Sponsored By
Advanced Bluegrass Fiddle
with Chad Manning
About This Course
Learn fiddle in the styles of Kenny Baker, Stuart Duncan, Vassar Clements, Bobby Hicks, and other bluegrass greats by learning classic tunes, with improvisation exercises and advanced techniques.
Try a Sample Lesson
In this video, Chad talks about some some approaches to improvising on “Bill Cheatham” and shows you a few variations. He shows you the “target notes” in each part and how you can think about creating lines that get to those notes, giving you some specific examples that illustrate what he means.
Meet the Instructor
Chad Manning
Chad Manning is a Bay Area bluegrass, old-time, and swing fiddler who plays with the David Grisman Sextet, the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, and Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands. Over the years he has toured with many bluegrass greats such as J.D. Crowe, Curly Seckler, Alan Munde, and Tony Trischka, to name a few. Chad also finds great joy in teaching and working with all levels of adult fiddle students. He and his wife, Catherine, teach more than a hundred students at their studio in Berkeley, California.
Peghead Play-Along Tracks
Peghead Nation is creating a library of accompaniment videos (and downloadable MP3s) for songs and tunes that are taught on the site, classics that you'll find at many jams and picking parties. As a subscriber, you have access to this library and can use the tracks to practice playing tunes and songs at a slow or medium tempo with guitar accompaniment. New songs will be added regularly.
Advanced Bluegrass Fiddle Source Material

Check out these songs featured in the Advanced Bluegrass Fiddle course.

The Advanced Bluegrass Fiddle Subscription Includes:
  • 88 in-depth fiddle video lessons
  • Detailed notation for every lesson
  • Extensive technique and theory lessons for both hands
  • More than 65 complete solos and/or tunes
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action
  • Play-Along Tracks for most tunes so you can practice what you’ve learned
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Advanced Bluegrass Fiddle Course Outline
Get started with these introductory technique lessons for both hands, with helpful exercises as well as essential advice on tuning and caring for your fiddle.
Care and Maintenance of Your Fiddle 
Learn key tips for taking good care of your fiddle and bow, such as loosening the bow before you put it away, cleaning your strings, how much rosin to use, and more. 

Tuning the Fiddle 
 Learn how to get in tune using an electronic tuner.

Bow Technique
Bow technique is all about trying to get the tone you hear in your head into your fiddle. Chad demonstrates his approach to holding the bow, and how to find a good position that will work for you, with some simple exercises from Yehudi Menuhin’s book Violin and Viola. He also includes some call-and-response exercises that explore different bow tones.

Left-Hand Technique
Learn how best to position your left-hand on the fiddle, the difference between playing with the tips of the fingers versus the pads, and how much pressure to use to get the best tone. Chad also delves into various pitch issues, such as the “ring” you get when you play certain notes perfectly in tune, landing notes firmly with your fingers and adjusting the pitch afterward by “rolling” your finger.

 Learn some exercises for developing good vibrato technique, which should not be just a shake of your finger but very deliberate changes in pitch.


Bluegrass fiddle tunes are similar to old-time fiddle tunes, but they have a sound all their own, and often include more variations and improvising. Some lessons include the versions that bluegrass fiddle masters like Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, and Stuart Duncan played.

Road to Columbus

The bluegrass fiddle tune “Road to Columbus” was written by Bill Monroe and made famous by Kenny Baker on his album Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe. You’ll learn it here, including its unique intro and cool double stops. The B part to “Road to Columbus” is mostly played in third position and you’ll learn a quick vibrato that Kenny Baker uses on some of the high notes. 


Cattle in the Cane

This version of “Cattle in the Cane” combines a Texas-style approach with a more bluegrass way of playing the tune. The tune has two parts, one low part in A minor and one higher part in A major. You’ll also learn two versions of the A part, one inspired by Texas fiddler Terry Morris and the other from bluegrass fiddler Aubrey Haynie. 



