I recently started composing songs for my post-hardcore band/project in which I'm the vocalist and we will mostly prioritize on recording the songs and video only... So when addressing this question just keep in mind we won't play live.

I finished a song in about 2 weeks but realized I couldn't get to sing as high as I intended to when creating this particular song.

In this genre(if any of you didn't know) there are sometimes heavy riffs starting on the last string and in fret #0. And many of the popular bands play on Drop D or C tuning.

This is just part of a riff in drop C tuning:

                PM PM    PM PM    PM    PM    PM       PM    PM  
             E  E  E  E  E  E  E  E     E  E  E  E  E  E  E  E   

Since I couldn't reach a pitch as high as I wanted, I concluded that maybe I could transpose the whole song just enough so I could sing it. I didn't want to sing an octave below cause that was way too low.

So I changed it to this:

            PM PM    PM PM    PM    PM    PM       PM    PM  
         E  E  E  E  E  E  E  E     E  E  E  E  E  E  E  E   

Not only did I transpose for +4 the whole song, but I also adjusted for Drop D tuning. I'm struggling with singing A#4 which is the highest in the song. But by making it much more high pitched with a higher tuning, I can go back an octave and feel as its not that low anymore. And thus instead of having A#4 as the highest note, now it's around D#4 - E4.

HOWEVER, I'm left with a really strange looking riff, is that riff even possible? I'm not a guitarist, but I've never seen something like this from other famous bands.

My question is, is there ANYTHING I can change in this song to have it on the desire vocal range while keeping a possible riff? It would be better if i could keep the riff in the fret #0.

  • The 4th fret on the G is "identical" to the open "B." So one obvious optimization is to use the open B string instead. This allows one to anchor the hand using the pinky on the drop D and then rely on the index and middle fingers to do the (2,0,2,1,1,2) sequence. In the context of the surrounding music, this might prove awkward for flow, but in isolation it should be trivial.
    – Yorik
    Sep 9, 2015 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


The transposed riff isn't particularly strange and definitely playable.

However, if you want to transpose guitar music using open strings up, the easiest way to do so is by putting on a capo (this acts as a fixed barre, allowing the guitarist to play an open-position line anywhere on the fingerboard). In your case, the capo would go on the 4th fret, and the entire passage would be transposed up. The picking and fingerings would remain the same as in the original - the only difference being that all IV position notes would be "open".

enter image description here (Two examples of the many different designs of guitar capos)

  • 2
    Problem is capos don't look very (post-)hardcore! But he could of course just fake it without for the video!
    – Matt L.
    Sep 7, 2015 at 6:39
  • Transposing the key of a song to accommodate the vocal range of a particular singer is what capos are very good at doing. If your guitarist cannot learn the fingerings for the riffs in the new key, suggest that they get a capo. Perhaps something small and stealthy in matte black.
    – user1044
    Sep 8, 2015 at 1:56
  • @user1044 - capos work very well for transposing songs upwards, but are pretty useless for transposing downwards
    – Tim
    Jul 22, 2018 at 13:48

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