BLUEGRASS FIDDLE with Chad Manning

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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.

CHAD MANNING

Chad Manning is a Bay Area bluegrass, old-time, and swing fiddler who currently plays with the David Grisman Sextet, the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, and Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands.

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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.

chadmanning.com

 

Bluegrass Fiddle Course Overview

Latest Bluegrass Fiddle Lesson

Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down

Learn Paul Warren’s fiddle solo on the Flatt and Scruggs’ recording of the bluegrass standard “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down.” It's a bluegrass fiddle classic. With Notation and Play-Along Track

Feedback and Discussion

Let Chad know what you think of the course and interact with fellow Peghead Nation fiddle students.

Bluegrass Fiddle Lessons

Subscribe to the Bluegrass Fiddle course today for access to all of these fiddle lessons and new material every month! All fiddle tune lessons include notation.

FIDDLE TECHNIQUE

  • 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 Chad defines Equal Tempered tuning and shows how to get in tune using an electronic tuner.
    Bow Technique
  • Bow Technique, Part 1: Getting Comfortable with the Bow Bow technique is all about trying to get the tone you hear in your head out of your fiddle. Chad demonstrates his approach to holding the bow.
  • Bow Technique, Part 2: Bow Tones Play along with Chad and imitate the sound he’s getting on this simple call-and-response exercise exploring different bow tones, from a percussive edge to smoother sounds.
  • Bow Technique, Part 3: Coordinating Your Hands Learn to coordinate your hands better by planting your finger just before the bow stroke. Includes bow exercises using a simple D major scale.
    Left-Hand Technique
  • Left-Hand Technique, Part 1: Finger and Hand Positions Learn how best to position your left-hand on the fiddle. Chad talks about the difference between playing with the tips of the fingers versus the pads, and how much pressure to use to get the best tone.
  • Left-Hand Technique, Part 2: Finding Pitch Chad delves into various pitch issues, such as the nice “ring” you can get when you play certain notes perfectly in tune, landing notes firmly with your fingers and adjusting the pitch afterward by “rolling” your finger, and more.
  • Left-Hand Technique, Part 3: Playing with a Drone Playing with a drone is a great way to work on your intonation and really find out whether you’re playing in tune or not. 
  • Vibrato Learn some exercises for developing your vibrato. Chad starts by explaining that vibrato should not be just a shake of your finger but very deliberate changes in pitch. Chad gives you some great vibrato exercises to try, starting with slowly rolling your finger flat and then back to pitch. You’ll practice this by repeating it in cycles. 
INTERMEDIATE-LEVEL OLD-TIME FIDDLE TUNES
    Angeline the Baker
  • Angeline the Baker, Part 1: Learning the Melody “Angeline the Baker” is one of the most popular fiddle tunes at bluegrass and old-time jams throughout the world. Chad teaches the melody phrase by phrase.
  • Angeline the Baker, Part 2: Adding Layers (A Part) Add the fiddle “layers” to “Angeline the Baker” that really make you sound like a fiddler, including hammer-ons, up-sweeps, anticipation, and double-stringing.
  • Angeline the Baker, Part 3: Adding Layers (B Part) Add the fiddle layers to the B part of “Angeline the Baker.” Chad talks about sliding into notes and ends with an improvised version of the tune.
  • Angeline the Baker Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Angeline the Baker” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.
    June Apple
  • June Apple, Part 1: The A Part and the “Nashville Shuffle” Learn the popular old-time tune “June Apple.” Chad teaches the A part phrase by phrase and shows you the “Nashville shuffle” bowing pattern.
  • June Apple, Part 2: The B Part and the “Georgia Shuffle” Learn the B part of “June Apple” phrase by phrase, as well as the “Georgia shuffle” bowing pattern. 
  • June Apple, Part 3: Medium Tempo Practice Track Use this video to practice playing the entire tune at a medium tempo with Chad and guitar accompaniment.
  • Improvising on “June Apple,” Part 1: Chords and Backup If you want to improvise on “June Apple,” the first step is to learn the chords. Chad shows you the chord progression as well as a nice backup rhythm. 
  • Improvising on “June Apple,” Part 2: Improvisational Approaches - SAMPLE LESSON Chad talks about his philosophy of improvising and shows you how he distills a tune down to its most basic elements, so that you can start playing around with the rhythm, varying the melody, etc. 
  • Improvising on “June Apple,” Part 3: Play-Along Track Use this video to practice improvising on “June Apple” at a medium tempo with guitar accompaniment.
    Old Joe Clark
  • Old Joe Clark, Part 1 “Old Joe Clark” is one of the most well-known American fiddle tunes. It’s in the key of A Mixolydian, which means that the seventh step of the A major scale (G#) is lowered to a G natural.
  • Old Joe Clark, Part 2: Adding Layers Once you’ve learned the basic melody of “Old Joe Clark,” it’s time to add the fiddle “layers” that really make you sound like a fiddler.
  • Old Joe Clark, Part 3: Variations If you’ve learned the melody to “Old Joe Clark” you can learn a more “notey” version of the melody, with variations to each phrase. 
  • Old Joe Clark Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Old Joe Clark” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.
    Whiskey Before Breakfast
  • Whiskey Before Breakfast, Part 1: The A Part Another need-to-know fiddle is “Whiskey Before Breakfast.” Chad teaches this favorite phrase by phrase, giving you lots of time to play along with him. 
  • Whiskey Before Breakfast, Part 2: The B Part  Chad walks you through the B part phrase by phrase and shows you some cool slides you can use.
  • Whiskey Before Breakfast, Part 3: Variations Once you’ve learned the A and B parts to “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” you can try a few of the melodic variations that Chad shows you in this video.
  • Whiskey Before Breakfast Play-Along Video Use this video to play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.
BLUEGRASS FIDDLE TUNES
 
