June 22, 2022 -This video (and tablature) provide another extract from the book/video/CD project “Flatpicking the Blues” by Brad Davis. In this project Brad teaches how to use blues scales, licks, and techniques in bluegrass songs and tunes. At the end of the book he gives a number of examples of how to use those scales and techniques in standard bluegrass tunes. “Salt Creek” is one of those tunes. Here it is played at a slow speed for instructional purposes. The tablature is provided on the Bluegrass Unlimited website, lessons page.
June 16, 2022 -This video (and tablature) is an extract from the book/video/CD project “Flatpicking the Blues” by Brad Davis. In this project Brad teaches how to use blues scales, licks, and techniques in bluegrass songs and tunes. At the end of the book he gives a number of examples of how to use those scales and techniques in standard bluegrass tunes. “John Hardy” is one of those tunes. Here it is played at a slow speed for instructional purposes. The tablature is provided on the Bluegrass Unlimited website, lessons page.
June 9, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to play “Salt Creek” on the 5-string Banjo. The B part of this arrangement is based on an arrangement by Alan Munde. Dan also shows a vamp style back up that can be used on this tune.
June 2, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to play “Redwing” on the five string banjo in the key of G.
May 26, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller first demonstrates basic bluegrass guitar rhythm and then shows what Jimmy Martin called his “rumble rhythm.” Jimmy Martin demonstrated this rhythm in an audio interview with Dan Miller that was posted as the Bluegrass Unlimited podcast (Number 83). In this video Dan demonstrates the technique and provides guitar tablature on the Bluegrass Unlimited website Lessons Page.
May 20, 2022 -In this video lesson Dan Miller teaches you how to play “Ragtime Annie” for the 5-string banjo in the key of C. The tablature can be found on the Bluegrass Unlimited website Lessons page.
May 12, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to play Charles Sawtelle’s arrangement of “Durham’s Reel” as played on the Hot Rize recording “Hot Rize.” The transcription is taken from the book “The Bluegrass Guitar Style of Charles Sawtelle” that was published by Flatpicking Guitar Magazine in 1998.
May 4, 2022 -Get started with easy bluesy bluegrass dobro in open G tuning. Pro musician Abbie Gardner teaches you some easy patterns to use on Darlin Corey- a song from Red Molly’s first recording.
April 27, 2022 -In this video Mike Mitchell teaches you how to play the break to “Big Spike Hammer” that Bobby Hicks plays on Bluegrass Album Volume 3 “California Connection”
April 20, 2022 -Songwriter Brink Brinkman presents some songwriting tips using his song “Fences” as an example.
April 14, 2022 -Brian Wicklund, of the American Fiddle Method, was featured in the April 2022 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited. Here Brian gives us a sample introductory lesson to share from his American Fiddle Method lesson series using the tune “Sally Goodin.”
April 7, 2022 -In the first edition of “Essential Bluegrass Solos”, bluegrass fiddle transcription class with George Jackson, we look at how to play a bluegrass fiddle solo in the key of B through a study of Stuart Duncan’s incredible solo on the tune “Rebecca”, from Jim Mill’s 1998 album “Bound To Ride”. For a full written transcription and more classes head to George’s Patreon http://www.patreon.com/georgejackson
April 1, 2022 -Working with a very common I-IV-V chord progression, Anne Luna gives you some great ideas about how to spice up your bass playing beyond the standard alternating root and fifth technique.
March 23, 2022 -Casey Henry provides a great banjo lesson this week teaching how to quickly keep your banjo in tune after placing your capo on your instrument. She uses a technique that she learned from Sonny Osborne.
March 15, 2022 -In the April 2022 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine, we reviewed a new Mel Bay Publications book titled “The Complete Tune Playing Toolkit for 5-String Banjo” by Jamie Francis. For this week’s video lesson Jamie has graciously sent us a video teaching one of the tunes from the book, a jig titled “Willie Coleman’s”
March 10, 2022 -In this video Mickey Abraham teaches an approach to learning the language of fiddle tunes for flatpicking guitar players by examining fiddle tune phrasing, and more.
