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Aura Lea, a.k.a. Love Me Tender, is a wonderful song: simple, melodious, and fun.

When I play the chords in F on the guitar, it sounds gorgeous.

Now I would like to take it down to C.

And suddenly it all sounds like crap.

The chords are simple enough:

C D7 G7 C
As the blackbird in the spring neath the willow tree
D7 G7 C
Sat and piped I heard him sing praise of Aura Lee.

C E7 Am C7 F C
(Aura Lee, Aura Lee, maid of golden hair;
C A7 D7 G7 C
Sunshine came along with thee and swallows in the air)

The problem is that on the guitar, all those chords are either higher than the C the song resolves into (if you play the easy C chord);

OR: the C the song resolves into is way too high (on the eighth fret).

This is very, very frustrating.

Any suggestions?

UPDATE:

I just tried re-tuning the guitar, taking each string five semitones down. Unplayabe. Sounds like a tin can.

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    Hi @Ricky, you should be able to play it in either key F or C with all open chords. Which should sound fine either way. Are you maybe playing barre chords higher up the neck for some of those chords? – Michael Curtis Nov 5 '18 at 22:55
  • @MichaelCurtis: Not really, no. I'm playing the C on the first fret (open), D7 on the first fret (open), G7 on the third fret (barred). That's the verse, and it sounds like crap. When I play it in F, it's F on the first fret (barred), G7 on the third fret (barred), C7 on the first fret (open) - and it sounds just fine. – Ricky Nov 5 '18 at 23:11
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    Someone once asked if I sang Aura Lee. I said I always sang orally... – Tim Nov 6 '18 at 8:11
  • Without knowing the exact voicing of the chords you use in each version, it's impossible to answer. There will be barre chords in the F version, and one or two in C. Where's the problem? On guitar, there are at least seven or eight different mixes of chord voicings that may be used. – Tim Nov 6 '18 at 8:17
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The issue I think you're describing is that changing the song's key messes with the voice leading of open chords. One way to get around this is to practice different voicings of each chord so that no key change pushes a chord up too high on the neck for you to handle smoothly. I don't personally play guitar, but I know other string instruments have this issue. Guitar has 6 strings. You could avoid playing some strings in order to make an easier voicing down lower (no way the 8th fret is the second-highest inversion!), or you could just voice the chords that force you to resolve up that high on the neck up high as well, so as to create smooth voice leading.

Or, of course, you could play barre chords, and then open strings and open chords don't matter at all.

  • The 8th fret is not, to be sure, the second-lowest conversion; but the others are either astoundingly difficult to play smoothly (2 of those), while another one sounds suspiciously like G when you're just breezing through it. There ought to be more strings or something. – Ricky Nov 6 '18 at 15:11
  • @Ricky - Based on your comment of "There ought to be more strings or something", are you interested in playing a 7-string guitar? – Dekkadeci Nov 6 '18 at 15:32
  • @dekkadeci: Fourteen or fifteen would be better, I think. Combined with eight fingers on each hand. – Ricky Nov 6 '18 at 15:46
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    @Ricky You're not wrong... – user45266 Nov 6 '18 at 16:59
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You say you play G7 as a barré on the third fret. Why? It's 1-0-0-0-2-3, basically the same shape as C with the fingers moving one string to the outside. Sounds much more in line with the other chords. Also you don't need to play the G bass note on the low E string since it's on, well, the G string as well which follows the melodic voice leading better (in case you are doing a fingerpicking style, for example).

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