    Road to Columbus
  • Road to Columbus, Part 1 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. Chad teaches it here phrase by phrase, including its unique intro and cool double stops. 
  • Road to Columbus, Part 2 Learn the B part to “Road to Columbus,” which is mostly played in third position. Chad takes the tune apart phrase by phrase and shows you a quick vibrato that Kenny Baker uses on some of the high notes. 
  • “Road to Columbus” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing “Road to Columbus” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.
    Cattle in the Cane
  • Cattle in the Cane, Part 1 Chad’s 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 learn two A parts here, one inspired by Texas fiddler Terry Morris, and the other from bluegrass fiddler Aubrey Haynie.
  • Cattle in the Cane, Part 2 The B part to Chad’s arrangement of “Cattle in the Cane” isn’t quite so twisty as the two A parts. The B part is in the key of A major, but uses some G naturals for an A Mixolydian sound.
  • Cattle in the Cane, Part 3: Play-Along Track Use this video to play the entire arrangement of “Cattle in the Cane” along with Chad at a moderate tempo.
  • Cattle in the Cane, Part 4: One More A Variation If you want even more variations on the A part of “Cattle in the Cane,” Chad shows you one that includes an A harmonic and a nice C double stop. 
    Rebecca
  • Rebecca, Part 1 Do you know any tunes in the key of B? Well, now you will. Chad shows you bluegrass mandolinist Herschel Sizemore’s popular instrumental “Rebecca,” which you’ll play mostly out of a closed position
  • Rebecca, Part 2: Variations Bobby Hicks and Stuart Duncan have both recorded great fiddle solos on “Rebecca.” In this video, Chad shows you some variations inspired by their solos. 
    Bill Cheatham
  • Bill Cheatham, Part 1: Melody Learn the bluegrass jam session favorite “Bill Cheatham” in this lesson. Chad starts by breaking down the melody of the A and B parts, phrase by phrase. He also shows you some rhythmic variations you can use for each part. 
  • Bill Cheatham, Part 2: Improvising and Variations 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. 
  • “Bill Cheatham” Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Bill Cheatham” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment
    New Camptown Races
  • New Camptown Races, Part 1 The jam session favorite “New Camptown Races” was written by bluegrass mandolinist Frank Wakefield It is in the key of Bb and moves to G minor, the relative minor of Bb, so Chad gets you started with a Bb major scale. He also shows you how to play all the modes in Bb. Then he breaks the down tune phrase by phrase. You’ll learn the A part of “New Camptown Races” in this video.
  • New Camptown Races, Part 2 The B part of “New Camptown Races” goes to the key of G minor. Chad starts by outlining a Gm chord and then shows you the B part, phrase by phrase. He finishes by playing the entire tune through at a medium tempo, so you can play along with him. 
  • “New Camptown Races” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing  “New Camptown Races” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.
    Lonesome Moonlight Waltz
  • Lonesome Moonlight Waltz, Part 1: The Melody 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. Chad teaches you the melody here, phrase by phrase, and shows you some cool bluesy slides and double stops. 
  • Lonesome Moonlight Waltz, Part 2: Improvising In this lesson, you’ll learn how to improvise over the “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” chord progression. Chad starts by showing you the arpeggios of each chord, and demonstrates how you can improvise by just using the arpeggios. He also suggests writing out the note names of each chord so you can see which notes the chords have in common. 
  • “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” Play-Along Track  Use this video to practice playing  “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” at a medium tempo with guitar accompaniment. 
    Big Sandy River
  • Big Sandy River Bill Monroe’s tune “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 in this lesson. Chad plays it through and then breaks it down for you phrase by phrase, including a variation in the A part with some cool descending double stops. Chad also gives you advice on getting clean, quick notes with short bow strokes. 
  • “Big Sandy River” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing “Big Sandy River” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment. 

