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The fiddle reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

214 reviews in the archive.

Neil Rossi: Learning To Fiddle, Bluegrass Style

Submitted by martymac (see all reviews from this person) on 3/23/2017

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

This well written book is the book to own if you want to become an advanced bluegrass fiddler.  There is a large amount of music theory that is applicable to bluegrass fiddling and song examples that let you practice what is being taught.  The book includes two CDs so that you can hear the author play these examples.

Topics covered include:

  • bowing
  • riffs and fills
  • constructing fiddle breaks
  • slides
  • double-stops
  • second and third positions
  • major, minor, pentatonic and blues scales
  • harmony
  • improvisation

There is so much content in this book that I expect to be studying the book for quite a few years.  The book is not sold at  The only place that I could find it is at the publisher's website,



Overall Rating: 10

Tom MacKenzie and Katie Trautz: Side By Side: Old Time Tunes for Fiddle and Banjo

Submitted by Mojohand40 (see all reviews from this person) on 8/9/2016

Where Purchased: Banjo Hangout

Overall Comments

First: Side By Side is available directly from the authors and can by found here on the Hangouts Classified section. 

This is a great presentation of  a collection of Old Time Tunes.  If you play clawhammer and fiddle at an intermediate level, you will really enjoy this book. It is layed out very well, spiral bound to lay flat; with standard notation for fiddle on left side and tab for clawhammer banjo on the right side.

One of the things that makes this collection such a good deal is the really top notch playing on the two CDs that accompany the book.  The second CD contains all the tunes played up to speed and at a more performance level, with both instruments played together.  This alone is worth the price, as it is a really enjoyable listen on it's own.  The first CD contains both a fiddle and a separate banjo track for each tune, played slowly and clearly, as written. Each track also has a click track to start it for play along or timing.  A click track/count off for each tune seems like a no-brainer...but most tune collection book/CD's just don't get this simple concept.

The clawhammer tab is large and easy to read, and is as played. It is also some really good versions of the tunes played. Not dumbed down beginner versions, and not weirdly ornamented versions that no one plays, but solidly played tunes that with diligence are approachable for the intermediate clawhammer player.   The second CD which is played up to speed really shows how to use the tunes as learned in context with a little drive and slight variation here and there.

The Fiddle notation lacks a lot of double stops and doesn't indicate bowing, but does match the slowed down recording very well.  With careful listening and using the notation as a guide, the tunes are totally approachable.   The fiddle playing is really top notch in every way.  Everything is played clearly and deliberately, and like the banjo versions, these are really good versions of these tunes.

Even if you don't play clawhammer, having the clawhammer slow track to play your fiddle against is a great tool for understanding the material, as is of course; having the up to speed CD to play along with.

I really recommend this book.  I wrote this review because I think it goes under the radar on the hangout forums.  I showed this book to a few folks in my local jam group, and they are clamoring to get copies themselves. One of the banjo players is allready learning one of the tunes (Lost Girl) as written in the book while I'm learning the fiddle part for our next jam.





Overall Rating: 9

Chip Cohen: Tall Tales and Twin Fiddles

Submitted by stumpkicker (see all reviews from this person) on 3/20/2016

Where Purchased: From author

Overall Comments

This book is aimed at intermediate fiddlers who want to learn some twin fiddle parts to popular tunes. The author gives 21 tunes, 17 O T and 4 Celtic. He gives you a melody line and underneath it is a parallel 2nd fiddle line.  Bowing indications rare; however he discusses it briefly in the back of the book. Though there is no method given for creating the 2nd fiddle part, it seems that you are playing a low tenor harmony to the melody line.

I recently started playing the 2nd part while my thumb dropping friend takes the lead, and that also works out well.    

Negatives are few, the MP3 only plays the tune twice thru though most tunes are well known enough that you can find free play along  tracks online. The Tall Tale section that precedes each tune is kind of lame (except for Cripple Creek's punch line that still makes me chuckle.) All in all a good tutorial I recommend to all intermediate fiddlers who want to stretch their wings.




Overall Rating: 9

Mary Ann Willis: Dirt Simple Fiddle

Submitted by justme (see all reviews from this person) on 3/17/2013

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

Book comes with cd. Excellent for beginner. Each tune offers a chance to learn a different skill. Tunes are played slow and up to tempo. Even though i have been playing for 10 years, i enjoyed it and feel i've tightened up some skills.

Overall Rating: 10

Gordon Stobbe: The Fiddler's Red Book of Scales & Arpeggios

Submitted by Cyndy (see all reviews from this person) on 2/13/2010

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

I've been looking for a efficient and effective way to practice scales and arpeggios. I think, for me, this book and the accompanying CD might be it.

There are many things I like about it:

1) Each exercise has a recorded track which can be adjusted for speed or looped if it's played with a program like BestPractice.

2) There are suggested bowing patterns for many of the exercises.

3) The exercises are varied, e.g., an arpeggio in jig time, a scale "played in hornpipe fashion."

3) The exercises were chosen to help fiddlers develop an ear for the elements that make up fiddle tunes.

4) The exercises focus on fiddle keys (G, D, A, C, F, Bb).

5) The book advances into minor, 7th, and diminished arpeggios and scales and arpeggios over chord changes.

In the past, I've had to think up which scales to practice and decide how I was going to do it, sometimes recording a play-along track on our digital piano to keep me in tune, and that's been a time-consuming stumbling block. I've also tried playing along with the program "Fiddle Scales" (which I like, by the way) but the artificial sound gets old.

I've only had Mr. Stobbe's book and CD three short days, but I think it's a keeper. I'm finding that the challenge of playing a variety of exercises along with the recording and staying in tune is valuable and because it's enjoyable, the time goes very fast.

Overall Rating: 10

Mark O'Connor: O'Connor Violin Method Violin Book 1

Submitted by Fiddlepiper (see all reviews from this person) on 1/12/2010

Where Purchased: Shar Music

Overall Comments

I have started teaching from his Book 1. My young students enjoy playing the American Tunes, and not as easily bored as with my other method books. A bit pricey, but well worth the investment. The piano accompaniment is fun to play with. I also like the historical inserts about the tunes. Mark has several photos of him at a young age.

Overall Rating: 10

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