Bluegrass Masters: Fiddle

Bill Monroe played the mandolin, Flatt and Scruggs played the guitar and banjo respectively… but bluegrass would not be what it was if those legends hadn’t had top-notch fiddlers in their band. From first generation fiddle masters like Kenny Baker, Vassar Clements, and Chubby Wise to today’s torch-bearers like Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Michael Cleveland, and Darol Anger, there’s no shortage of great fiddle-led music to be found in any period of bluegrass history. Enjoy this playlist of bluegrass fiddle masters!

David Chernack

David Chernack is a fiddler, mandolinist, and guitarist from the Hudson Valley. Trained as a classical violist, David found out about bluegrass music in high school and despite his best efforts has been unable to kick the habit in adulthood. He picked up mandolin and guitar in college in Boston, where he studied environmental science and music. While not at his day job or pickin' 'grass, David also enjoys birdwatching and wrenching on cars.

One Response

  • Monroe himself called the fiddle “the King instrument”. John Hartford called Monroe “our greatest old time fiddler, except he played it on the mandolin”. You’ve made some outstanding selections to demonstrate bluegrass fiddling.

    I have enjoyed listening to lots of old time fiddle recordings starting with Eck Robertson’s Sally Goodin from 1922, and feeling the slow transition to recognizable bluegrass fiddle. Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith is probably the first to hint at bluegrass to come. Then Clayton McMichen, Tommy Magness and others until BOOM Chubby Wise brings his swing feeling and Monroe’s instruction to put the blues in there, and bluegrass fiddling becomes a style.

    On Aubrey Haynie’s record my favorite cut is Ducks, where Tony Rice really gets into it and “guns” the rhythm guitar reaching all the way back to Clarence White and Riley Puckett for syncopated runs.

    Good article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *