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tuning all strings down a full step   You are logged in as Guest
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James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

tuning all strings down a full step 

I was thinking, as I'm coming back from tendinitis issues, that I'd try lower tension strings and work on playing with lighter technique. However, tuning to D (with D'Addario "Normal" tension) softens things up AND allows me to use a capo when playing with my non-flamenco friends who, of course, tune their guitars to E. Playing in the lower D tuning also has a nice deep sound. I'm not noticing any significant difference in fret rattle.....it still sounds like a crispy flamenco guitar with plenty of pop. Legatos are easier, as well.

Does anyone else do this?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 29 2010 17:37:12
 
XXX

Posts: 4400
Joined: Apr. 14 2005
 

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

Actually a good idea. I like to play without capo for that reason, the string tension is much less. Tuning down the strings would just be the next logical step. Or you could tune down and put a capo on for the right "feeling" in the left hand positions, for practicing capo pieces or so.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 29 2010 19:00:40
 
NormanKliman

Posts: 1143
Joined: Sep. 1 2007
 

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

It looks like guitarists used to tune down like that a long time ago for certain voices, for example to accompany (without capo) por arriba in D or with toque de granaína in A. You can hear it clearly in the 1910 recordings of La Niña de los Peines with Ramón Montoya and in the disks of a few other early guitarists. I think Montoya was one of the last to do it, because toward the end of his life other toques for standard tuning became popular, like F#/G (taranta) and G#/A (minera) and in recent times C#/D and D#/E.

I don't tune down like that on purpose, but I might let a new set of strings slacken by about a full step if I'm not studying recordings or playing with anyone for a few weeks.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 30 2010 12:52:30
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14927
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

carlos montoya did it but I think much lower then D. Perhaps B? Not sure but he would capo very high and the guitar was deep sounding like normal tuning with no capo, and the strings flopping all over the place.

Ricardo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 31 2010 18:18:07
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3625
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to NormanKliman

quote:

I think Montoya was one of the last to do it, because toward the end of his life other toques for standard tuning became popular, like F#/G (taranta) and G#/A (minera)


but... surely these are higher than open? I suppose they could serve as lower than A por medio...

quote:

and in recent times C#/D and D#/E.


Eb/D# could be used as lower tone than E por arriba, but these came long after Montoya was gone...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 31 2010 21:36:25
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14927
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to mark indigo

quote:

ORIGINAL: mark indigo

quote:

I think Montoya was one of the last to do it, because toward the end of his life other toques for standard tuning became popular, like F#/G (taranta) and G#/A (minera)


but... surely these are higher than open? I suppose they could serve as lower than A por medio...

quote:

and in recent times C#/D and D#/E.


Eb/D# could be used as lower tone than E por arriba, but these came long after Montoya was gone...


He was referring to substitutes for Granaina toque, which would be B phrygian. The cantes that they used to accompany with that key, when the voice was lower, instead of playing por medio like you do siguiriya or solea, they would simply tune DOWN a whole step. Later, he means they would play in the key of Tarantas for cantes like Granaina or Cartagenera, malagueña etc, rather then play por medio or tune down. And of course in modern times almost ANY key has been explored for accomp. cante.

Ricardo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 31 2010 21:56:07
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

I think the biggest drawback to doing this getting used to a new fretboard. If everything you play is simply relative to the cejilla, this isn't a big deal. However, in my long break from flamenco, I memorized my fretboard, learned a bunch of scales/arpeggios and got used to improvising in any key that is thrown my way. Now those notes have changed and it will take a little extra processing time until I get fully adjusted.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 31 2010 22:45:01
 
NormanKliman

Posts: 1143
Joined: Sep. 1 2007
 

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to mark indigo

What Ricardo said is what I meant.

