly common practice of tuning down a half-step and playing the songs in the same positions as they would be in E standard, not actually playing every song in the key of Eb.
  5. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Not really what he's talking about - he's talking alternate tuning vs the actual keys the songs are in.

    I played with a blues/rockabilly type band back in the early 90's and we played everything tuned to Eb - moslty because we did a bunch of SRV and he tuned that way. It's amaziing how much that 1/2 step makes everything sound "nastier" for lack of a better term.
  6. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN
    Exactly. Instead of playing the tune in standard, just play it in Eb and if the tune is already in Eb then there it is. It does give some songs a nasty edge that I like and as a singer it is easier on the voice for 3-4 hours.

    Yes he brings 4 or more guitars. Can't just quickly tune a floating bridge and then different songs require a different guitar.

    Thanks for the input.
  7. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    My rule is either we do ALL standard, which means songs like Green Day, Blood and Roses, Poison, that were recorded in half-step down are now in standard (we use pitch shifter on Garage band to practice with) or if we want to go the other route, than ALL songs will be in flat-key, half-step down... BUT NO mixing and matching, that is a recipe for a FLAT OUT train wreck, and I usually only bring one bass to gigs, heck that's actually all I own now.
  8. Southway

    Southway So ugly, he made a train take a gravel road

    Jul 26, 2009
    Lake of the Ozarks
    Maybe not what he meant, but I did once play in a country band where everything was literally in the key of E. We played E, A, and B7 chords for everything, and it didn't matter if there were actually more than three chords in a song or what the progression was, we played 'em all the same. Only the words were different. The guy (leader, singer, rhythm player) did know other chords, but E was the key he wanted to sing in and he didn't have to remember what song is in what key.
  9. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I play in a band that plays original classic rock and Pink Floyd covers. Due to his low voice and tendonitis issues, the lead guitarist tunes down a whole step to D. For about a year I've been using my 5 string in standard tuning and just playing everything in a different key.

    But I just decided to tune down to match his tuning. I can play things in whatever key is needed, but I feel I was working too hard to make everything sound good. A lot of rock songs really want the low note to be an open string ("E"), and playing it on the 3rd fret of the B string doesn't have the same impact as tuning the E string down.

    So yeah, I'm going to dedicate one instrument tuned A-D-G-C-F to this band.

    As an aside, the keyboard player plays rhythm and slide guitar in this band, and he tunes down a half-step to Eb! I have no idea why, but it works. So we actually had three people, each tuned a half step apart.
  10. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN
    That is what I'm thinking. I bring 2 basses to a show one tuned in E and the other tuned to Eb. In the sets we usually group the Eb songs together so there's only 1, actually 2 group guitar changes per set. I was all about playing the song in the correct key until I had to learn 60 songs and they all ended up getting played in Eb. The bar crowd for the most part doesn't care. ;)
  11. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN
    You are correct drpepper.
  12. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Tune down a half step. And then just play. Your songs that are in the key of E now sound like they are pitched to Eb. If you have a guitar player in this band, thats what he's doing.

    What drpepper said, (edit) sorry.
  13. Gravy4001


    Jan 9, 2012
    My main cover band tunes to Eb all the time. No big deal, makes it a little easier on my hands, no noticeable difference in the sound, a big help for all of our vocals.

    Did a fill-in gig for another band last weekend and they tune to E natural - however, they move around to play the song in its actual key. For example they do Sweet Child o Mine and Man in the Box in Eb position which for me is a little weird cuz I really want that low E (or Eb in this case) and I only have a 4 stringer. Brought along a spare bass tuned to Eb for just these two songs. Guitarist started Sweet Child before I had a chance to change axes so I ended up playing it in Eb position and worked fine. I'd much rather transpose than have to have another bass on these tiny stages.
  14. timber22

    timber22 Supporting Member

    One of the bands I'm in plays everything standard tuning (although not necessarily in the original key). The other plays everything 1/2 step down. In either case, one tuning for every song. No need to switch guitars or tunings between songs. Makes it much easier to roll from one song to the next and keep the show moving.
  15. OP: "in E-flat" means that's the key signature of the song. "Drop tuned 1/2 step" means it's down a semitone but played in the written key.
  16. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    I've played in two bands that tuned to E flat and both played all songs in that tuning. One was backing a blues guitar phenom, real '59 strat and insane Stevie Ray tone. The other was a hair metal tribute band we started as a joke and turned into a real money-maker. The funniest moment was when the lead guitar/singer taped the bells ringing during the Hell's Bell's and ran it at a gig before we had ever practiced with it. He shoulda known better, afterall he was the BL AND the guy who had us tuning to E flat.We realized pretty quickly that the AC/DC bells are NOT tuned down a half step but ring out in true E! I doubt hardly anyone in the audience noticed but it was glaring to us and we shared a brief but minor Spinal Tap moment on stage!
  17. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Play any song you know in every key.

    Now that's a musician!
  18. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    Every cover band I have ever been in has always played songs in the original key. If none of us could sing it, we wouldn't do the song.
  19. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    We are a 440 band, and we are one of the few in this area. We do a few songs in Eb, just because they don't sound right any other way, (Guns -n- Roses sound too "happy" tuned to pitch.) We do a bit of drop D, and no other alternative tunings. I don't re-tune at all. If I need any lower notes, I play the five string, but most of the Drop D are done with my wife on bass. She likes that stuff, I guess.

    Most Classic Rock songs that are at 440 just don't sound right when you drop them down. It kills the lead vocal too much, for my taste. We do have the bizarre habit of playing Hendrix to pitch. I don't know why.
  20. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    Sorry for not understanding the OP's intent. Oh, you crazy kids! :)

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