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19 Mile Overhead

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/28/2017
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: 19 Mile Overhead is a tune I wrote in the 1970s, and you can find a recording of it, from a practice tape of that era, on the Media section of my BHO page. The tune is structured AABB, and you should capo up 2 to play it in the key of A. Note that in British Columbia “overheads” are highway bridges over railroad right-of-way, and 19 Mile Overhead is somewhere near Revelstoke, B.C. I’ll take a wild stab in the dark and guess that it is 19 miles from the town.

A Bill Keith lick

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/25/2015 - 7 Member Comments
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Notes: In addition to creating melodic style, IMHO in parallel to and independently of Carroll Best and Bobby Thompson, Bill Keith introduced to basic Scruggs style layers of elegance, complexity, and subtlety that had not been heard before he appeared on the stage. Here is one simple example that says it all, the first few measures of the first break in the song “Livin’ on the Mountain,” from Keith and Rooney’s album of the same name. Keith took one of Scruggs’s standard licks, employing a forward-backward roll with a pull-off on the third string, and threw in a subtle twist by pulling off to the fifth string and pivoting to the open third. Compare Keith’s version to Scruggs’s in the tab, and you will get my drift. When I heard this in 1963 or 1964, I realized that Bill Keith had opened new horizons on the banjo.

Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/14/2011 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: Here's a traditional bluegrass tune with mournful, self-pitying, and nonsensical lyrics. But it is great fun to play on the banjo. My arrangement comprises four breaks, including a high break, and is full of stuff that can be used in other tunes as well.

Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me (Stover/Scruggs/Crowe)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/21/2016 - 6 Member Comments
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Notes: Breaks to this old warhorse by three of the greats -- and now I know where many of my "original" ideas came from. The exact picking on Stover's break was hard to hear, but I think I came close to capturing it. The chokes up the neck on Scruggs's break should be played with vigor. It probably helps to hear the original recording, which you can find on www.sugarmegs.org. Crowe's break ends on a whimsical statement of the melody, and you can find this concert recording also on sugarmegs.

Arab Bounce

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/25/2020
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Notes: One of Jimmy Martin's tunes, with a rumba rhythm in the B part. Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass Calypso. Who knew?

Are You Missing Me

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/2/2020
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: Are You Missing Me is a fine bluegrass standard, written by Ira Louvin and associated with Jim and Jesse. I have tabbed 3 breaks. Note the long tag at the end of the first break; I think I first heard it (or something like it) played by Bobby Thompson. The final D measures at the end of the second break feature one of my original D runs, and you might find it useful. The third break includes some melodic sequences that you can plug into a variety of tunes. Note added in April 2020: I originally posted this tablature several years ago, and I have now corrected some errors and added a bass track.

Banks of the Ohio

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/1/2019 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: The origins of this song are unknown, but it has been embraced by the folk music community (e.g., Dave Guard and the Whiskeyhill Singers) as well as by bluegrassers (e.g., Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, Tony Rice). I have tabbed 2 pretty straightforward breaks, one down the neck and one up the neck. Note that it is a great tune to play with Keith tuners, and I leave it to you to work out the arrangement

Bay State Bounce

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 6/25/2017 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: BSB is a brilliant original banjo tune written by Bill Keith. It has a remarkable internal logic, a flow of melody notes, which is not surprising given Bill’s penchant for mathematics. Many years ago I posted a tab of BSB, but in recently watching a youtube video of Bill playing the tune I detected some errors in my tab. So I have tried to render a tab that is closer to the way he played it. The B part is particularly difficult for the left hand. Pay attention to the section in measure 11, where the trick is to use your index finger to barre the 1st and 2nd strings at the 10th fret and then fret the 5th string at the 14th fret by s-t-r-e-c-h-i-n-g over with your ring finger. It probably would help to have fingers like bananas (which I don’t have). Capo up 2 to play in the key of A.

Bending the Strings

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/8/2016 - 6 Member Comments
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Notes: Along with Earl Scruggs and Bill Keith, Allen Shelton was one of my major influences and inspirations when I was learning to play bluegrass banjo. It was a thrill to see him with Jim and Jesse at the University of Chicago Folk Festival in 1966, where he wowed the audience (and me) with his banjo prowess. Bending the Strings is a clever original piece by Shelton, and one that involves the use of Keith/Scruggs tuners. I read somewhere that he wrote it when he was a teenager, an indication of how talented he was. I have tabbed it so you can play it without D tuners, although I have indicated above the tab the proper moves if you have tuners. The first break resembles the way Shelton played BTS, but it is not note-for-note. The second break is reminiscent of Bill Keith's version and includes some neat ideas. You can find Keith's recording of it on his 1992 CD "Beating Around the Bush," which should be in every bluegrass banjo player's collection.

Bernie's Bounce

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/15/2015 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: This jaunty little original tune is for my fourth grandchild, wee Bern, who is named after my grandfather. It started out as a simple warmup exercise and, without my planning it, morphed into a recognizable tune. I normally play it AAB, and I have provided two versions of the B part for some variety.

Big Ben

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/12/2020 - 7 Member Comments
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Notes: One of the classic instrumentals by the Osborne Brothers, featuring harmony banjos as well as solo banjo breaks.

Big Sandy River

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/7/2020 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is my version of a classic tune by Bill Monroe and Kenny Baker, normally played in the key of A (capoed up two). The breaks involve a judicious mixture of Scruggs and melodic playing. Pay particular attention to the third break, in which I attempt to capture the feel of Kenny Baker's approach to the tune on the fiddle. Ah, Kenny Baker.

Big Sandy River / Noam Pikelny's first break

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/8/2016 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: My take on Pikelny's first break on Big Sandy River -- you know, the easy one -- from "Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe." I emphasize that there are multiple ways to play the same notes, especially on the up-the-neck parts, and I may not have captured the exact way he plays it. This is an exceptionally difficult piece played at a blistering tempo. So buckle up your seat belts. As for his other breaks to BSR: Well, you're on your own. Good luck

Big Sciota

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/22/2011 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: My version is not exactly entirely faithful to the melody. Its saving grace is that it employs a number of my standard licks and hence is, for me at least, relatively easy to play.

Bill Cheatham

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/29/2020
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Notes: I have tabbed two breaks to this jam favorite. The second break includes some interesting melodic sequences I heard on a concert tape (recorded at the Birchmere, to be precise) of Bela Fleck when he was with Spectrum.

Bill Emerson lick

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/7/2014 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a creative Bill Emerson lick that is a variation on a standard Scruggs lick.

Black Rock Turnpike

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/7/2015 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: My interpretation of a straightforward melodic piece by Marshall Brickman, from "New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass" (Elektra Records, 1963).

Blackberry Blossom/Bill Keith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/13/2016 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: The first elegant melodic break to BB I heard was by Bill Keith on the Zap Records LP “Dobro and Fiddle,” by Kenny Haddock and Billy Baker (one of Monroe’s former fiddlers), released in 1967. He subsequently recorded it with the supergroup Muleskinner, in 1973. Bill’s breaks were delightful and stayed close to the melody, unlike the excursions into banjo noise practised by many of his successors, and they were played at breakneck knuckle-busting speed. For an example of the cleverness of his break, note how he used ascending scales in the first run-through of the A part and then descending scales in the second run-through. Brilliant. Catch the video of Muleskinner on youtube.com, to see a young and bearded Bill Keith playing some outstanding banjo on BB and a bunch of other tunes. The tab I have posted here is pretty close to the way I hear Bill playing it, and I give you two of his endings, the first from the Billy Baker recording and the second from Muleskinner. Note that the backup chord structure can be complex as in the tab and Muleskinner recording, or simple as in the Billy Baker recording. Either way it’s a great tune.

Blue Ridge Cabin Home / Earl Scruggs

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/11/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Scruggs's break to BRCH is one of his classics. In its deceptive simplicity and elegance it ranks up there with his break to "No Mother or Dad," in my opinion -- it is a break in which he really plays the words. The first break by Scruggs is my attempt to capture his recorded version with Lester Flatt, and the second break is an amalgam of variations I have heard on various radio and concert recordings by Flatt and Scruggs. The next 2 breaks are my own, with some elements based on Bill Keith's playing. Flatt and Scruggs recorded BRCH in B flat; so capo up 3 if you want to play along with the recording.

Bound for Jasper

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/2/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Bound for Jasper emerged on a recent long drive home from Canada’s magnificent West Coast, with an overnight stop in Jasper National Park, Alberta. The B Part employs what I have called the “staircase” roll, learned from the playing of Don Stover. As you will see, the structure of the tune is AAB. I dedicate BfJ to the memory of my dear friend Dr. Neil Cowie – anesthesiologist, storyteller, banjo player – who died on 18 June 2016. Goodbye, Old Pal.

Broad River Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/18/2019 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This tune came to me from the Great Universal Oneness. Translation: I was noodling around, and it emerged from the noodling. I wanted to explore the relation between the Bb and D chords, and you can judge how it turned out. It is played out of the G tuning with the capo up 2 frets to the key of A, to make it easier on the guitarist. Incidentally Broad River is near Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where Earl Scruggs came from.

Buck's Run

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/5/2020 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Buck’s Run is a delightful mandolin tune composed by Buck White. To me, it conjures the sound of baying hounds chasing a deer. It is also an excellent tune for the banjo and has been recorded by several artists: Buck White of course, with banjo by Jack Hicks; Larry Cordle, with banjo by Dave Talbot from Ontari-ari-ari-o; and Jeff White, with banjo by Charlie Cushman. My version of Buck’s Run includes influences from each of these banjo pickers, as well as a wonderful fiddle break by Kenny Baker (ah, Kenny Baker …). It is played in the key of A.

