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August 5, 2013 4:30 PM   Subscribe

What's a good book of fiddle tunes?

I'm having a blast playing blue-grass, and thanks to you guys, I'm listening to some great stuff. I do however hate slowing down rehearsals so they can teach me fiddle tunes.

So I need a good book of fiddle and bluegrass standards I could start learning tunes from, what do you recommend?
posted by Gygesringtone to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Try this.

I'm guessing you have their playlist, and I'd be surprised if the tunes you want aren't in here. Be advised, though, that variations abound, and some of them are not trivial.

I've come across two versions of Westphalia Waltz that box with each other. (I'm a guitar player, so you'd think it would be easy to fake it. Nope.)
posted by mule98J at 6:50 PM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: My go-to books are the Fiddler's Fakebook (if you can find a used copy, it's more likely to have the old comb binding instead of the new perfect binding -- if you get the new edition you'll have to take it to a copy shop to have the spine cut off and a comb/spiral binding added before it's usable) and Gene Silberberg's The Complete ... Tractor. The Tractor book is more old-time than bluegrass, come to think of it. And the Portland Collection books are contra dance collections, and don't have much in the way of bluegrass.

The Phillips Collection is pretty good, too, but I haven't used it enough to know what its bluegrass collection is like; I mostly play old-time style. The Fakebook definitely does have a decent selection of bluegrass, though.

Are you mainly playing bass? Because I could probably just send you a bunch of chord charts; I'm pretty sure I saw a huge collection of those recently, free online.
posted by hades at 7:18 PM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: This isn't the one I was thinking of, but it's got a bunch. This might be the one I was thinking of; I know I've seen it before, anyway, and it has a bunch of tunes in it.

Other book suggestions, not from personal experience:

+ Real Bluegrass Book
+ Parking Lot Picker's Songbook (many instrument editions; link is for bass)
+ Bluegrass Fakebook
+ Bluegrass Songbook

Other non-book advice: if your band has a guitar player and you don't play guitar yourself, get him to show you what his left hand looks like when he's playing the most common chords -- you can follow along on most tunes without knowing them in advance by having listened to enough tunes to know what the progression is likely to be, picking up differences from the guitar player's left hand.
posted by hades at 7:36 PM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: I have been told that Ryan's Mammoth Collection is a standby. It is certainly large and packed full of tunes. It is available free (legally) as a pdf. (scroll down)

It's not all or even primarily bluegrass, but I bet some of the stuff your bandmates know is in there. And hey, it's free.

Mel Bay sells a paper version for $25 or so if you prefer to swing that way. Available on amazon.
posted by contrarian at 4:51 AM on August 6, 2013

Seconding Fiddler's Fakebook and hades' excellent advice about watching the guitar player's left hand for the chord changes... that's definitely how I fake my way through tunes I don't know.
posted by usonian at 8:55 AM on August 6, 2013

Honestly, you should probably just try to get together with the guitar player and make chord charts for all the tunes you can think of, in one go. A lot of tunes have chord progressions which could go a few ways, and knowing which way the band already plays them is going to be more useful than learning the way any particular book recommends. Although Fiddler's Fakebook does tend to have the most commonly played chords for a given tune, so it'd be a good start.

(Ryan's collection predates the existence of bluegrass by 50 years or so, and it has no chord recommendations. It's a neat collection to have, but of the bluegrass standards I can think of off the top of my head, none are included. If you wind up in a band that plays a lot of contra or british isles country dances, it'll be more useful.)
posted by hades at 11:24 PM on August 9, 2013

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