So far, I've only found examples of tuning down for toque de granaína. For a number of reasons, we can't really say conclusively that guitarists tuned down as a strategy for accompaniment: (1) new strings stretch out, (2) guitarists don't always use a tuning fork, (3) some guitarists might have preferred to tune down to make the strings last, (4) some might have found it easier to play that way (as James indicated in the OP). Also, it's reasonable to doubt the accuracy of the reproduction of recorded media, especially 78 rpm disks. However, about this last point, I've experimented with audio software and there's a big difference in the voice when you accelerate or slow recordings by a whole step. So, the point I want to make is that I've come across a series of very old recordings where the voices sound normal and the guitarists are accompanying with toque de granaína in A Phrygian. In most of the cases, these guitarists didn't record toque de taranta (F# Phrygian), so my theory is that they weren't familiar with it because it was a relatively new thing. I've analyzed literally hundreds of old recordings of cantes mineros and the most common keys among singers were by far G# and A, which obviously can't be accompanied with toque de granaína unless you tune down.

There aren't too many recordings of granaínas being accompanied with anything other than toque de granaína. But I haven't studied granaínas much and, in fact, I was going to say in this post that I've only come across a few disks of an obscure guitarist who accompanied granaínas por medio. So I thought I'd double check before posting and I've just gone over some recordings of granaínas of José Cepero (relatively deep voice and he recorded very few malagueñas). There are at least two disks of his granaínas in which Ramón Montoya and Miguel Borrull hijo accompany with toque de taranta and there's another one in which Luis Yance accompanies por arriba. There are probably more examples in the recordings of other singers with relatively deep voices, although those kinds of singers weren't usually the ones who sang granaínas.

Maybe that's why granaínas often sound "screechy" as someone once said. If the guitarist insists on accompanying with toque de granaína (without tuning down), the singer might have to struggle to sing in that register.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 1 2010 11:48:16
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3625
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

He was referring to substitutes for Granaina toque, which would be B phrygian.


oh, that makes sense
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 1 2010 19:21:47
 
beno

Posts: 881
Joined: Nov. 3 2006
From: Hungary

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

I usually tuned down all 6 strings a whole step when they had 2-3 days left before I get them off. I made this to try different tensions -I love low tension strings-, and also to open my ears to a deeper sound than I'm used to.
Finally I felt that playing different tunings will make the soundboard sound richer.

I mean if I play a lot of rumba stuff or/and push it hard, the guitar opens up, and gets louder with time-that's something everybody knows I guess, but using different tunings will enrichen the top with overtones and gives 'color' to it - at least according to my experience.
This way a guitar played in by a certain person gives the guitar a unique sound specific to that person like a footprint.

I'd be happy if luthiers here'd make this clear 'cause it contradicts to some article I've read, where a luthier wrote: strings should be ALWAYS tuned to standard 440, that's the way the top develops the fastest?????

On my previous guitar I made a list of strings used with dates.... now my brand new Castillo blanca is soon to arrive and I begin the whole thing right from the start, and watching it open up
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 2 2010 8:56:20
 
a_arnold

 

Posts: 558
Joined: Jul. 30 2006
 

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to beno

quote:

now my brand new Castillo blanca is soon to arrive


So did you get the spanish cypress or the mexican?

If you like slightly lower tension try the combination that Sabicas used: La Bella golden trebles and Savarez red card bass. The Savarez red card are not their highest tension -- they have something they call extra hard beyond that. I use them on my castillos and am very happy with them. In fact, 2 of my flamenco friends are now using the Sabicas combo on their Reyes and Barbero.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 2 2010 18:42:37
 
beno

Posts: 881
Joined: Nov. 3 2006
From: Hungary

RE: tuning all strings down a full step (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

I chose spanish cypress according to what Salvador told me:

"Cipres Espanol- mas cuerpo en el sonido con mucha definicion, mas volumen de sonido y potencia.
Cipres de Mexico- sonido mas "delgado" buena calidad timbrica, buena potencia y volumen, el sonido es mas brillante que la anterior"

I wonder what the sound and the feel will be like! I'm sooooo excited!

I'll definitely try that sabicas combo, however I'll try most of the strings I can put my hands on. I plan to order a bunch of strings when she arrives.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 3 2010 6:25:55
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