Bury Me Beneath the Willow

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/21/2017 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is my arrangement of Bury Me Beneath the Willow. The first break is down the neck and straightforward. The second break is up the neck and is mostly in the chordal style. The third break is back down the neck and employs Keith/Scruggs tuners. TablEdit includes no simple way to indicate retuning strings, as with Keith tuners. So I have inserted text above each relevant portion of the tab to show what to do with the tuners (I did the same some time ago with “Girl’s Breakdown”). In other words, the notes in the tab corresponding to the notes played with Keith tuners are placeholders, and I used the “change note” function to sound the relevant notes in the MIDI. Thus by playing the MIDI you can hear an approximation what it sounds like to achieve melody notes by detuning and retuning a string. In my opinion this is one of the coolest effects in bluegrass banjo.

Busy Fingers / Banjalin

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/1/2020
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Notes: Busy Fingers is an intriguing fiddle tune written by Tommy Jackson. On the banjo Bill Keith played a lovely version, but did not record it as far as I know, whereas Alan Munde recorded it under the title "Banjalin." The second break in my tablature was inspired by one of Alan Munde's characteristically innovative breaks.

Caravan

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: Cm  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/8/2016 - 5 Member Comments
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Notes: In memory of Bill Keith, whose recording of Duke Ellington’s Caravan on his 1976 album “Something Auld, Something Newgrass” introduced the tune to the world of bluegrass banjo and gob-smacked me when I first heard it. The tab is based on Keith’s arrangement, and it is mostly the way I have played Caravan for the last few decades. It is not a note-for-note copy of Keith’s version, but I did include a number of his nifty ideas, or at least my interpretation of them, that are worth examining. Note that in live performance Keith would start the tune with some appropriate noodling, and I have included a fragment in the tab. Note also that the Intro includes the banjo’s alternating between G7 and Ab Dim, whereas the backing instruments alternated between G7 and Ab7 throughout Part A of the tune. Finally, in his Outro to the tune Keith used a Keith tuner on the 4th string to go from D to C. If you don’t have a Keith tuner on your 4th string, you can just end it with a C note on the 2nd string 1st fret.

Careless Love

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Drop C (gCGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/9/2010 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: My arrangement of this traditional folk song, which has been recorded by pickers as diverse as Pete Seeger and Earl Scruggs. The first and third breaks should be played slowly, in the chordal style employing triplets, and you will probably need to employ the MIDI function on TablEdit to hear what they should sound like, because they way they look in tablature does not resemble how they sound. I like to play the second break at a faster tempo, and the contrast between the slow and fast breaks makes a more interesting arrangement, I think. The tablature shows the arrangement in drop C tuning, although it could be played just as easily in standard G tuning.

Charmaine

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/3/2015 - 10 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is an old jazz or swing tune that fits well in bluegrass. I had previously posted the banjo tab, and now I have updated with the backing guitar tab. You can play it slow and easy or, if the spirit moves you, at a faster pace.

Cherokee Strut

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/19/2016 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: The Nashville fiddler Tommy Jackson wrote Cherokee Shuffle, and it has become a staple for bluegrass banjo players. For reasons lost in the foggy mists of time, my band Silver Spring (in Vancouver, B.C., mid-1970s) changed the E minor to an E major and renamed it Cherokee Strut -- and note that the tune is typically played in the key of A; thus we are talking F# minor and F# major. My tab includes 2 breaks, the first in conventional 3-finger style and the second incorporating more melodic sequences. This was how I played more than 15 years before Bill Keith released his terrific arrangement. The structure of the tune is AABB.

Cheyenne

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A#/Bb  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/10/2020
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Notes: Here are two breaks to one of Bill Monroe's classics. The B part in the first break is similar to Bill Keith's.

Chloe's Hornpipe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/16/2020 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a tune I wrote some years ago.

Cincinnati Rag

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/10/2019 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: This is a great tune that I am surprised more people don't play. My arrangement is based on Bobby Hicks's outstanding fiddle break on Herschel Sizemore's recording "Back in Business." You should play this thing at a good pace; the tab is at a tempo of 240. Pay attention to the A chord in the first break, measures 12 and 13, which I based on Lee Marcus's tab that is no longer available on BHO. I based the A to D passages in the second break, measures 36-38 and 44-47, on a break of Sonny Osborne's that I heard many years ago -- "I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome" perhaps.

Cincinnati Rag / Kenny Baker

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/15/2019 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is the tab of my attempt to approximate on the banjo the way Kenny Baker plays Cincinnati Rag on the fiddle. Hence there are more melodic sequences and fewer Scruggs cliches (licks, runs) than in the version of CR I posted previously. The tab is not note-for-note, both because the staccato of the picked banjo cannot capture the sustain of the bowed fiddle, and because I am not Noam Pikelny.

Clinch Mountain Backstep

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/10/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: As I hear it, CMB is really a clawhammer tune that Ralph Stanley played 3-finger style, for whatever reason. To achieve that Stanley sound, emphasize the 3-0 pulloff on the first string, as in the second and later measures. (The rest of the arrangement is my own). Incidentally, a very nice version of CMB was recorded by the Kentucky Colonels on their classic album "Appalachian Swing," featuring sublime rhythm and lead guitar by the one-and-only Clarence White. Note that the only tricky bit is measures 21 and 30, where the time signature changes to 2/4 just for those 2 measures -- this is the "backstep."

Cluck Old Hen / Bill Keith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/5/2020 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: From an unreleased tape. Bill's version is close to the 1927 recording by The Hillbillies.

Cold Frosty Morning

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: Am  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/21/2020
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Crazy Creek

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/26/2020
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Notes: Crazy Creek was written by Tommy Jackson, who was a fiddle mainstay in Nashville recordings from the 1950s and beyond. I was inspired by Bill Keith’s version of CC, but this is the version I came up with, which I have been playing for many decades. Note added in April 2020: I added a bass track.

Cripple Creek

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/24/2020
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Notes: My version of Cripple Creek, with a few flourishes you might find useful in other tunes.

Crossing the Cumberlands (Gm tuning)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: Gm  Tuning: Open Gm (gDGBbD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/23/2020
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Notes: This gem was written by Bill Monroe, who reportedly told Lamar Grier, his banjo player in the mid-1960s, "This will be a good tune for you." Grier apparently did not like CtC, because it is played at a loping pace slower than most banjo instrumentals and does not employ any of the standard banjo rolls or licks. I think it can be a fine tune for the banjo, and my tablature was influenced by Butch Robins's outstanding arrangement, particularly the DTN break.

Cryin' Holy

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/9/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: My arrangement features a judicious mixing of forward rolls and backward rolls. Pay particular attention to this in the second break, the last section of which (the slide up the fifth fret of the first string) is pretty similar to a break of Earl Scruggs's on a concert recording of Flatt and Scruggs. The tag after that section is my own. It is worthwhile to incorporate backward rolls -- typically M-I-T with a first-string lead -- into your playing, because they add extra tension and interest, in my opinion.

Cuckoo's Nest

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/16/2019 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: My arrangement of Cuckoo’s Nest is in the key of D, in open G tuning. Most of the A part is drawn from the tab posted by Hans Holzherr (Howsy-Bee). The B part is based on some ideas from Butch Robins’s recording and the tab posted by Jack Baker (edited from an earlier tab by Jim Crowley). I gratefully acknowledge all.

D licks in the key of G

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/29/2015 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here are 5 licks that you can use for a G-D-G turnaround. The first 4 are originals of mine. The first employs a chordal approach. The second substitutes a Bb chord for the D, to provide a kind of bluesy effect that is unexpected and punchy. The third is one of my default licks, which I have used in a variety of tunes. The fourth I have also used in many tunes, including "Are You Missing Me," which you can hear on my BHO page, at http://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/media-player/audio_player2.asp?musicid=9864&archived= I have to tell you that for years I struggled with tabbing the correct timing on this one, and the solution came to me while I was sleeping -- I kid you not. The last one is a wonderful Bill Emerson lick. It is constructed beautifully, and I feel a sense of peace and oneness with the universe when I hear it. Okay, perhaps that's overstating it somewhat. But it is a great lick, which is anchored in the repetitive use of the C note, the flatted 7th, on the second string, with the melody notes doing a lovely walk up the first string.

Daybreak in Dixie (Ralph's Banjo Special)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/27/2014 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This is a mandolin tune written by Bill Napier when he was with the Stanley Brothers, who recorded it first as Daybreak in Dixie and later as Ralph's Banjo Special. To make matters even murkier, they recorded it once again as Daybreak in Dixie but with a slightly different chord progression in the A part. Whatever, it is a nice tune that works well in jams. I have tabbed it in G, but you should capo up 2 to A (because it was written on the mandolin).

Dear Old Dixie

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/31/2013
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Notes: Here are two breaks for this popular jamming tune that I came up with several decades ago. The first (high) break provides variations on the way Earl Scruggs played it, and you can find tabs of Scruggs’s version in his book and also elsewhere in the Tab Archive. As far as I know, Alan Munde’s version included the first recorded low break to the tune, and the second break here is a low break I came up with, inspired by Munde's, that includes a bunch of tricks/licks I find myself using in a variety of different tunes.

Denver Belle

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/11/2020
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Notes: Denver Belle is a lovely medium-tempo tune written and recorded by Kenny Baker, the greatest bluegrass fiddler. My arrangement highlights the power of the pull-off on the first string out of the C position.