March 4, 2022 -For this week’s lesson Megan Lynch Chowning teaches how to end bluegrass songs on the fiddle.
February 23, 2022 -Nate Sabat is a Berklee College of Music graduate who performs with the band Mile Twelve. He has written a wonderful book (with audio) titled “Dirt Simple Upright Bass” which has been published by Mel Bay Publications. In this lesson, Nate gives you a chance to learn some of material from the book in a video format.
February 15, 2022 -In this video, Joe Wilson teaches how to play “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” on the Dobro. A play-along audio track is provided on the Bluegrass Unlimited web site Lessons page.
February 11, 2022 -In this video James Allen Shelton demonstrates how to crosspicking “Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow” on the guitar. This is an excerpt from the instructional video “Clinch Mountain Guitar” that James made for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. The guitar tab for this arrangement can be found on the Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine website Lessons page.
February 3, 2022 -For this week’s lesson we are providing another selection from James Alan Shelton’s “Clinch Mountain Guitar” instructional DVD. Here James will teach you how to crosspick “Uncloudy Day” the Clinch Mountain way. Guitar tablature is provided on the lessons page of the Bluegrass Unlimited web site.
January 27, 2022 -In this video, the second in a series of video on Basic Dobro Back-up, Dan Miller provides tablature for a variety of roll patterns and discusses using rolls in Dobro back-up. He also demonstrates how to connect chord changes with connecting licks. In the next lesson in this series Dan will discuss fill licks.
January 21, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller discusses an overall approach to accompaniment in a bluegrass band and the Dobro’s part in that mix. He then demonstrates various techniques and patterns that a Dobro player can use to provide a “chunk” rhythm (muted back beat). In Part 2 he will discuss using rolls in Dobro back up. Part 3 will demonstrate a variety of fill-licks.
January 13, 2022 -In this 3rd part to the Basic Banjo Backup series, Dan Miller provides information about adding interest to your back up rolls, plus demonstrates a few fill licks and talks about tone, dynamics, and note articulation as it applies to back up and accompaniment.
January 6, 2022 -In this video, Dan Miller shows how to use some simple banjo rolls over chords to use as backup, then explains how to add notes to the rolls to make the back up more interesting. He also demonstrates how to add phrases that will connect chord changes together and presents some up-the-neck backup patterns. Tablature for the examples can be found on the Lessons back of the Bluegrass Unlimited website.
December 29, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller talks about backup, rhythm and accompaniment in a bluegrass band and how the banjo player participates in the rhythm section of a band. He also demonstrates some beginning techniques used in banjo back up.
December 23, 2021 -“Whiskey Before Breakfast” is one of the most popular fiddle tunes at bluegrass jam sessions. In this video, Orrin Star demonstrates how you can play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” flatpick style on the guitar. Tablature is available on the Lessons page of the Bluegrass Unlimited website.
December 16, 2021 -In this video Orrin Star teaches how to flatpick a guitar solo for “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down.”
December 9, 2021 -In this video Tim May discusses and demonstrates some basics regarding playing rhythm and accompaniment on the mandolin.
December 2, 2021 -In this video lesson Dan Miller demonstrates how to play “Cripple Creek” on the Dobro. Also included are some right hand rolls and some practice licks that will help you prepare to play the tune. The tabs for the rolls, licks, and tune are included on the Bluegrass Unlimited Lesson Page.
November 24, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller teaches the tune Old Time Pickin’ on the banjo. This is a tune that is good for beginning banjo players because it is a straight forward tune that has some nice techniques to help develop your basic banjo skills.
November 18, 2021 -In this video Brad Davis shows how a guitar player can easily become a banjo player by using the Deering six-string banjo. This is part two of a two part video lesson.
