Granger’s Fiddle Tunes for Guitar (Third Edition)
Since his start as an original columnist for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine in 1996, Adam Granger has produced an enormous and exceptional body of work for bluegrass guitarists. His book and CD set, Granger’s Fiddle Tunes for Guitar, is claimed to be the largest collection of fiddle tunes in guitar tablature in the world, with more than 500 fiddle tunes both popular and obscure. Granger, a multi-talent who was in the original A Prairie Home Companion house band, has thoughtfully cross-referenced each tune presented here with alternate names for the same tune, ending a lot of confusion, to be sure. The book also uses a spiral binding that makes it easy to use on a music stand.
All tunes here are presented in Granger’s unique “Easytab” format, an innovative format that adds time values to standard guitar tablature. One might argue that if you’re going to learn to use that, you might as well just learn to read standard notation. But the tabs are presented clearly in actual type—instead of the earlier versions which were hand-written—and are easy to navigate. Granger includes a thorough primer on how to read Easytab, as well. For the dedicated ear players out there, audio links are provided to check your fingering and timing against the inkstains that have dried upon some line, as someone once said. Or, if you work best with notation, Mel Bay Publications also has published The Granger Collection, where Bill Nicholson has converted each guitar tab to proper music notation, making this material of equal value to fiddlers, mandolinists and other non-guitarists with sight reading skills.
At the start, the book features some basic flatpicking instruction and why Granger, an accomplished flatpicking contestant, recommends playing with a down-up-down picking motion across the strings. Other key topics include proper rhythm guitar (an enormously under-appreciated, demanding skill), working through the limitations and fingering challenges of the guitar fretboard, getting the right feel with your timing, and much more.
But the content, as they say, is king here. Granger lays out the bare melody of each tune, focusing on the essence of the song. There’s no information here on improvising over these tunes, but that’s not his goal. For the guitarist who loves taking a deep dive into the various forms of fiddle tunes from swingy Texas style to old-time to Celtic and expanding their flatpicking repertoire far beyond “Blackberry Blossom” and “Billy In The Low Ground,” Granger’s Fiddle Tunes For Guitar provides a wealth of new source material.