Learn Tony Rice’s Take on “House of the Rising Sun”

The guitarist's solo introduction takes liberties with harmony, melody, and tempo.
Tony Rice in black and white

The Tony Rice Unit’s take on “House of the Rising Sun,” recorded on Unit of Measure, was utterly impromptu. “If we would have done another take of it, it would have been totally different,” Rice says. The guitarist’s solo introduction takes liberties with harmony, melody, and tempo. Indeed, melody takes a back seat to building a line that serves to tie together warm and original chord voicings. Rice doesn’t often use his middle and ring fingers on his picking hand, but he does here in measures 6, 8, 13, 16, 42, and 43, occasionally snapping the strings for a fine percussive effect. The band joins him for several choruses at a slow pace and then kicks into several passes at an uptempo bluegrass groove.

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Musical examples and guitar tablature for Tony Rice’s version of “House of the Rising Sun”, part 1
Musical examples and guitar tablature for Tony Rice’s version of “House of the Rising Sun”, part 2
Musical examples and guitar tablature for Tony Rice’s version of “House of the Rising Sun”, part 3

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Musical examples and guitar tablature for Tony Rice’s version of “House of the Rising Sun”, part 4

This piece originally appeared in the June 2002 issue of Acoustic Guitar and was reprinted the September/October 2020 issue.


This article originally appeared in the June 2002 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine and was reprinted in the September/October 2020 issue.


Craig Havighurst
Craig Havighurst

Craig Havighurst is a music journalist and multi-media producer.

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