We are Mike Stangeland and Kim Davis and we both play guitar and Mike plays mandolin. We primarily play traditional fiddle tunes, Bluegrass, Old-time, and a little Celtic and Blues. Most of the tunes on this page were arranged by Mike and/or Kim for flatpicked guitar and mandolin. These are the tunes we play or hope to learn over time. These are not definitive versions, the arrangements are just the way we play the tunes. We decided to post them on our website because we think they might be useful for beginning and intermediate level flatpickers and mandolin players. They are offered for purely educational purposes; nothing is for sale. We hope you enjoy them as much as we've enjoyed making them!
Our tablature is all in Tabledit format. You can download the free Tabledit Viewer to view and print our Tabledit files. If you want to arrange and compose your own tunes in Tabledit format, plus transpose to different keys or convert to different instruments, you can download the full version, which costs about $55 USD to register. Click on either icon below to visit the Tabledit site.
We will be loading more tunes as time goes on, so check back again soon.
A Bruxa Key A minor Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was transcribed from a mandolin recording of it by Dakota Dave Hull and Kari Larson on the CD "Double Cappuccino" then I arranged it for guitar. It's a traditional Spanish waltz, very lonely and haunting. It sounds wonderful on guitar. Dakota Dave and Kari Larson are some of our favorite instrumentalists, their recordings run the gamut from traditional to swing, highly recommended!
Check out "Moonbeams", "Hull's Victory", "Double Cappuccino" and "Reunion Rag"
Ace of Spades Key A (played capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune is a standard of the Texas Fiddle style. This is a transcription from the playing of the great Benny Thomasson, one of the founders of the style. It's tough and will take a lot of work, when you've got this one up to speed you can say you've "Arrived."
Recordings: Benny Thomasson: "Texas Hoedown" Joe Carr: "Texas Fiddle Favorites" Stacy Phillips on "The Great Dobro Sessions"
A.J.'s Reel Key C Written by Charlie Derrington, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Charlie Derrington was a wonderful musician, a great mandolin builder and was the manager Gibson's acoustic stringed instrument division and is credited with rebuilding the operation and regaining the respect it once had. In 2002 he sent me an album he had recorded but had not been released and I transcribed several of his instrumentals. This is one of them. Sadly, Charlie was killed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver on the evening of August 1, 2006. He will be greatly missed by many.
According to The Fiddler's Companion: "This old time song and tune was derived from a sentimental song by Stephen Foster, called 'Angelina Baker,' whose lyrics tell about a slave who is parted from her lover when sold." This tune has stood up well over the years and has been recorded many times. For us the most notable recording is David Grier's version on his "Freewheeling" CD.
An American Old-time fiddle tune which is almost universally known. This is a standard for most anyone's repertoire who loves Old-time music. This is my personal version.
Recordings: Norman Blake and Tut Taylor: "Flatpickin' in the Kitchen" David Grier: "I've Got the House to Myself" Clarence White: "33 Guitar Instrumentals" Ed Haley: "Grey Eagle (Disc 1 of 2)" Jethro Burns and Red Rector: "Old Friends"
Ashland Breakdown Key C (capo 3, A position) Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Another great tune from the master tunesmith Bill Monroe. It has three parts and is played in C, I found it plays best for me in capo 3 "A" position.
If you enjoy Old-time fiddle tunes you will enjoy this one, it has a really nice groove. A barlow knife is a type of folding pocket knife that features double or single blades that open at one end only. The knife-style bears the name of a man named Barlow of Sheffield, England, one of the earliest and most famous makers. When I was young (1940's-50's) most young men owned one of these wonderful pocket knives. Owning a barlow knife was a rite of passage in the South.
Beaumont Rag(Standard version with variations) Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR Beaumont Rag capo 2(Standard version) Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is possibly one of the three or four most popular flatpick tunes of all time, an absolute "must know." My capo 2 standard version is based largely on the most accepted version of the tune by the grandfather of flatpicking Doc Watson. The open D version is my own based on several influences. The "Standard version with variations" kicks off with Doc's version and I have added a couple of my variations that are within striking distance of the advanced intermediate. Fiddle players very often play this tune in F so I've included a couple of variations in open F also.
Big Mon Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a hard driving bluegrass instrumental written in 1958 by Bill Monroe that has been popular with flatpickers for decades. This tune has been recorded many times and became a standard for flatpickers when Tony Rice recorded it on his album "Tony Rice."
Recordings: Tony Rice: "Tony Rice" Bill Monroe: "Bear Family (1950-58) Vol. 4", "Instrumentals" Kenny Baker: "Plays Bill Monroe" Bobby Hicks: "Texas Crapshooter"
Big Sandy River Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Bill Monroe & Kenny Baker, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a jam tune every flatpicker should know. It was written by Bill Monroe and Kenny Baker in 1963 and it has been popular ever since. This is a straight ahead version which should be easy for the beginner to get up to speed.
Recordings: Bryan Sutton: "Bluegrass Guitar" Steve Kaufman & Roy Curry on FGM's CD: "Flatpicking Favorites: Hot & Spicy" Kenny Baker: "Plays Bill Monroe" Bill Monroe: Bear Family Box Set "Bluegrass 1959-1969," "Music of Bill Monroe," "Bluegrass Special"
"Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, West Virginia. G Major. Standard. AABB. A popular tune in the old-timey revival repertoire. It is named for the Scioto/Sciota River, which flows through Ohio and empties into the Ohio River. The source for most of the versions, Marlinton, West Virginia, fiddler Burl Hammons."
It was introduced to the flatpick world by a stunning high spirited guitar version recorded by Russ Barenberg, Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer on their CD "Skip, Hop, and Wobble." I played it on mandolin for several years and actually got to play it with Barenberg once, a high point for me, he's a monster guitarist!
My guitar version was adapted from my transcription of Sam's Bush's incredible mandolin break on the "Skip, Hop & Wobble" CD. It's playable at high speed so perfect for the intermediate player.
Recordings: Russ Barenberg, Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer: "Skip, Hop & Wobble" Russ Barenberg, Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer: on FGM's CD: "Flatpicking '98" Bryan Sutton (with Russ Barenberg): "Not Too Far from the Tree" (the best flatpicked version ever!) Robin Kessinger: "Roots and Branches"
Bill Cheatham(Intermediate Level) Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR Bill Cheatham(Beginner Level) Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Kim Davis
This is another classic jam tune every flatpicker should know.
Recordings: Kentucky Colonels: "Long Journey Home" Robin Kessinger: "Fiddle" Doc Watson: "The Vanguard Years (Disc 4)", "Doc Watson on Stage", "Instrumental Guitar Collection (1964-1998)", "Instrumentals" Doc Watson, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs: "Strictly Instrumental" Cody Kilby: "Down Home Pickin'" Aubrey Haynie: "The Bluegrass Fiddle Album" Kazuaki Miyazaki: "Man-O-Mandolin" Jerry Douglas: "Everything is Gonna Work Out Fine", "Fluxology"
Bryan Sutton is one of the most versatile and just plain powerful flatpickers to ever come down the Bluegrass turnpike. IBMA guitarist of the year, former guitarist for Ricky Skaggs, now a top session musician in Nashville, if you love flatpicked guitar you must own all of his recordings. I've transcribed his first 2 breaks from his recording on the "Not Too Far From the Tree" CD. For me, this is the best version of this 'Must-know' standard I've ever heard.