Dig a Hole in the Meadow

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Drop C (gCGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/23/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: On 8 December 1962 Flatt and Scruggs played their legendary concert at Carnegie Hall. It was not the first bluegrass concert at Carnegie Hall, having been preceded by Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys, but it is certainly the most memorable. Dig a Hole in the Meadow was one of the songs the Foggies played, and it incorporates one of Earl’s most elegant breaks that nails the melody without over-reliance on formulaic rolls. Ironically, Bill Monroe recorded the song as Darling Cory just 2 days before, on 6 December 1962, with Lonnie Hoppers playing a break similar but not identical to Earl’s on banjo. Most bluegrass folk are probably familiar with the version by the Foggies, but you should definitely give a listen to Monroe’s version as well: His singing is outstanding, Kenny Baker's fiddle playing is beautiful as always, and Monroe takes a mandolin break that is positively eerie.

Dixie Hoedown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/22/2016 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Dixie Hoedown is a wonderful tune written by Jesse McReynolds. Most of us are familiar with Jim and Jesse's 1950s recording of it, with Bobby Thompson playing a semi-melodic style on banjo. The tablature is my own version of Dixie Hoedown, comprising two breaks. The B Part in the second break is a bit tricky. I was trying to find a way to play the half-step discord between the C and B notes in the B minor chord and between A# and A in the A minor chord. I could find the discordant note on the fifth string, but could not play the other notes out of the minor chord on strings 1, 2, and 3 because my left hand could not accommodate the positions. I hit upon playing from the chord position on strings 2, 3, and 4, with the discordant note on the fifth. This works well, but it requires some practice. If the text describing the B Part does not make sense to you, just use the MIDI function in TablEdit to play the tab, so that you can at least hear what it should sound like.

Dixie Hoedown for twin banjos

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/22/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: My take on Jesse McReynolds's classic tune, arranged with a harmony part for the second banjo.

Down the Road

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/10/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This starts with one of Earl Scruggs's breaks from the 1949 recording, then proceeds to a version of one of Crowe's breaks from the Bluegrass Album Band, and finishes with a couple of my breaks. You may find it useful to compare the subtle differences between Scruggs's approach and Crowe's. It is often played in the key of B, with the capo moved up 4 frets.

Down Yonder

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/4/2020 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Here are two breaks to a jam favorite.

Dusty Miller

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/3/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: DM is a wonderful old fiddle tune that arises in many jams. My arrangement is based in part on Butch Robins's recording and in part on an obscure tape of Bill Keith playing it in a jam at Roland White's house in 1968. I have to warn you that it might be Vic Jordan playing banjo on the White tape, because he recorded a similar arrangement on his solo album a few years later. However, to me it sounds like Keith's playing and Keith's banjo. In any case, I tabbed it out in G, but to accommodate the fiddle and mandolin you would normally capo up 2 and play it in the key of A.

Earl's Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/23/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This version contains 4 breaks. The first and third are similar to Earl Scruggs's low and high breaks, the second and fourth are my own. You will note that I wrote the tab as though you are playing without Keith tuners and hence must fake the tuner part; if you have Keith or Scruggs tuners, by all means use them. Note also that the chord structure of the first break is slightly different from the others: In the A part, measure 8 (which is measure 7 if you ignore the introductory measure), the I chord (G) is held and leads into the V chord (D) in the next measure. In all the other breaks, the equivalent of measure 7 is a II chord (A) that leads into the V chord (D). Yep, that's the way Earl wrote, recorded, and played it.

Eighth of January / Weissberg / Robins

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/13/2020 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Eric Weissberg's version is from the seminal melodic album "New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass" (1963). Butch Robins's version is from a youtube video (2019) and is similar to Weissberg's but differs in subtle and interesting ways. In my view, Robins's arrangements are typically interesting and subtle. For fun I included a banjo duet at the end of the tab.

Fire on the Banjo

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/8/2011
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Notes: This is not note-for-note the way Bobby Thompson recorded it, but it's probably close enough for most of us. His version was in B flat, incidentally, capoed up three. It should be played fast; so burn it up!

Fisher's Hornpipe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/26/2015
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Notes: FH can be played in several different keys, but it works well in G, which takes advantage of some standard melodic positions and runs. I took the variation on the A part, starting in measure 9, from Byron Berline's version in his fiddle album with the Dillards. You will note that it anticipates the B part and that its chord structure is slightly different from the standard A part, in measures 1 to 9. Berline and the Dillards played it in D, and I transposed it to G. I hope I captured the feel of his version.

Five in the Morning

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/13/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here's a lovely little tune with a great title written by Steve Huber of Huber Banjos fame, and one that involves use of Keith/Scruggs tuners. (For simplicity I will refer just to Keith tuners.) It is problematic to tab the Keith tuner changes in TablEdit, and so I have followed my usual practice: I have tabbed the tune to show the melody notes without tuners (i.e., the notes as played on fretted strings 3 and 4), but I added the protocol for using Keith tuners on open strings (2 and 3) above the tab. So you can still play it if you do not have Keith tuners, although it sounds much better with the tuners. The structure of the tune is AAB, and I have included a second version of the B part, this one up the neck. Although similar to Huber's version, this is my own arrangement of Five in the Morning and not a note-for-note transcription of his.

Flint Hill Special Don Stover style

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/1/2013
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Notes: In the multi-CD set "Newport Folk Festival: Best of Bluegrass 1959-66," Don Stover played a great break to Flint Hill Special employing a descending melody on the fourth string. It reminds me of a ball bouncing down a staircase ("descending Victorian stairs," a line from Jesse Winchester), and I refer to it as Stover's Staircase break. The repetitive right-hand pattern is 4-2-1-2. I have tabbed out an approximation of Stover's Staircase break here, and you can find a variation of the Staircase break in my tab to FMB elsewhere on BHO.

FMB Don Stover style

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/1/2013 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Don Stover played a marvelous descending melody as one of his breaks to Flint Hill Special. The right-hand pattern is a repetitive 4-2-1-2. Although I have not been able to find a version by Stover, or anybody else for that matter, playing this melodic sequence in Foggy Mountain Breakdown, the pattern works well with FMB. This is my arrangement of FMB with a number of embellishments. The second break includes a Stover-like sequence.

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/1/2020
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Notes: Yet another version.

Forty Winks

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Open D (aDF#Ad)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/24/2016 - 5 Member Comments
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Notes: A masterpiece by Marshall Brickman, from the album "Folk Banjo Styles" (Elektra, 1961).

G to C lead-in

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/21/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a nifty G to C run I first heard Sonny Osborne play in Bugle Call Rag, on a concert tape from the late 1960s or early 1970s. Kristin Scott Benson also uses it in her recent (2009) version of Bugle Call Rag. The first two versions are what I hear Sonny and Kristin playing, respectively (with thanks to Kristin for helping on her version). The third version varies by one crucial note. You decide which one you prefer.

Girl's Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/18/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Alison Brown is an incredible progressive banjo player, right up there with Bela and a few others. I first saw her in the 1990s when she was accompanist for Michele Shocked, and her reputation led me to a Michele Shocked concert in Victoria, B.C. Brown lived up to expectations, and in the process I discovered the delightful Michele Shocked. In addition to her progressive and jazz playing, Brown can rip off a straight-ahead bluegrass tune. Girl’s Breakdown is one of her originals that makes good use of Keith/Scruggs tuners, hence her clever play on the title “Earl’s Breakdown.” The tune is on her wonderful 2000 recording “Fair Weather.” When examining the tab, you will be able to hear the note changes in the MIDI file -- and you will need to listen to the MIDI, to hear the tune's melody -- but these are not reflected in the frets indicated in the tab, which show the string going from 0 to 0. This is because I employed the pitch change function to achieve that sound (also, how would TablEdit depict detuning the second string from B to A --- e.g., 0 to -2?). The actual notes played are shown in text above the appropriate section of tab. And I want to thank Jack Baker for alerting me to the pitch change function. Through the years Jack has been generous and accommodating in helping me to understand the subtleties of TablEdit and of musical notation in general, and I gratefully acknowledge his guidance here. His contributions to BHO have been very significant. On the recording, Alison really burns it up; hence the MIDI is high-speed. But you can slow the MIDI down, to hear it better. And if you find the TablEdit file to be too long to print, with both musical notation and guitar accompaniment displayed, you can go into “Print Preview,” then “Print Setup,” then “Multitrack” to suppress the musical notation, and you can delete the guitar by clicking on the green bar above track 2 and deleting. The structure of Girl’s Breakdown is AAB. Michael

Gold Rush / All 3 Parts

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/7/2018
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Notes: Did you know that there are three parts to Gold Rush, the classic instrumental written by Bill Monroe and Byron Berline? In most jams the tune comprises only two parts. Even in the original recording, Monroe’s mandolin break and Vic Jordan’s banjo break include only the first two parts, whereas Berline’s fiddle break includes the third part near the end of the track. There is a nice video of Berline in his shop in Oklahoma demonstrating all 3 parts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y8sStWw7Po, and I have based the tablature on his third part in the video.

Golden Eagle Hornpipe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/20/2020
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Notes: A beautiful tune that is a bit tricky on the banjo.

Goodbye Liza Jane

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/16/2014
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Notes: GLJ is a common jam tune, and one well worth learning. Here are two breaks, a low and a high one, that are pretty straightforward. The only tricky bits might the melodic sequence in measures 47 and 48, as well as the ending. The latter arose as an attempt to create an ending based in triplets. Did it work? You be the judge.

Gotta Travel On

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/1/2020 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: This popular folk song sounds traditional, but its authorship is usually attributed to Paul Clayton. Presumably it was written in the 1950s. In bluegrass style, it has been recorded by Bill Monroe, among others. The song regularly comes up in jams.