Bluegrass mandolinist Herschel Sizemore’s popular instrumental “Rebecca” is in the key of B, an unusual key for old-time fiddlers but an essential key for bluegrass players to know. The tune is mostly played out of a closed position and you’ll learn some variations inspired by the way Bobby Hicks and Stuart Duncan played “Rebecca.”


Bill Cheatham

The old-time fiddle tune “Bill Cheatham” has become a bluegrass jam session favorite. In addition to learning a great bluegrass version of the tune, Chad talks about his approach to improvising on “Bill Cheatham” and shows you the “target notes” in each part and how you can think about creating lines that get to those notes. 


New Camptown Races

Here’s another bluegrass favorite written by a mandolinist in an unusual key: Bb. “New Camptown Races,” written by bluegrass mandolinist Frank Wakefield, moves to G minor, the relative minor of Bb, in the second part. You’ll learn the Bb major scale and how to play all the modes in Bb. 


To learn to improvise on the fiddle, or accompany others with chords, it’s important to learn the basics of music theory on the fiddle.
Intro to Scales and Chords
In this basic music theory lesson, you’ll learn how scales and chords are constructed so you can find them in any key. You’ll also learn some handy fingering patterns for scales and some chord “shapes” that will help you remember them.

G Chords
Now that you’ve learned the basics of chords and double stops, Chad gets in deep with the G chord, covering numerous G double stops in various positions and using them to play classic bluegrass fiddle licks. You’ll also learn some third-position double stops and double-stop runs that include passing chords. 

Chord Intensives
In these in-depth lessons on chords, you’ll learn a couple of double stops on each string for major chords in the keys of A, D, G, C, and F; some exercises to help you practice them; and some ways to work on transitioning between the chords.

Seventh Chords
Seventh chords can help you transition from one chord to another. In these lessons, Chad gets in-depth with seventh chord double stops, starting with D7, which is the V7 chord in the key of G, which means it’s a good chord to use when moving to a G chord. After learning all the D7 shapes on each set of strings, you’ll learn the same for the A7 chord and how to move from A7 to D. 

Fiddle tunes form the basis of much bluegrass fiddling, but bluegrass is primarily a vocal music, so you need to learn how to playing solos to songs as well as instrumentals written by other instrumentalists. In these lessons, you’ll learn closed position scales, classic licks, and how to base your solo on the melody of the song or tune.
Closed Positions
Learn closed positions on the fiddle that will allow you to play bluegrass fiddle licks in any key and some bluesy bluegrass licks you can move from chord to chord. 

Your Love Is Like a Flower

Chad shows you his approach to playing bluegrass solos using this standard song with a very common chord progression. You’ll learn the melody and chords in the key of E using standard “capo” positions, the major pentatonic scale, and other bluegrass fiddle techniques. You’ll also learn some exercises to help you learn to match the melody of “Your Love Is Like a Flower” with the chords, and how you can move the “capo” position to different keys, like B, Bb, etc. And you’ll get five play-along tracks so you can practice playing “Your Love Is Like a Flower” in the keys of E, A, G, D, and C. 


Bluegrass Licks in the Key of C

Every key has its own sound and vocabulary on the fiddle, and in this lesson, you’ll learn some typical licks that sound great in C, with some seventh and ninth double stops, pentatonic scales, and raggy syncopation You’ll also learn how to vary each of the licks to create your own ideas and use the licks to improvise over a standard bluegrass chord progression. 


Bluegrass Licks in the Key of G 
Learn some bluesy bluegrass licks in the key of G that you can use behind a vocalist or as part of your solo. You’ll learn a number of short phrases based on a G major and G7 arpeggio and how to articulate and modify them with bluesy slides, chromatic notes, double stops, etc. 

Train 45

The bluegrass and old-time classic “Train 45,” also called “Reuben,” “Lonesome Reuben,” or “Reuben’s Train,” is a great tune for working on bluesy slides and double stops as well as unison drones. Learn how to play the melody in second position and some different double stops. Chad also gives you ideas for improvising on “Train 45” and tunes like it, showing you how he shapes the melody through inflections, dynamics, and rhythmic variations. 


Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky

Chad shows you how to construct a solo to the bluegrass standard “Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky,” starting with the basic melody and then giving you ideas for adding double stops, fills, melodic variations, etc. He also gives you ideas on improvising on the melody with different kinds of fills.


Creating a Melody-Based Solo: “Uncloudy Day”

In this lesson, Chad shows you his process for creating a melody-based solo on a bluegrass song. To illustrate this he uses the song “Uncloudy Day” as sung by bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. Chad shows you how he starts by figuring out the key notes of the melody and once he’s got that, he tries to capture the bluesy quality of how Ralph Stanley phrases the melody. He also shows you how to add bluesy licks, walk-ups to the main melody notes, double stops, and ending licks to create a complete solo.


Double-Stop Solos: Two Mac Wiseman Songs

In honor of the great bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman, you’ll learn solos to two of Mac’s songs. A lot of the solos on Mac’s recordings are played with two fiddles, so Chad shows you how you can imitate twin-fiddle breaks by playing a simple melody with double stops, using the double-stop scale. Both solos are in the key of A. The first is for the song “We Live in Two Different Worlds,” and the second is for “Four Walls Around Me.”


Learn some classic solos to songs and instrumentals by bluegrass fiddle legends Benny Martin, Paul Warren, Chubby Wise, and others.
Flint Hill Special

Learn three classic bluegrass fiddle solos to the Earl Scruggs banjo tune “Flint Hill Special,” as played by the great Benny Martin on the original 1952 Flatt and Scruggs recording. These solos include some variations of the sliding double-stop licks you learned in the lesson on G chords.  


Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down

Paul Warren’s fiddle solo on the Flatt and Scruggs’ recording of the bluegrass standard “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” is a bluegrass fiddle classic. It’s in the key of F, but “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” has a circle-of-fifths progression that starts on the D chord. The solo starts with some cool sliding double stops on the D chord and then moves to a quick D augmented chord on the way to the G chord.  


Chubby Wise Solos on “Will You Be Loving Another Man?”

Most people consider the September 1946 Bill Monroe recording sessions with Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, and Chubby Wise to be the first bluegrass recording sessions. One of the songs recorded at that session was “Will You Be Loving Another Man,” on which Chubby took two classic fiddle solos. By learning both of his solos you’ll see how Chubby used two-note slurs to give his playing a swing feel and you’ll learn some of his sliding double stops and other licks that have become bluegrass fiddle classics. 


Pike County Breakdown

Flatt and Scruggs’s recording of Earl Scruggs banjo tune “Pike County Breakdown” includes a classic solo by little-known bluegrass fiddler Benny Sims. It’s a great solo to play on “Pike County Breakdown” and it’s been quoted by numerous bluegrass fiddlers on all sorts of fast bluegrass tunes. 


Dark as the Night, Blue as the Day

Bobby Hicks’s fiddle solo on the original recording of Bill Monroe’s “Dark as the Night, Blue as the Day” is a great bluesy solo using the E capo position, which means you can use the licks you’ll learn in this lesson in other keys. Chad walks you through the solo phrase by phrase, showing you some of the many ways you can do bluesy slides and add double stops. You’ll also learn a cool alternate intro/ending lick Bobby played in his second solo.


Blue Ridge Cabin Home

The bluegrass standard “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” comes from Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and has become a jam session favorite. In this lesson you’ll learn a fiddle solo to “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” that Bobby Hicks played on the Bluegrass Album Band recording of the song. The solo is in the key of Bb, and it has some classic bluegrass fiddle licks in the key of Bb.


“Rawhide” Stuart Duncan Solo

The recording of the Bill Monroe classic instrumental “Rawhide” on True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe earned a 1997 Grammy nomination for Country Instrumental of the Year and helped propel the tribute to the music of Bill Monroe to a win for Bluegrass Album of the Year. It’s an amazing version of the tune, led by mandolinist Ronnie McCoury, and it features a blistering and inventive solo by fiddler Stuart Duncan that you’ll learn in this lesson.


