Today’s alternate tuning is Open A with the open string notes EAC#EAE in the key of A Major.
The song I play in the video below, “Arise Alive,” was written while I improvised today in open A tuning. This video also includes the melody idea I heard in my head as I worked out the chord progression. Other than the intro line – “I woke up in the rain” – there are no real words being sung. When I hear a melody in my head while I write a piece of music, I like to save that idea at the same time. I have just never shared it before!
The fretboards below the video show the scale notes, numbers, scale degrees and intervals I’m playing.
One of the reasons I love alternate tuning so much is that playing “typical” progressions sounds anything but typical. This progression has a familiar sound but most of the songs you hear in the key of A Major are in standard tuning.
Recording Tip: Try recording one guitar track using alternate tuning, then layer another track of guitar in standard tuning, playing the same chords. What a sound!
Open A tuning is also easy on the fingers. The only tricky chord for me at first was playing the chord B minor, because of the following finger positioning:
- String 6/Fret 7 (B) ring finger
- String 5/Fret 5 (D) index finger barred*
- String 4/Fret 5 (F#) index finger barred*
- String 3/Fret 7 (B) pinky finger
- String 2 (A) open
- String 1 (E) open
*This is a partial barring across Strings 5 and 4, while not muting Strings 2 and 1, which are ringing open.
The final chord is playing the harmonics on Fret 12 on all the strings.
I hope this tuning and song inspires you to come up with something that expresses your style and your ideas.
May these daily alt tunings continue to inspire you as you explore songwriting beyond the limitations of standard tuning. If you’d like to learn more about making alt tuning a part of your songwriting, give me a call at 888-7-GUITAR or reach out to me here.
Until next time…
Did you know? Scott started playing guitar when he was 14 years old back in 1982. A Pittsburgh native, Scott resides in Rhode Island where he teaches guitar, bass, music and songwriting. He also records and mixes songs for local bands and artists as well as his own music. He writes and records nearly every day and has a real passion to help others hear their “inner voice” and express that in songs.
You can listen to more of Scott’s music at https://soundcloud.com/scottquillin.