Green Mountain Hop/Black Mountain Rag

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/10/2011
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Notes: This arrangement is in open D tuning (f#DF#AD). Most banjo pickers play "Black Mountain Rag" out of G tuning, usually capoed up 2 to A. However, following Doc Watson's version, guitarists tend to play it in C, capoed up 2 to D. On the banjo the tune is also wonderful played out of open D tuning (f#DF#AD). Don Reno played it in D tuning, and he renamed it "Green Mountain Hop." On his "Something Auld" album, over 30 years ago, Bill Keith also played "Green Mountain Hop" in open D tuning, and it is a great arrangement that I have tried to capture in this tablature. Pay particular attention to the interesting variation on the V chord (A) beginning in measure 28 -- for me, this clever sequence typifies Bill Keith's inventive playing. I have also thrown in a single-string version of the first part of the tune, for a slightly different approach.

Grey Eagle, in four parts

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/2/2020
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Notes: A melodic version of all 4 parts of Grey Eagle, inspired by the fiddle playing of Bobby Hicks. The version on banjo by Butch Robins was also an influence, and I tip my hat to him with the harmonic section in the last part. I originally posted this tab in October 2011 and in April 2020 have added the bass track. What can I say, I have slow reflexes.

Groundhog

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/16/2013
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Notes: This version is more modal-sounding than the nice tab Jack Baker has posted. When working up my breaks many years ago, I was greatly influenced by Red Allen and Frank Wakefield's rendering of the song, which includes the G to F progression. At any rate, it is a slightly different take on a great old nonsense song ("...groundhog grease all over her chin..." Really?)

Groundspeed

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/15/2013 - 6 Member Comments
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Notes: There are already 237 versions of Groundspeed on BHO. Why add another? Well, this one has some interesting features. For one, the B part in the first break is to my ears (but what do I know) perhaps more faithful to Scruggs’s recording on the Foggy Mountain Banjo album than most other versions, all due to the difference made by one note, the second string B rather than the first string D. In other words, following the Flint Hill Flash's lead, I hear Scruggs's first pinch as involving the open second (B) string and the third string at the second fret, rather than the open first (D) string and the third string at the second fret. For another, the second break starts out high but is mostly down the neck, in melodic style (hah, take that, Flint Hill Flash!). It’s a tasteful version, if I do say so myself. The third break has some ideas you may find useful, and the ending is of general interest and utility. It’s an ending lick I first heard J. D. Crowe play.

Hot Burrito Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/21/2019 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: HBB is a great tune for jams, an improviser’s dream. The chord structure is straightforward, and the melody is loose enough that you can have lots of fun with it. I have tabbed 3 breaks that give some sense of the range of improvisation the tune permits. To tell the truth, I threw everything into it but the cat, the sump pump, and the kitchen skillet. There is of course a danger that improvisation can descend into what I call “banjo noise” — an endless cascade of notes, often in chromatic scales, that somebody else called “a blizzard of nails” — and I tried to avoid that here. The only part of the tab you might find difficult is the pull-offs, but they should come with practice.

Huckleberry Hornpipe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/17/2014
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Notes: Byron Berline wrote this delightful tune and first recorded it on one of the early albums by Country Gazette. In addition to a guitar break by Clarence White, the recording featured a stellar melodic banjo break by Alan Munde, which I have tried to capture here. The break is difficult and tricky, but mastering it is sure worth the effort.

Humoreque/Swanee River

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/28/2017
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Notes: Hey kids, ever want to impress your chums down at the malt shop by playing two tunes at once? Well, here's your chance! I first heard Bill Keith play something close to this back in the 1960s and much later heard Bobby Thompson play a version on the famous front-porch tape that Steve Arkin and Keith made of Thompson in 1964 or so. There are no standard 3-finger rolls in this piece, and undoubtedly there are different (and probably better) ways of playing the same notes. But this is what I came up with, and it seems to work, although it is tough to play.

I Don't Care Anymore

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G#/Ab  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/18/2015
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Notes: As played by Earl Scruggs, recorded in 1958. Earl departed from his usual rolls in this short break, which he traded with the fiddle and dobro. Instead, he played most of the break in single-string style. It is exceedingly simple and stunningly effective. The song is in waltz time, with the capo on the first fret -- or perhaps Flatt and Scruggs tuned up their instruments a half step, as they tended to do in their earlier recordings. And, yes, the break comprises only 4 measures (thanks to Ken for asking!).

I Don't Love Nobody

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/6/2020
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Notes: This tune is the precursor of Bill Monroe's tune "Santa Claus." Its structure is AABA.

I Saw the Light

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/23/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: A pretty straightforward version, with verse and chorus. Ah, Hank Williams ...

I Wish You Knew/Allen Shelton

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: B  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/18/2017
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Notes: I Wish You Knew is a classic by Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys, with a stellar banjo break by the great Allen Shelton. The break contains ones of Shelton's signature licks, in measure 13, and it illustrates his renowned bouncy style, as can be seen in measures 4 through 7. If you listen to the original recording by Jim and Jesse, you will hear lots of Shelton's tasty backup, including licks influenced by the pedal steel, which also show up in Bill Keith's playing. Jim and Jesse recorded it in the key of B, and so my tab is in B.

I Wonder How the Old Folks / Don Stover

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/12/2016
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Notes: This is my interpretation of Don Stover's version of I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home, which he recorded with the Lilly Brothers. It reveals many aspects of his bouncy/punchy style, including repeated pinches and hammer-ons in the C (IV) chord. Compare Stover's break to Bill Keith's, which I have also posted in the Tab Archive.

I Wonder How the Old Folks/Bill Keith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/14/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Bill Monroe often had Del McCoury sing I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home when McCoury was Monroe's lead singer and guitarist, in 1963. Of relevance to BHO, Bill Keith was the banjo player of the day in the Blue Grass Boys. Several concert recordings of Keith's version with Monroe are floating around, and I have combined 2 of his breaks to give you a feel for his approach to the tune. Pay particular attention to measures 14 through 17, where Keith dishes out a tasty melodic take on the A (II) to D (V) chords, a section that alone is worth the price of admission.

I'll Fly Away

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/10/2011
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Notes: During the discussion in summer 2009 about whether it really was Earl playing on the radio recording of "I'll Fly Away" that was posted on BHO, one BHO member suggested that the rest of us post our versions of the song. Being a cooperative person, I posted a recent version of mine, and this is the tablature for it, more or less. My version incorporates a little bit of a salute to the mystery player we have all agonized about -- and if you saw the video of Earl playing "I'll Fly Away" at Nat Winston's, you will probably agree that the mystery player on the tape is indeed Earl Scruggs. Also, near the end, it includes a tip of the hat to Bill Keith.

I'll Love Nobody But You

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/28/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This is one of Jim and Jesse's gems, recorded in the late 1950s, as far as I can tell, with Bobby Thompson on banjo. Thompson's break is straightforward and driving. My version is similar to his, although I have added a few embellishments, including the chorus.

I'll Never Shed Another Tear

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/1/2012
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Notes: The first break is close to Earl Scruggs's classic recording. The next two breaks are variations that give some idea of how one can improvise around the melody.

I'll Stay Around

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/18/2015 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a gem from the Flatt and Scruggs canon. Several different banjo players have recorded excellent versions, including Earl Scruggs, Bill Keith, and J. D. Crowe. The tab is my version and comprises two breaks. The first break is down the neck and is the melody of the verse, which is the standard way of playing the song. The second break starts out up the neck, with the melody of the verse, and then goes down the neck for the melody of the chorus. I first worked this version out in the 1970s and still play it this way. I guess I am not very imaginative.

I'm Going Back to Old Kentucky

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/10/2011
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Notes: A Bill Monroe classic, recorded when Earl Scruggs with in the band. I wonder whether Monroe had this in mind as a vehicle for Earl's "fancy banjo" when he wrote the tune. I have tabbed out two breaks. The first sticks close to the melody, although I did throw in a little melodic sequence at the end. The second break is more out there and includes a high part that I really like, as well as an ending that you may find useful in other songs.

I'm Gone, Long Gone

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
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Notes: This is a great old tune by Reno and Smiley. I have tabbed out two up-the-neck breaks. The first sticks pretty close to the melody; the second departs a bit and includes some licks that you might find useful in a variety of tunes. If you go to the Music section on my BHO web page, you will find a track of this song, from a practice tape by my band Silver Spring, recorded in Vancouver, B.C., in the mid-1970s. The second break in the tablature is the one on the track. On the recording, we played in A; so just capo up 2 and play it as tabbed in G. Note that the last D chord is a bit tricky, because it involves alternating the index and middle fingers while picking the first string. Although difficult, the lick is worth mastering, because you can use it in lots of tunes. The melody in the lick is played on the first string and involves a descending melodic sequence (D --> C --> B --> A --> G) embedded in a repetitive rhythmic pattern, as follows, with the melody string IN CAPITALS: ONE--three--two--one--ONE--three--two-one---ONE-three--two--one, and so on.

I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/6/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Bill Monroe wrote this "true" song about revisiting his childhood home on Jerusalem Ridge in Kentucky. It is a good song for the banjo, and I have tabbed 3 breaks. The first stays close to the melody, and the others improvise a bit.

I've Lived a Lot in My Time

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/6/2020
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Notes: Here is a great bluegrass tune I first heard recorded by Earl Taylor, later by Longview.

Jamboree

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/27/2019
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Notes: Two of my favorite banjo pickers recorded Jamboree, Doug Dillard on “The Banjo Album” (1970) and Butch Robins on “Grounded-Centered-Focused” (1995). Both credit the tune to Andrew Welling, who is the composer of the music for many movies. Doug’s version is a bit frantic and repetitive, whereas Butch’s is more coherent, approachable, and interesting IMHO. You could say it is more grounded, centered, and focused. My tab is not intended to be a note-for-note transcription of Butch’s recording, but I did try to capture a bit of the spirit of his version. The trickiest bit is the right-hand fingering in the passing chords in the B part, and I have tabbed out the fingering I use to pick the strings in that section. If you find a way to play the section that is easier for you, however, go for it. Butch recorded it in the key of Bb, but I have posted it in the key of G.

