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So I walk into a cover band situation

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Metalbasspro, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    Thought I was all prepared. We start playing and tuning is off. Oh we tune down to E minor I think he said or E flat. So I tune down a fret.

    We play a few of their original songs I started with and all was well. Then we start playing some covers stuff I really only looked at and played a few times. Seven Mary Three's Cumbersome song. We play and again out of tune. They tell me they start it on the E string Third Fret or G. I say it is played here at the Second Fret E string, are you guys transposing it? I find they are. SO I say wait give me your G and I tune my Second Fret to their G key so I can play it in the position I learned it in. I hate transposing stuff. They did the same with Metallica's version of Wiskey in the Jar. Their first cords are on the C rather then the G note already tuned to G by Metallica for the verse. It's all about the singers range. The kid's aren't alright by the Offspring is also transposed to a far lower key making it sound little like the actual song.

    I thought when you tuned down to accommodate a singer you no longer had to transpose the keys. And I know some of you will take this as my inexperience but I played in original metal bands where you tuned standard in the 80's and at most went to D in the 90's. When you transpose a Key the positions effects the sound of the song in my opinion. When you tune differently it is not as bad because the notes still played in the right positions are played like they are supposed to be. I can't put into words the wy or how but I hear a difference that I don't like. When it comes to open strings that can no longer be played open I think is a part of it too.

    I thought about not taking the gig over this but am holding judgement trying to keep an open mind. Wiskey in the Jar, a song I fell in love with when I heard it seems to me ruined by transposing it into the key of C.
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    "Tuning down for a singer" is in fact changing the key.

    I tend to depend on motor memory a lot, and changing keys also throws me a curve - but with a couple of reps I can get past it.

    Some transpositions you will like, others you won't, many you won't care about one way or another.
  3. I've no problem transposing or tuning does to Eb . BUT. I don't wanna go changing from Eb to E to D etc all night. Unless I'm bringing 2 or 3 basses to every gig. 😞
    Usually if I'm in a band that tunes down a half step to Eb... Pretty much the whole gig is done with the bass tuned as such.
    I ain't a real fan of the D tuner for just the E string. I like sol my strings tuned as usual. .. In 4ths
  4. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Okay, if I get you right...
    You are saying that these guys only know how to play in one position and change the key of the song by re-tuning and playing in the same position.
    If that's the case, I think they are totally lame.
    If they want to play a song in E flat they should learn to play it in E flat and not play it in the E position and tune down a half step.
    You need to find some better players to hang with.
  5. DiabolicLow B

    DiabolicLow B Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    That's the beauty of having a 5 string, no real need to change tunings just transpose to a different key and if your lucky it means just moving your patterns to a different starting note.
  6. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    I'm not following this example. Are you saying they need a 5th (B) string, or play in a higher octave E-flat?
  7. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    Forgive my ignorance, but your profile says that you give bass lessons.

    Without wishing to be confrontational, in quite a few of your posts and threads, you don't exactly come across as particularly skilled in terms of theory.

    Surely if you give bass lessons, you can switch and transpose Whisky In The Jar with your eyes closed?
  8. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Very generally speaking, one of the hallmarks of musicianship is to be able to understand the chord sequence of a song as a numerical relationship so that you can play the song in any key. Now, of course, that's not as common a practice in some genres. It happens all the time on a jazz gig,, or an oldies rock and roll gig: "Respect" oh you do it in Bb? Cool." Naturally, it's a different thing with a Metallica song that is played in a certain key because that's part of the sound.
  9. Gaolee

    Gaolee Outta my way! I'm caffeinated! Supporting Member

    So, a cover band walks into a bar and says, Gee...

