Old Bush and the Maple Leaf

Two nights ago, at the White Horse in Black Mountain, NC, we played these two tunes together.  The Old Bush and The Maple Leaf.

(Ye) Old Bush <–tab

The Maple Leaf <–tab

For you guitar flatpickers, here are those same tunes tabbed out in standard tuning and DADGAD.

(Ye) Old Bush Standard Guitar     The Maple Leaf Guitar

(Ye) Old BushDADGAD    The Maple Leaf DADGAD

While I’ve always found the “chopped off head” youtube videos kind of strange, this is the best one I could find at the time for The Maple Leaf.


Cup of Tea and Other Tunes

New tabs, tablature, standard notation and chords have been added to the tunes section, both for mandolin and guitar.

As promised, I finally got to tabbing out Peter Byrne’s Fancy and Creeping Docken.  There was also a request for Cup of Tea.  That one’s for you Michel in France!  Joe Cooley’s was just for fun. It goes well before Cup of Tea in a set.

Cup of Tea mandolin

Joe Cooley’s mandolin

Creeping Docken Guitar

Creeping Docken DADGAD

Cup of Tea Guitar

Cup of Tea DADGAD

Joe Cooley’s Guitar

Joe Cooley’s DADGAD

Peter Byrne’s Fancy Guitar

Peter Byrne’s Fancy DADGAD

Tunes from Mandolin II

In the Mandolin II class at Celtic week, with David Surette, we learned a few tunes by ear, a few by tab, and also focused on how to make accompaniment with the mandolin interesting. I had to leave “the gathering” earlier today, to visit the in-laws, and so have had some time in the car to tab a few of the tunes for you. Click on the links below for the mandolin tablature for the irish tunes of (reel) Devanney’s Goat, (reel) Poor Old Woman, and (slip jig) Hardiman the fiddler.

Dorm Room at Celtic Week 2011 - Guitar, Mandolins and Kettlebells, what else do you need?

Mandolin (tab) tablature & standard notation

Devanney’s Goat

Poor Old Woman

Hardiman the Fiddler

Now that I’ve found myself exploring the guitar again, I’ve also created flat picking tablature for the tunes above. Here they are:

Guitar (tab) tablature and Standard Notation for Flat picking

Devanney’s Goat in Standard Tuning

Poor Old Woman in Standard Tuning

Hardiman the Fiddler in Standard Tuning

Devanney’s Goat DADGAD

Poor Old Woman DADGAD

Hardiman the Fiddler DADGAD

We also learned a great tune called The Reverend Brother’s Jig (called the Monk’s Jig on thesession.org) and a number of Breton Tunes. Great class, good teacher, learned a lot.

Wegen, Bluechip, Red Bear Trading, V Pick, ProPlec

Once again, Celtic Week gave me a chance to play a variety of picks too.

Now I own, a number of V-picks, that I really dig. I have 4 Redbear trading picks, 3 of which I don’t use because I think they are too brittle and warp from my sweaty fingers. I have one Wegen left, which I don’t play. I gave my other one away. My go-to picks, when I don’t want to worry about losing a $4-$20 pick are ProPlecs, hands down. And this past week I got a chance to play two Blue Chip picks, that I really enjoyed.

Here are my thoughts overall about these pick brands.

Blue Chip Picks – nice feel. Too expensive. Would play one, if I had it, probably more for flat picking on my guitar. Overall I’d rate these picks at an A grade. Unless they are made with some really rare mineral, I’d say, they are way overpriced though.

Wegen – I didn’t like these from the beginning. They didn’t feel right. The Blue Chips had some weight to them, and felt solid in my hand. The Wegens just felt like rough plastic. I’d rate them at C+.

V-Picks – Still my favorite. The fat stubby ones smooth out and really warm up the tone, on the mando. On my Octave Mandolin, the triangular 2.75mm reds, really drive the strings, although they do seem to wear off the tip quickly. The Medium Lites 1.5mm are excellent for flatpicking. They put a lot of energy in each string with less effort. The 1.0 tremelo works really for quick rhythmic strumming for reels and jigs. Although one of my students has broken a number of the tremolos, and that seems like $10 might be a bit much for something that breaks so easy. I give these an A+ rating anyway.

Red Bear Trading Picks – These were my favorite for the last 6 years, until I found the V Picks. They have great tone, but not quite as great as the V-picks. They feel good, and their Tri-tips are excellent. Also, they don’t wear out. I have an extra heavy hot pink one I played consistently for 5 years, and its still got its bevel. Why don’t I like them that much anymore? I don’t like worrying about getting them wet (sweaty fingers, condensation from the glass of a cold drink). I don’t like having to worry what’s in my pockets. They scratch easy and can snap easy too. These get a B+ grade.


ProPlec Picks – at 75 cents a piece, they have a great solid feel in your hand. You can lose them, and its no big deal. Their tone is pretty good, nice and rich. They don’t break. I give these a B+. If they had the tone of the V-pick or even the RedBear, because of the price they would get an A++, but its hard to get price, tone, feel, and durability all equal.

Everyone has a different ear, feel, and budget, and in my mind a stellar musician can make a nylon dunlop sound fantastic, and a poor player can make a V-pick sound like crap. But hopefully, these little reflections will help you wade through the raging pick debate.

Celtic Week 2011

Trip to Breakfast on Monday Morning

The Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week 2011 began with 4 classes: Session guitar 1, with David Surette; Mandolin 2, with David Surette; Session Guitar 2, with John Doyle; Bazouki, with Eamon O’Leary.  I made it through all of the first day, missed first period on the second day, decided to scratch the Bazouki class on the third day, and made it to all three classes today.  The brain is awash with musical, guitar, and mandolin knowledge, and I am looking forward to letting it sink in tonight, during the all night jam sessions.

David’s classes are excellent.  He is a knowledgeable patient and easy-to-follow teacher. He’s also very good about staying after class to answer questions and a joy to chat with after a late night jam.  Today he obligingly gave me some ideas on how to play some interesting chordal backup to Peter Byrne’s Fancy, and Creeping Docken.  (I’ll post those tabs soon, since they are my favorite, and they turn up a lot on this site!)  Coincidentally, during the session guitar 2 class, John Doyle, decided to also pull out Peter Byrne’s Fancy and give us a nice run through of some rhythmic grooves.  (If you see me tonight at the jam sessions, and you want to play those tunes, pull me aside.  I’m all for it.)

D Chord Family Substitutions from David Surrette's Guitar Session 1 Class

John’s class started out great. He went over his basic techniques, in regards to how to use your arm and not your wrist, and also how you keep your arm swinging in time, non-stop, and use more accents on volume to get different rhythmic patterns.  I’m trying out his advise for a .73 mm dunlop nylon pick (yuck), and it’s working so far, but we’ll see if I stick with it.

Eamon’s class was good, but I had already had enough to absorb from those first three classes, that getting into bazouki was just too much for my brain at present.  Besides, I want to become a better rhythmic player anyway, and he’s very good on timing, but his initial approach was a bit more melodic.

Last night was a night of rest, so skipped the jamming.  But Thursday…I’m rested, revved up and ready to go.  Tonight’s forecast:

Scattered thunderstorms this evening followed by a few showers overnight. Low 66F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

Good thing there are tents!

Tuesday Night Early Evening