Recording: Bryan Sutton (with Jerry Sutton): "Not Too Far From the Tree"
This is popular American Old-time fiddle tune which has been recorded several times. As Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner said, it's "a good one." Most people play this in open C position but I prefer to play it capo 5, G position.
Recordings: Tony Rice: "California Autumn" Bryan Sutton (with Jerry Sutton): "Not Too Far From the Tree" Doc Watson: "Instrumental Guitar Collection (1964-1998)" Sandy Rothman and Steve Pottier: "Bluegrass Guitar Duets" Robin Kessinger: "Fiddle" James Alan Shelton: "Blue in the Blue Ridge" Terry Morris: "A Touch of Texas, Fiddlin' That Is" Benny Thomasson: "Weiser Reunion", "Texas Hoedown"
Of all the Bluegrass instrumentals I've heard in jam sessions across the nation, it seems that "Blackberry Blossom" may be the most widely known and played tune. Like other extremely popular tunes, every player is more or less required to put his own twist on this tune. In my version I've included a relatively "straight" version and a suggestion for variations.
This tune has been recorded by many over the years and is often used as a contest tune by flatpickers. It's a C tune that I prefer playing in the capo 3, A position, but I've included an open C low octave version also. The best version I've ever heard is by Allen Shadd on the "Live From Winfield" CD.
When Doc Watson recorded this tune on "Will the Circle be Unbroken" he introduced the art of flatpicking fiddle tunes to the world at large and an entire generation of flatpickers was born. If a flatpicker expects to get any respect from his peers he must have a personal version of this classic, here's mine.
Black's Fork Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Matt Flinner, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was written by Matt Flinner, one of our favorite musicians. His recordings with David Grier and Todd Phillips stand as some of the best instrumental Bluegrass/eclectic music ever recorded. This tune is one or our favorites, I've transcribed Flinner's first mandolin break and converted it to guitar.
Blackwood Fiddle Key G Written by Brendan O'Leary, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Years ago I transcribed this tune and can't remember where it came from or who Brendan O'Leary is, but it's a good flatpicking tune.
Blake's March Key G Written by Norman Blake, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was written by Norman Blake and recorded on the "Natasha's Waltz" CD as a mandolin instrumental. We thought it would work well on guitar, so I made a flatpicked guitar arrangement for it.
The Fiddler's Companion states: "The first part of the tune shows up in several melodies from Ireland, Scotland and England; these variants include the Irish 'Centenary March' and 'An Comhra Donn,' and the Scottish 'Caledonian March.' Samuel Bayard (1944) was familiar with 'Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine' as a common march tune in his primary collecting area of western Pennsylvania, and one which circulated under a variety of names including (in Fayette County) 'Bruce's March' and (in Greene County) 'The Star of Bethlehem.'"
Recordings: Fuzzy Mountain String Band: "Summer Oaks and Porch", "Fuzzy Mountain String Band" Slavek Hanzlik: "Spring in the Old Country"
This Irish traditional tune goes by many names, "Bonaparte Crossing the Alps", "Bonaparte's March", "The Battle of Waterloo", etc. Whatever you call it it's a great tune and plays well on guitar. This version works well for beginners and intermediates.
This is one of those great "crooked" Old-time tunes, it has 14 measures and the B part just sort of develops as an afterthought at the end of A part. I really liked it so I wrote 3 variations for it; the first one in the same octave as the melody but the second and third are an octave lower, lots of fun to play. You might want to play it high-low-high-low.
This wonderful Old-time fiddle tune probably owes its popularity to Bill Monroe who when he played it in his shows told everyone that it was one his Uncle Pen's favorite "numbers." Probably the best recording of this number was done by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder on the CD "Ancient Tones" Bryan Sutton tears it up on his break!
Written by Bill Monroe and recorded several times by others, this is a great tune but seldom heard in jam sessions. It may be in for revival because Bryan Sutton does a bang up flatpick version of it on his CD "Ready to Go". This arrangement was drawn from several transcriptions I made from various players but follows the original melody pretty closely and really plays well on guitar.
Recordings: Bryan Sutton: "Ready to Go" James Alan Shelton: "Blue In The Blue Ridge" Bill Monroe: "Bear Family 1950-58 Vol. 3" Kenny Baker: "Plays Bill Monroe", "Bluegrass Instrumentals" Bluegrass Album Band: "Bluegrass Instrumentals (Volume 6)" Dreadful Snakes: "Snakes Alive"
Recordings: Lewis Brothers: "Cornshucker's Frolic, Vol. 1", "Old Time Texas String Bands, Vol. 1: Texas Farewell", "Old Mountain: Stringband Songs & Tunes" Bob Carlin & John Hartford: "The Fun of Open Discussion"
This great old tune has been recorded many times over the years by many of the great flatpickers and others. The best guitar versions IMO were those recorded by Norman Blake and Bryan Sutton. My arrangement relies heavily on the playing of mandolinist Jessee McReynolds.
Also known as "Campbell's Farewell to Redcastle." According to The Fiddler's Companion: "The Campbell referred to in the title may be the Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, who led troops in the massacre of Glencoe Pass in 1692. Redcastle is a village on the north side of Beauty Firth approximately 100 miles from Glencoe, whose castle was built in 1179 (it claims to be the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland)." We like the tune and decided to make a guitar version of it.
An old country blues classic that found it's way into Bluegrass and Old-time circles. I transcribed a live recording of Mike Compton playing it and used it as a basis for this guitar version.
Recordings: Nashville Bluegrass Band: "My Native Home" Narmour & Smith: "Mississippi String Bands - Volume Two" (probably the greatest recording ever made of this tune) Doc and Merle Watson: "Pickin' Blues" (excellent flatpicked version) Johnny Gimble: "World's Greatest Country Fiddlers" Highwoods Stringband: "Feed Your Babies Onions: Fat City Favorites"
I was once asked what the most perfectly played flatpicked style tune I'd ever heard was and "Cattle in the Cane" by Tony Rice immediately came to mind. It's truly a classic, just he, playing lead, and his brother playing rhythm guitar on the album "Church Street Blues".
That said, the most incredible version on any instrument I've ever heard was played by a "Texas Style" fiddler named Terry Morris on his album "A Touch of Texas, Fiddlin' That Is", it's melodic perfection. Unfortunately Terry died in a diving accident many years ago, some still consider him the all time best Texas Style fiddler that ever dragged a bow.
This tune has been recorded many times through the years and remains a popular jam session tune. To honor Rice I play something close to his A part and my B part came from a fiddle version.
Catharsis Key A minor Written by Amy Cann, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR and Kim Davis
According to The Fiddler's Companion: "Composed by Amy Cann, a fiddler and music teacher from Putney, Vermont, ... The tune is popular with New England contra dance musicians." It was originally written in G minor, but plays easier in A minor on the guitar.
This one is really fun to pick and is popular at Bluegrass jams. The Fiddler's Companion states, "Banjo player Howard Bursen identifies the tune as a West Coast version of "Lonesome Indian," and that it was derived from fiddler Tommy Magness who recorded the tune in the 1930's. Tommy Jackson is generally credited with transforming Magness's "Lonesome Indian" into "Cherokee Shuffle."
My version follows the Jackson treatment, the B part is crooked having a extra measure.
This tune was written by Dr. Ralph Stanley in the 1930's. It has been been an extremely popular tune for many years and is a Bluegrass jam session standard that everyone must know. The B part has a 2/4 measure which accounts for the "Backstep."