Jerusalem Ridge/Butch Robins

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: Am  Tuning: Open Gm (gDGBbD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/21/2020
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Notes: This is my take on the beautiful version of Jerusalem Ridge recorded by Butch Robins on his classic album "The Fifth Child." Robins's version is similar to Bob Black's, which Jack Baker provided a wonderful tab for quite some time ago, but it differs in subtle ways and is, to my ear, closer to Kenny Baker's version on the fiddle. Robins apparently played in standard G tuning, but I find it to be easier in G minor tuning.

John Hardy

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/22/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: There are some terrific versions of John Hardy out there in different tunings. I am thinking of Eric Weissberg's version on "Folk Banjo Styles," an Elektra LP from 1961. Alan Munde also a very interesting version that Lee Marcus has provided a tablature for on BHO. My version is in good ole G tuning, the default tuning of bluegrass banjo. I have included 4 breaks. The B part on several of them is challenging and will require some work. Altogether, there is probably more variation here than I would use on stage or in a jam, and I include it just to show you the possibilities. One aspect to note is that melody notes on the high break (# 3) are played on the first string with the middle finger. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it works.

June Apple

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/22/2020
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Notes: Don Stover played only backup on Doc Watson's recording of June Apple, and some years ago this inspired me to work out a lead break for it.

June Apple for Twin Banjos

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/23/2020 - 1 Member Comments
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Just Jan's Blues

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/4/2014 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: An original tune I wrote for my wife, who is also an original. The second break is in a limp approximation of the Travis style created on the banjo by the great Eddie Adcock.

Kaelee's Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/13/2020 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is an original tune I wrote for my middle daughter. I deliberately and systematically worked up the A part, but did not know what to do to finish off the tune. The B part came to me in a dream, believe it or not. I awakened with the melody fresh in my head, and ran to grab a banjo and play it before it faded.

Katy Hill

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/27/2016
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Notes: This is my arrangement of KH, comprising a low break and a high break. Note that the typical configuration is AABB.

Kitchen Girl

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/29/2020
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Notes: KG was a favorite of my late friend Dr. Neil Cowie -- banjo player, anesthesiologist, raconteur, gourmet -- who died way too early, in June 2016.

Lady of Spain

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/19/2011
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Notes: A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Lady of Spain was one of the first complex tunes I worked out an original break for, perhaps after hearing Allen Shelton play with Jim and Jesse at the University of Chicago Folk Festival, in 1966 as I recall. Three things to note about my arrangement: First, the break opens and closes with a vamp pattern. The song is a standard number on the accordion ("Turn off the bubble-a machine-a!"), and it just sounded more complete to me with a cheesy intro and exit. Second, I am playing F chord notes against the first D minor chord; hence it becomes a D minor 7th. Again, it just sounded right to me at the time, and still does. Third, the V chord -- i.e., G -- progresses to a G augmented. If you're going to go cheesy you might as well go whole hog (if I might mix my metaphors). So put on your dancing shoes, strap on the old accordion, and everybody polka.

Lamplighting Time in the Valley

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This arrangement is pretty faithful to the melody. However, note the two different ways of playing the G to Em part, measures 5 through 7. I also included two versions of the tricky ending, measures 13 through 18.

Leather Breeches

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/12/2012
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Notes: Also known as "Leather Britches," this is a great jam tune. I love the pinches in Part A, because they give it extra drive. Perhaps the only tricky bit is found in measures 10 and 26, and I have indicated the right-hand picking pattern, which involves playing the 2nd string with the thumb and then crossing over and playing the 3rd string with the index finger, a pattern than Alan Munde occasionally uses (at least to my ear) to good effect.

Liberty

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
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Notes: My melodic arrangement of Liberty arose after hearing some friends playing twin fiddle on it. Somehow the arrangement for banjo popped into my head, and I wrote the thing in about 10 minutes. Note that it is in the key of D, but I play it out of conventional G tuning. This works for several other fiddle tunes in G, including Whiskey Before Breakfast.

Little Cabin Home on the Hill

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/7/2013 - 6 Member Comments
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Notes: This is the way I play the song in the key of G (the key of D is another story), and it varies in subtle ways from the other versions posted on BHO. For example, I emphasize forward rolls, to give it extra punch, and I suspect that you will find the G-D-G turnarounds to be useful in lots of tunes. It's too bad that Earl did not take a break when he recorded it with Monroe in 1947 or so.

Little Darling Pal of Mine

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/30/2013 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: My arrangement comprises 3 breaks. The first is pretty much straight Scruggs, the wellspring from which all bluegrass banjo flows. The second and third are more improvisational.

Little Maggie

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/27/2020 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Here are 3 breaks.

Livin' on the Mountain / Bill Keith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A#/Bb  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/21/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a nifty break by Bill Keith, from the Keith and Rooney album of the same name. When I first heard it, in 1963 or 1964, I was quite impressed. It is simple and elegant, and it contains some novel ideas (for the time). Keith and Rooney played it in A#/Bb, and I have tabbed it in that key.

Lonesome Road Blues

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/14/2019 - 6 Member Comments
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Notes: Lonesome Road Blues is common in jams, and it's a favorite of mine. My tab comprises some variations on how you can play it.

Love Come Home

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/18/2017
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Notes: Here are two of my breaks to Love Come Home, both including some moderately difficult licks. Pay particular attention to the C and D chords, several of which I borrowed from recordings by other players. I have labelled the sources of the licks that I borrowed. Note also that the trick in the first IV (C) chord of the second break is to emphasize the alternation between the first string 2nd fret and first string open -- this alternation is the effect I am trying to achieve. I highlighted this in the MIDI by selecting "ringing note" for those notes.

Miller's Cave

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/15/2015
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Notes: As played by Don Stover and by J. D. Crowe.

Molly and Tenbrooks

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/10/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: M&T is a traditional song that Bill Monroe arranged and made his own. A number of great banjo players have tackled it: Earl Scruggs, Don Stover, Bill Keith, Craig Smith, J. D. Crowe, Lamar Grier, and the list goes on. I have tabbed out 3 breaks, 2 down the neck and 1 up the neck (a la Don Stover). Have fun.

Monroe's Hornpipe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/27/2013
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Notes: This is another classic fiddle tune written by Bill Monroe that is an excellent vehicle for the banjo. I have tabbed out a relatively straightforward arrangement with nothing too flamboyant. I included two versions of the B part, the first up the neck and the second down low. Both work well, but I have found that the second is easier to play when poor lighting on stage prevents me from seeing the position markers on the neck.

Mr Sandman

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/16/2015 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Mr Sandman was recorded by the Chordettes in 1954, although it had previously been recorded by Vaughn Monroe -- no relation to Bill Monroe, I think – and his Orchestra in the same year. Steve Arkin has stated that Bill Keith had an arrangement of the song in the early 1960s, although I have never heard Keith’s version (and would love to, if anybody has a recording). In any case, several years ago I finally worked up an arrangement of my own, and I just got around to the tablature, posted here. It took me about one month to tab it out – a real pain – but I think I finally got it close to right. I borrowed the idea for the ending from an excellent tab by Jack Gentle Jr. (aka MickG) that was posted in the Tab Archive some years ago, and I gratefully acknowledge it here. When you work through the tab, you will find unusual D13 and D7 chord positions in measure 24 and elsewhere. Here I made use of Sonny Osborne’s brilliant creation of a pedal steel–like chord progression that he demonstrates in his Homespun Tapes video.

Nashville Blues (Delmore Bros via Doc Watson)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/19/2017 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Not the instrumental in D minor by Earl Scruggs, this jaunty little tune/song (not very bluesy IMHO, but what do I know) was written by the Delmore Brothers. The most popular recording is perhaps that by Doc Watson, who plays a couple of nifty guitar breaks. I have tried to capture the spirit of Doc’s guitar in breaks for the banjo. Nothing challenging here, just fun to play.

Nervous Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/1/2020 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: In this stressful time of a pandemic, why not learn a tune with a topical title, “Nervous Breakdown.” The tune was written and recorded in the mid-1960s by Bob Johnson on the album “Twelve Shades of Bluegrass” by Bob Johnson and the Lonesome Travelers. All I have been able to find out about Bob Johnson is that he was from Chattanooga, TN, he played for a short while with Bill Monroe – see the tape circulating among collectors of the Blue Grass Boys at Bean Blossom, 13 April 1958 – and he retired from music in 1967. You can hear Johnson’s recording of Nervous Breakdown on youtube.com. Bob Black also recorded it on his delightful album “Ladies on the Steamboat.” Nervous Breakdown has an odd but appealing chord structure, and I have somewhat arbitrarily broken it into 2 parts, A and B

No Mother or Dad

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/3/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: My tab comprises two breaks, the first close to Earl Scruggs's and the second more improvisational. Scruggs's break is one of the most straightforward and elegant of his early recordings with the Foggy Mountain Boys, and I love it. If you take a listen to the Foggies' recording, note that they tuned their instruments up a half step. Hence they sound like they are playing in G#, although they are playing out of G position.

North Carolina Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/5/2018
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Notes: NCB is a really nice tune by Sammy Shelor, punchy banjoist extraordinaire. It starts out like Cumberland Gap but then goes off into uncharted territory. It is not to be confused with the tune of the same name by Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith and performed by Flatt and Scruggs on one of the DVDs of their Martha White tv show. The anatomy of the tune is AABB, and you should capo up 2 to play in the key of A.

