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Everything in “G”?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bassmodder, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. Everything in “G”?

    Our band started and still remains a top 40’s type cover band. We are hoping to get into a few bars around our town and play some of our stuff. Our ages are 21 (bass), 42 (drums) 26 (singer) 45 (Rhythm guitar), and 52 (lead guitar). We have been together for about three months.

    I love playing with people who push me musically and who also know how to have some fun. My problem is that most of our songs revolve around the root G. Now, I don’t mind playing in G, but my problem begins when they learn a song (F,Bb,C) and move it to G,C,D. Several songs have been shifted to G in this manner. Not necessarily the same chords, but you get the idea. The singer is perfectly capable of singing in other keys as well. I have no problem shifting a song when the singer has trouble with the key but this is not the problem.

    Therefore, the guitars say that they have to do this because the guitars in the song are downturned and they don’t want to change tuning (don’t blame them there). I understand that flats are more difficult to play on guitar than say piano, but there has to be some other reason behind this. They will also shift a song (Ab, C#, Eb) down to “G” gather than stepping up to E. Hence, I don’t think they are just wanting to play open strings or anything…

    It gets very frustrating when I have taken time out of my busy week to memorize solos, progressions, etc in a song only to get to practice to find that they play it in a different key.

    Am I nitpicking here? Will the bar crowd notice? Personally, I feel that this makes way too many songs sound alike.

    Therefore, I have some options…

    Spend my normal practice time learning to sheet read, learn more chords, learn more walking lines and not focus much on learning the song 100% before practice,


    Continue in the G rut and move any song that does not have a G in it into a position that would have a G in it…

    Songs off my head that we have moved:

    Kiss hard luck woman
    Posion every rose
    Metallica turn the page
    Van Morrison Brown eyed girl (LOVE that song in F#) we do it in ……… G
    Kiss rock n roll all night
    … The rest of the songs revolve around G….

    Any advice?
  2. Harper


    Nov 10, 2001
    Pretty sure the Poison tune is already in G.

    Anyway, I would think that would get old from an audience standpoint too.
  3. The CD goes F# B, C#

    I really don't want to become "just another cover band" by taking shortcuts in the musicianship.
  4. +1
  5. Vanceman


    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    What would happen if everybody played a song that's tuned down a step, with actually retuning? I think they would be playing in E instead of D. So why change the key to G?

    I think changing keys without having to is weird.
  6. On the original record.

    But your point is valid. Playing all of your songs in one key can mean they start to sound the same. I would avoid moving every song to the same key. It gets boring to play, boring to listen to, and holds back you're musical development.
  7. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    wrote a song bout it wanna hea it hea it goes...(same song plays over and over)

    Maybe it's fine for them, but I wouldn't stick around for re-keying any songs, unless it was a genuine overhaul of the song... I'm all for playing it as written, at least in the same key.
  8. Harper


    Nov 10, 2001
    Ah yes....they are tuned down a half step.

    And I hear you about taking shortcuts....
  9. Yes, Brown eyed is in G, well between f# and G, but live it is in G. I did it in F# in the band before and it was much less screechy for the singer.

    You guys make me feel much better that I ain't being too fussy. I like to play em like they are on the record, tape, or cd. That is how I hear them and that is how I remember them.

    I come from church where we sheet read, play every song as written, improvise if needed, and move on.

    My gears really grind when we have to change a key for no obvious reason AFTER I learned it from the CD
  10. Poison tuned down a 1/2 step. A lot of bands of that era did. It was a necessity given the singing style and the abilities of the singers. The song is still played like it's in G - i.e the chords are played as G - C9 and D (i.e. easy chords), it's just that the guitars are tuned down a 1/2 step. I can see where playing in the same key all night would get boring though. A lot of Meters tunes are in D. We used to play 5 or 6 a night. We would mix them up though so we weren't playing 5 songs in a row in the same key.
  11. Harper


    Nov 10, 2001
    You're totally in the right to be frustrated.
  12. LAME. Every key has a different flavor, every chord has a different flavor. If you eat lobster for breakfast lunch and dinner every day, it gets old real fast.
  13. OtterOnBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    Transposing is easy on bass, I don't understand the problem. My guys use capos all the time, changing on the fly. I just mentally move the root note, and imagine the scales from there.
  14. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Have similar situation with sax player, likes F (and relative Dminor).

    Everything sounds the same and I'm really tired of his 'solo'.

    Appreciate your situation. I just grin and bear it hoping that something better will come along. The age spread is interesting.
  15. KOOSEE


    Jul 15, 2008
    southern CA
    My band has sort of the same problem we seem to write songs in either A or D not shifting it to those keys, it just happens.

    anyway tell the guitarists to stop playing in G, they might not notice with the cover songs, but they WILL think that your originals sound the same.
  16. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    If you had a recording done and played it back to them, they
    would get the paradigm. Same keys = boring, repetitive sound.
    Mix them up. I got that tip from Wolfie Mozart, btw.

    I told my band that you are 'actually good enough to play in Bb'.

    They actually believed me.

    ;) :D
  17. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Sounds like your guitar players really suck. 97 years of life experience between the two and they still can only play open G, C, and D. Truly awful, if the case.
  18. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I used to play in a cover band where the majority of the stuff was transposed to G. It was done because it matched the singer's vocal range. The singer was also the lead guitarist and the band all had day jobs so we weren't serious enough to get a different singer just to change the keys up.

    Honestly? The crowds never noticed it and any place we played we'd get asked back for months worth of gigs. We had a good drummer who I locked in well with and we got the crowd up and dancing. They didn't care what key it was in. I didn't mind that the pay was always in US dollars.

    You'll see a similar trend with the DJs who have been brought in to replace bands at a lot of urban clubs. Nobody cares if they're spinning an hour's worth of music in the same key, even at the same tempo a lot of the time.
  19. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo

    I've never heard anyone in the audience anywhere at anytime ever compliment a band for playing a cover song in the key that it was written. Few people have perfect pitch.

    Vocalist change key all the time to fit their range. If guitarists do it because of a certain type of tuning or because it's easier to play a solo (for them), as long as it's played well, who cares?
  20. kurtwash


    May 21, 2007
    Really, like others have said, I doubt it matters to the audience much that most of your songs are transposed to G.

    But I can see how it would be frustrating to be practicing in one key and then constantly have to transpose what you've learned to another key for no reason that you seem to be able to figure out (the singer being the only real reason I can think of).

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