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Musicians: Need Advice

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posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 09:44 PM
So, I am a singer/songwriter/ guitarist. I play guitar so-so and sing in the higher register. My problem is that in order to play chords on guitar I have to use a capo close to the body. Say, if I try to sing a Johnny Cash song, I have to place the capo near the 12th fret. This makes the guitar sound like cr@p. I've tried barring the chords and it's still no good. I just sing too high. I've tried playing a regular chord and just singing an octave or more above, this just doesn't work either. I don't know what to do. Maybe I should start playing piano or something. Any advice?

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 09:49 PM
stop singing?

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 09:58 PM
a reply to: Joki42

Why doesn't playing an octave lower work? Really, that's one of your only options if you want to sing where you are comfortable at.

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 10:02 PM
When's the last time you intonated your guitar? Might be a little sideways if your chords up the neck don't sound right.

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 10:06 PM
a reply to: Joki42

I'm not sure I understand why you have a problem. I think you might have a wrong idea about how accompaniment should be done on guitar. Just because you sing high doesn't mean you have to play high. As long as you are playing chords that go with the melody you're singing you'll be okay. I've been playing and singing in bands for 40 years now and I've never heard anybody complain about such a thing. Look at any rock band with a high singer; the guitar player is inevitably banging out E and A and D chords as well as bar chords all over the neck. My point is there is no connection with how high you sing and where you are playing on the guitar.

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 10:09 PM
You could also play hendrix style chords but leave the bass note out. So, say for an E manor, you'd make a bar chord at the 12th fret, but leave out the low e and a string.

But really, if you're singing in the right key, playing octave down chords should be fine.

Or, you could get a guitar made for higher playing, like a tenor guitar or something

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 11:56 PM
a reply to: Mr Headshot
I agree with Headshot

It all depends on what kind of sound you want to achieve. If you don't bar so high up on the neck you are sure to have a more full sound.

I find, for playing along with higher pitched melodies, that using the top 4 strings for simple chords and also with doubling up on the main voice is ideal.

If you look into more chord positions you are bound to find that niche you want. This will also improve your songwriting.

Being just voice and guitar it can be hard to judge your sound all by yourself. Just ask someone that you can trust for some criticism (the positive kind of course).

Do you know your vocal range by any chance?

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 12:01 AM
a reply to: wtbengineer

The impression I'm getting is that it's someone who's a bit green and hasn't yet stumbled upon the way keys work and that each key has various octaves. You hit it right on the head that just because they sing in a higher register, an A is an A and a C# is a C#, no matter how high or low you're playing on the neck. You can be singing in A7 and play in A5 and everything will still be fine in the world. We do it all the time doing backups/harmonies with the lead vocal and playing my bass in a different octave of the same key. Sounds like somebody needs to get themselves a few lessons or a book or two or even a few hours of youtube videos wouldn't be harmful at this point.

There's always the option of using different open tunings as well to make it easier to play and sing at the same time if the problem is being able to easily play chords while singing simultaneously.
edit on 26-7-2015 by peter vlar because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 12:09 AM
Maybe you should change the key by actually changing the key instead of using the capo. Say the progression is G/C and D, that is I / IV and V. To change the key start on E and keep same progression, that would be E (I), A(IV) and B(V).

You can start on any chord, keep same progression, not sure what progression is on that Cash song but I, IV, IV is most common.

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 12:25 AM
a reply to: Joki42

It sounds like you want the guitar to sit exactly on top of,and track, your voice. While this does have its uses (i.e: George Benson) it is more usual to leave space between the guitar and voice so that they may work separately.

If you are playing the guitar right over the range of your voice, it may be because you are not confident about your tone and are trying to mask it. I would suggest that you start trying to sing unaccompanied, somewhere reverberant, where you can play with your voice and get some confidence.

Remember that it more about the feeling than technical perfection. Someone's voice that breaks and looses tone or pitch just when a song becomes most emotional is considered good because of the emotional power of the loss of control at that point.

Also, as someone suggested previously, if the pitch goes out as you move up the neck, you probably need to "harmonically tune" the stings to the fretboard. Most guitars have movable bridge pieces to sort that out but you can also shim the neck (if it is detachable, like on an electric) to get a truer registration. Most luthiers can get you sorted quickly if you aren't confident in doing it yourself.

Another thing that helps when 'capoing' up the neck is to use heavier gauge strings but that can also cause other issues.

I'd suggest find and befriend a good luthier!

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 12:40 AM
Learn more chord shapes.

Next question?

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 12:46 AM
I pretty much play and sing in unison; play A, sing A. I don't know how to harmonize. As far as learning more chords, I have arthritis in my hands and just can't get passed the few basic chords with a couple extras.

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 03:21 AM
Certainly using the wrong approach.As said earlier, you don't need to play high to match your voice.If anything you would want a lower accompaniment to compliment your voice.I can't see why you'd have problems, unless you sing as high as a dog whistle.Sounds like you just need to experiment more and gain a bit of experience.

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 06:51 AM
a reply to: Joki42
Try a baritone guitar, or drop your tuning a whole step. Try a Tenor guitar.

Use a different chords and use the capo lower. Like if you are playing G-D-A, use F-C-G, transpose it down.

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