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Thread: F# vs Gb

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default F# vs Gb

    How do you guys think of his key when you think of it on an abstract level. I mean, if there's a musical context and the music is moving down the fret board, then naturally you're going to go with Gb since everything is trending to the flattening.

    So, if there's no context and you're just thinking of this key for composing or whatnot, which name do you go with? Each name has six accidentals associated with it. So they're equal on that score. Each of them also has a very infelicitously named degree. The Gb has a Cb as the fourth and the F# has a E# as its seventh.

    I read somewhere that Gb is used very slightly more than F#. However I prefer F# because I tend to think in sharps. When I visualize the fret board I start at the nut and move upward, sharping as I go. Also, hashtags are easier to make than those flat signs (unless you just give up and use the letter B in miniscule).

    This is the one problem key. I mean everyone is going to agree that, Ab, for example with its four flats is eminently preferable to G# with its six sharps and one double-sharp. But I'm not getting a feeling for a similar consensus on the F#/Gb controversy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Marin County, CA


    Gb. As a former trumpet player, which is tuned to Bb, my brain is much happier with flats than sharps.

    That said, I can't say I would ever want to write in either key if I didn't have to. I personally don't think specific major scales sound any different from each other, so why bother with the keys that have more than 4-5 accidentals. I understand the need to be able to move to and from different keys, just not the need to write in those keys.

    Just my
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    West Midlands GB


    I can't back this up with any reasoning or logic, but for me it would be F#.

    John Colter.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2017


    You always are interested in such hard ukulele keys. E is not the easiest either in terms of chords, despite that 2 finger one.
    I keep reading your thread as it is one of the interesting ones

    And ukulele is maybe centered on C/Am with no flats and sharps. But I myself play common chord progressions in all 12 keys (and their relative minors), so I'm not a newbie and can share my knowledge.

    It is best to look at the circle of fifths:
    Around C/Am, there are F and G also and then Am Dm and Em (a d e) and what with all the 7s, major or dominant ones as basic chords. It is that 6 chord sector in that wheel you see. 3 hours.

    So if you play in Db/Bbm, then I'd call it Gb, less accidentals, 5 instead 7. And with B/G#m it will be most natural to call it F# for the same reason.

    As for the key of F# and Gb, 6 bloody hours from our C6 tuning. I just play knowing the chords and probably think some chords as sharp and some chords as flat named, If I even think any of their names.

    For me it is all easy from C to E or from C to Ab, in those keys what notes are named sharp or flat. Those are the 9 keys I recently practice fingerpicking. The above are somewhat borderline, but as mentioned the circle and the less accidentals and so far I only strum in them hehe. Keeps good barreing exercises.
    Last edited by Jarmo_S; 08-03-2019 at 01:50 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Grand Rapids, MI


    There's lots of history behind it, but the bottom line is that with modern tuning it's arbitrary.

    Guitar players prefer sharps, so I tend to write F# for the band...
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Kyoto Japan


    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    However I prefer F# because I tend to think in sharps. When I visualize the fret board I start at the nut and move upward, sharping as I go. Also, hashtags are easier to make than those flat signs (unless you just give up and use the letter B in miniscule).
    String instruments are easy to play and visualize sharp because we just need to put fingers on the frets in order to sharp. Wind instruments are easy to play and visualize flat because they just need to fill the holes. We are easier to play sharp keys on our ukulele to flat keys (see the figure below). And we are get used to use hashtags. Ukulele and guitar chord books use F# instead of Gb, because they are string instruments. I use F# more than Gb as many people stated here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    Being a tritone away from C, F# or Gb is the Devil's Key, so I generally try to avoid it.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    To clarify, is this question in relation to writing pitches for single note notation or a question about which key signature to use?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Wiltshire, UK


    F# is F with a capo on fret 1. If you want to capo G to get Gb, that's 11th fret, so obviously a non-starter.

    Seriously though, in almost every key you don't see a Gb on the stave (see yahalele's circle of fifths diagram above), so I will only ever think F#.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    Ahem, see his introductory statement: "How do you guys think of [t]his key…." Pretty clear, no?
    In the words of Steve Martin,

    I was asking for clarification, because there was also a reference to G#, which as a key signature does not exist. I wanted to be sure I was clear.

    There are plenty of times here that I have seen discussions about theory where various terms were used and terminology was confused.
    Last edited by EDW; 08-03-2019 at 03:51 PM.

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