    Those guys sound like an endless adventure, even if you can transpose on the fly without a problem.
  10. The band I'm currently in tunes to Eb & plays the handful of covers that are normally in standard tuning in their original positions, sounds fine & it's probably easier for the vocalist. They also have 2 songs with the E string dropped to Db, it's a bit of a nuisance, thinking about getting a hipshot to make it easier.
  11. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sounds to me like a communication issue. When I've joined a cover band that already has a set list, they send me what key they play everything in. If I join a band that's in the process of building their set list, we have a go at it in the original key and if it's too high, we transpose down by agreement. If there's something about the riff that it just doesn't transpose readily (needs low notes we don't have and doesn't sound right an octave up, whatever)... time to drop the song, there are lots of others. Point being, if these decisions were already made, they should have told you. Use Audacity or something to make a copy in the key you'll be playing in and learn from that.

    Transposing on the fly is a pain and requires a certain level of professionalism. Some songs I can do it readily, others not so much. But if you think a song doesn't sound right in a key other than what it was recorded in.... wait till you hear a singer straining to hit notes out of their range because you stuck to the original key. May as well strangle a cat onstage.
  12. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    The best advice I can give the OP is to start learning songs, not patterns. Learning how to use nashville numbers will also be very useful in this type of situation.

    I also agree that songs should be played in their original keys for the most part.
  13. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    that is why i made it a habit to leave out open strings as much as possible, playing a 5er.
    In the last band i was in we had a few covers and changed the key to adopt to the singer.
    Sometimes down two steps, on brighter days only one or original. good work for the brain.
  14. Walmark


    Feb 16, 2014
    York UK
    If the singer can't sing it, he/she shouldn't sing it. Am I wrong?
  15. jking138


    Oct 6, 2013
    I found the original explanation from metalbasspro fairly confusing.
    But I have recently joined a cover band and am having issues where the guitarists (one for sure) refuse to tune to Eb rather then E standard, but want to play for example, Guns 'n' Roses (Eb tuning). Just playing Guns in the position it would be in Eb (therefore transcribing it one semi-tone higher) is fine, but when we tried Greenday's 'boulevard of broken dreams' they were playing it in the same key as the Eb version. So they we're unable to play the outro as the lowest note is an Eb. When I explained this to them they we're reluctant to either tune down (again) or transcribe it a fret higher. It is not a difficult song, 4 chords through out, but this went on for two weeks.
  16. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    I am not even sure I am getting this right. ON the Cumbersome song I am thinking while they are tuned down to E flat they are changing the position of the song from G flat to G. Since it's all about the singers range I don't see the reason for it since the G flat is lower then the G. :confused:
  17. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    I first learned one of their songs with my five string. Then they told me it was drop D tuning on a 440 tuning. ON their studio stuff they are at standard 440.

    Anyway I re learned the song with a 4 string and drop D tuning and I liked it better. It alternates a lot from open E to Closed G.

    You can do this with the five string but you can't use the open notes and I just don't like the feel of using closed notes or the sound.
  18. Metalbasspro


    Feb 9, 2009
    I used to give them I think at the time I joined this forum but was in active here for years. That said I did transpose Wiskey in the Jar on the fly just fine, I just hate the sound of it in the new Key they used. I did state as much in the OP.
  19. DoppelM


    Feb 24, 2014
    We do different stuff like, and our singer uses capo a lot of times, changing keys as he pleases.
    Simple trick to deal with that: Learn not to use open strings, they sound different anyway and are more difficult to mute afterwards.
    When you are trained in this, in most cases a key change / transposing is just a change of hand position along the neck. The relative fingering between the notes stays the samen, no need for math.

    Tuning your instrument down is a sound-decision. If you like dropped D, leave it that way and work with the approach i mentioned above.
  20. We did a few bluesy-jazz tunes with one chick singer who was a soprano where we tuned UP 3-5 semitones. Some tunes sounded shrill and not bluesy at all. :(

    I also dislike songs played in keys other than the key I'M used to. (got that perfect pitch thing going on). So I re-record them all in the new key the band plays them in, and listened & practice them until they start to sound "right".

    Heck yes - absolutely essential to give keys of any song NOT in the original key.