Can’t You Hear Me Calling

Chubby Wise’s solo on Bill Monroe’s original 1949 recording of “Can’t You Hear Me Calling” is a classic, and a great example of bluesy bluegrass fiddling in the key of G. Chad plays the whole solo through and then breaks it down phrase by phrase. He also shows you a cool variation Chubby plays on his second solo.  


Cry, Cry Darling

Country singer Jimmy C. Newman’s song “Cry, Cry, Darling” is a bluegrass standard, having been recorded by Bill Monroe, Dolly Parton, Chris Thile, Laurie Lewis, and many others. The solo you’ll learn here comes from Johnson Mountain Boys fiddler Eddie Stubbs. It’s in the key of E and uses the double-stop scale in E, mostly in the E capo position. 


Highway of Sorrow

The fiddle solo on Bill Monroe’s recording of his song “Highway of Sorrow” was played by a young Vassar Clements. You’ll learn that solo and, since his kickoff solo is only on half of the tune, Chad constructs the rest of the solo, so you’ll have a full Vassar Clements–inspired fiddle solo on “Highway of Sorrow” to play.


Footprints in the Snow

Chubby Wise played a great solo on Bill Monroe’s original recording of “Footprints in the Snow.” It’s in the key of E and features some nice double stops and classic Chubby Wise syncopation and phrasing.


Don’t Give Your Heart to a Rambler

Fiddler Richard Greene’s solo on Tony Rice’s recording of the bluegrass song “Don’t Give Your Heart to a Rambler,” is a classic. It’s in the key of Bb and is mostly played out of the Bb “capo position” using the pentatonic scale with some bluesy thirds and sevenths.


We Can’t Be Darlings Anymore

In this lesson, you’ll learn Bobby Hicks’s solo to the Flatt and Scruggs song “We Can’t Be Darlings Anymore” from the Bluegrass Album Band recording. Chad learned this directly from Bobby, and like many of Bobby’s solos, it includes some great double-stop licks and a nice long tag.


Troubles ’Round My Door

Vassar Clements’s solo on “Troubles ’Round My Door,” from the Red Allen album Family and Friends, is a great example of his idiosyncratic bluesy fiddling. It’s in the key of B and includes some B minor pentatonic scale lines in different positions as well as some of Vassar’s trademark chromatic licks.


Bluegrass Special

“Bluegrass Special” is a Bill Monroe instrumental in the key of A with a 12-bar blues form. In this lesson, you’ll learn Chubby Wise’s original fiddle solo, as well as a couple of Kenny Baker’s solos to “Bluegrass Special.”


“Travelin’ This Lonesome Road” Chubby Wise Solo

Chubby Wise’s solo on the original Bill Monroe recording of “Travelin’  This Lonesome Road” is a classic. It’s in the key of F and has some great double stops and bluesy slides. You’ll learn Chubby’s short kickoff to the song as well as his complete solo.


Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, was a mandolin player, but he also wrote some of the greatest bluegrass fiddle tunes. 
Lonesome Moonlight Waltz

Bill Monroe’s mournful “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” is one of his most distinctive tunes. It’s in the key of Dm and has an unusual chord progression. You’ll learn the melody here, along with some cool bluesy slides and double stops, and get ideas for how to improvise over the “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” chord progression. 


Big Sandy River

“Big Sandy River” was recorded by Kenny Baker on the classic bluegrass fiddle album Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe. You’ll learn Kenny’s version along with a variation on the A part that includes some cool descending double stops. 


Big Mon

Bill Monroe’s bluegrass fiddle tune “Big Mon” is a jam session favorite. It’s usually played as a two-part tune in jam sessions, but there’s a third part often played by the fiddle that you’ll also learn.