North Carolina Breakdown --- Variations

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/4/2019 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: You can learn a lot from variations in breaks for a tune. Here are 2 variations on NCB. The first is my interpretation of some improvisation in Sammy Shelor's recording, and the second is a variation that I came up with.

Northern Lights

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/17/2014 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: On a cold clear Saskatoon night in November 1997, as I came out of a Bob Dylan concert I was stunned by a virtuoso performance by the Northern Lights, shimmering, crackling, and popping in the sky. I resumed working on some ideas I had been fooling with on the banjo and tried to capture the feel of the Lights, ending up with the tune I have tabbed out here. The ascending run of triplets was an attempt to convey the sense of the shimmering and rippling of the Lights. Note that the timing gets a little bit funky toward the end of the A part, but it works. A few years ago, with my band Knee Deep, I debuted the tune at, fittingly enough, the Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival here in Saskatchewan.

Old Home Town

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/23/2011
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Notes: This is a fine old Flatt and Scruggs chestnut. Lester really cranked up his singing on this one, and the Bluegrass Album Band also does an excellent version with Tony Rice on the vocal. I have tabbed my interpretation of Earl Scruggs's break and of J. D. Crowe's break (with the BGAB). Scruggs's break shows his genius for capturing the melody without always relying on cliched licks or rolls. Crowe's break is derived from Scruggs's, but departs from it in subtle ways. Both are worth learning.

Old Joe Clark

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
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Notes: Normally played in A, with the capo at the second fret. The first break is similar to what Bill Keith, Eric Weissberg, and others played in the 1960s and contains that OJC run useful in so many tunes. The second break is more the way I play it today, with lots of drive coming from forward rolls (in Bill Keith's terminology; I used to call it "walking up the strings"). Either version is worth adding to your arsenal.

Old Joe Clark for twin banjos

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/13/2012 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: This tablature provides an approach to playing harmony to OJC. It opens with "eight potatoes" (as Steve Arkin named it), the riff that fiddle players open tunes with, but as approximated by the ole 5-string. My friends say that this particular harmony part has the flavor of the Middle East; so maybe it should be called "Mediterranean OJC." Whatever you call it, the harmony part is fun to play, and you will be able to come up with plenty of variations as you work it.

Old Spinning Wheel

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/31/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: The Old Spinning Wheel is a lovely song, words and music written by Billy Hill. You can find numerous versions on youtube, including nice recordings by Slim Whitman and by Jimmy Wakely that provide a clear roadmap of the melody. I first heard it played on the 5-string by Jeremy Stephens in a video of 5 prewar Gibsons in Chris Cioffi’s shop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovfiyOPEvPI His playing inspired me to work up my own version, and I borrowed several of his ideas, particularly in the up-the-neck B part.

On and On

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
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Notes: On and On is one of Bill Monroe's classic "true" songs, inspired by events in his own life. This arrangement is the way we play it in my band Knee Deep. The arrangement was influenced by Bill Keith's version, specifically the way he plays the IV (C) chord. Note that the V (D) chords and the tags contain some of my ideas that can be used in various other songs..

Philadelphia Lawyer

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/26/2011
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Notes: This is a great song by Woody Guthrie that adapts well to bluegrass. See, for example, the version by J. D. Crowe and the Kentucky Mountain Boys on "Bluegrass Holiday."

Pig in a Pen (Earl Scruggs)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/9/2012 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Here's a nice version of Earl Scruggs's break on this traditional tune that I found on an unreleased "air check" recording from WSM. His approach to the tune contains some interesting picking patterns that may surprise you (they did me).

Pike County Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/3/2015 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is Bill Monroe's classic instrumental. The first break approximates Earl Scruggs's version. The second break is an up-the-neck version (heresy! Earl did not play a high break), and the third break includes some melodic stuff that lets you keep the drive going while improvising a bit. Note that I am using Flatt and Scruggs's chord progression, where the 1 chord (G) and then the 5 chord (D) are played in measures 7 and 8, respectively. Monroe's original version held the 1 chord (G) in both measures 7 and 8, although he later played it with a 7 chord (F) and then 5 chord (D) in measures 7 and 8, respectively. I prefer Flatt and Scruggs's version, which is mid-way in complexity between Monroe's original stripped-down version and his later one. Although I have tabbed it out in the key of G, you would normally capo up 2 to play it in A.

Ponies in the Creek

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/2/2016 - 5 Member Comments
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Notes: Sitting in a cabin (okay, a cottage) in Jasper, Alberta, September 2012, I pulled this one out of the ether.

Poor Ellen Smith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/21/2019 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This song has been rattling around my forebrain for a while, and I finally got around to tabbing out a couple of breaks. There is nothing radical here, I think, just some standard stuff that is useful is a variety of breaks. The tempo can be either slow, almost plodding as in Flatt and Scruggs’s recording, or energetic and sparky, as in the versions by the Country Gents, Jim Mills, and others.

Priming the Pump

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Open D (f#DF#Ad)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/29/2020 - 5 Member Comments
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Notes: Recently I was playing in open D tuning (f#DF#AD) because I love the resolution to the open fourth string, which resonates in my soul, such as it is. As I noodled around, a new tune emerged, and I present it in the Archive for your dining and dancing pleasure. As for the title, well, it came to me in a dream. Either that or I heard on the news.

Prisoner's Song

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/11/2018
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Notes: Prisoner’s Song is a classic bluegrass and country song performed by everyone from Bill Monroe and Del McCoury to Fats Domino and Brenda Lee, and also recorded as an instrumental by the Kentucky Colonels. However you want to play it, you’ll need the banjo, and here are two straightforward breaks for you to try out. The first break ends in a D-chord run I heard Bill Emerson play, and the second break ends with a D run based on the playing of Bill Keith.

Quinn's Quickstep

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Drop C (gCGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/22/2016
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Notes: For my grandson, in drop C tuning.

Ralph's Banjo Special (Daybreak in Dixie)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/27/2014
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Notes: This is a mandolin tune written by Bill Napier when he was with the Stanley Brothers, who recorded it first as Daybreak in Dixie and later as Ralph's Banjo Special. To make matters even murkier, they recorded it once again as Daybreak in Dixie but with a slightly different chord progression in the A part. Whatever, it is a nice tune that works well in jams. I have tabbed it in G, but you should capo up 2 to A (because it was written on the mandolin).

Red Apple Juice / Red Rocking Chair

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/13/2020
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Notes: I first heard Red Apple Juice played by the folk group The Tarriers, with a young Eric Weissberg on banjo, and shortly thereafter I heard it as Red Rocking Chair by the classic Country Gentlemen, with the supernal Eddie Adcock on banjo. This tab is my version, with two breaks. The first stays reasonably faithful to the melody. The second is a loose interpretation of Eric Weissberg’s break and makes use of D-tuners. Eric was not afraid to use D-tuners, and I celebrate his contributions to bluegrass banjo and, in particular, his inspiring me to learn to play it. Thank you, Mr. Weissberg.

Red Haired Boy

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Yeah, another version of RHB. This is a great old fiddle tune, played at almost all jams. I have tabbed out two breaks. The first is my attempt to capture the melody in standard "Scruggs" style (i.e., North Carolina three-finger style), with a few melodic riffs thrown in. The second is a more frankly melodic break. Lots of stuff here you can use in other tunes as well.

Redwing

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/8/2013
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Notes: Redwing is a nice simple tune that is common in jams. However, for some reason it was never immediately obvious to me how to find the melody of the B part of Redwing. You could say that I had trouble winging it. Anyway, eventually I sat down and worked the B part up quite deliberately. The first break is pretty straight Scruggs style, whereas the second break is more improvisational.

Reuben's Train -- Variations

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Open D (f#DF#Ad)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/1/2015
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Notes: For my banjo students, here are some variations on Reuben in open D tuning. Some of it is very straight Scruggs style, and some is something else.

Road to Columbus

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
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Notes: This is a wonderful tune by Bill Monroe. My band has been known to have fun with the title -- "Road to Columbia," "Pathway to Peru," and so on. Anyway, the banjo break combines Scruggs style with melodic sequences, which are necessary if you have any hope of capturing the melody. In addition, melodic sequences are worth playing for their own sake, and I regret that they seem to have fallen out of favor with many current banjo players. I have included two versions of the B part, a low break and a high break. I play it either way, although the version low on the neck is easier when the stage is dark (and I can't see where the positions are higher up on the neck). To accommodate the fiddle, the tune is played in A, with the banjo capoed up 2.

Road to Rosetown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/23/2016 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: I wrote this tune in late 2009 and named it after one of my favorite paintings by my favorite artist, who I happen to be married to. (For a glimpse of her art, go to www.jancorcoran.com). The tune wrote itself as I fiddled -- okay, "banjoed" -- with the chord progression, and I managed to incorporate the use of Keith tuners. I hope you like it.

Rocky Top, in the key of D

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: Not everyone can sing Rocky Top in G, A, B flat, or B. One guy I have picked with (Vic the Butcher, who is the biggest ... but I digress) can sing it only in D. Well, it works well in D, in G tuning with the fifth string tuned up to A (slip it under the model railroad spike at the seventh fret). The only tricky bits in my arrangement are in the chorus. If you have difficulty figuring out how it should sound, give a listen to the TablEdit MIDI file.

Roll On, Buddy, Roll On

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011
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Notes: This is a bluegrass classic, similar to Nine Pound Hammer. The first break is my interpretation of Joe Drumright's break on Bill Monroe's 1964 recording. The second break is my own. Monroe plays the song in the key of B.