    Big Mon

  • Big Mon Bill Monroe’s bluegrass fiddle tune “Big Mon” is a jam session favorite. Chad plays “Big Mon” through and then takes it apart phrase by phrase, showing you the bowing patterns and some of the drones he uses. “Big Mon” is generally played as a two-part tune in jam sessions, but there’s also a third part that is often played by the fiddle. 
  • “Big Mon” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing “Big Mon” at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment. 

    Methodist Preacher

  • Methodist Preacher The fiddle tune “Methodist Preacher” sounds like an old-time classic, but was actually written by Bill Monroe. It has four parts and a lot of classic G-pentatonic fingering, with phrases that sound like other G fiddle tunes. Chad plays it through and then breaks it down, phrase by phrase. He also shows you the bowing he uses to play “Methodist Preacher” and talks about giving the notes a nice bite or percussive edge with the bow.
  • “Methodist Preacher” Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Methodist Preacher” at a medium tempo with guitar accompaniment

    Brown County Breakdown

  • Brown County Breakdown, Part 1 Bill Monroe’s fiddle tune “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. Before teaching the melody to “Brown County Breakdown,” Chad shows you a great warm-up exercise with open strings, designed to help you get even, consistent tone with your bowing arm. Then he plays “Brown County Breakdown” through and starts taking apart the A section.
  • Brown County Breakdown, Part 2 You’ll learn the B and C parts of  “Brown County Breakdown” in this video. Chad plays each part through slowly, showing you the bowing he uses as he goes, and finishes by playing the whole tune through at a slow tempo.

    Big Sciota

  • Big Sciota, Part 1 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. Chad plays his version through and then takes it apart by phrase, showing you his bowing, which includes a few consecutive three-note slurs. He also gives you advice on playing slurred string crossings, and you’ll learn a variation on the B part that Chad got from fiddler Billy Contreras.
  • Big Sciota, Part 2: Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing “Big Sciota” at a medium tempo (including the Billy Contreras variation) with Chad and guitarist Scott Nygaard.

    Golden Fiddle Waltz

  • Golden Fiddle Waltz, Part 1: A Part Melody 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 lesson you’ll learn the melody without double stops, as well as double-stop scales in F. It’s a fairly complex melody so it’s important to learn the melody first before adding double stops. In next month’s lesson, Chad will show you the version with all the double stops. He gets started by playing the tune through, without double stops and then with double stops. Then he breaks down the melody of the A part phrase by phrase, giving you advice on cleanly articulating some of the slides by using the tip of your finger. 
  • Golden Fiddle Waltz, Part 2: B Part Melody You’ll learn the B part melody of “Golden Fiddle Waltz” in this lesson. Chad plays it through and then takes it apart phrase by phrase. The A part is played again, after the B, but this time with a different ending, which you’ll also learn.
  • Golden Fiddle Waltz, Part 3: F Double-Stop Scale In preparation for learning the double-stop version of “Golden Fiddle Waltz” Chad shows you some double-stop scales in F, one with the harmony below the melody and one with the harmony above. 
  • “Golden Fiddle Waltz” with Double Stops In this lesson, you’ll learn to add double stops to the melody of “Golden Fiddle Waltz.” Chad walks you through the entire melody, double stop by double stop, showing you the fingering and how to make any necessary position shifts.

    Jerusalem Ridge

  • 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. Chad plays it through and then breaks each part down, phrase by phrase. He also gives you some different ideas on how to bow “Jerusalem Ridge,” including using a shuffle pattern for much of the tune. 
  • “Jerusalem Ridge” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing “Jerusalem Ridge” at a medium tempo with Chad and guitarist Scott Nygaard.

    Cherokee Shuffle 

  • Cherokee Shuffle “Cherokee Shuffle” is one of the all-time great bluegrass jam tunes. Chad plays his version through and then breaks down the melody and bowing of each part, phrase by phrase. You’ll also learn a cool variation on the B part that adds the seventh note to some of the D chords and includes some cool slides up the high C and C#. With Notation
  • “Cherokee Shuffle” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing “Cherokee Shuffle”  at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.