Recordings: David Grier: "Hootenanny" Clarence White: "33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals" The Stanley Brothers: "The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys"
This arrangement is largely based on Tom Rozum's mandolin version. It is an old-time classic played by many generations in many styles. All the recordings we have heard were played in A minor. We've included a lower octave part which really growls.
An American Old-time tune that plays well on guitar. The Fiddler's Companion says: "D. K. Wilgus, in his article 'The Hanged Fiddler Legend in Anglo-American Tradition'..." said, "Joe Coleman, a shoemaker, was accused of stabbing his wife to death near the town of Slate Fork, Adair County, Kentucky, as recorded in the Burkesville Herald Almanac for 1899. Convicted on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of his sister-in-law who was living with them at the time, Coleman, was tried in nearby Cumberland County and sentenced to death. While being driven to the place of execution in a two-wheeled ox cart, Coleman sat on his coffin and played a tune that has come down as 'Coleman's March.'..."
Another classic Irish fiddle tune. This arrangement is a straight ahead version for flatpicked guitar. If you want to hear an outrageously cool version, listen to Russ Barenberg's recording on his "Halloween Rehearsal" CD!
A classic Texas fiddle tune which has become a popular contest tune for flatpickers.
Recording: Cody Kilby: "Live From Winfield", "Flatpicking '99" Robert Shafer: "Winfield Winners" Mark O'Connor: "Pickin' in the Wind" Peter McLaughlin: "Cliffs of Vermilion" Orrin Star: "No Frets Barred" Benny Thomasson: "Weiser Reunion"
Crazy Creek Key A minor Written by Tommy Jackson, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is the original version written by the fiddler Tommy Jackson and it is written in the key of A minor. Most of the recorded versions are in the key of A major. I will add A major versions in the future. The best version ever played of this tune is by Wyatt Rice on his "New Market Gap" CD.
A beautiful traditional Irish tune that became very popular among the Old-time and Bluegrass players in the US, the Irish often play it as a slow "air" but when it crossed the ocean it became a reel.
I learned it from a Norman Blake mandolin recording on "Fields of November - Old and New" For a wonderful Irish version check out Dave Swarbrick & Martin Carthy on "Rags, Reels, and Airs" Nickel Creek - "Nickel Creek" (a great contemporary version) Allen Shadd - "A Cut Above" (excellent flatpicked version by a National Champion)
My arrangement of this great fiddle tune was influenced somewhat by Kenny Baker, but in general I tried to follow the melody closely and still make it work well on flatpicked guitar.
Recordings: Kenny Baker: "Master Fiddler" Clay Jones cooks on this tune on: "Bluegrass '95" Bryan Sutton (maybe the definitive flatpicked version of all time!): "Bluegrass Guitar"
The Dead March Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
The more you transcribe, study and play the instrumentals written by Bill Monroe, the more you come to understand what a musical genius he was. This medium paced gem is extermely powerful. I transcribed the mandolin breaks by Butch Baldassari and John Reischman on the "Travelers" CD and used it as a basis for this guitar version. This is a good'un, I think you'll like it. If you find a copy of the "Muleskinner Live: Original Television Soundtrack" CD, listen to Clarence White's rhythm back up, it's excellent.
Recordings: Bill Monroe: "Bill Monroe", "Bluegrass 1959-1969 (4 of 4)" Butch Baldassari, John Reischman, and Robin Bullock: "Travelers" Clarence White plays great rhythm on "Muleskinner Live: Original Television Soundtrack"
Dill Pickle Rag Key G/C Written by Charles L. Johnson, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
The Fiddler's Companion states: "A novelty rag composed in 1907 by Kansas City native and resident Charles L. Johnson (1876-1950), an African-American publisher and composer (under his own name and aliases), especially of cakewalk and ragtime pieces. The popular melody found its way into the old‑time repertoire. The title appears in a list of "traditional" Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954."
Written by mandolinist Jesse McReynolds in 1957 it's become a standard for flatpickers and is often used as a contest tune. My version follows McReynolds' original version fairly closely. I prefer learning the "original" version of any tune first then developing my own variation.
Recordings: David Grier & Matt Flinner - "Looking Back" (David's breaks are wonderful) Roy Curry - "Winfield Winners" (fantastic version by a great player)
This is a great swing fiddle tune that's a little difficult on guitar in open position if you play Berline's melody from his "Flat Broke Fiddler" CD note-for-note. To make it more playable I transposed the A part down one octave except for the last 2 measures. The first 6 measures of the B part are a sort of "Player's Choice" meaning you can just improv as you please but tagging with the last 2 measures as written will tie it back to the A part really well. I've included a mandolin/fiddle version for reference if you or a friend plays those instruments.
Done Gone Key Bb (capo 3, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
A well known and powerful old Irish Reel, a must for all Celtic musicians.
Recordings: Dave Swarbrick: "Dave Swarbrick" Frankie Gavin & Alec Finn: "Masters of Irish Music"
Dry Creek Reel Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
According to The Fiddler's Companion: "...learned by Joe Pancerzewski in the 1920's from the four fiddling Nelson brothers, who homesteaded on Dry Fork Creek, near Ginnell, North Dakota, and who were in great demand as square dance fiddlers in the area..."
Durham's Reel Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Also known as "Durham's Bull" this tune was apparently named for fiddler Buddy Durham. Back in the late 70's when I was first learning a little Bluegrass we all got our heads twisted around by an incredible album by a new group called Hot Rize and learned every tune they recorded. Durham's Reel was a favorite because of the incredible flatpicking by Charles Sawtelle. As long as I live he'll "own" this song. We sure miss you Charles.
Recordings: Hot Rize: "Hot Rize" Flatt & Scruggs: Bear Family Set "1959-1963", "Flatt & Scruggs at Carnegie Hall!: The Complete Concert"
This Old-time tune has become popular with Bluegrass players who have turned it into a high powered driving instrumental.
Recordings: Aubrey Haynie: "The Bluegrass Fiddle Album" Tommy Jarrell: "Legacy of Tommy Jarrell, Vol.3: Come and Go with Me"
Dusty Rose Key A minor Written by Norman and Nancy Blake, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune is a beautiful mandolin piece written by Norman and Nancy Blake and recorded on their CD "Natasha's Waltz." It has an unusual chord structure like so many of their wonderful tunes and translates well to a flatpick guitar solo.
This powerful old fiddle tune is unusual because of its structure, it's played AABBCCB. I added an arrangement in D minor partly because that's where Norman Blake plays it and partly because I like the way it sounds and feels in D minor. We have six recordings of this tune. Everyone plays it in A minor except Norman.
This tune was written by a black harmonica player named DeFord Bailey who performed with Bill Monroe for a short period. Monroe picked the tune up from him and recorded it and it has been popular among mandolin players and bluegrass instrumentalists ever since. My guitar version is in open G, but you may want to try it capo 3, E position because it looks like it might play well there and be easier.
This is a very old tune of uncertain origin usually played at breakneck speed. It's very fun play with other guitarists and mandolin players but can become completely out of reach as soon as a fiddler walks up!
