Rockabilly Rhythm Lessons 1-3 

The accompaniment shown here is an example of what's called Travis picking and was used heavily by Elvis Presley's guitar player Scotty Moore. The example follows a basic rockabilly chord change in the key of E and also implies several chord types on the different chords. Notice that where the B string is fretted in relation to the chord shape is what's controlling the qualities of the chords. Continue reading...

In the Intro to Rockabilly lesson I included a basic rockabilly rhythm style that's used in many songs. To illustrate the style I embedded a video of Eddie Cochran's 20 Flight Rock. Below, I've transcribed the rhythm technique he uses for the rest of the song. I haven't included any of the pauses for the sake of showing a complete rhythm technique. Continue reading...

One of the defining features of rockabilly music is the upright bass and the walking bass lines it plays. I've heard the argument that part of the death of rockabilly can be attributed to the popularity of the electric Fender style bass. Continue reading...

New Bluegrass, Rockabilly and Theory Lessons 


This is a companion lesson to the recent video How To Kick Off Any Bluegrass Song. It includes tabs for each of the kick offs! Continue to lesson...


Lots of rockabilly songs follow a basic blues pattern. This is an example of a solo you might play over one such tune.  

All double stops should be played with hybrid picking (meaning plucked with the ring and middle finger of the pick hand). The only exception to this rule are measures 7 and 8 which I play with a pick. Also, note that all of the licks in the first line (or measures 1-4) make excellent rhythm likes that you can slip into your rhythm playing with ease. Continue reading...


Modes are simple. Basically you take a standard seven tone major scale and treat a new note of the scale as the tonic (or note you resolve on). That's it! To complete this lesson easily make sure you have already looked at my Major Scale lessons and are fluent using those shapes and patterns.  

An A major scale creates these modes: A Ionian, B Dorian, C# Phrygian, D Lydian, E Mixolydian, F# Aeolian, and G# Locrian.  

I've included the shapes for all 7 modes below. Take notice how they line up with your major scale shapes you've learned previously. Get comfortable with them and as we continue the series we'll talk about applications. Continue reading...


New Tabs: Beaumont Rag and Cherokee Shuffle 

“Beaumont Rag” was named after the town of Beaumont, Texas and likely originated from the town itself. First recorded in the 1920s by the East Texas Serenaders and Smith’s Garage Fiddle Band, it gained more momentum a decade later when recorded by Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys. These early recordings appear in the key of F, though now you will likely hear it in C or D. It’s The shift to C most likely occurred when Doc Watson added it to his set. Watson had already begun playing the tune when touring the folk scene in 1962 but his recording with Clarence White at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival made it decidedly a guitar tune. Should you run into any other keys for Beaumont Rag remember: No Capo for C, Capo 2 for D and Capo 5 for F. 

This arrangement is two breaks full of syncopation, triplets, chromaticism, floating and of course, cross picking. But it also includes some techniques you might not expect like some jazz chord melody and even a classic swing tag at the end.

Many sources identify this tune as a West Coast version of Lost Indian but it is slightly more complicated than that. The song is neither Cherokee in origin or a shuffle in style, it instead claims its roots from the 1930's Tommy Magness recording of the tune "Indian". It shares many characteristics with Cherokee Shuffle but is undeniably different. Tommy Jackson is credited with the transformation of "Indian" into Cherokee Shuffle. Jackson changed the key and added the distinctive second part. The Tommy Magness tune has become known as "Lost Indian" subsequently. To add to the confusion between the two tunes, Cherokee Shuffle is also sometimes played in the key of D, although very rarely. Notice that with Tommy Jackson's additions Cherokee Shuffle becomes a crooked tune with the B part longer than the A part. 

Here is a simple version of the melody written for guitar. It has no frills and is intended as a base for you to build your own arrangement on top of.

New Bluegrass, Jazz and Technique Lessons 


Tony Rice is one of the most influential acoustic guitar players ever. I highly recommend all of his musical work and his biography as well. Of the many licks that he popularized and invented this is one of the most well loved. It is a tag but not necessarily always used as one. Experiment with the different phrasing opportunities especially the slide from 3 to 2 on the G string in between measures 1 and 2. Continue reading...


Alright, this next exercise is all about interpreting the chart in front of you. This is a jazz standard called Sweet Georgia Brown. You should know at least two places to play each one of these chords. Play this chart using A string roots and E string roots for each of these chords. Try to become comfortable enough to play it different everyone time you play it. Also, take note of the relationships between chords. You'll notice the majority of this progression is circle of fifths style movement. This will be a common thread in many jazz standards. Continue reading...


I know exercises aren't as fun as just playing and for some people they might not be the most practical use of time. However, if you're really interested in fretting accuracy and picking accuracy try some of the exercises from this series. In this first installment, I've provided you with 2 different ways to play a pretty standard picking exercise. Its basically a series of chromatic notes that end with a pinky slide. This will help you sync up your right and left hands and also build pinky strength. Start slow and keep the pace even, slowly build speed and be sure not to do this exercise for hours and hours. The last thing you need is a repetitive motion injury if you're trying to get some speed into your playing. Continue reading...


Marcel and Nakos, Boundary Bay

Boundary Bay, 1107 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225

Marcel and Nakos are a duo from Bellingham, WA. Comprised of a guitar and a dobro, the two reminisce and draw inspiration from early American music. They play quick, crisp bluegrass and swing and croon a worrisome, honest blues and country.


Queen's Bluegrass, Woolley Market

The Woolley Market, 829 Metcalf St, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Queen's Bluegrass has been performing since the mid 1980's. The founder of the group, Ernest Queen passed away in 2015--we like to say he "has gone on before." Kevin Fazio and Aaron Maas, both longtime Queen's Bluegrass members, had the privilege of spending a good bit of time with Ernie in his final days. One of Ernie's final requests was that we "keep playing the music."


Marcel and Nakos, Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival

Hovander Park, Ferndale, Wa

Come to the first ever Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival!


Queen's Bluegrass, Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival

Hovander Park, Ferndale, Wa

Come to the first ever Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival!


Broken Bow Stringband, Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival

Hovander Park, Ferndale, Wa

Come to the first ever Hovander Homestead Bluegrass Festival!

© Lessons With Marcel 2016