Brown County Breakdown

“Brown County Breakdown” is a three-part tune in the key of E, so it’s great for working on playing in the key of E, using the first finger “capo” position. You’ll also learn a great warm-up exercise with open strings, designed to help you get even, consistent tone with your bowing arm. 


Jerusalem Ridge

Bill Monroe’s classic tune “Jerusalem Ridge” is associated with his greatest fiddler, Kenny Baker. The version of “Jerusalem Ridge” that Kenny recorded on Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe has become the standard version and that’s the version you’ll learn here. It’s in the key of A minor and has four parts.  


Gold Rush

The bluegrass fiddle tune standard “Gold Rush” was written by Bill Monroe and fiddler Byron Berline. The version you’ll learn here is based on the way Monroe’s longtime fiddler Kenny Baker played it. You’ll also learn a version of the B part in the upper octave and get advice from Chad on how he improvises on “Gold Rush.” 


Uncle Pen

Bill Monroe wrote the song “Uncle Pen” about his uncle Pendleton Vandiver, a fiddler whose influence inspired Monroe to create bluegrass music. The song begins with on a classic fiddle solo that gets repeated after every chorus. The first part includes a lot of unison drones and double stringing, while the B part has some cool sliding double stops.


Ashland Breakdown

Bill Monroe’s tune “Ashland Breakdown” was recorded by Kenny Baker on his classic Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe album. It’s in the key of C and has three parts, the first two of which are mostly played in second position. Chad walks you through the melody, phrase by phrase, showing you a couple different ways to bow some of the phrases and add drone notes and giving you advice on shifting positions.


Panhandle Country

This great Bill Monroe tune is a fast one in the key of C with lots of long double stops. Although it’s basically a two-part tune with the same chord progression in each part, there’s a variation that is usually played by the fiddle, making it functionally a three-part tune for fiddlers.


Wheel Hoss

Bill Monroe’s fiddle tune “Wheel Hoss” is one of his most popular, a fast, galloping tune in G Mixolydian with some extra beats at the end of the second part that are usually filled with a guitar run. Chad walks you through the melody and talks about some different bowing patterns you can try, including single bows, the Georgia shuffle, and Nashville shuffle.


Land of Lincoln

“Land of Lincoln” is a four-part Bill Monroe tune that Monroe’s great fiddler Kenny Baker recorded on his Dry and Dusty album in the early 1970s. The tune moves between the keys of A major and A minor, sometimes even in the same phrase, with C♮s alternating with C#s and G♮s alternating with G#s


Old Ebenezer Scrooge

Bill Monroe’s instrumental “Old Ebenezer Scrooge” has four parts and is in the key of A minor, although the chords go to A major in the second part. Chad’s version is based on the way Bill played “Old Ebenezer Scrooge” on the mandolin.



Northern White Clouds

“Northern White Clouds” is a three-part Bill Monroe tune in the key of E major. Monroe recorded it with Tater Tate playing fiddle on the album Live from Mountain Stage.


Big Sciota

The old-time fiddle tune “Big Sciota” entered the bluegrass repertoire through a recording by Russ Barenberg, Jerry Douglas, and Edgar Meyer in the early ’90s. It has since become a jam session favorite. You’ll learn Chad’s version and his bowing, which includes a few consecutive three-note slurs, as well as a variation on the B part that comes from fiddler Billy Contreras. 


Golden Fiddle Waltz

Randy Howard’s beautiful “Golden Fiddle Waltz” is in the key of F and is a great tune for working on double stops in F. In this multi-part lesson you’ll learn the melody without double stops, double-stop scales in F (one with the harmony below the melody and one with the harmony above), and the complete version with double stops.


“Golden Fiddle Waltz” Arpeggios

Randy Howard’s “Golden Fiddle Waltz” has a complicated chord progression, and if you want to improvise on it, you’ll need to know the arpeggios for each chord. In this lesson, Chad walks you through the progression chord by chord and arpeggio by arpeggio, making sure you know the names of all the notes in the chords and giving you some exercises to practice the arpeggios in different ways. He also shows you how he improvises on the chord progression by just using chord tones.


Cherokee Shuffle

“Cherokee Shuffle” is one of the all-time great bluegrass jam tunes. You’ll learn Chad’s version of the melody and how he bows each part, as well as a cool variation on the B part that adds the seventh note to some D chords and includes some cool slides up to the high C and C#. 


“Sally Gooden” Texas-Style

Texas fiddler Eck Robertson’s 1922 recordings were probably the first country music recordings, and his version of “Sally Gooden,” with around a dozen variations on the melody, became a classic and a favorite of fiddlers everywhere. In this lesson, you’ll learn Chad’s Texas-style version of “Sally Gooden,” which was influenced by Oklahoma fiddler Orville Burns and Texas fiddlers Terry Morris and Benny Thomasson. It’s an elaborate version that presents some technical challenges because it relies on a lot of consecutive three-note slurs as well as drones using your pinky. You’ll learn two A parts and two B parts in this lesson.


“Sally Gooden” Variations, Part 1: High Parts

You’ll learn three “high parts” to “Sally Gooden” in this lesson, including one in which you stretch your pinky up to get a C natural on the E string, and two that go into third position. Chad walks you through each variation, giving you advice on reaching the C natural with your pinky while staying in first position and showing you the bowing he uses in the first two variations. He also gives some ideas for different ways you can bow the third high part, including with Texas-style consecutive three-note slurs, the Georgia shuffle, and a more old-timey “train shuffle.”


“Sally Gooden” Variations, Part 2: Final Parts

You’ll learn Chad’s final six variations on “Sally Gooden” in this lesson. The variations include licks and phrases from Texas fiddle legends Terry Morris and Major Franklin, as well as some of Chad’s own variations. 


Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom

This old-time tune has been making the rounds of the bluegrass fiddle world. Chad’s version of “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom” is based on the playing of Ed Haley, Stuart Duncan, and John Hartford. You’ll also learn some variations and how to tweak the tonality by making the C slightly sharp or playing C#s instead of C naturals.


Maiden’s Prayer

Bob Wills’ western swing fiddle instrumental “Maiden’s Prayer” is also popular at bluegrass jam sessions. As well as learning the melody in this lesson, Chad gives you lots of ideas about improvising on “Maiden’s Prayer,” showing you how to use the arpeggios of the A and E chords as jumping-off points for improvising. He also shows you how to use the pentatonic scale on each of the chords, as well as how to add the seventh and ninth to the A and E (V) chords.


Billy in the Lowground

Traditional music master Jody Stecher calls “Billy in the Lowground” the “mother of all C tunes.” You’ll learn Chad’s version in this lesson, as well as how he approaches improvising on “Billy in the Lowground.” Chad walks you through the melody and bowing phrase by phrase and then talks about his approach to improvising on tunes like “Billy in the Lowground,” which involves breaking the tune down to its essential elements. He shows you his skeletal version of “Billy in the Lowground” and then gives examples of how he improvises on that basic melodic structure.


Paddy on the Turnpike

The fiddle tune “Paddy on the Turnpike” is popular in the bluegrass, old-time, and Texas fiddling worlds. Chad’s version comes from some of his favorite fiddlers, including Benny Thomasson, Terry Morris, Gene Goforth, Vassar Clements, and others. You’ll learn two A parts and two B parts in this lesson. 


“Paddy on the Turnpike” Solos

In this lesson, Chad shows you some of the things that Stuart Duncan and Vassar Clements played on “Paddy on the Turnpike,” starting with part of a solo from a live recording of Stuart Duncan playing “Paddy on the Turnpike.” The solo from one of Vassar Clements’ recordings of “Paddy on the Turnpike” features some of his signature licks.


