Free Flatpicking Lesson
Hello and welcome once again to
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly
newsletter. Each month when you click here you can be sure find a cool
new melody to add to your constantly growing list of flatpicking tunes.
Those of you who regularly follow my e-lessons know that I often delve
into the never-ending abyss of fiddle tunes in hopes of offering
obscure tunes that don’t get played very often. This month’s tunes
is... not that. “Whiskey Before Breakfast” is one of the most popular
fiddle tunes of all time. Irish players enjoy picking the melody while
bluegrass players have taken this tune to the jam stratosphere. For
this lesson I have included three versions of the classic “Whiskey
The first pass is based
strongly on the tune’s beautiful melody. If for some reason you have
never learned this tune, stop reading now and begin working on
it! If you are already familiar with this tune and
comfortable improvising over it, I feel you will benefit from working
through the ideas in my variations. It is not essential to learn my
variations note for note. I jam packed these measures with cool and
challenging ideas. You may find that you really dig a certain tag or a
certain lick in which case I encourage you to steal the phrase and
insert it into your own playing. My ideas are all ones that I’ve picked
up from listening to other great musicians.
When arranging solos and
variations for tunes like “Whiskey Before Breakfast” I try to stay away
from playing random bluegrass runs and blues licks. My goal is to keep
with the flavor of the tune’s original melody while exploring lines
that fit through the chord changes. My ideas are based on major scales
and chord arpeggios rather than inserted blues licks. “Whiskey Before
Breakfast” is a tune that I have thought about a lot. I use this tune
as a basis for all fiddle tune improvisation and see other tunes as a
variation of it.
the third pass, I strayed from the melody and tried to incorporate cool
single note lines. Seasoned flatpickers might note that these lines are
not the usual stock bluegrass licks. These lines are meant to sound a
bit more modern and jazzy as they utilize a different language. These
may be the lines you have been searching for to spice up your playing.
Remember to “lay back” on your eighth notes to give your lines feel and
life. You don’t wanna be a one of those
rapid-machine-gun-robot pickers. Take a listen to the included lesson
mp3 to hear the melody and variations in action.
hope you enjoy working on “Whiskey Before Breakfast.” Lots to explore
here! As always, if you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson
or any ideas for tunes you would like to see here in the future just
drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Whiskey Before Breakfast"