November 11, 2021 -In this video Brad Davis shows how a guitar player can easily become a banjo player by using the Deering six-string banjo. Here Brad will show some rhythm technique using the flatpick and then the flatpick combined with fingers. This is part 1 of a two part video lesson.
November 4, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller explains how you can think about guitar soloing in the context of using major pentatonic scales and major blues scales on the guitar as your frame of reference. Tablature for these scales are included on the Bluegrass Unlimited Lesson Page.
October 27, 2021 -The last couple of weeks we’ve been on the subject of crosspicking on the mandolin. This week we have Tim May playing a McReynolds style crosspicking arrangement of “Wildwood Flower.” Mandolin tablature is available on the Bluegrass Unlimited website lesson page.
October 19, 2021 -This week’s video lesson is a follow up to last week’s mandolin lesson on crosspicking and harmonized scales. In this lesson Dan Miller demonstrates how to use three different crosspicking rolls on an arrangement of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” He also demonstrates how to use harmonized scales in arrangements of the A part to “Blackberry Blossom” and the A part to “Whisky Before Breakfast.”
October 13, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates four different crosspicking patterns that are typically used by mandolin players and how to use a toggle to come out of a crosspicking roll. He also explains harmonized scales and demonstrates how to use double-stops, the toggle, and crosspicking over harmonized scale patterns.
October 7, 2021 -About 20 years ago Tim Stafford produced a video for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine titled “Acoustic Guitar Fundamentals.” In the video Tim presented his ideas about Tone, Timing, Tuning, Taste, and Technique. In this excerpt from that video we present a segment of the Timing portion of the video where Tim describes how to work with a timing device in order to improve your sense of Time. Although Tim is demonstrating on the guitar, his advice here would apply to how to improve your Timing on any instrument. The complete video is still available on Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s website.
September 28, 2021 -In this video Scott Napier teaches you how to play the Nolan Faulkner mandolin tune “The Blind Fiddler.”
September 23, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to take a simple melody—using the song “When The Saints Go Marching In” as the example—and create a mandolin solo by using tremolo (and variations of the tremolo), double stops, neighboring notes, and the toggle technique.
September 15, 2021 -In this fiddle lesson George Jackson presents ‘Mississippi Sawyer” in three parts. The first part is the “classic” version of the tune. The second version is one that is influenced by West Virginia old-time fiddlers. The third version is a transcription of the recorded version of the tune from George’s album “Hair & Hide” (reviewed in our October 2021 issue).
September 9, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to take a simple melody—using the song “When The Saints Go Marching In” as the example—and create a mandolin solo by using chordal strums, major pentatonic scale notes, and scale runs to fill in between the melody notes.
September 2, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller shows how to build a solo on the Dobro for the song “Salty Dog Blues.” He starts with the melody and then shows several different ideas regarding how to build a solo from the basic melody.
August 26, 2021 -This week Dan Miller explains a bit of the theory behind Circle of Fifths chord progressions using the song “Salty Dog Blues” as an example.
August 19, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to play “Old Joe Clark” in the melodic style. He then demonstrates how you can mix the Scruggs, single-string, and melodic styles to create an interesting solo to “Old Joe Clark.”
August 4, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to create a banjo solo from the simple melody by using the B part of “Old Joe Clark” (the A part was demonstrated in Part 1). You will learn a simple Scruggs-style arrangement, and learn some variations of that arrangement.
July 28, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to create a solo on the banjo from the simple melody by using the A part of the song “Old Joe Clark” as an example. You will learn a simple Scruggs-style arrangement, learn how to modify that arrangement, and learn a more complex arrangement that adds embellishments such as hammer-ons and pull-offs.
July 21, 2021 -This is a continuation of a video series about how to create a guitar solo around a melody using various techniques. In the first video Dan Miller taught the Carter style technique, tremolo, double stops, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, and adding bass runs. In this video he demonstrates how to add the techniques of crosspicking, the toggle, and neighboring notes.
