Tune electric guitar a whole tone up. A good idea or better use capo?

Tune electric guitar a whole tone up. A good idea or better use capo?


I’m recording a song of mine in A major, which was originally written in G, but better suits the vocalist in A.
I tried both actually. Tune up and using capo.
I found out that tuning the guitar up, gets quickly detuned. Like I have to tune again after every take or so.
Has anyone ever had a similar occasion?
Which would you prefer?
Tune up or capo?
I also see that takes done with capo and takes done with tune up don’t mix at all due to tuning.
The parts are arpeggios with clean tone.


Having spent 1000’s of hours setting up and repairing guitars, tuning a whole step up is going to wreak havoc on a neck with the string tension. There’s no reason why you can’t tune a whole step up, but I would use lighter strings to counteract all that extra tension you’re going to be putting on the neck.

I would normally use a capo on the first fret, but I find that tuning a capo’d guitar is more critical than normal. Something about a capo just throws off tuning when you play chords.


I definitely need to tune the guitar when I put on a capo even if it’s perfectly tuned without it.
Maybe it’s the guitar’s fault?
Needs service?


Could be. For me, tuning a guitar is a constant thing. My own guitar is beautifully set up, but I’ll be darned I can tune it perfectly open, and then play even 4 different chords before I hear a string that’s slightly out of tune. In the end, tuning a guitar for me is a compromise to get all strings to sound good together even if they aren’t 100% perfectly in pitch.


I always find tuning to be a bit of a compromise. When I’m using a capo, I tend to tune with the capo on. Like, if a string is 8c sharp with the capo on, but perfect with the capo off, I’ll tune it 8c flat when the capo is off. Or maybe I’m playing somewhere high on the neck. I’ll try and tune to those particular notes. My electric guitar has pretty good intonation, but yeah capos do always seem to throw things off a bit.

I looked into tuning a guitar up or down a while back… I think you can get away with it for a half step. One step gets a little dicey, and then more than that is probably not a good idea. The idea is that the instrument is designed to work in a particular tuning and the farther you deviate from that the less that design works. And like Mad Psychot said it’s not great for the neck.


I do think tuning up is problematic, but tuning down is less of an issue IMO. The neck bolt will still hold the neck in place with tension off (lowering the tuning), but too much tension could possibly warp the neck? I have tuned my electrics down to C#, at times, which is 3 half steps below standard tuning (all strings). It works fine, and has been used on records as well. I got the idea after reading that Tony Iommi used C# tuning on many songs on the “Masters of Reality” album. The strings are much more pliable, which can have a cool response to bending strings as well as tonal characteristics. Many Rock guitarists tuned to Eb on countless records, and tremolo (whammy) bars routinely drop neck tension in an instant. Drop-D tuning is also fairly popular (2 half step drop on low E).

The only drawback with very low tuning might be keeping the guitar in tune, since as you said it’s not necessarily designed specifically for that tension, but I actually have seen very little difference with mine. As mentioned, keeping a guitar in tune in ANY circumstances is typically a challenge anyway.

Can you just use standard tuning and play the chords/arpeggios higher on the neck, or use different (i.e. “inverted”) chords to achieve the result? It may require that you practice those chords for a bit to get smooth if you’re not used to it, but probably an option for you.


Can’t imagine doing this??? I have never found my guitars to be in tune after using a capo.


Here’s an idea - Not sure that every DAW can do this easily, but it is a a piece of cake to do in Reaper…

Use standard tuning but slow your DAW down during recording just enough so that when you return it to normal speed it pitches the recording up a full step.

That should take care of the tuning issues caused by either a capo or tuning up, and it should retain good recording quality. The down side is, you have to play at a slower tempo.


I was going to suggest a very similar thing. In Mixcraft, anyway, it’s dead simple. You select any track, and you can adjust its pitch up or down as needed with no effect on the tempo (the opposite is also possible but that’s not the issue here). So you could record it the way you are comfy with and without the capo, and then adjust the pitch afterwards. I’ve done this often, and one step is probably as far as I would ever take it because beyond that it’s hard to avoid artifacts of the process.

If the guitars aren’t too exposed in the mix though, that won’t be audible at all (i.e. a lone acoustic guitar vs. guitars layered into a busier arrangement). If your DAW has this capability, it will take only a few minutes to see whether it will do the trick, so it is worth a shot! Good luck George!!


Well the logical thing to do would be buy one of these.



I have their Tyler Variax JT59S and LOVE it. It is essential for a one-nerd band like me… use it in 75% of everything I’ve recorded. You can set the tunings specifically, either by choosing a built in one, or devising your own and sideloading it to the firmware via a cable. One of the best investments I ever made in music!


Now watching demo vids. :hushed:


Logical from the Gear Acquisition Syndrome viewpoint I meant.


Reaper has the capability of shifting pitch without altering the tempo. It’s very quick and easy. It’s been a long time since I used it but I remember it being excellent. You can shift the pitch quite a lot before you start noticing audio artifacts. A shift of one full tone (2 semitones) would fly without a hitch I’m pretty sure.


Thx guys.
I’m gonna go with the capo for now.
Tried the pitch shift on Cubase 5 but didn’t get good acceptable results.
I’ll post for bashing one of these days and see what you think.