Rose of Old Kentucky / Earl Scruggs

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/11/2020 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: This is my attempt to capture Scruggs's break on a youtube recording, presumably from an Opry radio broadcast, of Flatt and Scruggs with Stringbean, posted on BHO by Dick Bowden. As Dick points out, Scruggs did not play a break on the original recording of RoOK with Bill Monroe on 27 October 1947. So it is a delight to hear his take on the break. The quality of the live recording is not great, however, and it is hard to hear exactly what Scruggs is doing. So wade in at your peril.

Runaround

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/31/2019
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Notes: Here is an updated version of the tab I posted in 2006.

Sally Ann low break variations

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/21/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Most bluegrass banjo players are familiar with Earl Scruggs's arrangement of Sally Ann played up the neck. However, the tune is also quite amenable to breaks down the neck. I have tabbed some variations of a low break to Sally Ann that you may find useful.

Sally Goodin" / Down the Neck

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/17/2020
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Notes: With echoes of Bill Keith, Butch Robins, and John Hickman

Sally Goodin' / Up the Neck

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/11/2020
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Notes: With echoes of Earl Scruggs, Alan Munde, and Byron Berline.

Salt Creek for twin banjos

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/10/2014
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Notes: This is another tune that is fun to play with two banjos in harmony. The second part (Part B) is my inadequate attempt to approximate on the banjo Kenny Baker's arrangement on the fiddle.

Salty Dog Blues

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/12/2014
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Notes: My version of Salty Dog comprises two breaks, each with two parts. The first break is in pretty straight Scruggs style, with a down-the-neck and then an up-the-neck segment. The second break starts with a semi-melodic segment reminiscent of Allen Shelton's wonderful break on the recording of the song by Jim and Jesse, and the second segment incorporates elements (but is not a faithful copy) of Bill Keith's jaw-dropping break on his album "Living on the Mountain" with Jim Rooney, released in 1964 or thereabouts. If you haven't heard the album, you should grab a copy to hear marvelous banjoistics by a young Bill Keith. As to the melody of Salty Dog, you might ask what a C note is doing in an E chord. Perhaps the simplest answer is to think of E augmented. As to the perennial question "What is a salty dog anyway?", I will stay out of this one. Either it's a soft drink, or it's a pickled sausage, or it's something else altogether.

San Antonio Rose

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/3/2020
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Notes: With a bit of Don Reno's chordal brush style.

Sandy Boys

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/8/2011
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: Sandy Boys is a great old-timey tune associated with the playing of a renowned fiddler from West Virginia, Edden Hammons. But its origins are probably in the minstrel shows of the 19th century. I became familiar with the tune from a tab that Don Borchelt posted on his web page (http://www.banjr.com/tablatures.htm) some time ago, and I have since encountered it in jams. The version I have posted here is very much for the bluegrass banjo, with both Scruggs-ish and melodic elements.

Santa Claus

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/14/2012
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Notes: This is fairly close to Bill Keith's rendition of the tune, recorded with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys in 1963. It is played at a nice moderate tempo, not too rushed. Neil Rosenberg and Charles Wolfe's discography of Monroe states that Monroe learned a version of the tune from an old-time fiddler who lived in southern Indiana/northern Kentucky. It is close to the tune "I Don't Love Nobody," and you can find versions of the latter in the BHO tab archive.

Sawmill River Parkway

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/3/2017
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Notes: I wrote Sawmill River Parkway in the mid-1970s while living in Vancouver BC and playing with the band Silver Spring. SRP is the name of a highway in New York State, and it was mentioned in the Nero Wolfe mysteries written by the great Rex Stout, a series I still read avidly. You may find, as I do, that the descending double stops that constitute the B part of the first break are useful in backup. A recording of SRP from a practice tape is available on the media tab of my BHO webpage.

Sawmill River Parkway 2019

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 11/14/2019 - 5 Member Comments
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Notes: I dredged up the tab for this tune that I wrote in the 1970s, corrected a few errors, and added a bass track.

Shenandoah Breakdown / Bill Keith / Bill Holden

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/14/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Also known as "Shenandoah Valley Breakdown," this is a classic instrumental by Bill Monroe. He recorded it with Bill Keith on banjo in 1963, the version most of us are familiar with. However, there is a radio tape of Monroe playing on the Opry Jamboree from December 1958, with Joe Drumright on banjo, and rumor has it that Monroe had to phone Drumright to play it over the phone to teach it to Keith just before they recorded it in 63. A concert tape from 1977 of the Blue Grass Boys with Bill Holden playing a marvelous version on banjo is also floating around. (Apparently by then Monroe had discarded his dictum that there can be only one guy named Bill in the BGB). My arrangement comprises three breaks and incorporates elements from these different players. The first break is loosely based on Bill Keith's recorded version with Monroe. The second break is a nifty melodic arrangement that is my version of the way Bill Holden played it. The third break is from a 1981 concert recording of Bill Keith, in which he introduced another outstanding take on the tune. Capo up 2 and play it in A.

Sockeye

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/25/2011
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Notes: Sockeye is a wonderful banjo tune by Don Reno. I love its jubilant feel. I have tabbed two breaks. The first is a straightforward version of the tune that establishes the melody. Although it is by no means in Reno's inimitable style, it does include several licks reminiscent of his picking. The B part is built around a D lick from the playing of another of my favorite pickers, the great Don Stover. If you can grab this lick, you will find it useful in all sorts of tunes. The second break is considerably more interpretive, with some melodic and other elements. Pay particular attention to the timing of the D runs that involve melody notes on the higher strings with pivoting off the open fourth string.

Somehow Tonight, as played by Earl Scruggs

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/8/2011
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Notes: Here is a lovely straightforward version of the tune, played by the guy who wrote it, the noted songwriter Earl Scruggs. It is way less ornate than J. D. Crowe's versions (posted on BHO as well), and provides a nice contrast to J. D.'s take on the tune. If you want to learn to play Somehow Tonight, I suggest that you start with Earl's version and then move on to J. D.'s.

Somehow Tonight, as played by J D Crowe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A#/Bbm  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/12/2011 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: In my continuing quest to understand the genius of J. D. Crowe, I have tabbed two versions of one of his signature tunes, “Somehow Tonight,” written by Earl Scruggs – and who knew that the Scruggsmeister is a wordsmith? The first break is from Crowe’s recording with the Bluegrass Album Band (BGAB), the version most of us are familiar with. Note Crowe’s repeated use of multiple thumb strokes on the fourth string, a cardinal feature of his blues style. The second and third breaks are from Frank Godbey’s legendary recording of the New South at the Red Slipper Lounge of the Holiday Inn, Lexington KY, November 1974. I really prefer Crowe’s attack on this version of the tune. Note how his second break from 1974 ends with a blues riff that goes off in the ozone. I am not sure that I got it completely right, but it’s reasonably close.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/22/2016 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a bluegrass arrangement of “Over the Rainbow,” often referred to as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I play it in the key of C, standard G tuning, although some versions I have heard (e.g., Eddie Shelton’s) are in the key of G. But I think C works better on the banjo. I am aware that there are alternate chord structures for this tune, particularly for the B part. This version works for me, but your mileage may vary, and feel free to come up with your own arrangement.

Southern Flavor

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: Em  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/25/2015 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: SF is one Bill Monroe's weirder tunes, but it is a gem.

Stemwinder

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/13/2012 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: An original tune whose title I carried around for several decades before coming up with the music. It should be played at a brisk tempo.

Stoner's Strut

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/24/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: After I watched "The Big Lebowski" once again, this simple tune emerged from a cloud of smoke (just kidding!). To me it reflects the zen of The Dude, who, as we all know, Abides.

Stoney Lonesome / Noam Pikelny / Bill Keith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/4/2017
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Notes: Here are the takes on this classic Bill Monroe tune by two great banjo players, Noam Pikelny and Bill Keith. Pikelny's version is from the album "Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe," and it is faithful to Baker's version on fiddle. I have included two of his interesting variations on the B part that mirror Monroe's composition. Keith's version is from "The Grass is Greener," and it is less tied to the fiddle break. It's more interpretive, if not downright surreal. Capo up 2 to play in A.

Stoney Mountain Twist

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/18/2016 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: SMT is a lovely tune employing Keith/Scruggs tuners. Walter Hensley wrote it and recorded it as Stoney Mountain Twist and Walt's Breakdown, and more recently J. D. Crowe recorded it as Stony (sic) Mountain Twist. The tab I have posted is more or less my own arrangement, not faithful to either Hensley's or Crowe's. For Part C, where you crank up your Keith tuners (twisters), I have tabbed it to show the melody notes without tuners, but I added the protocol for using Keith tuners above the tab. So you can still play it if you do not have Keith tuners, although it sounds much better with the tuners. (It was a real bear to get the timing accurate on Part C, by the way).

Suffering Sciatica

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Open D (aDF#Ad)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/29/2020 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: In the immortal words of W. C. Fields, who was not a banjo player. He was, however, an entertainer who started his career in vaudeville as “The World’s Greatest Juggler” and went on to write and star in a number of very funny if slightly bizarre films (e.g., “The Fatal Glass of Beer,” “The Bank Dick,” “You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man,” “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break”).

Sushi

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/9/2012
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Notes: Sushi is one of Kenny Baker's fiddle tunes, in 3 parts. It is fairly obscure, and as far as I know was recorded by Kenny only on a fiddle instruction video. I have tried to approximate the melody, for banjo, in a quasi-melodic arrangement.