Recordings: Norman Blake and Tut Taylor: "Flatpickin' in the Kitchen" Kentucky Colonels: "Livin' in the Past" Bill Monroe and Doc Watson: "Live Duet Recordings 1963-1980" Bill Monroe: "Bear Family 1959-69 Vol. 3"
Don't let the name scare you off, this is a great bluegrass instrumental off Ricky's "Brand New Strings" CD and one of the best jam tunes I've run into in a long while. It's an E major modal tune that primarily uses the Em/G scale and occasionally throws in a 3rd for flavor. Once you get the groove of it you can pull out all your G licks and hammer away. The best part of all is that it's played at 190 BPM (95 BPM for the 1/4 note challenged <G>) so you can really stretch out and have fun. I've also included a mandolin break and arranged the guitar break from it.
Also known as "The Mayday Hornpipe" and "American Hornpipe"; James Bryan, a master of Old-time fiddle, recorded it on his album "Rounder, Old-time Music." Listed in the Fiddler's Companion as an "Old-time American" fiddle tune probably coming from Arkansas. It has a lovely melody. We have two versions loaded here, we prefer the version played out of G position with the capo on the second fret.
Flatworld Key A minor Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a really beautiful and powerful ethnic waltz performed by an outstanding group called the Mando Mafia and released on their "Mando Liniment" CD. If you love no-holds-barred, push-the-limits, great old-time/eclectic mandolin in an ensemble form this is the group you want, they have four CDs. "Flatworld" is a haunting fast waltz with a harmony section that'll give you chills. I've included it in this transcription for two guitars. Hope you enjoy it.
Mando Mafia recordings: "Mando Liniment," "Take Two," "Get up in the Cool" and "Get Away"
Flax in Bloom Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Another great D fiddle tune that plays great in capo 2, C position.
This Old-time fiddle tune is a flatpick standard common in jams. It's played in D and flatpickers most often play it in capo 2, "C" position because it's a very fast tune and you can generally play it faster in that position than open D. My version is pretty close to the standard accepted melody most play.
This is a great flatpicking tune. I've transcribed Doc's version from his "Look Away" album and included both of his breaks and his outro. Doc is a great national treasure and one of the fathers of the flatpicking style of guitar playing.
A very pretty old Scottish reel with an infamous name. History has it that the "flowers" were actually human waste floating in the ditches along the streets from people tossing the contents of their chamber pots out the window. None the less, it's an often played and loved by many tune. I've included a simple version and an embellished version that'll take you up the neck for a few measures.
Recordings: Rob Pearcy: "Hats Off" (great flatpicked version) Albert Lee: "Gagged But Not Bound" (excellent flatpicked version - best we've ever heard!) John Carty & Brian McGrath: "Cat That Ate the Candle" Gary Smith: "Plectrology II"
Forked Deer Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is one of the most popular of the Old-time fiddle tunes, it's quite easy to play at dance speed on any instrument and plays particularly well on guitar. It has been recorded many times, we have over 40 versions in our collection.
There is an interesting quote about this tune in The Fiddler's Companion: "The dance tune known as Forked Deer is regarded as vulgar in the Ozarks, because the title has a double meaning. Forked might refer to the deer's antlers, but it is also the common Ozark term for ‘horny’, which means sexually excited. The word is always pronounced ’fork-ed’, in two syllables. I have seen nice young girls leave a dance when the fiddler began to play Forked Deer..."
The Fiddler's Companion states, "Old-Time, Breakdown... Tennessee, Kentucky. This piece has been popular as a banjo/vocal number and has a reputation as a driving banjo tune among musicians in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee,...The piece was recorded in 1924 by Tennessee's Uncle Dave Macon.. It was also recorded in the 20's by other south-central or eastern Kentucky musicians such as Henry L. Bandy."
I transcribed a wonderful version recorded by a young mandolin player named Ashby Frank on his CD "First Crossing" and used it as a basis of my guitar version.
Going Up Caney Key G Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was composed and recorded by Bill Monroe and later by the recorded by the incredible Mike Compton and master guitarist David Grier on their CD "Climbing The Walls" (one of the best recordings of any kind I've ever heard.) It has real punch and drive and is fun to play.
Gold Rush Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a classic jam tune every flatpicker should know. Gold Rush has been recorded many times by the world's top flatpickers and fiddlers and mandolinists so there's a lot of listening material out there to help you create your own version.
Recordings: Kenny Baker: "Master Fiddler" David Grier: "Freewheeling" Tony Rice: "Church Street Blues" & "Unit of Measure" Brad Davis & Cody Kilby on FGM's CD: "Flatpicking Favorites: Hot & Spicy" Mark O'Connor: "Heroes" Dan Crary: "Bluegrass Guitar" Bill Monroe: Bear Family Box Set "Bluegrass 1959-1969"
According to The Fiddler's Companion, this was probably once a mid-19th century brass band tune, originally meant to be played on an instrument that featured "tonguing" articulation of notes like a coronet. This tune is excellent for developing your right hand technique. There are several phrases which jump back and forth across the strings, difficult but way cool when you get it.
This tune was written by Norman Blake and recorded on his album "Fields of November/Old and New." This is one of those tunes that would best be called charming, refreshing and uplifting.
Green Rag Key G Written by Phil Beer?, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Don't really know much about this one accept it was supposed to be written by Phil Beer. If you like rags you'll like this one, it has all the standard "hooks" of the genre and is well written. There are some difficult phrases but the advanced intermediate should be able to play it over time. Norman Blake recorded a tune called "Bowling Green Rag" on his "Be Ready Boys" CD that sounds a lot like it.
Grey Eagle Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is one of the standards in the Texas Fiddle tune bag and became a standard for Bluegrass players also. We have 45 different recordings of it in our collection. This tune is tough and will take a lot of work but it's worth it, it's clearly one of the best of the genre.
I transcribed this tune from Mando Mafia's "Get Up in the Cool" CD. They are one of our favorite Old-time groups. Somebody once described them as "Old-time in overdrive" and this tune is a clear demonstration of that means!
This is another of Bill Monroe's powerful blues flavored instrumentals. It's a big favorite among mandolin players, but you don't hear it commonly in jam sessions. I've arranged two rounds of the melody from a transcription I did of Mike Compton's incredible playing. Besides Bill Monroe's original version on "Blue Grass Special," the version done by Mike Compton & David Grier on the "Climbing the Walls" CD is definitive. You can't do it better than that!
Huckleberry Hornpipe Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Byron Berline, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
A very powerful fiddle tune written by Byron Berline that is very popular with flatpickers. This is partially due to the early recording of it by Dan Crary on his "Lady's Fancy" album. My version sticks pretty close to Berline's actual fiddle transcription, but I've modified some parts so it's easier to play on guitar.
Recordings: Mark Cosgrove & Richard Starkey: "Delaware Crossing" The Country Gazette: "Traitor in Our Midst/Don't Give Up Your Day Job" Dan Crary: "Lady's Fancy"
Impulsive Key A Written by David Grier, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
The most common term used by fellow guitarists to describe David Grier is, "From another planet". When you watch his technique and his listen to his seemingly limitless creative genius it's easy to understand that statement.
This tune appeared on David's "Panorama" CD, it's played at a very fast clip.
This tune was transcribed by Edward Baggott of the playing of one of the most respected masters of the Old-time fiddle, Ed Haley the blind West Virginia fiddler (1883-1951.) The natural ebb and flow Haley's melody line clearly demonstrates to me his genius. You can read about Ed Haley at the Rounder Records website.