July 14, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to take a song melody and prepare a Carter style arrangement on the guitar. He first shows a basic arrangement in the open position in the key of D. He then demonstrates moving that arrangement to the key of C, with the capo on the second fret. He then shows how to embellish that basic arrangement using techniques such as tremolo, hammer-ons and pull-offs, double stops, and bass walks into melody notes.
06:21 Basic Carter Style in D
07:48 Basic Carter Style in C
13:39 Carter Style adding Embellishments
14:26 Arrangement using Tremolo
14:54 Arrangement using Double Stops
15:59 Mixing Techniques with Carter Style Strums
July 7, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller continues his series on Learning Music By Ear by finishing up showing how to find the melody to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” This is the third video in this series.
June 29, 2021 -Nearly 20 years ago Flatpicking Guitar Magazine produced an instructional video with Wyatt Rice titled “Advanced Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar,” hosted by Dan Miller. In this excerpt, Wyatt Rice demonstrates a straight-forward approach to rhythm over a G, C, and D progression. He then demonstrates how he might spice that up with various rhythm techniques. He then demonstrates, in detail, his crosspicking rhythm technique. That is followed by a segment where Wyatt demonstrates how he would use the crosspicking technique by backing up Rickie Simpkins playing “Dusty Miller” on the fiddle.
June 23, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to find the melody of a song by ear. In an earlier video, he demonstrated how to find the key and the chords to the song “When the Saints Go Marching In.” In this video he demonstrates a method that you can use to help you find the melody to that song.
June 17, 2021 -In this video Brad Davis demonstrates various types of guitar capos, discusses not only the basic use of the capo, but also demonstrates how two guitar players might capo in different positions when playing together in order to provide different textures to the same tune and he also shows how to play a “Drop D” tuning in any key by using two capos on the guitar neck at the same time. You will also hear Tim May and Brad Davis play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” and Brad play “Rueben” with Tim backing him up.
June 9, 2021 -In this video lesson Dan Miller demonstrates how you can learn to use your ear to find the key and the chords to any song. Recommending that you start ear training with very simple songs, Dan demonstrates how to determine the key (from your own singing voice), and then find the chords to a song. He uses the simple song “When the Saints Go Marching In” while outlining helpful hints and guidelines for this process. The approach Dan shows here is also presented, in more detail, in his book “Learning Music By Ear for All Stringed Instruments.”
June 3, 2021 -In this video Tim May, a talented instrument builder and repairman—as well as a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter—talks about how to care for and maintain your instrument. In the video, Tim mentions “Acoustic Music Pro” and their website address. This company, and website, no longer exist. They have given Bluegrass Unlimited permission to post this video.
May 26, 2021 -This video is part of a much longer video titled “Rhythm, Timing and Groove” that was put together as a companion to a book by the same name. The book was published, but the video was never produced. Here Brad Davis talks about three interesting rhythm guitar concepts: the “Muted Strum,” the “Rake,” and the “Push” and demonstrates how you might use them.
May 18, 2021 -In this lesson Banjo Ben Clark teaches you how to play three variations of the famous “Shave and a Hair Cut” banjo ending.
May 12, 2021 -In this video lesson Mike Mitchell, from the Floyd Music School, teaches you how to play (and sing) the classic “Wildwood Flower” on the fiddle. He demonstrates a simple melody-based version and a couple of variations.
May 3, 2021 -In this video lesson David Benedict, from Mile Twelve and “Mandolin Mondays” fame, demonstrates how to put a swing feel into your mandolin playing and provides you with a few right hand exercises to help you add various accents and dynamics into your playing and gain better control over your right hand.
