- What Kind of Mandolin Should I Get? June 25, 2019 Excerpted from Easy 2-Chord Songs for Mandolin by Wayne Erbsen, published by Native Ground Books & Music.
Unless a free mandolin just falls in your lap, you’ll need to purchase one. When you go shopping for a mandolin, I strongly suggest that you don’t buy a cheap one off of the Internet. Most of these cheapo instruments will sound ... Read More
- Drifting Too Far From the Shore June 24, 2019 Charles E. Moody was not your average gospel songwriter. He alone wrote both the words and the melody of two of the bedrock classics of country and bluegrass gospel, “Kneel at the Cross” and “Drifting Too Far From the Shore.” To get a handle on this man and the songs he wrote, let’s go back ... Read More
- Happy Songs of Sunshine and Light (& the lyrics to Short Life of Trouble) June 9, 2019 A while back I was invited to bring an instrument to a potluck party of some friends of mine in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. I brought along my fiddle in the hopes of finding some bluegrass musicians to jam with.
When I arrived at the converted barn where the party was being held, I ... Read More
- The Truth About the Lester Flatt G Run June 4, 2019 Bluegrass hero Lester Flatt had a lot to be proud of. One of his most lasting achievements was the G run that bears his name. You can hear this distinctive guitar run in practically every traditional bluegrass song that can be played on the guitar using a G shape chord. In its original form, it ... Read More
- The Carter Family Scratch February 18, 2019
They didn’t call her Mother Maybelle for nuthin.’ Nope. In addition to being the mother of three girls (Helen, Valerie June, and Anita), Maybelle Carter was nothing less than the mother of flatpicking guitar. Starting in 1927, her lead and rhythm guitar playing laid the foundation of what would later be known as bluegrass guitar. ... Read More
- Gussie L. Davis – Tin Pan Alley/Bluegrass Songwriter December 4, 2018 Some of the greatest traditional bluegrass songs were apparently written by someone named “Public Domain” or “Traditional.” What kind of decent mother or father would name their child that? In this article I’m going to acquaint you with a songwriter named Gussie Lord Davis, who has seldom been credited as the composer of such well-known ... Read More
- The Big Bang Theory of Bluegrass May 16, 2018
If the “big bang theory” helps to explain the origin of the universe, perhaps “the big bang theory of bluegrass” will shed some light on the origin of the bluegrass music universe.
First, let me say that there are two schools of thought as to the origins of bluegrass music. One has Bill Monroe single-handedly inventing ... Read More
- “Shortenin’ Bread” Ukulele Tab + Lyrics April 10, 2018
“Shortenin’ Bread” has certainly wins a prize for longevity. After all, it has been around for over 150 years. This version of “Shortenin’ Bread” comes from my new book, Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus!
I can’t tell you why, but I find playing Shortenin’ Bread almost addictive. When I start to play it, I can barely ... Read More
- How Hard is it to Play the Guitar? February 23, 2018 The first question I hear from people interested in playing the guitar is “how hard is it?” For those of you with that same question, this article is for you.
The relative ease or difficulty of learning to play any musical instrument depends on three main things:
Natural talent. It’s just a fact that some people are ... Read More
- New Release: Easy 2-Chord Songs for Mandolin January 18, 2018 Many folks are on the lookout for easy and foolproof ways to learn to play their favorite musical instrument. Who can blame them? Everyone wants a free ride down music alley. These kind of folks get lured to websites that make grand promises of quick success if you try their method. Not being afraid ... Read More
- Ukuleles Come From Where? December 12, 2017 This is a guest post from Sarah Jacobs of Know Your Instrument.
The ukulele is long-hailed as the national instrument of the Hawai’ian islands. It’s played at luaus, family gatherings, and while simply relaxing on the beach. A lot of children in Hawai’i even learned how to play at a young age. For hundreds of years ... Read More
- How to Play Music by Ear November 14, 2017 Playing by ear is, or should be, the holy grail of playing music. You just about never see a banjo picker, fiddler or mandolin player performing with their nose buried in a book of music notation or tab. It just ain’t done. Of course, there are plenty of beginner musicians who completely depend on tab ... Read More
- “Roll On Buddy” ~ Lyrics, History, & Tab for Mandolin/Fiddle May 15, 2017 While doing some research on one of the songs for my book Bluegrass Jamming on Mandolin, I uncovered some interesting things about the song “Roll On Buddy,” which is considered a bluegrass standard as recorded by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. On May 17, 1924 Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters recorded “Baby Your ... Read More
- Is it hard to play the mandolin? January 16, 2017 Heck no! It’s easy as eating pie if you approach learning the mandolin in the right way. Of course, there is no shortage of free information, tab, and musical notation of mandolin music on the web. The challenge is finding information that’s geared to your style of learning.
At Native Ground Books & Music we have ... Read More
- ‘Run Mountain’ history, music & lyrics + the origins of bluegrass December 27, 2016 Among the more bizarre songs in old-time and early country music is one called “Run Mountain.” The song is curious both for the melody and because some of the lyrics are rather mysterious. The melody is set in the key of G but it starts in the key of A. By the time the chorus ... Read More
- How Hard is it to Learn to Play the Guitar? December 16, 2016 The quick answer to this question is “it’s pretty easy,” IF you have the right instructor or instructional materials (ie books or videos). After teaching guitar since 1962, I’ve had a wide variety of students walk through the door. The vast majority have learned to play and, as far as I know, have kept playing ... Read More
- New Guitar Book + ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ Guitar Tab & Lyrics November 18, 2016 We are excited that Wayne’s newest book is just back from the printer, Painless Guitar – A Fun & Easy Guide for the Complete Beginner. This 48 page book is packed with 31 familiar folk, bluegrass, gospel and blues songs along with easy to read chord charts, simple tab and painless strumming… and it’s only ... Read More
- Ralph Stanley- ‘I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages’ for banjo July 27, 2016 Cold chills. That’s what I get when I hear the eerie voice of Ralph Stanley. You can say that I’ve been a true blue Stanley Brothers nut since I first heard them in 1962. Just thumbing through my collection of LPs, I count 58 Stanley Brothers or Ralph Stanley albums, and that doesn’t include several ... Read More
- Whiskey Before Breakfast on Clawhammer Banjo May 25, 2016 I recently published my newest clawhammer banjo book-Clawhammer Banjo~ Tunes, Tips & Jamming. Among the forty four tunes in the book, I included “Whiskey Before Breakfast.” I always wondered about the origin for the tune, so I took this opportunity to do some research. Here’s what I found.
Chasing down the history of “Whiskey Before Breakfast” ... Read More
- How to Tune a Ukulele- Your Ears Will Thank You May 4, 2016 Guest post by Colleen Kinsey, editor-in-chief of Coustii.
Even if you are a professional ukulele player, having an out of tune instrument is going to make you sound horrible. We’ll teach you how to tune your ukulele and keep it in tune. Different ukes will hold a tune better than others, it’s best to check every ... Read More