Marcel Ardans

I’ve had a lot of people asking if there is a system or suggested video viewing order buried in my YouTube channel. They ask things like, “Where do I start the program?” Well the simple answer is; there is no program. The lessons really weren’t intended to work that way. My weekly YouTube lessons are …

Fiddle Tune Primer Read More »

In December of last year, Tony Rice passed away. He was/is my all-time favorite guitarist. Like many of his fans, my love of his playing has likely transcended obsession. In fact, at the time of writing this, I have transcribed over 100 Tony Rice solos. That puts me in a unique position to share with you not only my favorite Tony Rice licks but what I think might be Rice’s favorite licks, if the frequency with which he played them is any indication.

These examples can be found in almost every Tony Rice break. They are integral to his sound and they can become part of your sound too. This comes with one small warning though: These licks are not meant to be parroted off this page. A big hallmark of this sound is to use these phrases but to vary them, and create your own versions of them. Let’s remember Rice by innovating on his past achievements the same way he innovated on the achievements of the players that came before him.

For roughly the last six months I’ve been releasing a transcribing video every month. Between lessons I take a spare hour to turn the camera on, search through my YouTube comments for a reasonable suggestion, and film myself talking through my process. Hopefully not getting too many things wrong, like in my Trey Hensley video. If you’re not familiar with those videos, the latest installment was Tony Rice’s On And On break. Or you can just binge watch the series up to this point!

Hey folks, thanks for coming along for this cool holiday adventure with Eli Gilbert and I. We got a ton of positive feedback so we might even, god forbid, do it again sometime. Just in case you missed out, the 12 Days Of Licksmas was a series where Eli Gilbert and myself traded bluegrass guitar licks and banjo licks daily for 12 days straight.

Now that the holidays are over you can enjoy all 24 videos from the complete series below!

Speed. Something that comes up with almost every student I teach. Whether they’re underestimating themselves, “I could never play that fast so I’m not going to work on that.” Over estimating the importance of speed, “I get that note choice is important but, like, can you teach me to play as fast as Billy Strings …

Flatpicking Speed, Insecurity, And You Read More »

I don’t get a lot of hate comments, I really don’t. The closest my comment section gets to hate is stuff like, “Hey dude, great video! But at 2:34 you have 7/9 in the tab and it should be 9/7. By the way, can you transcribe Billy Strings’ Slow Train?” Those comments are great! I …

YouTube Hate: What Even Is Crosspicking? Read More »

Let’s get this out of the way right now, the way most of us learned about Thanksgiving is problematic. This article isn’t meant to offend anyone and through the course of these fiddle tunes we’re going to touch on some tough topics. Much like the problematic nature of the Thanksgiving holiday, bluegrass music and bluegrass …

Fiddle Tunes For Thanksgiving Read More »

I’m a bluegrass musician. So you can imagine I spend a lot of my time explaining to people what bluegrass is because no one seems to know. One of the most popular misconceptions is that bluegrass is traditional Appalachian music (sometimes called mountain music) or some other older American folk style. Most folks are surprised to learn that bluegrass is a much more modern genre. A lot of musicologists point to the 1945 Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys lineup with Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt as the first fully formed bluegrass band. You can contrast that with the release of the single Rocket 88 in 1951 which marks the start of rock and roll just six short years later. 

The sixth interval seems to be a a breakthrough concept for many players, for some it might be hard to remember a time before you knew a couple little sixth phrases. If your new to the idea, its more simple than you think. Starting on C, let’s count six notes in the major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A. That means C and A are a sixth apart, its that simple. You might think recognizing two notes that are a sixth apart might be harder on the guitar but that’s not too tough either. You see sixths on the guitar are characterized by skipping a string. In all of these licks if I jump from one string to another and skip one in-between, that’s probably a sixth.

What do contemporary bluegrass, gospel, 90’s R&B, and the Asheville Symphony have in common? Not a whole lot, which makes Steep Canyon Ranger’s new release of Be Still Moses featuring Boyz II Men and the Asheville Symphony a little confusing. I mean I like it, but I want to understand it. I even made some charts like this one to help organize my thoughts.