DAY 3 – Bluegrass Week @ Augusta


Today was a bit different for a fiddle class.  We spent the whole morning on mandolins.  My dad had an electric 5-string mandolin sitting around the house when I was younger. In 5th grade, I joined my junior high jazz band to read guitar charts on electric mando.  Since the mandolin and fiddle are tuned the same, the combination of frets and chord knowledge on the mando helped my understanding of the fiddle.

We took two common open chords, G & D, and transposed them up two frets to make A & E. Next we learned what scale degrees (root, 3rd, 5th) each finger was playing so that we could manipulate the chord (Emaj7, Emin7, Emin6, etc) and move it around the fingerboard. We also took note of the various doublestops that were naturally occurring.  Now on to the fiddle — do the same thing but with some fingering changes.  This whole lesson is about visualizing the fingerboard and finding doublestops.

In the afternoon, I asked if there were any questions and the topic of how to amplify the fiddle came up.  I can think of three general ways.

1) FIDDLE -> MIC -> SOUNDSYSTEM (house & monitors). Pro = most natural tone; Con = greatest possibility for feedback*.

2) FIDDLE -> PICKUP -> AMP -> MIC -> SOUNDSYSTEM (house & monitors). Pro = can hear instrument better in louder situations; Cons = tone more electric (matter of taste really), If amp is turned up to hear better on stage, the instrument gets louer in the monitors and house which may not be desired.

3) FIDDLE -> PICKUP -> DI (Direct Input box) -> signal splits to both AMP & SOUNDSYSTEM (house & monitors). Pro = Can adjust stage volume of amp without affecting house or monitors; Con = More routing is more chance of error, Tone is less natural (matter of taste).

*Feedback Loop = The sound from your instrument, through the mic, through the speakers and BACK through the mic again…over and over rapidly makes a plethora of varied squeals.

P1210967Here’s one of the beautiful campus mansions and it’s giant porch for jamming.


The actual camp jam got rained out this afternoon.  However, the weather cleared up by evening for a rehearsal/jam that I had with Tony Trischka, Russ Barenberg, Mike Witcher, and Ira Gitlin for our next day lunch hour performance.  Here are the tunes we played.

Elzic’s Farewell (Am) Buffalo Gals - Won't You Come Out Tonight? - Elzic's Farewell
New York Chimes (G) Tony Trischka - Hill Country - New York Chimes
Iris & Pete (C) [by Russ Barenburg, no recording I could find]
Sandy Boys (A) Ben Winship - One Shoe Left - Sandy Boys/Tater Patch
Clinch Mountain Backstep (A) The Stanley Borthers & The Clinch Mountain Boys - The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys - Clinch Mountain Backstep
Mississippi Waltz (F) Kenny Baker - Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe - Mississippi Waltz
Bon Aqua Blues (G) Tony Trischka - Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular - Bon Aqua Blues
Midnight on the Water (D) Art Stamper - The Lost Fiddler - Midnight On the Water

P1220071 Here’s the view from the dorm I stayed in…and the rain that postponed the jam.

Happy fiddling,


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