Recordings: Ed Haley: "Volume 1, Forked Deer" Kenny Baker: "Master Fiddler", "A Baker's Dozen" (recorded as "Indian Killed a Woodcock"
Indian Point Key E minor (capo 2, D minor position) Written by Rick Mohr, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was written by New England contra-dance fiddler and caller Rick Mohr. We don't play many tunes in 6/8 time but this has such a powerful melody we decided to arrange it for guitar.
Recording: Moving Violations: "Faster Than a Walk"
Kim and I have been long time fans of the music of Norman and Nancy Blake. Discovering Norman's early albums in the '70's made me lay down the Stratocaster and buy my first Martin D-18. He's a national treasure. This tune is a beautiful traditional Scots-Irish tune they recorded several years ago. It's a good beginner tune - pay attention to tone and note duration, "Let them notes ring!".
Norman Blake recordings: "Full Moon on the Farm" and "Lighthouse on the Shore"
Jeff Davis Key A minor Written by Norman Blake, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This hard charging instrumental was written by Norman Blake as a mandolin instrumental and recorded on the album "Natasha's Waltz". I've arranged both high and lower octave break for it.
Recordings: Norman Blake: "Natasha's Waltz" David Grier: "Panorama" (Grier plays this in G minor) Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band: "Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band"
Jerusalem Ridge Key A minor Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune is a sacred icon of Bluegrass music, I consider it the best instrumental tune ever written in the genre. It was rumored for years that it was too complicated for Bill Monroe to write and Kenny Baker actually wrote it but Kenny cleared that up by stating on film that Monroe alone wrote it. Kenny said he had a difficult time learning it, it took him two weeks. Every Bluegrass musician should know this one. I transcribed Kenny Baker's fiddle break and arranged it for guitar, it's very close to note-for-note. Kenny's solo is as near to musical perfection as it gets; some tunes defy embellishment and lose their soul the further they get away from the original. I've heard only one other recording that did it justice, Tony Rice's version on "Church Street Blues"
Kitchen Girl Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This has long been one of our favorite tunes, even though it's not been recorded many times it's still quite popular at jam sessions. My arrangement includes a high and a low octave version that's a lot of fun to play. We think you'll enjoy this one.
Land's End Key D (capo 2, C position) Written by Tim O'Brien, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
We think Tim O'Brien is one of the finest traditional music artists in the world. He's won several Grammys for his work. He's certainly one of the greatest song and instrumental composers, his work is intelligent, often breathtakingly beautiful, and full of emotion and expression. He composed this tune for mandolin and recorded it on his album "Hard Year Blues."
When I was in my early teens my musical teeth were cut playing the simple 12 bar blues tunes that were popular at the time. They were easy and a lot of fun to play and the basis of much of the rock and roll that would soon overwhelm the popular music scene. I've been teaching a little guitar lately and a student asked me to write out a few examples of this old style so I unearthed this stuff from ancient memory. It seems to have been a hit. If you teach guitar you might want to look at this, it will break your students into bass runs and a little bit of lead playing. I named it after my 20 month old grand daughter because she loves to dance to this stuff.
Another very popular traditional tune that fortunately plays well on flatpicked guitar, a good beginner tune to help you build speed.
Recordings: For us the definitive flatpicked version was played by the late Charles Sawtelle on the Hot Rize album "Traditional Ties" Howdy Forrester - "Fancy Fiddlin, Country Style" Sam Bush - "Bluegrass Class of '90" Clay Jones - "Bluegrass 96" (great flatpicking)
The Legend Key D minor (capo 5, A minor position) Written by Béla Fleck, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Béla Fleck's album "Drive" is one of the best recordings of modern acoustic instrumental music ever made and The Legend is one of the best tunes on it. I've arranged this D minor tune at capo 5, A minor position which makes it much easier to play.
Liberty Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune is extremely popular in most parts of the US, probably first recorded by Bob Wills, having been recorded over the years more times than just about any fiddle tune. It's a "must know" for the flatpicker.
Recordings: Norman Blake and Tut Taylor: "Flatpickin' in the Kitchen" Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs: "Strictly Instrumental" The Skillet Lickers: "Old-time Fiddle Tunes from North Georgia" Byron Berline: "Double Trouble"
A popular jazz tune from the 1930's that made its way into the flatpicking repertoire and is considered a standard for advanced players. My version is pretty generic and follows the original melody line closely. If you want to hear the full potential of this song, you've got to listen to Allen Shadd's stage performance on the "Live From Winfield" CD.
Recordings: Allen Shadd: "Live From Winfield" (best flatpicked version we've heard, he absolutely tears it up!) Randy Howard and Robert Schafer: "Swingin' Appalachian Style" Jeff Autry on "Bluegrass '97" Cody Kilby: "Down Home Pickin'" Bob Crosby and His Orchestra: "South Rampart Street Parade"
Loch Lavan Castle Key A minor (capo 5, E minor position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
There is a very cool story about this song on The Fiddler's Companion website which you must read (click the link in this sentence)
Recordings: Norman Blake: "Directions" Fuzzy Mountain String Band: "Summer Oaks and Porch"
Written by the great fiddler Vassar Clements and recorded on the first "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" album, this tune became instantly famous, learned by everybody in the bluegrass camp and has been played and recorded ever since. I expect it to be popular for a long time yet. I've been playing it since the mid 1970's and every time I play it it comes out different. Today this is what it sounds like ;^)
One of the most beautiful waltzes ever written in Bluegrass music, Monroe was truly a musical genius. My arrangement has a lot of triplets in it which you can replace with hammer-on/pull-offs or slides if you wish.
Recordings: Bill Monroe: "Monroe Instrumentals 1968-94", "Bear Family 1970-79 Vol. 1" Bill Monroe and Doc Watson: "Live Duet Recordings 1963-1980" Bluegrass Album Band: "Bluegrass Instrumentals (Volume 6)"
Lost Indian Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is another great fiddle tune that had wide popularity but has now been eclipsed by "Cherokee Shuffle" which is a modern makeover of the older tune. You seldom hear anyone playing this tune but I still love it so I made a flatpicked version of it.
Recordings: Norman Blake & Tony Rice: "Blake & Rice 2" Kenny Baker: "Master Fiddler", "Farmyard Swing" Benny Thomasson: "Country Fiddlin' From the Big State"
A very popular old Irish traditional tune, recorded many times over the years. Robin Kessinger does a good guitar version on his "Raw Guitar" CD.
Maple Leaf Rag Key D Written by Scott Joplin, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This arrangement is a straight ahead version that emphasizes the melody line and leaves out most of the embellishments so that it can be played well on flatpicked guitar. Feel free to add as many complimentary notes as you are comfortable with! I've found that it plays best for me in the key of D, capo 2 (C position).
Recordings: Original recording can be found on Scott Joplin's "The Gold Collection" CD No. 1 For a hot flatpicked version of this tune, check out Robin Kessinger's "A Compilation" CD
Miller's Reel Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
We really love this old tune. The B part is a little difficult to play cleanly but like every other fiddle tune you learn it will teach your left hand to do something new.
