Sugarfoot Rag

Fiddle Tune

Topics: Melody, A Mixolydian, A Blues, A Major Pentatonic, slides, intermediate technical challenges, creating backup parts, improvisation.

Description: I like this one.  It is decently simple and fairly repetitive.  It was taught to me by a friend the old fashioned way… by ear, one note at a time (see videos below for this method).  The back-up chords are considered “modal” on this one, which is one of the reasons I like it.  It is in the overall key of A, but it has a G chord in it which I think sounds cool.  There are quite a few teach-able moments in this tune.  I have provided video lessons on all of them below.

Technical Challenges in this lesson (see videos):

  1. This tune and lesson requires the use of the 4th finger.  If you have the habit, or use the technique of holding your fiddle up with your palm touching the back of the neck, you may have difficulty reaching far enough to make the 4th finger on the E string (B4 in Note Name/Finger Number language) be in tune. 
  2. Another challenge here is making sure the lowered 2nd finger (GL2) on the E string is low enough and in tune and when it is, that the 3rd finger stays where it always was and does not “follow” the lowered 2nd and become flat.
  3. Also be aware the the 2nd finger on the A string (C#2), in contrast to the lowered 2nd finger on the E string in the 2nd measure, will be at the normal “high” 2 position.  The D string will have a high 2 as well.
  4. Slides in the B section will need to be done in a left/right brain teaser mode where the first note of the B section (C#2) will begin with a down stroke of the bow, but starting the finger at around the low 2 position (C natural), sliding the finger sharp during the down bow stroke, then repeating the same finger slide by quickly replacing finger at CL2 sliding again to C#2, but this time with an up stroke in the bow.  This action is tricky for many near beginners, but if you go slow, practicing just this for a few minutes, you should be able to train your brain to let you do it without thinking about it too hard.

Jam-along: There’s three different approaches you can take when jamming to this tune.  The simplest one (see videos below) is to just use the A Major Pentatonic scale over the whole mess!  There will be some clashing and banging during the G chord, but it will only be for one measure and the tension this creates will be quickly released when the A chord comes back.  Another approach is to acknowledge the “modal” qualities of this tune’s chord progression by including a G natural in your overall scale of A to jam to this one.  This is called “mixolydian” and there’s also a brief lesson on that below.  Music Theory aside, I find that using the A Blues scale works great to jam over this tune too.  The C’s kind of cool-y clash against the C#‘s in the A chord, but the scale has those G’s in it for the G chord, and the G’s also cool-y clash against the G#‘s in the E chord too.  Win win.  You can, of course, mix and match any of these approaches, and I’ve addressed that below too.

Want to learn how to play this tune?  See all of this lesson’s music chart, 8 videos, 4 finger charts, and multiple audio track versions!

Click here for more info on our free Fiddle Jam Club membership and “ALL ACCESS PASS” full Fiddle Jam Institute enrollment!

“Fiddle Jam Club” & enrolled “All Access Pass” members get to see a few more sneak peak learning materials below… 

OR… the complete Sugarfoot Rag lesson is also now available separately in our School Store!  Check it out!!



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2 Responses to Sugarfoot Rag

  1. Reginald Griffith December 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    If I donate to a library I should be able to check out a book. I’m not finding that here. Everything I find something of interest it is either coming soon or totally not there. When r we going to be able to learn modes. Again missing. The blues scale missing.etc etc. What’s the point? I did enjoy the video and yes I did learn something country fiddleing it’s a great sound. Your instructor is top notch and very qualified and able to teach what he knows. I was impressed. More of the same.

    • fiddlejamman January 5, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      Free Fiddle Jam Club members only see some of each lesson after the 12 complete lessons they get up front! Sorry. At this time only All Access Pass (AAP) members get to view all FJi lessons archive materials.

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