BLUEGRASS SOLOING 

    Closed Positions

  • Closed Positions, Part 1 Learn closed positions on the fiddle that will allow you to play bluegrass fiddle licks in any key. 
  • Closed Positions, Part 2: Bluegrass Licks Using the closed position you learned in Part 1, in this lesson you’ll learn some bluesy bluegrass licks you can move from chord to chord. 
    Flint Hill Special
  • 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 on some of the sliding double-stop licks you learned in the lesson on G chords.  
    Your Love Is Like a Flower
  • Your Love Is Like a Flower, Part 1 Chad shows you his approach to playing bluegrass solos using this bluegrass standard. You’ll learn the melody and chords in the key of E, which is the key Chad sings it in, using standard “capo” positions, the major pentatonic scale, and other bluegrass fiddle techniques. 
  • Your Love Is Like a Flower, Part 2 Chad gives you exercises to help you learn to match the melody of “Your Love Is Like a Flower” with the chords, and shows how you can move the “capo” position to different keys, like B, Bb, etc.  
  • Your Love Is Like a Flower, Part 3 After you’ve learned the melody, the chord tones, and the major pentatonic scale, Chad shows you some stylistic things you can add to your solo, and talks about phrasing the melody in different ways. 
  • “Your Love Is Like a Flower” Play-Along Track: Key of E Use this video to practice playing “Your Love Is Like a Flower” in the key of E at slow and medium tempos with guitar accompaniment.
  • “Your Love Is Like a Flower” Play-Along Track: Key of A 
  • “Your Love Is Like a Flower” Play-Along Track: Key of G 
  • “Your Love Is Like a Flower” Play-Along Track: Key of D 
  • “Your Love Is Like a Flower” Play-Along Track: Key of C 

    Bluegrass Licks in the Key of 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 for the key of C. Chad shows you a few licks that sound great in C, with some seventh and ninth double stops, pentatonic scales, and raggy syncopation, walking you through each one slowly. Then he shows you how to vary each of the licks to create your own ideas and finishes by using the licks to improvise over a standard bluegrass chord progression. 

    Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down

  • 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 whole progression is D–G–C–F. 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. Chad walks you through the position shifts and fingering you’ll need for those double stops and the rest of the solo. 
  • “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” Play-Along Track Use this video to practice playing the solo to  “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” at a medium tempo with Chad and guitarist Scott Nygaard.

SCALES AND CHORDS

    Intro to Scales and Chords

  • Scales and Chords, Part 1: Major Scales In this basic music theory lesson, Chad shows you how scales and chords are constructed so you can find them in any key. He starts by showing you how the major scale is constructed, as well as handy fingering patterns on the. Then he plays G, D, and A major scales slowly so you can practice your scales along with him.
  • Scales and Chords, Part 2: Chords Learn how major chords (also called triads) are constructed. Chad shows you how to construct a major chord using the root, third, and fifth notes of the major scale, and shows you various major chords, as well as the “shapes” you can use to remember them. 

    G Chords

  • G Chords, Part 1 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. 
  • G Chords, Part 2 Continue with some third-position double stops and some double-stop runs that include passing chords. You’ll also learn about G7 chords, including some bluesy G7 licks in different positions.  

    Chord Intensives

  • Chord Intensive, Part 1: A and D Chords In this in-depth lesson on chords, you’ll learn a couple of double stops on each string for A, D, and G chords, some exercises to help you practice them, and some ways to work on transitioning between the chords. Chad starts by outlining an A arpeggio and running through the A double stops in open position on each set of strings. Then he shows you the same thing for D double stops. After you learn the A and D chord double stops you’ll learn to move from A to D and vice versa. With Double Stop Chart and Practice Tracks
  • Chord Intensive, Part 2: Adding G and C Chords In this video, you’ll learn the G chord double stops and use them with the D and A chords for a progression in the key of D. With Double Stop Chart
  • Chord Intensive, Part 3: C and F Chords In this lesson, you’ll continue your work on chords by learning all the double stops for the C and F chords in first position. Chad shows you each double stop in C and then gives you a short exercise to play using the double stops. He also shows you a couple of sliding double stops that move up into third position. Once you’ve learned the C double stops, Chad moves on to the key of F, showing you the notes in the F chord and then the double stops you get by combining them. He also gives you an exercise to practice all your F double stops just like you did with the C double stops.

    Seventh Chords

  • Seventh Chords, Part 1: D7 Seventh chords can help you transition from one chord to another. In this lesson, 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. Chad shows you some D7 double stops on each set of strings and then shows you how to move from D to D7 to G. He also shows you how to add the ninth to the D7 chord. 
  • Seventh Chords, Part 2: A7 After learning all the D7 shapes on each set of strings, in this lesson you’ll learn the same for the A7 chord, and how to move from A7 to D, including some A9 shapes. 

Bluegrass Fiddle Source Material

Check out these tunes featured in the Bluegrass Fiddle course.

 


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