Recordings: Norman Blake - "Fields of November - Old and New" (Great flatpicked version) Byron Berline - "Dad's Favorites" Major Franklin - "Texas Fiddle Favorites"
The Fiddler's Companion states: "Charles Wolfe elucidates the the title and states that a 'sawyer' was a boatsman's term for an uprooted tree whose roots had become partially anchored to the bottom of the stream bed. Though anchored, the river's currents would cause the trunk to bob up and down, often causing the tree to break surface rather suddenly in front of an unsuspecting river craft. On the Mississippi the problem was of such proportions that special government 'snag boats' patrolled the river in order to protect against such menaces. He opines: "Since the Mississippi River trade played a large role in the economic life of most Americans of the 19th century, it could be expected that most fiddlers of the period would have known what a 'Mississippi Sawyer' was, whereas the term's significance has been lost to the majority of contemporary fiddlers" (notes to Rounder Records "Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers ‑ The Kickapoo Medicine Show"). Mark Twain, a licensed riverboat pilot in addition to being a renowned writer, knew well the potential menace of sawyers in the river and used the term in fashioning the name of his literary hero, Tom Sawyer."
Recordings: Red Rector and Norman Blake: "Red Rector & Norman Blake" Ed Haley: "Volume 2, Grey Eagle"
Misty Morning Key E minor and E major (capo 2, D minor and D major position) Written by Doyle Lawson, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Doyle Lawson wrote this medium paced instrumental and recorded it with the Bluegrass Album Band. I transcribed his mandolin break and arranged it for guitar.
Recordings: Bluegrass Album Band: "Bluegrass Instrumentals (Volume 6)" Tony Rice: "58957: The Bluegrass Guitar Collection"
This Bill Monroe instrumental is still popular at jam sessions and has been recorded by several other artists, the most memorable for flatpickers being by Tony Rice and Norman Blake on the "Blake & Rice" album. My version follows the fiddle versions I've heard pretty closely but I've included Monroe's cool tag at the end of B part.
Recordings: Kenny Baker: "Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe" Matt Flinner and David Grier: "Looking Back" Herschel Sizemore: "My Style"
Montgomery Bell Key C Written by Aubrey Haynie, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Aubrey Haynie is one of the best musicians to come down the Bluegrass Turnpike into Nashville in generations. Every album he's made has been stellar. He wrote this as a mandolin instrumental and recorded it on "Doin' My Time". I transcribed his mandolin break and converted it to guitar, it's a good take off point for ad-lib or creating your own version. The tune is in C and I found I liked it best at capo 3 using the "A position" because of the ringing open strings and a cool growl you can get bending a string now and then.
This is a little known composition by Bill Monroe that was recorded by Butch Robins with David Grier and Mike Compton on his 1995 album "Grounded Centered Focused." When Mike Compton twins Bill Monroe's second break in this recording it sends chills up my spine. I've tried to capture a little of that power in my version.
This tune was written by Norman Blake and was recorded on his and Nancy Blake's fantastic mandolin album "Natasha's Waltz." I transcribed it several years ago and decided to see if it would work for guitar and it did. I think you can guess by the number of tunes we've transcribed by Norman and Nancy Blake that we really love their work.
New Camptown Races Key Bb (capo 3, G position) Written by Frank Wakefield, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Frank Wakefield has long been respected as one of the greatest early mandolinists that played the Monroe style. He has written hundreds of tunes and this is considered by many to be his best. My flatpick version sticks pretty close to his original melody line but I had to be a little creative in certain measures. I think this will be a good basis for others to develop their own versions.
Recordings: Red Allen & Frank Wakefield: "The Kitchen Tapes" Frank Wakefield: "That Was Now..." Wyatt Rice: "New Market Gap" Clarence White on "Muleskinner Live: Original Television Soundtrack"
I really love this rowdy old D fiddle tune and have played it on and off for many years. I threw in a few cross picking licks in the B part that are fun to play.
Recordings: Paul Warren "The World's Greatest Country Fiddlers" Jimmy Campbell "Young Opry Fiddler" an excellent version with Mike Compton on mandolin Mike Compton & David Grier "Climbing the Walls" (the best version we've ever heard) Doug Rorrer on "Flatpicking '99" (Doug Rorrer plays a great guitar version)
Niagara Hornpipe Key B flat (capo 3, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is one of the most melodic of the old Irish hornpipes we've heard, we think you'll love it!
Northern White Cloud Key E (capo 2, D position) Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune by Bill Monroe has so much raw drive it just about plays itself! It has three parts and just begs for improvisation. My version follows the Jimmy Campbell fiddle version fairly closely, it really plays well on guitar.
Recordings: Jimmy Campbell: "Young Opry Fiddler" Richard Green: "The Grass Is Greener"
Nothing to It Key G Written by Doc Watson, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune written by Doc Watson is very popular among flatpickers. It was originally recorded on Doc Watson, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' "Strictly Instrumental" album. This is just the basic melody.
Here's another enjoyable old Irish fiddle tune that is well suited for flatpicking.
Old Dangerfield Key A minor Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Bill Monroe has been heralded and praised for generations for being the "Father of Bluegrass" and one of the greatest song writers of the last century. Kim and I think that's cool but what we love most about the man was his uncanny ability to write powerful, soul stirring, instrumental "numbers" as he called them. This tune is one of the best he ever wrote, a 3 part ballad of notes that I'm sure will live on for many years. If you're a student of Monroe this is a "must know" tune. I transcribed Bill's mandolin solo then took some liberties in arranging it for flatpick guitar, those tremolo mandolin phrases don't work well on guitar so you have to be creative. I think this version preserves the soul of the tune and fits the groove, it's really fun to play, hope you enjoy it.
Recordings: Bill Monroe: "Master of Bluegrass" Dale Adkins on "Flatpicking '97" Butch Robins: "Grounded, Centered, Focused" David Grier & Matt Flinner: "Looking Back" Kazuaki Miyazaki: "Man-O-Mandolin" Nashville Bluegrass Band: "Home of the Blues" Chris Thile "Leading Off"
Of all of the powerful instrumentals that Bill Monroe wrote, for us this is the best. It has that somber, stolid but melodic and musical beauty that is so characteristic of so many of his tunes. It was recorded on the CD "True Life Blues" by David Grier, truly one of the most inspired and creative pieces ever recorded on flatpicked guitar. This version is my interpretation of the basic melody.
Recordings: Bill Monroe: "Master of Bluegrass" David Grier on "True Life Blues"
Old French Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Another one of those great old D fiddle tunes, possibly from Canada or New England. The Fiddler's Companion states: Popular belief has the title deriving from a remark by an old Vermont fiddler who, when asked its title, said it was "just an old French tune."
Old Joe Clark Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is possibly the all time most popular Bluegrass jam instrumental, it's generally one of the first tunes that beginning players learn. Like so many of the standards you'll be expected to develop your own version of this one. My version is just a basic melody version, later I will be adding several variations.
Recordings: David Grier: "Hootenanny" Gary Brewer: "Guitar" Bill Monroe: "Bluegrass Ramble" Art Stamper: "Georgia Mountain Fiddle King"
This break comes from one of Norman Blake's great early recordings with Red Rector called "Red Rector & Norman Blake." It's had a recent revival when Bryan Sutton and David Grier recorded it on Bryan's latest recording "Not Too Far from the Tree."
Opposition Creek Key D Written by John McIltrot, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was written and recorded for an early "Plectrology" project by a member of the Flatpick-L email list named John McIltrot. It's a really great high powered Bluegrass instrumental.
Pig on the Engine Key D minor Written by Norman and Nancy Blake, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Norman and Nancy Blake, over their career, have created a great heritage of original music. Some of their best tunes were written for mandolin and this one ranks near the top in my opinion, it's Old-time in overdrive! They recorded it on one of their best albums, "Natasha's Waltz".
