Paddy Where???


is our tune for the day.:) For those who would love to learn all about handcars while they learn this tune, this link is for you!

Although Paddy on a Handcar has Am chords, the key signature has one sharp, so it’s G/Em. So don’t forget to play that F as an F#! Here is the guitar TAB PDF – Paddy on a Handcar – Gtr TAB

I found lots of YouTube videos with Paddy on a Handcar, and discovered that it’s not only a traditional tune, it is also a drum corp, fife and whistle tune! I had thought that it was an Irish tune – boy, was I wrong. Most tune titles with “Paddy” in them are Celtic in origin, but Paddy on a Handcar is definitely an American Old-Time tune! Although, I also found that, according to Ceolas: The Fiddler’s Companion – Bayard (1981) identifies this rather common tune as a descendant of a once well-known Scottish song air known usually as “The Waukin o the Fauld.”  So, well, take your pick. LOL

So, this lays pretty well on the guitar, so, yep, go have some fun.:) Oh, yeah, go to the Fiddle Tunes page at the top of this page to find a practice video for this tune.:)


Steam Boat on the River…..

The tune,


always reminds of the old riverboats that were powered by steam to run the paddle wheels! In reading about the tune, it seems that it might be named for the Big Sandy River that flows along the shared border of Kentucky and West Virginia. I first learned this one when I played the mountain dulcimer, before I ventured into guitar. It is a tune that feels just right being done at a moderate tempo, but it can by used as a dance tune as well.

Here is the guitar TAB  and notation – Sandy River Belle – Gtr TAB

In looking for a video, I actually found two that I like, so here they are. The banjo video is done in the traditional manner, and then there’s one done in a non-traditional manner, using instruments not generally used in old-time music. 🙂 Hope you enjoy each of them!

As always, it’ll make your heart happy! So, grab your guitar and try it out.:) Be sure to check out the menu at the top of the page, Fiddle Tunes…., to find a practice video for Sandy River Belle, done at a moderate tempo.:)


Sail Away Ladies

The tune of the day is SAIL AWAY LADIES Personally, I love this old time tune because of the chord progression, so I will get as much enjoyment from playing the chords as from picking the melody.:) In my research, I found that this tune has many versions – not just variations of the same tune – but totally different tunes with the same name! It is also very similar to Sally Ann, but just enough different that I’ll give Sally Ann her own blog space later. LOL I tweaked this tune on just a few notes to make it line up with a version that I’m familiar with. One technical note, the B part is only 4 measures long instead of your standard 8 measures, but it repeats. However, I have found that some musicians play the B part twice, and some play it 4 times through. The 4 times through is probably to even up the tunes for contradance or square dancing where 32 measures total in the tune are called for. Here is the PDF – Sail Away Ladies – Gtr TAB Here’s a video of Kenny Baker playing close to this version of Sail Away Ladies. In fact, I believe that he is the one who made this version popular, or maybe it is his version…

Don’t forget to check out my page with all of the blog tunes in one spot! There are also some practice videos for some of the tunes being played at a moderate tempo several times straight through, with more being added each week. If you want to see all of the videos in one location, just go to my YouTube channel, pickthestrings, to view them and to practice. 🙂 As always, get out your beautiful guitar and play awhile. You’ll be so glad that you did! Blessings

Santa Anna’s Retreat

This crooked tune:


came from the playing of Henry Reed, a well-known old-time fiddle player from southwest Virginia. It is a modal tune, and a little bit confusing. Folks play it different ways, so researching out the versions was interesting. One difference that I found was the C in the A part in the 5th measure is sometimes played as a natural C and sometimes as a C#. I chose to use the C# in the version. I have found it notated in the key of D, with notes put to a natural, and in the key of G, like here.

The very first measure, if you notice, is in 2/4 timing – so it just has 2 beats instead of the standard 4 beats per measure, and then it instantly switches to the regular 4/4 timing in the 2nd measure and for the rest of the tune. The A part repeat does go back to the 2/4 measure.

Here is the guitar TAB – Santa Anna’s Retreat – Gtr TAB

I found this great small group playing Santa Anna’s Retreat, and it included a banjo, so I just had to use it! As a side note, I am one of those people who can play the same tune for 10 minutes and love every single time it’s played through, so this video warms my heart and makes me feel quite cheerful.:)

It’s a pretty easy tune to play, once you the get the “crooked” part learned. 🙂 I think it’ll sound great on your guitar, so give it try!


A Hornpipe in D

Today’s tune is:


This little tune just sort of fell out of my mandolin one day. 🙂 It is named after the two, twin, maples in our yard. They are so pretty and our children love to play around them. You can play it like a hornpipe, with a dotted note sound, or play it straight like a reel.

Here is the PDF with guitar TAB – Twin Maples Hornpipe – Gr TAB

No video as of yet, but check back……

I’ll Buy Boots for Maggie

The tune of the day is:


This simple little polka is fun to play! The B part has a climby thing going on that’s very catchy. You can’t hear it as much in the video below, but add guitar chords to it, and it zings!

Here is the guitar TAB and notation –I’ll Buy Boots for Maggie – Gtr TAB

This one should be pretty fun to pick up and try! Check out the menu at the top of the page where you can find PDF’s of every tune from my blog, AND practice videos for some of the tunes done at a moderate tempo several times through without having to click play every minute. 🙂 There is a practice video for I’ll Buy Boots for Maggie. Woo Hoo!


Really Cool Tune

Today’s tune,


is a really cool tune! Haha It is in Em, and has a groove that is just fun for me to listen to and play. For the tunes that I post here with TAB, I have tried to keep the it simple and at the first position as much as possible, unless it’s just easier to scoot up on the fretboard for certain measures. Cooley’s Reel has two places where we jump clear up to 5th thru 7th fret, AND use not only the high E string and B string, but we even catch a note on the G string! I hope you don’t mind this little challenge.

Here is the PDF with guitar TAB and notation – Cooley’s Reel – Gtr TAB

I found this video on YouTube where a bouzouki plays the melody while accompanied by a guitar and bodhran.

In the Midwest, it’s a beautiful summer day – just perfect for getting out the guitar and playing in the shade (or air conditioner!). So, yep, grab your guitar and stay cool, really….. 🙂

And, don’t forget to check out my page up at the top, Fiddle Tune – Free PDF Downloads, where you will find a collection of all of the tunes listed in my blogs all in one spot! You will also find some practice videos that I’ve made at a moderate tempo and played through three or four times in order to give you time to work on the tune.


Another March, no, wait, it’s June!

No, no, it’s really a march,


This tune came to mind the other day at our local jam session. Boy, our march speed was running downhill with no brakes, but quite fun. LOL  I like this tune because even though it’s in the key of D, it has a nice little C natural to spice things up, and give it more of a modal feel.

Here is the free guitar TAB and notation – Washington’s March – Gtr TAB

Here is a wonderful video of it being played!

There is also now a practice video available! Just check out the Fiddle Tunes tab at the top of this page where you will find all of the tunes featured in my blog in one spot, along with practice videos for some of the tunes.:)

This one is pretty easy on the guitar, so get it out and play it. You’ll be glad that you did!