Lonesome Fiddle Blues

Vassar Clements’ “Lonesome Fiddle Blues” is a bluegrass fiddle classic, one of the few in the key of D minor. Vassar played it differently every time, and the bridge doesn’t have a melody, just a set of chord changes to improvise on (the form of the tune is AABA). Chad shows you a version of the A part melody and a bridge that uses some of Vassar’s licks and some of Chad’s own. You’ll also learn some variations to the A part that include a couple classic Vassar licks.


Bluegrass in the Backwoods

Kenny Baker’s epic tune “Bluegrass in the Backwoods” has five parts and an intro. You’ll learn the first three parts in this lesson. It’s in the key of D minor, and uses the D harmonic minor scale as well as the D natural minor scale, so Chad starts by showing you the D harmonic minor scale in two octaves, and also runs through the arpeggios you’ll use in the tune: D minor, A dominant seven, and G minor. Then he shows you the melody to the first three parts of “Bluegrass in the Backwoods.” 


Bluegrass in the Backwoods, Intro and Parts 4 and 5

In this lesson, you’ll learn the rest of “Bluegrass in the Backwoods,” starting with the intro and the fourth part. The intro is played “rubato” or without a beat, while the fourth part is a long 16-bar part with no repeated phrases. The fifth part of “Bluegrass in the Backwoods,” like the fourth part, is a long part (12 bars this time). It starts on a C chord, and is mostly in the key of F major, finishing out Kenny Baker’s epic fiddle tune with four bars in the original key of D minor.


Stony Point

The old-time fiddle tune “Stony Point” has become a favorite of bluegrass players. It’s in G and E minor and has three parts. Chad starts with the E minor part, although some fiddlers play one of the G parts first.  


Old Gnarly Oak

“Old Gnarly Oak” is one of Chad’s original tunes, a fast bluegrass fiddle tune in A modal that includes some cool bow crossings and rhythmic punctuation.


Goodbye Liza Jane

The melody of “Goodbye Liza Jane” has been around for at least a hundred years. The 1940s recording by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys is probably the source for bluegrass versions of the tunes. It’s a great tune for creating variations and improvising on. Chad walks you through his version of both parts of “Goodbye Liza Jane” and gives you ideas for  creating variations.


Dixie Hoedown

The bluegrass standard and jam-session favorite “Dixie Hoedown” was written by mandolinist Jesse McReynolds. It’s in the key of G and has a second part that features some beautiful double stops as well as a long line with chromatic neighbor tones. In addition to showing you his version of “Dixie Hoedown,” Chad gives you ideas about creating variations on the melody by focusing on the underlying chords. 


Two O’Clock in the Morning

“Two O’Clock in the Morning” is a fast breakdown that Chad learned from the fiddling of the great bluegrass fiddler Benny Martin. The first part is in the key of D, while the second part modulates to the key of A and begins with pizzicato.


Back Up and Push

“Back Up and Push” is another bluegrass barnburner. It’s in the key of C and features “hokum bowing” and some great sliding double stops.


Bluegrass Fiddle Backup
In this lesson, Chad talks about playing backup fiddle on bluegrass songs and building your vocabulary of backup licks. You’ll learn some great backup fiddle licks in the style of Bobby Hicks using the Bluegrass Album Band’s recording of “Letter from My Darling” in the key of G. Chad shows you a series of classic licks, giving you advice on using dynamics and fading out the last note of your lick as the vocal comes back in.  

Bobby Hicks Backup Licks
You’ll learn the backup licks that bluegrass fiddle legend Bobby Hicks plays on the Bluegrass Album Band’s version of “Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky” in this lesson. Chad walks you through each lick, showing you where they fit in the song and giving you advice on bowing and slides and showing you how Hicks often derives his lick from the previous lick he’s played.

Backup Fiddle in Bb
Chad uses Tim O’Brien’s recording of Hazel Dickens’ song “A Few Old Memories” to show you some ways to play backup on a slow song in Bb, using capo positions and simple melodies that outline the chords of the song. He also shows you how to embellish simple melodies with slides and hammer-ons, add double stops to your backup lines, and play out of a bluesy position in third position. 