John Reischman is one of my favorite mandolin players and one of the best musicians in the acoustic music world. He has written many marvelous instrumentals and recorded them on these CDs: "Up in the Woods", "North of the Border", "The Bumpy Road", "The Singing Moon" are excellent. This tune comes from his "Up in the Woods" CD.
Possum Up a Gum Stump Key D (capo 2, C position) Dick Fegy solo, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR & Kim Davis
This is an old-time tune that we transcribed from the playing of Dick Fegy an album called "Flatpicking Guitar Festival" Dick Fegy was a very talented acoustic musician who played banjo, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar and resophonic guitar on numerous albums. He died in 2001. If you want to learn more about Dick Fegy, read his discography, and his memorial page.
A great old American Old-time fiddle tune played in Bb. This one will REALLY give your right hand a workout with all the cool arpeggios in the B part. Butch Baldassari, John Reischman, and Robin Bullock did an outstanding job with this tune on their "Travelers" CD (one of the best acoustic instrumental projects ever recorded.)
A great old American Old-time fiddle tune played in Bb. This one is fun to play and has a great B part. Butch Baldassari, John Reischman, and Robin Bullock did an outstanding job with this tune on their "Travelers" CD (one of the best acoustic instrumental projects ever recorded.)
Ragtime Annie Key D (capo 2, C position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This Old-time breakdown has uncertain origins, according to The Fiddler's Companion: "Ragtime Annie is almost certainly a native American dance tune, possibly less than 100 years old" (Krassen, 1973) It has been recorded many times by famous players. You can put this one in the "must know" category for a flatpicker. It is popular just about anywhere you go.
Rebecca Key B (capo 4, G position) Written by Herschel Sizemore, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Herschel Sizemore is a legend among Bluegrass mandolin players, he's credited by many (me among them) for inventing the modern style of Bluegrass mandolin based on the fiddle idea and had a powerful influence on several generations of players. "Rebecca" is a great Bluegrass instrumental, that has remained popular for several decades. It's one of the few tunes written in the key of B and my version is capo 4, G position so it is quite readily playable and lots of fun to play.
Recordings: Herschel Sizemore: "Back In Business", "Bounce Away" Jim Mills: "Bound to Ride" Butch Baldassari: "Old Town"
This is a well known and essential fiddle tune every flatpicker must master. It is often the first tune a flatpicker will learn. I've included both the more commonly known Bluegrass version and an Irish version for variety.
A favorite among flatpickers, The Fiddler's Companion says of it: "The particular Rickett honored in the title was a circus promoter, one John Bill Ricketts, a Scots immigrant who came from England in 1792 and flourished in America through the 1790's. He reportedly delighted his audiences by dancing hornpipes on the backs of galloping horses." I've included two versions, one low version in open D and a high version in capo 2, C position. This tune is dedicated to the memory of Charles Sawtelle, who reminded us of the power and unique voice of the lower register of the guitar in Old-time and Bluegrass band settings.
This is a very beautiful old fiddle tune that is commonly a jam session standard. The B part can be extremely difficult but if you'll reverse pick direction in the phrase I've indicated I think you'll find it much easier to play. I hope you enjoy it.
Roanoke Key G Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a "must know" Bluegrass classic written by Bill Monroe and extremely popular with mandolin and fiddle players. My version strays a little from the melody on the B part do by I like it.
Recordings: Bill Monroe: "Bear Family 1950-58 Vol. 3" Mark Cosgrove & Richard Starkey: "Delaware Crossing" (great flatpicked track by two masters of the form) Herschel Sizemore: "Back In Business" "Bluegrass Instrumentals (Volume 6)" "Bluegrass '96" (Clay Jones does a great break on guitar)
This old tune is a standard at jam sessions, and we decided to make two versions, one in G and one in D. The one in D is much easier to play. If those around you play this tune in G, you can put a capo on the fifth fret and play out of D.
Recordings: Bill Monroe: "Bear Family 1959-69 Vol. 3", "Bluegrass Instrumentals" Steve Kaufman: "Breaking Out"
Every flatpicker/mandolinist worth their salt has a personal version of this jam session war-horse. It's surely one of the most often recorded instrumentals of the modern era, we have 34 versions of it on our music drive. My version is simple, well within the reach of most intermediate pickers. My B part has some open string notes that allow you to transition up and back down the neck fairly easily even at a fast clip. The minor chords in the B part are optional, many players don't like them.
If you want to hear how the Masters flatpick it, check out: Steve Kaufman and Robin Kessinger: "Star of the County Down" Kenny Smith: "Studebaker" Clay Jones: "Bluegrass 96" Russ Barenberg on Jerry Douglas' CD "Changing Channels" Gary Cook: "Western Standard Time" Cody Kilby: "Just Me" (recorded when he was 13) Peter McLaughlin: "Cliffs of Vermilion"
This tune was transcribed from a tape recording of Robin Kessinger flatpicking it. The only commercial recording we have found of this tune is Robin Kessinger's "Raw Guitar" and he fingerpicks the tune at a slower tempo.
Salt Creek Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This Old-time tune was originally known as "Salt River," when Bill Monroe recorded it, he called it "Salt Creek." This is an essential tune for any flatpicker to know.
These two tune names are interchangable even though many musicians play(ed) them quite differently, some play only 3 parts and others, like the Howdy Forrester version, has 7 parts. The Fiddler's Companion states: "Joe Burke tells the story that Slim Rutland went looking for interesting musicians in the Dallas area and was pointed to Luke Thomasson, Benny Thomasson’s father. He passes on that Gary Lee Moore remembers that “Say Old Man, Can You Play the Fiddle” is the phrase Rutland introduced himself to Thomasson with, and the two spent the weekend working out the tune. Benny Thomasson referred to the tune as “Lady’s Fancy.”
Recordings: Dan Crary: "Lady's Fancy" (recorded as "Lady's Fancy") Howdy Forrester: "Fancy Fiddlin' Country Style" (recorded as "Say Old Man") Robin Kessinger: "Fiddle" (recorded as "Say Old Man") Benny Thomasson: "Texas Hoedown" (recorded as "Say Old Man")
Scotland Key A (capo 2, G position) Written by Bill Monroe, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
I have been playing this powerful but simple Bill Monroe instrumental for 30 years. One of the early Bluegrass groups I was in won the instrumental category playing this tune and I won the mandolin category playing it so it's sorta special to me. The first half of this arrangement gives you the basic melody fairly close to how the fiddlers in Bill's recording played it and in the second half I've given you a few ideas from which to create your own version.
Recordings: Bobby Hicks: "Texas Crapshooter" Bill Monroe: "Bluegrass Instrumentals 1947-67" Various Artists: "True Life Blues" Beppe Gambetta: "Dialogs" Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers: "At the Ryman"
This may be the most popular fiddle tune in history. Among flatpickers this is a must learn; there's a lot of recorded material to get ideas from.
