The working guitarist’s best friend!
There’s an old cliché that claims using a capo is cheating and a guitarist should be able to transpose anything on the fly.
This belief is usually held by singers and beginner guitar players who don’t know how these things work.
If you have been playing in bands for years, you know that playing Summer Of ‘69 in Db is a terrible idea. But usually, you can argue your way out of that particular one.
When it comes to Sweet Child O Mine, things get more complicated. It’s played in the key of G/Em and needs to have those open-position chords to work, but the guitar is tuned down a semitone so it sounds as if it’s in Gb/Ebm.
Now don’t get me wrong, Ebm can be a perfectly fine key to play in, just not when it comes to Sweet Child O’ Mine; it will sound terrible, but try explaining to a singer that it should be a semitone higher than the original…
The best solution is to have a 2nd guitar with you at every gig that is tuned down a semitone. But can you be asked? There’s something very appealing about having just one guitar, and if you’ve got a spare, that’s for, well, being a spare.
I found out the hard way once when, 20 minutes before the band was about to start, the singer turned to me and said, “Ah yeah I forgot to tell you, we’re all tuned down to Eb, is that OK?”
With a strat using a floating trem, not really, but there was nothing else to do than to just tune down and then keep tuning between almost every song until the guitar settled in.
So, you don’t want to bring a spare tuned down, and there are gigs when the singer will last-minute demand that everything is down a tone because they’re not feeling great today.
The solution may be to buy/borrow/steal the Digitech Drop pedal. With it, you simply choose how much lower you want to go, and problem solved.
Summer of ‘69 in Db, no problem! Sweet Child O’ Mine as on the record, sure thing! The last-minute key change, let’s do it!
Even tunes like Mr. Brightside, which everyone plays in Db, just play it in D, engage the pedal, and it will be so much better.
I would also recommend Shut Up And Dance to be played up a semitone, and use the pedal to get back down to, you guessed it – Db.
The other week I did a gig with a keyboard player who has perfect pitch and doesn’t read music, not even chord charts really. When he was told one of the songs was a tone down, he looked terrified.
I said the forbidden word, just use the transpose button! He looked at me and said: “I can’t because my perfect pitch tells me it’s a G, but I’m playing an A, I just can’t do it, it messes with my head. I have to basically learn any tune from scratch every time it’s in a new key.”
I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like the ultimate luxury problem.
I guess my point here is that if you don’t have perfect pitch, you should probably buy the Digitech Drop pedal; it’ll make you sound better in the real world where we have to do what people who don’t know what they’re talking about are in charge.
Digitech Drop pedal | Related pages
You can learn how to play Mr. Brightside by The Killers using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Dbadd9 | Dbadd9/C |
Coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine…
Shut Up and Dance
You can learn how to play Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Db Dbsus4 | Db Dbsus2 |
Oh don’t you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me…
Summer Of ’69
You can learn how to play Summer Of 69 by Bryan Adams using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| D5 | D5 | A5 | A5 |
I got my first real six-string, bought it at the five and dime…
Sweet Child O’ Mine
You can learn how to play Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| D | Dadd4 | Cadd9 | Cadd9 |
She’s got a smile that it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories…