Jack Tuttle’s Bluegrass Fiddle Primer


Hardcopy and/or PDFs available to buyers in the United States.  A PDF version only is available for buyers globally. Free audio files are linked below.

Jack Tuttle’s Bluegrass Primer has been completely rewritten and is the book I now use for my bluegrass fiddle students.

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This is my all new 2020 version which I will now use with all my Bluegrass Fiddle students. This spiral-bound book is organized in a systematic, graduated method, starting with very simple tunes and working slowly into more advanced material. This book is one of the most detailed books for developing a solid understanding of the standard bowing patterns used by bluegrass fiddlers. Bow directions - ups and downs, slurs and slide are carefully notated throughout. Left-hand fingerings are also notated wherever needed.

Included are lots of solos for the vocal part of bluegrass fiddling, (referred to as "songs" in the bluegrass vernacular) often overlooked by teaching methodologies. Much of the emphasis is in learning how to re-interpret a vocal melody line to create a professional sounding fiddle solo. This is quite a bit different than playing a fiddle tune. Also, the keys of Bb, B, E and F, are very common for songs, in addition to the more common keys of G, D, A and C. There are a total of 115 songs and instrumental tunes in this 84 page book. Most of them are arranged by me for teaching purposes, and all of them are common in traditional bluegrass jam sessions. Also included are exercises, major scales, tag endings for fiddle tunes and licks that fit over the 4th line of songs. 

