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Thread: Playing in G

  1. #1
    Registered User Oliver R's Avatar
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    Default Playing in G

    Just wondered...(in relation to the Bouzouki tuned GDAD)
    Do you play much in 'open' G chords (to play in the key of G for example) or would you tent to capo on the 5th fret and play in D chord shapes and capo in relative places for different keys in order to use those open D shapes?

    For ages i have got into a bit of a rut in some respects and will almost exclusively capo in different positions and use the D shapes, not exclusively but more often than not.
    I'm sure i'm limiting myself and I have been working on the G shapes but the runs/inversions definitely do not fall as easy under my fingers.

    Does that make any sense?
    Any thoughts?

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Interesting one, Oliver. I tend to play without a capo on my octave (GDAE) but my regular playing partner capos the bouzouki (also tuned GDAE) to suit the keys we are playing in. Partly this is because he has been having problems with arthritis, but also to get different voicings. We play a lot of Scottish material, pipe and fiddle tunes and also folk songs, and we try to get more colour into the sound by playing in different positions depending on the tune and the instruments. When playing Scottish pipe or fiddle tunes I will play lead on mandolin or octave and he plays chords on bouzouki, using the capo frequently. He uses a lot of open, 2-finger chords. Our most common keys are D, A and G. For the odd songs in keys such as Bb (chosen to suit the vocal range) capos are to the fore!

    When I am playing guitar and he is on concertina I often capo at 2nd fret and play C shapes when we play in D. It gives me the opportunity of playing more interesting bass lines and also lets me play the melodies more easily in standard guitar tuning.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Oliver R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Yes, I do that on the guitar a lot as well.
    I do mainly use the Bouzouki as a backing/countermelody instrument and drop onto mandolin for tunes so I think this is where the capo comes into its own and the more open 'double stop' chords work well. Now I think about if I do drop into those G shapes its mainly for a bit of singing.....interesting indeed.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Playing in G

    GDAD is nice because is plays well in G and D. I would say go ahead and learn G open. If you get familiar with those two keys major and minor, you can play in any key without moving the capo past the 5th fret.

    Of course you can play any key in GDAD but both G and D feature a lot of nice open notes and drones.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    I've never felt the need to capo my 21.5" OM tuned GDAE. I play mostly in A, C (Am), D (Bm), F (Dm) and G (i don't play much in the key of Em, not sure why). On my 26" 10 string mandocello I play mostly in those same keys, again no capo. I still use a capo on guitar for most bluegrass tunes in A or D just like everybody else.

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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Not an answer to your specific question, but a conside ration nonetheless: one of the ladies who plays in one of the praise bands in our church loves playing Guitar with D forms. She’ll capo almost any song so that she can play in D. After a while, it all sounds the same, even when she’s technically playing in different keys.

    Depending on how you approach the songs you may sound great with your current approach. But, if you can get comfortable with a couple more keys, the variety may be worth it...
    Chuck

  7. #7
    Registered User Oliver R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I've never felt the need to capo my 21.5" OM tuned GDAE. I play mostly in A, C (Am), D (Bm), F (Dm) and G (i don't play much in the key of Em, not sure why). On my 26" 10 string mandocello I play mostly in those same keys, again no capo. I still use a capo on guitar for most bluegrass tunes in A or D just like everybody else.
    I would agree with that for GDAE tuning and I do play in lots of keys without a capo with my mandolin tuned thus. However, GDAD (on the Bouzouki) i find is a different beast and is a lot more suited to open drones and countermelodies which in turn are a lot more suited to ITM/celtic backing (I find) and the capo is an essential tool to facilitate this style and also give the instrument different voicing.
    For example - sometimes in tune sets its nice to play open in D & G (i do use them sometimes )and then hit it with the capo on the 7th to get Am, other variations of this type of thing are nice.

  8. #8
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver R View Post
    I would agree with that for GDAE tuning and I do play in lots of keys without a capo with my mandolin tuned thus. However, GDAD (on the Bouzouki) i find is a different beast and is a lot more suited to open drones and countermelodies which in turn are a lot more suited to ITM/celtic backing (I find) and the capo is an essential tool to facilitate this style and also give the instrument different voicing.
    You may already know this, but if you're playing Irish traditional backing or melody, there are many tunes that shift modes within the tune, where it's not practical to use a capo. For example (the Em's below are actually E dorian):

    • Kid on the Mountain -- a 5-part slip jig where the different parts are in Em, G, Em, Em, G.
    • The Gravel Walks -- reel, in Am, except for the last part in C.
    • Mayor Harrison's Fedora -- reel in Em for the first two parts, last part in G (or at least starting with a G chord for backers).

    Plenty of other examples out there. If you're fast with a capo move when backing, you can shift as tunes change from one to the next in a set of tunes, but not when the key/mode changes within the individual tune like this.

    Just something to think about. It's why I don't often use a capo on my OM. For Irish traditional music, it's easy enough to reach chords and melody lines without it, unless you're going for a particular higher-pitched sound with chord inversions.

  9. #9
    Registered User Oliver R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Yes, that's true. I can usually blag my way around those types of tune open, sometimes using counterpoint melody.

  10. #10
    Registered User James Rankine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    When I first learned how to play the zouk I came to it from the mandolin with very much the idea that using a capo is cheating (despite no qualms using it on a guitar), and I spent a lot of time learning how to play all the common keys out of the first position. Being a mandolin player I knew my scales in that position so I knew how to weave countermelody into the chord structure. But it never sounded like my heroes, Eoinn O 'Neill and Alec Finn, which is a light counter melodic approach that I favour rather than a strumming chordal technique. I studied their use of the capo and I am now a firm fan - not because it is a lazy approach- but because it opens up drone strings to allow more freedom to weave in and out of melodic runs between more defined chords. So it is a case of what sound you are after and what style you use. I don't play the zouk in session as there is never a shortage of guitar players, and I only use it where I am the only accompanist in small group ensembles. I have a quick draw capo that sits on the nut and can slide into position during a set, but really I think there is no rush, a bit of a break in accompaniment when the melody player establishes the key shift is not a bad thing- one thing I don't like is relentless strumming guitar accompaniment.
    I'm using GDAD but I recognise the advantages of ADAD as used by Eoinn or indeed Alec Finn's DAD as I don't make much use of the G string.
    Disadvantages - it can begin to sound a bit samey and it does rob you of the contrast of playing low and high up the neck, and this applies to DADGAD players who make a lot of use of the capo. Generally I prefer the light higher sounds though than booming low notes - but others will have different views on that. I'll go as high as the 9th fret for Bm.

  11. #11
    Registered User Oliver R's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing in G

    Could not have said it better meself!

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