April 26, 2021 -Huckleberry Rag, like a lot of songs, is a big blend of many cultures. We talk about how this tune comes from the blues and uses a lot of blues like elements in the melody. Blues notes are generally lowered 3rd and 7th degrees of the scale. Here, we are in the key of D so we invite you to try out some lowered 3rds (f naturals) and 7ths (c naturals)…see how bluesy you can make it with these new notes. Sometimes, we just start a solo on one to see if we can figure out our way back to the melody! Annie Savage (violin), Blake Shaw (bass), Craig “Pappy” Klocke (guitar)
April 26, 2021 -Huckleberry Rag, like a lot of songs, is a big blend of many cultures. We talk about how this tune comes from the blues and uses a lot of blues like elements in the melody. Blues notes are generally lowered 3rd and 7th degrees of the scale. Here, we are in the key of D so we invite you to try out some lowered 3rds (f naturals) and 7ths (c naturals)…see how bluesy you can make it with these new notes. Sometimes, we just start a solo on one to see if we can figure out our way back to the melody!
April 20, 2021 – In this lesson Orrin Star teaches how to flatpick “Old Joe Clark”. This is an excerpt from an instructional video that Orrin produced for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Unfortunately, Orrin passed away in 2017, but his excellent flatpicking instruction lives on. We hope you enjoy learning this version of “Old Joe Clark” from Orrin Star.
April 14, 2021 – This is the second of a two-part video lesson where Tim May teaches you how to develop creative solos on the mandolin. In this video he talks about using straight scale and folded scale patterns drawing from six different scales: major scale, major pentatonic scale, major blues scale, minor pentatonic scale, minor blues scale, and the mixolydian scale. He also discusses the use of dynamics, phrasing, and note articulation.
0:06 Using Scales
1:36 Understanding Straight and Folded Scales
2:53 Straight Major Scale
3:54 Major Pentatonic Scale
5:18 Major Blues Scale
6:46 Minor Pentatonic Scale
8:04 Minor Blues Scale
9:44 Mixolydian Scale
10:52 Wrapping Up Scale Choices for Fills
11:35 Dynamic Picking
18:26 Singing Your Solo
20:51 Wrapping Up
April 8, 2021 – This is the first of a two-part video lesson where Tim May teaches you how to develop creative solos on the mandolin. He first teaches the melody to “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain”. He will then run through a variety of techniques that you can use to embellish that melody. In this first video he will teach you how to use Tremolo, Slides, Hammer-ons, and Pull-offs, Drone Notes, Neighboring Notes, and Crosspicking. In the next video he will add more techniques to your repertoire.
1:49 “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain” Melody
5:27 Slides, Hammer-ons, and Pull-offs
10:39 Drone Notes
16:17 Neighboring Notes
March 30, 2021 – In this video lesson we are remembering our dear departed friends George Shuffler (1925-2014) and James Alan Shelton (1960-2014). You will see George and James play a few tunes and discuss the origins of the Clinch Mountain style crosspicking the guitar. James will then demonstrate the technique and show you how to use crosspicking on the tune “Rank Stranger.” This video is an excerpt from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s instructional video “Clinch Mountain Guitar”.
1:41 Origins of Crosspicking Discussion
4:00 “Will You Miss Me”
4:43 Crosspicking Pick Pattern Discussion
8:00 “Katy Dear”
10:15 Crosspicking Basics
13:40 “Rank Stranger”
March 24, 2021 – Anne Luna provides you with some great ideas regarding walking bass lines show how to walk the bass line within a chord and while passing from one chord to another in a progression.
March 16, 2021 – In this lesson Andrew Collins teaches you how to learn to play faster using the tune “Daybreak in Dixie”. If you feel like you are stumbling at fast tempos, check out Andrew’s advice and technique for improving speed and learn a great classic bluegrass tune while you are at it!
Click here to download a PDF transcription of “Daybreak in Dixie”
March 10, 2021 – Christopher Henry teaches his approach to Monroe style mandolin improvisation. He presents beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of difficulty using the song “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” as his example. This is video 1 of 2. This video presents the instruction. The second video presents demonstrations of the tune at various tempos and practice tracks.
March 10, 2021 – This is the second part of Christopher Henry’s Monroe style mandolin improvisation video. Here Christopher demonstrates the solos to “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” at various tempos and also provides rhythm tracks so you can practice your solos. This is video 2 of 2 for this lesson.