Table of Contents with audio licks (a few more to come) and some comments

A Scale
Cripple Creek (1) very simple stripped down version, A
Boil Em Cabbage Down, simple version with few string changes, A
D Scale
Soldier's Joy (1) simple version, D
G Scale
The Girl I Left Behind Me common easy tune in G
Slurring exercises
Old Joe Clark (1) simple version with a few slurs
Finger Slide Exercises
My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains simple melody with slides, G
Shenandoah Waltz more slurs, more slides slow song, D
Arkansas Traveler really common fiddle tune, D
Double Stops
Long Journey Home a melody style solo, simple but classic break, G
Long Journey Home: chops for learning backup
Red Wing standard fiddle tune with a sparse melody, G
Eighth of January short fiddle tune, later turned into Battle of New Orleans, D
Eight More Miles to Louisville Grandpa Jones song that plays a little like a fiddle tune, G
Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky Flatt & Scruggs song with simple melody and slides, A
Air Mail Special on the Fly shows how to take a melody and add just enough to make a solo, A
Air Mail Special on the Fly: chops for backup
Cora is Gone a waltz from Flatt & Scruggs, D
Columbus Stockade Blues Monroe song with some long held notes, lots of bluesy slides, G
Fourth Finger Exercises
Will the Circle Be Unbroken? a few double stops, slides, slurs and little finger useage
C Scale
Red Clay Halo simple melody break in C
Wildwood Flower a little more complicated solo with some low string double stops, C
Angeline the Baker NOT a Stephen Foster song, despite what people say. Fiddle tune in D
Hot Corn, Cold Corn Flatt & Scruggs song, G
The Bluebirds are Singing For Me a little more notey for a song, last line has lots of 8th notes
The Bluebirds are Singing For Me: chops
Red-Haired Boy common fiddle tune that transitioned from Celtic to bluegrass, A
It Takes One to Know One Jimmy Martin waltz with lots of slides
Bury Me Beneath the Willow touch of blues, some longer runs and lots of slides
Old Joe Clark (2) a Nashville shuffle version of this for working on that bowing
Lost Highway sad and slow from Hank Williams by way of Jimmy Martin
June Apple working on the Georgia Shuffle here
Before I Met You Flatt & Scruggs waltz with some easy double stops
Worried Man Blues lots of bluesy slides, simple melody break
Squirrel Hunters a trendy fiddle that sounds really different when you hear the chords behind the melody
Dig a Hole in the Meadow from Flatt & Scruggs, more bluesy melody this time in D
I'll Fly Away this became a hit during Oh Brother, in the girl key of A
St. Anne's Reel common fiddle tune with lots of arpeggios, D
Salty Dog, from Flatt & Scruggs, a circle of 5ths classic
Salty Dog chops
Liberty another old fiddle tune with arpeggios, D
Ground Hog most people know this from the Dillards, G
Billy in the Lowground very notey fiddle tune in C
Dark Hollow melody solo with lots of 4th finger slides, C
Big Sciota fiddle tunes named after a river in Ohio, G
Down the Road from Flatt & Scruggs, some easy(ish) double stops, A
Sweetheart You've Done Me Wrong Monroe classic with a bit of off-beat movement, D
Whiskey Before Breakfast everyone plays this fiddle tune, D
Walls of Time Monroe/Rowan collab with a bunch of blues notes
Highway of Regret Stanley Brothers song that solos over the chorus, lick oriented last line, G
Faded Love another from the Western Swing genre but common in bluegrass, D
Blue Night from the repertoire of Monroe, voiced high like Monroe would do it
Clinch Mountain Backstep Ralph Stanley's most well-known banjo tune, A
Stoney Point common old fiddle tune in G
I'm Going Down That Road Feeling Bad same song as Lonesome Road Blues, in A here.
Bill Cheatum another fiddle tune everyone plays
A Little at a Time Stanley Brothers song with a cool lick over the last line
Blackberry Blossom one of the most played fiddle tunes, although harder than many, G
Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow adding in some more double stops here, C
Paddy on the Turnpike common fiddle tune Monroe recorded, G
Gotta Travel On getting the 4th finger A going quite a bit here along with the open A
E scale
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke slides all over the place, E
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke chops
In the Pines more slides and more E
East Virginia Blues common duet piece still in E
F scale
Sad and Lonesome Day first song in F, simple but bluesy
I'm Waiting to Hear You Call Me Darling Flatt & Scruggs, another F song, still pretty simple
I'll Drink No More Wine Jimmy Martin repertoire, waltz, F
I'll Drink No More Wine: chops
Bb scale
Blue Ridge Cabin Home Flatt & Scruggs classic, introducing Bb
Blue Ridge Cabin Home: chops
Old Home Place still Bb, this is a Dillards' song, but Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs have sung it
Daley's Reel bluegrass fiddle tune in Bb
B Scale
I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome Monroe repertoire, first piece in B, so lots of B blues
Hit Parade of Love Jimmy Martin repertoire, fast paced melody based solo, B
Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms another fast classic in B
Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms: chops
Salt Creek one of the most common fiddle tunes, A
If I Should Wander Back Tonight, stealing a little from Benny Martin's fiddling style here
If I Should Wander Back Tonight: Fill licks
Turkey in the Straw a fiddle tune everyone knows, G
No Longer a Sweetheart of Mine duet from Reno and Smiley, notey run for the last line, F
No Longer a Sweetheart of Mine: Fill licks space in this song for a lick after every line
The Methodist Preacher from the Monroe repertoire, 4 parts to this tune, G
I'll Stay Around melody break in B, with a run of notes for the last line
I'll Stay Around fill licks more fill licks, this time in B
Florida Blues fun tune from Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, D
Does it Have to End This Way? some double stops with lots of melody, A
Each Season Changes You voiced up high for a female singer, combo of melody and short scaler runs, E
Fireball Mail thought of as a Scruggs banjo tune but can be sung, G
Ocean of Diamonds Jimmy Martin waltz in F, lots of slides
Lonesome Wind Blues Monroe song in B heavy on blues
Wheel Hoss classic Monroe authored fiddle tune, G
Sittin' on Top of the World
Big Sandy River
Forty Years of Trouble
Kentucky Mandolin
Love Gone Cold
Soldier's Joy (2)
Molly and Tenbrooks
Cherokee Shuffle
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
I'm Troubled, I'm Troubled
Denver Belle
Man of Constant Sorrow
Close By
Gold Rush
Cripple Creek (2)
White Freightliner Blues
Katy Hill
Big Mon
Big Mon A part variation
Red Prairie Dawn
Will You Be Loving Another Man?
Chinquapin Hunting
I'll Never Shed Another Tear
When You Go Walking After Midnight
Hold Whatcha Got
Brown County Breakdown
Beaumont Rag
Old Dangerfield
East Tennessee Blues
Lonesome Fiddle Blues my arrangement of Vassar Clements classic Dm
Jerusalem Ridge pretty much as played by Kenny Baker
Key of G End Licks
Key of A End Licks
Key of Bb End Licks
Key of B End Licks
Key of C End Licks
Key of D End Licks
Key of E End Licks
Key of F End Licks
Tag Endings
Exercise of Independent Fingers
Fourth Finger Exercises
Right/Left Hand Coordination
Bowing Exercises

View Table of Contents:




Here is a list of songs. Click on the title to play the song. Audio files can be saved to your computer. Click on the "chart" if hyperlinked for a PDF of the chart.

Additional information


Both: Physical Book + PDF, Downloadable PDF, Physical Book


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