Recordings: Bill Monroe and Doc Watson: "Live Duet Recordings 1963-1980" Bill Monroe: Bear Family Box Set "1970-70 Vol. 2" and "1959-69 Vol. 4" Booie Beach & Mike Compton: "The Little Grascals" Dix Bruce and Jim Nunnally: "From Fathers to Sons" Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band: "Last Night's Fun" (one of the best flatpick versions we've ever heard) Jimmy Campbell: "Pieces of Time" Kentucky Colonels: "Live in Stereo", Long Journey Home" and "Live in Sweden 1973" Peter Ostroushko: "Lifescapes" The Rice Brothers: "The Rice Brothers" Roy Curry: "Flat Top Specialist" Ashby Frank: "First Crossing" The Skillet Lickers: "Old-time Fiddle Tunes from North Georgia" Wade Ray (with Jethro Burns on mandolin): "Down Yonder"
Stone's Rag Key C Written by Oscar Stone, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
According to The Fiddler's Companion: Stone's Rag was "A popular country rag composed and featured by Oscar Stone, fiddler for Dr. Humphrey Bates' Possum Hunters, a 1920's‑1930's Nashville string band. Unfortunately, Stone himself never got to record it, however, it was recorded by his friend Charlie Arrington, the fiddler in fellow Opry band, Paul Warmack's Gully Jumpers. There supposedly are records from the Opry indicating Stone played his tune on broadcasts at WSM."
Sugarfoot Rag Key G Written by Hank "Sugar Foot" Garland, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This tune was composed by Jazz/Country guitarist Hank "Sugar Foot" Garland and it was a hit for him in 1950. It has been recorded many times by many artists.
Recordings: Hank Garland: "Hank Garland and His Sugar Footers", "Roots of Rockabilly, Vol. 1: 1950" Clarence White: "33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals" Junior Brown: "Guit With It" Hot Rize: "Red Knuckles and Hot Rize: Live"
Over the years I've transcribed a number of versions of this extremely popular tune by several great players but didn't really like (or couldn't play <g>) any of them so I've written my own version. I tried to make sure that the melody notes are included within the licks so it can be used as a good first round "statement" version then you can take off and ad-lib at will.
For those of you who'd like to make your own Tabledit files of guitar tunes I've made a set templates that can be very helpful. Each template has 5 modules. To view all the modules together choose the "X" icon on the tool bar, select "General" then "Multitrack." The top module is for entering melody. The second is a guitar rhythm track and 3rd for a bass track. The 4th and 5th modules have guitar rhythm chords in the basic boom-chuck Old-Time/Bluegrass format. Just mark-copy-paste the correct chords into the measures of the rhythm track. To create a bass track copy all the bass notes from the guitar rhythm track and paste them into the bass track. I've included templates for 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8 plus a Guitar Swing Chord template in 4/4.
Tarbolton Reel Key E minor (capo 2, D minor position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
The Fiddler's Companion states: "Several writers have commented on the ‘Scottishness’ of the tune, suggesting its origins in that country, and, in fact, the town of Tarbolton lies in Ayrshire in western Scotland, not far from the banks of the River Ayr. The Scots national poet, Robert Burns, lived with his family of origin near the town for some years when he was a young man. It was at the Bachelors’ Club in Tarbolton, in an upstairs room, that Burns was initiated into Freemasonry, where he attended dancing classes, and where he helped found the Bachelors’ Club debating society." This cool tune plays best for me in capo 2 D minor position.
Recordings: Michael Coleman: "Michael Coleman 1891 to 1945"
This tune became a standard of the flatpicker's tune bag when Tony Rice recorded it on the album "Tony Rice". It's fairly easy to learn and to play fast so it's good one for building speed. This is a generic version, listen to Tony if you want to supercharge it.
Recordings: Tony Rice: "Tony Rice" Butch Baldassari: "A Day in the Country" Clay Jones on "Bluegrass '95" Rickie Simpkins: "Dancing on the Fingerboard"
Texas Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a classic little Old-time "crooked" tune, both the A and B parts have a 2/4 measure in them. In the first round I stayed very close to the Old-time melody but the second round is a good example of how Old-time tunes are morphed into Bluegrass versions. Hope you enjoy it.
Tom and Jerry Key A (capo 2, G position) Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
This is a Scottish reel which has become a popular Texas Fiddle Tune. This is one of the most playable Texas fiddle tunes of any I have found. This arrangement is within reach of the advanced intermediate player, it's based on a Howdy Forrester fiddle version.
Recordings: Dan Crary: "Guitar" Cody Kilby: "Just Me" Mark O'Connor: "Thirty Year Retrospective", "Championship Years" Benny Thomasson: "Legendary Texas Fiddler", "Country Fiddlin' from the Big State" Hot Rize: "Radio Boogie" Joe Carr and Alan Munde: "Texas Fiddle Favorites for Banjo and Mandolin"
Valley Head Key G (capo 5, D position) Written by Norman Blake, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Written by Norman Blake this is a bouncy old-time style tune that really cooks. It's in G major and I found it plays much better at the capo 5 in the D position. Listen to Norman play it on "Fields of November/Old and New"
Originally a Canadian Old-time tune, it has been recorded by many great flatpickers, mandolinists and fiddlers. Among flatpickers, this is one of the commonly played jam session tunes. It's a must learn.
According to The Fiddler's Companion: "The tune was composed in 1899 by Kerry Mills (1869-1948, who also composed “Georgia Camp Meeting” and “Red Wing”), at the beginning of the ragtime era."
Recording: David Grier: "I've Got the House to Myself" Doc Watson: "Instrumental Guitar Collection (1964-1998)" The Kessinger Brothers: "Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (1929)"
White Bluff Key B minor (capo 2, A minor position) Written by Aubrey Haynie, Arr. Mike Stangeland for GUITAR
Besides being one of the finest professional bluegrass session musicians to ever come to Nashville, Aubrey Haynie is an excellent songwriter and I think this is one of his best. There are a couple of parts in this transcription that are a bit tough, so I've included suggested fingerings.
The Carter Family recordings have had a far reaching and long lasting influence on Country music in all its forms. Maybelle Carter was one of the first guitarists in this genre to actually pick leads and play tunes. For several past generations the first tune that any guitar player learned was Maybelle Carter's Wildwood Flower. We have several recordings and some videos of her playing this song and she played it slightly different each time. This version is close to the way she played it most of the time. Mike's mother taught him to play this tune when he was 11 years old.
Nancy Blake has written many excellent tunes and recorded them with her husband Norman on many different albums. This one is from her album "Grand Junction," recorded as a mandolin instrumental I transcribed and arranged it for guitar.
I found the ABC for this on The Fiddler's Companion website and decided to convert it to guitar because I didn't have any files starting with "Z" <g> This is a neat Old-time Scottish hornpipe which translated well to guitar. It should be easy to get up to speed for most pickers. I haven't found a recording of it anywhere.
Want to find out what our fellow flatpickers play at their jam sessions? Visit the Jam Standards page to see what is played around the country (and hopefully the world.) This page will be updated whenever someone submits a list for their area. You can download a printable PDF file of the Jam Standards document here.
Want to find out more about these old-time fiddle tunes? Go to The Fiddler's Companionto access a huge encyclopedia of Celtic, British and American fiddle tunes (over 30,000 entries!), including many tunes in ABC format. You can import ABC files into the full version of Tabledit, or you can use other music programs to import and view ABC files.
Here is a link to a great video taken by Mike's daughter Shelley Stangeland-Miller of Mike playing rock-n-roll for our 18 month old (at the time) grand daughter Lauren. It's on Google Videos and may require the free Google Video Player to see (the video is about 6 minutes long)
Here is a link to a live recording of Mike playing with The Mandolin Band at the 1989 Pensacola Jazz Festival playing a tune he wrote calledJohn Davis (9MB size, m4a audio file)