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Santa Claus (high break)

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by waystation, updated: 12/2/2017
Download: TABLEDIT | MP3: [Play] [Download] - Download from

Notes: I always teach Santa Claus around this time of year, even though the tune has nothing to do with the season - it's named after the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. One of my students expressed an interest in doing an octave break, and I had a lot of fun putting this together with him. My goal was to keep the melody of the tune and the feel of Bill Keith's classic break, just an octave higher. The arrangement turns out to be a great lesson in mixing notes fretted on high frets of low strings with open string notes on the first and second strings. The open notes, besides being integral to the melody, also give the player time to move from one left hand position to the next. Since the whole break takes place above the seventh fret, even radical left hand movements aren't actually that big, so the arrangement is easier to play than it first seems. Some of the left hand positions are unusual and fun to play. My favorites are the beginning of the B part, from measure 17 through 19, and the descending D chord arpeggio in measure 9. The melody notes are highlighted in the tab, so you can focus on those, but listen to the tab before you start playing it to get a good idea of how the melody pops out of these unusual left hand positions and right hand rolls. I offer this break in the spirit of Bill Keith. I hope he'd like it. If you're familiar with my Mel Bay book, "Bluegrass Banjo from All Sides", this tune falls between level B and level C. I consider it an advanced intermediate arrangement, but if you're comfortable with melodic licks up the neck - or even if you aren't - give it a try. Merry Christmas!


Mooooo Says:
Friday, December 1, 2017 @7:16:09 PM
Very nice Tab.

Kstevensmd Says:
Saturday, December 2, 2017 @6:27:58 AM
I'm working through this now! Very fun to play! Bill Keith would have loved it!

waystation Says:
Saturday, December 2, 2017 @7:28:22 AM
I forgot to point out the very first full measure of the tune, which is played as a forward roll with the last two notes played on the first string. It's unusual but necessary to get the signature opening phrase of the tune to work in this octave. I also neglected to post an MP3 of the break. I'll put one up this afternoon when I get home.

Mooooo Says:
Saturday, December 2, 2017 @10:22:26 AM
I have found it's easier in the second measure to slide from the 2nd string 11th fret to the 12th fret instead of hit the 1st string 9th fret then the 1st string 12th fret, it is easier and helps with the roll.

waystation Says:
Saturday, December 2, 2017 @1:08:56 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, Mooooo. It does capture the melody, but to my ear it de-emphasizes the B note. I like the sound of having all four of those melody notes picked, since they're all equally important to the melody. You could also pick the 12th fret second string instead of sliding it, doing an effective forward roll with TI on the second string instead of IM on the first. Lots of good options for those notes, all of them unconventional.

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