I have come across lyrics and chord sheets that show "Base key : (A, B, C etc)". What does it mean?

Planetshakers, Legacy
Base key: A

Fm   Ab/C   Db
Fm   Ab/C   Db   Ab

   Fm         Eb            Ab
This passion deep within my soul

2 Answers 2


I expect you're looking at this page: https://www.psalmnote.com/song/passion-chords-planetshakers

The page has a transposition feature. With 'A' selected at the top of the page, the song is shown in F minor/Ab major. Press 'A#', it goes up a semitone into F# minor/A major. And so on, for the other possible selections. You can also use the Transpose Higher/Lower buttons. Press them and see what happens.

The choice of 'A' as the 'base key' seems arbritary, unconnected with the actual key of the song. They might just as well have labelled the buttons '+1', '+2' etc.

Here's a song on the same site where, with 'C' as 'base key', the song actually IS in C, and therefore the 'base key' switch makes more sense.


Just a case of sloppy website design, I think.


Usually refers to the key the guitar is tuned to. Standard guitar tuning is A (hence base A). But it can be tuned to any key - as far as I’m aware. D is a very common key to tune a guitar to in rock music.

  • 1
    I think you've misunderstood 'Drop D' tuning, where just the bottom (E) string is tuned down to D. It would be most unusual to tune EVERY string down - and certainly not as far down as a fifth, A down to D. So downvote, I'm afraid.
    – Laurence
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 13:07
  • 1
    'Standard guitar tuning is A' - what's that? And D isn't that common, and in any case, the guitar is probably not tuned to anything apart from standard, maybe Eb, or sometimes 'drop D'.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 16:59

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