Sweet Dixie

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/13/2015 - 5 Member Comments
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Notes: Bill Emerson is one of the all-time greats on bluegrass banjo IMHO, and over the years he has written a bunch of memorable tunes. Perhaps his signature tune is Sweet Dixie, which he recorded when he was with Jimmy Martin in the 1960s. Emerson had written and recorded the tune earlier than that, however, and Martin’s name was included because he was the leader of the band. In any case, Sweet Dixie is a great driving piece that every bluegrass player should include in his or her repertoire. It is formed around a percussive series of pull-offs on the first string, and buddy it is effective. It’s normally played in the key of D; so capo up 2 and go to town.

Temperance Reel

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 12/18/2015 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: As best I can recall, I first heard this lovely traditional tune on Tony Rice’s initial solo album on Rounder Records (entitled “Tony Rice,” appropriately enough). There was no banjo break on the track – J. D., where were you? – and so I worked out a break that followed Rice’s chord structure (other versions may employ slightly different chords). I have posted the tab here. Note that the A part in the high break is shown in two flavors, one with a melodic twist and the other more single-string. Both are difficult, but, I hope, worth the effort.

The Girl I Love Don't Pay Me No Mind / Earl Scrugg

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 6/20/2019
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Notes: This is a nice straightforward song that, to my knowledge, the Foggy Mountain Boys never recorded in the studio. However, there are several versions from other sources floating around, and I have tabbed two of Earl Scruggs’s breaks. The first is from a radio recording, WSM air checks, apparently from the middle or late 1950s. Earl’s break shows how he would depart from formulaic use of the standard rolls we associate with Scruggs style. The second break is from one of the Flatt and Scruggs tv shows on WSM, from July 1961. It can be found on #5 of the DVDs released by Shanachie, but you can also find it on youtube. This break also shows Earl’s propensity for improvisation in those days.

The Grey Ghost

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/4/2017 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: In addition to being one of the all-time great bluegrass banjo players, Bill Emerson is a prolific composer. The Grey Ghost is one of his better known pieces, a nifty variation of the tune Dixie. TGG also employs a clever double-thumb technique, which as far as I know Emerson originated, to produce a delightful and rhythmic melodic sequence. You will first see it in measure 3, and it is worth studying. The tab is my version of TGG, inspired by but by no means note-for-note faithful to Emerson’s various versions -- he has recorded it at least 3 times that I know of. Note that the chord structure of the B Part in the second break changes a bit, which reflects the version of TGG on the 2011 album "Eclipse" by Bill Emerson. Added on 4 May 2017: I have updated the tab for Bill Emerson’s The Grey Ghost. The change is the addition of an up-the-neck break to the A part of the second break. This tune is admirably suited to playing up the neck. The left-hand fretting can be a tad tricky, and I recommend using your index finger to barre the 1st and 2nd string at the 12th fret and holding it there until the transition to the C chord, in measure 38. To fret the 5th string at the 14th fret, I use my ring finger.

The Old Gray Mare Came Tearing Out of the Wilderne

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/9/2012
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Notes: As played by Bobby Thompson in Bill Monroe's recording, capoed up to A. One could quibble, I suppose, with my interpretation of the B part beginning in measure 18, where I show the notes as played on a single string (third string second fret to third string open) as opposed to melodic style (fourth string seventh fret to third string open) to achieve the same sequence of notes. I don't know for sure which way Bobby Thompson played it, but I find the single-string approach to be easier to play.

Theme Time -- Variations

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/27/2015 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Bill Emerson wrote and recorded Theme Time before he joined Jimmy Martin, and then he recorded it again while in Martin's band. It is a standard in jams. Jack Baker posted an excellent tab of TT in July 2014, as the TOTW. My tab provides some variations on the standard version and is the way I have played it for several decades.

Think of What You've Done

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/29/2015
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: A classic by the Stanley Brothers (or is that the Carter Brothers, Ralph and Stanley?). The tab opens with the chorus and then proceeds to the verse, and you might find some stuff of general usefulness therein.

Ticket to Alvarado

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/7/2016 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Another terrific original banjo tune by the great Bill Emerson

Tombstone Junction

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 9/6/2014
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Notes: Here is my take on a jaunty little tune that Bill Monroe wrote, or at least recorded, late in his career. The configuration of Monroe's version is AAB, and I have included several variations on each part just to show what can be done with the tune.

Toy Heart

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Drop C (gCGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/19/2018 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: Earl Scruggs recorded Toy Heart with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys in 1947. His break is straightforward and driving, particularly the nifty F7 chord up the neck. Almost 30 years later, J. D. Crowe recorded it with the Bluegrass Album Band, and in his break you can hear the subtle bluesy touches he added to the style. You may find it informative to compare the tabs of the 2 breaks. To add a humorous note, I have included the tab of my break to Toy Heart. Don’t pop your stitches from laughing too hard.

Turkey in the Straw

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/28/2014 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Turkey in the Straw is a traditional tune going back to minstrel days, when it had a racist title. It was one of the first tunes I worked out in melodic style, in 1963 or 1964. Hearing a tape of Bill Keith playing it helped me at that time to finalize my version, which owes a lot to him I am sure. It is a good tune from which to begin learning melodic style.

Waiting on Peanut

Genre: Old Time  Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time  Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 7/10/2013 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: A frailing tune I wrote while awaiting the birth of my third grandchild, who we nicknamed Peanut while in utero. He eventually joined the world as Oliver Michael.

Walkin' in My Sleep

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/11/2020
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Notes: My arrangement on banjo is based on the recording by Hazel Dickens and Alice Foster, with Chubby Wise on fiddle, and the version by the supernal Kenny Baker on fiddle.

We Live in Two Different Worlds

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/8/2020
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Notes: This classic country song is perfect for bluegrass and has been recorded by Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys.

When I Left East Virginia

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/29/2016
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Notes: A lovely break from Earl Scruggs.

When the Springtime Comes Again (Little Annie)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/29/2019 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: When the Springtime Comes Again is also known as Little Annie, and it is a fine tune popularized by the Carter Family. I first heard it played by Vern Williams, who knocked my socks off with his high tenor. I have tabbed two breaks. The first is the way I play it today, the second is closer to the way I played it 20 years ago in my band Cedar Creek in Victoria, B.C.

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: D  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by corcoran, updated: 6/20/2019 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is a revised version of my tab for Whiskey Before Breakfast. It includes a melodic break and a single-string break, the way I have been playing it lately. Key of D, standard G tuning.

Why Don't You Tell Me So, as played by JD Crowe

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/13/2011 - 2 Member Comments
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Notes: Here is Crowe's take on the Flatt and Scruggs chestnut, recorded in 1975 for Rounder 0044 "J. D. Crowe and the New South" but not released until Cracker Barrell's re-release in 2002. The first (low) break is one of the greatest IMHO, in which Crowe "plays the words." The second (high) break is more improvisational. Both are full of goodies.

Wildwood Flower

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/7/2017 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: My version of WF is a bit different from some other nice ones on BHO (e.g., Jack Baker’s and Martin Blake’s) in that, as I was tabbing it out, I realized that I had been influenced by Eric Weissberg’s version on the Elektra LP “Folk Banjo Styles” (1961). Weissberg is the first 3-finger player I heard in the early 1960s, and I tried to figure out how he was playing those amazing things – all a prelude to my hearing and learning from Earl Scruggs and Bill Keith. So, although it is by no means a note-for-note interpretation of his version, consider this tab a tip of the hat to Eric Weissberg, particularly the second version of the B part.

Wilfie's Chimes

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/16/2012 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: This is a tune I wrote for my grandson, who appears to like the sound of harmonics on the 5-string.

Will You Be Loving Another Man

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 10/13/2011
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: A bluegrass classic, written by Lester Flatt and first recorded by him with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys (including, of course, Earl Scruggs). I pulled the first break off a radio recording of Flatt and Scruggs from 1957. The beginning is a bit uncertain, because the announcer speaks over the banjo intro, but I think I got it. The second break is more improvisational, including a Keith-ish melodic sequence, and the third break is a variation on the Scruggs approach and sticks to the melody. This was perhaps the first tune I worked out on my own, in the early 1960s, back before there were personal computers, HD tv, or Lindsay Lohan.

Wreck of the Old 97 (Earl Scruggs)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: A#/Bb  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 8/14/2012
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: In memory of Earl Scruggs, here is one of my favorites of Scruggs's breaks. If you pay attention to the nuances of the right hand patterns, you will see that Scruggs did not approach picking patterns in a formulaic way. He played the melody notes and found rhythm notes to flesh out the melody, without being strictly tied to the rolls that so many of us learned from his recordings.

You Can't Stop Me from Dreaming

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: C  Tuning: Drop C (gCGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 5/22/2016 - 4 Member Comments
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Notes: Earl Scruggs and Cousin Jake played this ragtime classic as a duet between the banjo and bass fiddle. The first break is similar to the way Earl recorded it, in the Carnegie Hall concert; the second is not.

You're a Wildflower in the Wildwood / Bill Emerson

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 6/25/2019 - 3 Member Comments
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Notes: Del McCoury recorded Wildwood on his first solo album,, “Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass,” in 1967. The banjo player was the great Bill Emerson, who played the chorus in his break. The break is pretty straightforward, and ends with a fine D lick that can be used in a variety of tunes. You might enjoy comparing Emerson's break on the chorus to Scruggs's breaks on the verse, also posted on BHO.

You're a Wildflower in the Wildwood / Scruggs

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 6/25/2019 - 3 Member Comments
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: Flatt and Scruggs did not do a studio recording of Wildwood, but they did perform it on one of the radio tapes I have. It is a wonderful song, and I’m surprised more bluegrass musicians have not recorded it – the only album I have it on is Del McCoury’s first solo album from 1967, “Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass,” on Smithsonian Folkways. Earl Scruggs played the verse in his breaks, and I have tabbed the two versions I heard him play.

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