Bluegrass Backup in E: “Teardrops Fell Like Raindrops”

In this lesson, you’ll learn Eddie Stubbs’s backup (and solos) on the Johnson Mountain Boys recording of “Teardrops Fell Like Raindrops,” a great example of midtempo bluegrass backup in the key of E. Chad starts by showing you Eddie’s kickoff to the song, which he also uses as the basis of his solo. Then Chad walks you through the backup to the first verse and chorus, the solo, and the backup to the second verse and chorus, as well as the ending.


Backup for “Tennessee Waltz”

Chad shows you a backup part for “Tennessee Waltz” in the key of D that includes lots of great double-stops and some chordal moves you can use in backing up other tunes in the key of D. Most advanced-level bluegrass fiddlers will know “Tennessee Waltz,” but Chad starts by playing the melody of “Tennessee Waltz” before walking you through his backup part.


“We Can’t Be Darlings Anymore” Backup

Bobby Hicks plays some great backup fills on the Bluegrass Album Band recording of “We Can’t Be Darlings Anymore” and in this lesson, Chad shows you his backup behind the second verse of the song. He walks you through the backup part, and then shows you how to take some of the individual licks and vary them.


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series

In these next lessons, you'll learn a few "lick series" and how to combine then in different ways to create new and interesting ways to back up bluegrass songs.

Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 1

In this backup fiddle lesson, you’ll learn a series of bluesy licks that you can use in your bluegrass backup playing. Chad shows you two series of licks and then how to use them to play over a 12-bar blues.


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 2

Chad continues with another series of bluesy licks (Lick Series #3) that he learned directly from the playing of the great bluegrass fiddler Bobby Hicks.


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 3

Chad shows you how to combine the licks you’ve learned in the three Lick Series in different ways and how to connect them more seamlessly. He demonstrates how he practices jamming with the licks on a 12-bar blues progression and the bluegrass song “I’m Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail.”


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 4: “Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On?”

In this lesson, Chad teaches you the melody to the bluegrass song “Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On?” and then shows you a solo that combines the melody with licks in the lick series.


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 5: “Letter from My Darling”

Chad shows you a Bobby Hicks solo to the bluegrass song “Letter from My Darling,” which contains some of the licks in the lick series.


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 6: Lick Series #1 in Other Keys

Chad shows you how to play the licks in Lick Series #1 in capo position so that you can move them to other keys. You’ll learn Lick Series #1 in the key of G in capo position as well as the series in the key of A in open position.


Bluegrass Backup Lick Series, Part 7: “My Little Georgia Rose”

Chad shows you how to use the licks in Lick Series #1 in the context of a song: Bill Monroe’s “My Little Georgia Rose.” He starts by showing you the fiddle solo from Travis Tritt’s recording of “My Little Georgia Rose” on the album Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe. Then he shows you how to use each of the four licks in Lick Series #1 to fill the holes in the vocal melody.


In this lesson, Chad gives you advice about practicing and improvising. The first thing he talks about is the importance of practicing with a beat or groove in mind, tapping your foot or using a metronome, or finding some way to establish a tempo whenever you practice. Chad also talks about hearing what’s coming next, hearing a little ahead of where you are, whether you’re improvising or playing a melody.
In this lesson on bow technique, Chad shows you that fiddling is a very natural thing for the human body to do, and that the motion of the arms, in concert with the bow and violin, is designed to match what the body naturally wants to do. He talks about the physics of fiddling—the balance and momentum of the bow—and shows you that by following the natural physiology of the human body and the path of least resistance in arm movement, you can make your bow motion smooth and natural.
Chad continues his lessons on the physics and physiology of fiddling with more bow work, giving you a series of awareness exercises that will help you connect more deeply with the balance, momentum, and weight of your bow and the tension of the strings. In addition to helping you feel the physics of fiddling, these exercises are also great warm-up exercises. He also gives you a series of expressive bow exercises that will help you apply the awareness exercises to actual musical phrases.
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