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Today is alt tuning #5 since starting on January 1, 2016. My open string notes are:
Hello fellow alt-tuners and those who want to be!
Today’s blog post focuses on the alternate tuning FACFCD which is only a slight variation from the other tunings I’ve posted this week. So far we’ve looked at the following tunings:
Like the previous two tunings from this week, I’m once again playing in the key of F Major. The only difference between yesterday’s tuning (DACFCD) and today’s tuning (FACFCD) is tuning string 6 from D up to to F. (Don’t worry, string 6 is normally tuned to E in standard so raising this string to F is only a half-step higher).
This short improv version of “A Place Beyond” in FACFCD tuning features some great chord voicings of some common chords. We will look at some of these chords after the video with detailed instructions and screenshots showing you where to place your fingers.
MINI THEORY BLURB
Even though yesterday’s tuning was in the key of F Major, I focused on the low D note on string 6. What I mean by “focusing” on the D note is that the chord progression resolved at D making D the “tonal center” of my progression. This is known as playing in a “mode” of the Major scale.
The notes of the F Major scale are F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and E regardless of what tuning you’re playing in. Because my chord progression in DACFCD was in the “D mode” or focused on D, I was playing the “Aeolian mode” of the F Major scale.
If you’re new to modes or music theory, or you don’t care about theory, you don’t have to understand or remember this in order to enjoy playing in alt tunings. If you watch the video from yesterday and compare it to today’s video, you’ll be able to hear the differences between the two modes.
Let’s get back to alt tuning fun!
The first chord of my progression is F 6 (notes F, A, C, D):
I start the progression by playing all the open strings. Nice sounding chord to build the chord progression on.
The second chord of my progression is G m7add11 (notes G, A#, C, D, F):
This five note chord is easy to play when you take advantage of the open strings. I play string 6/fret 2 (G) and string 5/fret 1 (A#), with strings 4 through string 1 open.
I play another finger position of F 6 for my next chord:
I play string 6/fret 4 (A) and string 5/fret 3 (C), with strings 4 through string 1 open.
My next chord is A# M2(add9):
Once again I play strings 4 through 1 open, but this time I play string 6/fret 5 (A#) and string 5/fret 5 (D).
The next chord is an interesting one. I’ll call it C M2(add9), add11, -5:
Once again strings 4 through 1 are open, while I play string 6/fret 7 (C) and string 5/fret 7 (E). This chord is complex – so complex it’s really not a chord.
When I’m improvising or working on a chord progression, I allow the sound to drive the creative process, not really choosing what chords to play next. In this case, it sounded good but when I started picking apart the notes, I realized I had an “odd ball” chord that I had to give a name to. Easy to play – hard to explain. 🙂
The last chord we’re going to cover is F 6 -3 (F 6 minus 3):
This chord is almost as easy to play as F 6 (all open notes like our first chord). The only string that is not open is string 5/fret 8 (F).
Because the notes I’m playing are F, C and D, I’m not playing the A note which is the missing note from a 6 chord. That’s why it’s F 6 (minus 3) because I’m not playing the “3 note” (A).
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.