Singer of country band changing song keys and ruining my fun

Matthew Leo

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I'm entirely capable of changing the key of a song, but the singer of my country band keeps asking to move songs that really suit the original key and open strings. I do not like using capos when I have to play lead, either. This is getting annoying. I seem unreasonable if I'm not exactly fond of it, but it really kills some of the fun (sometimes only fun) of playing the songs. I really feel that some riffs need to be in the original key. I know the singer is "more important", but some of you must know what I mean.
 

brookdalebill

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I'm entirely capable of changing the key of a song, but the singer of my country band keeps asking to move songs that really suit the original key and open strings. I do not like using capos when I have to play lead, either. This is getting annoying. I seem unreasonable if I'm not exactly fond of it, but it really kills some of the fun (sometimes only fun) of playing the songs. I really feel that some riffs need to be in the original key. I know the singer is "more important", but some of you must know what I mean.

I feel your pain.
As a hired gun, I run into this a lot.
I play with a bass player/singer who does a ton of stuff in sharp and flat keys.
He’s a great singer, and he sings in whatever key suits his voice at the given moment.
I also play with a woman who does songs in odd keys, like Mama Tried in A, Cowboy Rides Away in D, and Set Em’ Up Joe in B.
Ya gotta learn to adapt, IMO.
 

tfarny

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Dude. The singer picks the key. You don't like it, don't play in a band. Ain't no capo for the neck pipes! Also, literally zero people besides you care that the riff isn't in the original key. On the other hand, 100% of listeners care that the singer sounds good.

You are allowed to give them the stink eye the first time they demand 1/2 step up, though.

My bass player gave me a bunch of grief for needing key changes on Police songs. Gimme a break. Don't be that person.
 

Matthew Leo

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Dude. The singer picks the key. You don't like it, don't play in a band. Ain't no capo for the neck pipes! Also, literally zero people besides you care that the riff isn't in the original key. On the other hand, 100% of listeners care that the singer sounds good.

You are allowed to give them the stink eye the first time they demand 1/2 step up, though.

My bass player gave me a bunch of grief for needing key changes on Police songs. Gimme a break. Don't be that person.



No ****. Been playing in bands for 30 years. I didn't say I WON'T change keys....just venting about doing it on certain tunes that feel or sound weird on guitar if you do. We're on a guitar forum.
 

tfarny

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No ****. Been playing in bands for 30 years. I didn't say I WON'T change keys....just venting about doing it on certain tunes that feel or sound weird on guitar if you do. We're on a guitar forum.
Ok man, how am I supposed to know your band history? Didn't mean to offend.

I'm a singer & guitar player so I know how much it sucks to change keys on guitar (not really that hard) and how much it sucks to sing in uncomfortable keys (a nightmare that always sounds terrible).
 

Chick-N-Picker

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I don't care to play in any key. If I'm jamming and suggest a song, while I migjt be noodling in G sometimes the other jamee will respond "in G"? My ressponse is always it don't matter what ever key you want to sing or play in.

When it comes to me singing, yes you need to find the best key for your voice. That's just common sense. Yes it makes some of those tasty A riffs go away but the singing needs to be the best it can.
 

Tele1966

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No ****. Been playing in bands for 30 years. I didn't say I WON'T change keys....just venting about doing it on certain tunes that feel or sound weird on guitar if you do. We're on a guitar forum.
Totally agree. Same thing with rock/pop. "The riff for "No Matter What" Badfinger, barely works even a half step off.

I don’t mind adjusting the key to the singer, as long as once they find it they leave it the hell alone.
What gets me is singers who never find their key and keep changing it every rehearsal or gig.
I couldn't agree more. The biggest blowup I've ever experienced in a band was when the singer kept changing the key.

I'm a singer & guitar player so I know how much it sucks to change keys on guitar (not really that hard) and how much it sucks to sing in uncomfortable keys (a nightmare that always sounds terrible).

You may not be appreciating the big picture playing in a cover band when you must keep 45, 50 songs continually memorized. Yes it's obviously easy and simple to change keys, but every time a key is changed it means you must memorize the song again. If every song was played with barre chords, no big deal. But the fact is, in a cover band the new key (other than the original key) has to have some semblance to the original and so bottom line the new arrangement means you have to memorize a new song. And that totally sucks, it's a huge time waster.
 

strat a various

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I'm entirely capable of changing the key of a song, but the singer of my country band keeps asking to move songs that really suit the original key and open strings. I do not like using capos when I have to play lead, either. This is getting annoying. I seem unreasonable if I'm not exactly fond of it, but it really kills some of the fun (sometimes only fun) of playing the songs. I really feel that some riffs need to be in the original key. I know the singer is "more important", but some of you must know what I mean.
I feel you, man. Some songs just don't work in a different key on guitar. I've worked with hundreds of singers, and even the very good ones with big vocal ranges sometimes need to either change from the original key... or just don't do the song.
Here's one way I've dealt with this problem. I have worked in the past with singers who insisted on doing "Green River, Suzie Q, Memphis" ... songs like that, with signature licks that need to be voiced like the original version. But, they couldn't sing as high as John Fogerty or Johnny Rivers. So I brought a couple of extra guitars, (like you would for a slide guitar in an open tuning or a baritone guitar for "Killin' Time"), and i'd tune one guitar to DGCFAD. The other, I'd keep very light strings on and tune up a whole step (or step and a half). That usually covers a male singer with a small range and a female singer raising male keys. Once I tuned a 12 string to CFBbEbGC for a male singer with a Bass voice and a Baritone range. A Baritone guitar could come in handy if a singer really had to go lower.
I find the licks sound a little weird on a lower tuning, but not any worse than moving them up real high, and if I have to play higher, the one-whole-step-up guitar lets me play without a capo.
Finally, I've taught some singers vocal exercises that increased their working range by half an octave in short order, and that put several odd-key tunes back into the original key eventually ... that is if the singer wants to work at their voice.
 

heltershelton

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i was in this band a few years ago and they insisted on playing 'cant find my way home' in some flat key and it just didnt sound the same. i did it but hated doing it that way. there are certain songs for a guitarist that need to be played the way the original artist did them or they sound like crap. i can play in any key but still.....
 




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