March 2, 2021 – In this video Brad Davis will show you how to practice the “Rhythm Pick Pattern” or RPP. The exercises help you to work on right hand control and accuracy on the guitar and Brad will show you how you can utilize the technique to spice up your rhythm playing.
Feb 24, 2021 – Vocal coach Dede Wyland teaches the basics of breath support to help you improve your singing abilities.
Feb 16, 2021 – In this video the fiddle player for the award-winning bluegrass band Nothin’ Fancy, Chris Sexton, shows you very helpful details about holding your fiddle bow and bowing technique.
Feb 9, 2021 – In this video award-winning songwriter Mark “Brink” Brinkman explains how to find rhyming words when writing your songs. He teaches you how to keep the message of your song the priority, not the rhyme…and he gives you some hints on how to do that.
Feb 3, 2021 – In this video Kenny Smith from kennysmithguitar.com teaches how to play a lick on the guitar.
Jan 26, 2021 – In this video Bronwyn Keith-Hynes teaches how to play a very nice Vassar Clements lick on the fiddle. She then demonstrates how to use the lick in the song “Paddy On The Turnpike.”
Jan 19, 2021 – In this video Stephen Mougin explains and demonstrates bluegrass harmony singing using “Lonesome Road Blues” as his example tune. This informative and entertaining video will help you understand the basics of singing harmony in bluegrass music. For more information about Stephen and his guitar, vocal and band lessons, visit: www.stephenmougin.com
Jan 12, 2021 – In this video lesson from Tristan Scroggins you will learn how to read guitar chords if you are not a guitar player and want to watch a guitar player to learn the chord changes in a jam session. A very useful tool!
Jan 5, 2021 – How you go about learning a tune will determine how far you can take it and how well you actually know the melody. Tabs can be great resources for ideas but they can also keep you from seeing the bigger picture if you aren’t careful. It this video I discuss and demonstrate my method for learning a tune and point out some things to watch out for using Billy In The Lowground as the reference tune. You’ll also find some arpeggios that will help you map out the fretboard for common chords/keys.
Dec 29, 2020 – Megan Lynch Chowning provides fiddle players with some great ways to kick off, or lead into, a fiddle solo on a bluegrass song.
Dec 21, 2020 – In the first video, Casey Henry demonstrated how to play “Suns Gonna Shine In My Back Door Someday” on the 5-string banjo. She played the song up to speed and slowed it down. In this video (2 of 2) she breaks down the song into its component licks and teaches you how to play it by ear.
Dec 16, 2020 – Joe Wilson discusses how to play “Go Tell It On The Mountain” of the resonator guitar. This is video 1 of 3 in this lesson. Video 2 of 3 shows how to play the song slow. Video 3 of 3 shows how to play it faster.
Dec 8, 2020 – Ned Luberecki teaches how to play “Jingle Bells” on the banjo.
Dec 8, 2020 – Vocal coach Dede Wyland teaches the basics of using your body and breath to improve your singing abilities.
Dec 1, 2020 – Everything you need to improve your tone! Nate Lee teaches how to make great tone by honing your skills in your picking hand and fretting hand. Master these skills and you’ll make pro level tone, even when playing easy songs!
Nov 24, 2020 – In this video Becky Buller demonstrates how to play the well-known fiddle tune “Over the Waterfall.’ Becky plays the tune at a typical jam session tempo, then she slows it down and plays it again. Finally, she breaks the song into smaller pieces so that you can study each piece separately.
Nov 16, 2020 – Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine brings you this instructional video by bassist Anne Luna. She gives you tips for both the left and right hand that will help you improve your skill level on the upright bass.
Nov 9, 2020 – Ned Luberecki gives you some valuable pointers on the execution of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides on the banjo. Even if you’ve been playing the banjo for years, you may find Ned’s tips will help you take your playing to the next level.