John Fahey and the Open C

by Frederik Nielsen, Sep 9, 2018 . 3 min read

John Fahey and the Open C

Today we’re going to listen to some John Fahey — old, but gold. It’s also a great opportunity to check out the Open C alternate tuning. Here’s how you change your guitar’s tuning to Open C using your Roadie:

#1: Turn on your Roadie

#2: Open the Roadie app

#3: Go to Tunings

#4: Select ‘Open C’

#5: Put Roadie to tuning peg

John Fahey ranks as number 35 on the Rolling stone list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, and no wonder. The guy is the godfather of American Primitive Guitar, which is a fingerstyle guitar music genre. Primitivism didn’t originate in the music industry, but rather in the fine arts space. So what’s American Primitive Guitar? Does it involve playing tunes on a badly constructed DIY guitar made out of wooden boards?

Actually, no. What Fahey did was create avant-garde and neo-classical (yes, those are genres) music using fingerpicking techniques from the country and blues scenes. The style involves a lot of dissonance and minor tunings. As a minimalist, Fahey was a fan of the space in between the notes, which he regarded as much part of a song as the notes themselves. A bit like negative space in graphic design. Fahey’s innovative work became popular, and spawned other musicians like Leo Kottke and Peter Lang who used the techniques throughout the 60’s and 70’s.

It has to be heard to be understood, so check out Fahey’s song ‘Poor Boys Long Way From Home’:

Fahey was very inspired by the likes of Delta blues musician Charley Patton, and if you listen to some of Patton’s music you can hear the similarities:

Fahey, of course, did not pull a Led Zeppelin and outright steal the work of others. Rather, he put his own twist on the blues classics and thus gave birth to the American Primitive Guitar genre. Like Joni Mitchell, who we’ve recently covered, Fahey was a fan of alternate tunings. His favorite, however, was the Open C (CGCGCE). You can hear this alternate tuning on several of his songs, most notably ‘Sunflower River Blues’:

You can also hear it on ‘Funeral Song for Mississippi John Hurt’:

Unfortunately, John Fahey is no more — but his website is. There is a section just for guitar players, and you can check out his guide to C tuning here. You can also check out our Complete Guide to Guitar tuning here.



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Do you know when you should upgrade your guitar? That is a very personal question that will therefore have quite different answers.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 25, 2020 . 4 min read

In this guitar tutorial, you will learn how to play “Down By the River” by Milky Chance. This song was released as the second single from their debut album Sadnecessary.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 21, 2020 . 4 min read

Recent discussion at tendermeets revolved around how romance inspires music and creativity for artists of all kinds.

Augusto Palmeri
Sep 15, 2020 . 5 min read

The best online jamming websites are a godsend. First, they are a great way to practice. Second, they are fun. Third, they are especially useful in a time of pandemic and limited social contact.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 7, 2020 . 3 min read

Is lo-fi the smooth jazz of the new generation? No. It is not. Lo-Fi is not the smooth jazz of the generation. But what is Lo-fi after all?

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 4, 2020 . 3 min read

On the evening of August 28, the sad and devasting news emerged. Black Panther actor and on-screen legend: Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away at the age of 43. The actor was fighting a private battle with colon cancer since 2016.

Frederik Nielsen
Aug 31, 2020 . 4 min read

Guitar pedals are a dime a dozen. There are just so many types, variations, blends, and flavors. I could write an encyclopedia on guitar pedals available.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 25, 2020 . 4 min read

Chris Cornell was one of the architects of grunge in the early 90s. He is one of the three most important figures in this movement, the other two being Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 24, 2020 . 4 min read

Some might say country music has a way of telling stories, unlike any other genre. And once you get past trucks, football, and bourbon references, you can truly hear it.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 18, 2020 . 4 min read

Turning your hobby into your profession is quite a leap. There is very little pressure in playing for fun. But for a professional guitarist, every gig is a serious matter. After all, you will be getting paid according to your abilities and the realities of the market you’re in.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 17, 2020 . 4 min read

The ukulele has seen a considerable popularity surge in the past years. This surge has been so pronounced that even major brands like Fender and Cordoba started producing ukuleles.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 14, 2020 . 5 min read

Roadie Music has followers ranging from eager beginners to seasoned professionals. Whatever your level of skill, it’s always good to aspire to become better.

Frederik Nielsen
Aug 12, 2020 . 4 min read

Tuning is crucial. And it turns out, no one is more obsessed with tuning than a guitarist. Guitar players check their tuning excessively and for good reason. If a single string is out of tune, it can completely ruin a song (as well as your reputation).

Rodrigo Sanchez
Aug 4, 2020 . 4 min read

Bob Dylan has been a staple of music and culture for over 50 years. He’s considered by many one of the greatest songwriters to ever live.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 30, 2020 . 4 min read

There are countless underrated rock legends who don’t get the recognition they deserve. But imagine actually receiving critical acclaim for your work… and still not being remembered.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 27, 2020 . 4 min read

Some guitarists tend to focus solely on improving their left hand. The dirty little secret is that the left hand can only be as good as the right hand allows. Good hand synchronization is imperative for any guitarist.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 17, 2020 . 3 min read

Released in February of 1970, “Fire and Rain” has been a staple of fine songwriting for 50 years.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 15, 2020 . 5 min read

Guitarists are a dime a dozen. Unique guitarists are not. And then there are those who stand in the rarified air of having their unique guitar playing styles widely imitated.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 14, 2020 . 4 min read

As guitar players, practicing is the most important tool we have to get better. I hate to break it to you, but there is no way around this one.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 6, 2020 . 6 min read

Some say that few things match the gift of giving. Sharing and giving usually does good to all parties involved. People love presents, and guitar players are no exception. So to help make the right impression, here are the top ten gifts your guitar-player friend will love.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 3, 2020 . 6 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!