Open A tuning ... issues?

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by Obsessed, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I am entering open A tuning in a more serious manner and wonder if there are issues with leaving a guitar (acoustic or electric) in open A for extended periods of time? I could adjust the truss rod, but what about going back to standard tuning eventually? I've done the capo thing for open D to open E, but doing the same capo trick to open G for open A restricts me too much for those higher notes near the body that I want to pursue.

    Any experience or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciative.
     
  2. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

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    Never been any problem for me except for the other guitar player,if it is worrying you you can always retune to store it.:)
     
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  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Thanks. My concern would be that if I retune to standard tuning, then I might need to adjust the truss rod again, which would be a PIA if you know what I mean.
     
  4. Guitar MD

    Guitar MD TDPRI Member

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    Are you tuning in octaves (A C# E) or leaving 6th (1st) and 5th strings as they are?

    If only 3 out of 6 strings tuned higher, I don’t think that should cause an great amount of added tension to worry about, but then I prefer squareneck in Open G tuning w no problem going higher up the neck. Nice to have lower range in open tunings which goes beyond the realm of standard tuning on the bass side too.

    Could always opt for variation of A tuning and detune.




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  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Thanks. Yeah, right now I am sticking to leaving the E strings as they are. You bring up a good point, because if I don't tune in the octaves, it does seem like much less tension and perhaps that is where I remember reading about open A tuning warnings somewhere back in the past.
     
  6. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

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    I always use the very usable and playable lower end acoustic guitar for this purpose.I also used Bass acoustic strings on the heavy side,I only used this stuff on acoustic guitar.If you have a few extra acoustics tuned to your diffrent tunings it saves some agony,I started out on one and it became to busy tuning for every song and I did two gigs like that, first one got a few comments but by the second gig I was faster ,LOL!If your gigging plan ahead a couple extra guitars already set up helps.
     
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  7. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    you get your guitar tuned up good to open A. then, one day, you decide to take it back to regular. you loosen the b string, then the g, then start loosening the d string and the 1st string breaks. so when you take it back to normal tuning, remember to loosen the high e first.
     
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  8. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

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    If you leave out the super-heavy string sets- and don't buy a guitar with a skinny neck, this should be OK. It's irritating, that most great, fat Tele necks have heel accessed truss rods- but there's nothing we can do about that. Just choose the right guitar and make a conservative string choice. :)
     
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  9. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yup, this is exactly where I'm going with this. I'm putting together a set list for a future small gig tour. I plan on taking various guitars with different tunings. Perhaps both acoustic and electric. Adding open A tuning adds complexity, so I am just exploring it right now, but fits well into what my concept is about. My wife has an extra sub $400 acoustic, but I don't dare ruin it and I am buying a cheap archtop as well.
     
  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yeah, I figured that would be important. Keeping the high e string standard seems to eliminate that issue, but thanks for the reminder.
     
  11. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    Is this for finger style/Spanish playing or are you asking about Dobro G up a whole step (A C# E A C# E)?

    Interested to hear more about this and how you plan to use it...not to critique, just interested (tunings are cool, man).

    I have a cheap old plywood 12-string acoustic that I string with 6; right now it’s in Dobro G with slightly lighter strings than a Dobro set (I think the low G is a .054 rather than .056) and it seems to have held up. Sounds nice in a Kelly Joe Phelps kind of way but since I don’t use fingerpicks it’s pretty quiet, and I usually end up playing my electric lap steel instead. Tried it in a 1 3 5 6 1 3 tuning briefly using light guitar strings, and the tension/string gauge game scared me
    Back to Dobro G.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
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  12. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Thanks. This sounds like a good strategy. I don't like thin necks anyway, so don't have any anymore. My only real heavy string guitar is the reso and I keep that in open D. My MIM tele has a reasonably chunky neck with a headstock trussrod access, so I think I'm good there.
     
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  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My plan is just fingerstyle Spanish tuning without changing the e strings.

    I'm developing some old fingerstyle blues songs in various tunings (presently open G, open D and open E) and then transitioning into electric slide on the fly a la Jack White style, with some originals doing the same thing. It's a major project that keeps pointing me to some open A stuff.
     
  14. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    Sounds cool! Hope to hear a recorded example here at some point...?
     
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  15. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    If you want to dedicate it to open A, then you are ideally going to put together a custom string set for it, and set the guitar up specifically for it. A regular string set won't give you the ideal tension on each string in open A. You want to go with lighter strings on the strings you tune up, and heavier strings on the strings you tune down, as well as probably going up 2–3 gauges from a normal set, across the board. You also want to decide at this point whether you want a no radius, like a lap slide guitar, or some curve. It depends on your preference, as either way is suitable, but for different slide techniques.

    If you are only going to put it in open A here and there, then you want to to use a regular string set and set it up for regular tuning. Then you just deal with the slightly less than ideal characteristics when you temporarily put it in open A.
     
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  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Super great input. Thanks. This would explain my crappy slide work in open A so far. Something is wrong, but I could not put my finger on it (no pun intended). No doubt about it, I will set it up on a 12" radius fretboard or flatter for that full style slide work. 2-3 gauge heavier strings? Wow. Dang. I have 15s on my reso, but is is a ham fisted baseball bat neck and staying in my favorite alternate tuning, open D. My Sheraton has the longitudinal laminated neck that should put up with anything, although I have been using that for my open D and then adding a capo for open E. My cheap acoustics would probably break with that kind of stress. Hmmm, I probably should be able to work around using the Sherry for Open A, but then which acoustic? Maybe an acoustic pedal? Oh well, you gave me great food to chew on. Thank you so much.
     
  17. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    You're welcome.

    I say 2–3 sets thicker because most people use 10s or 9s. That would put you at 11s to 13s by my recommendation. Those aren't all that thick, but still an improvement for slide.

    Also, if you're setting up flat, you should realize that you want to measure "flat" across the tops of the strings, not from a fret to the bottoms of the strings.

    If you really want to dedicate the guitar to totally-flat slide playing for good, then theoretically you want to re-slot your nut too, so your strings are totally flat across the top (or get a metal nut overlay and do the same with it).

    FWIW, I've had 13s on my '68 Guild and my high-end D-35 copy for almost 20 years now. No issues. 13s should be the starting point strings for acoustics, IMO. The heavy strings beat the most volume and richness out of an acoustic instrument. IMO, it's only when your hands or the guitar can't handle it that you should go down to thinner strings.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  18. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Got it. Thanks. I will be finger picking as well as slide so I guess I will need to make a decision about how flat I want to go. I totally see the advantage with the tension involved. Well, I played the whole evening on open A with 12s and now I know why all these guys use thumb picks. My thumb with this high tension has worn a huge raw spot. I have a thumb pick, but never really gave it much of a chance. Now I might have a really good reason to use one.
     
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