First Position Scales

Recorded scales to practice and play along with are not always easy to find. Sure, you can find them set to piano, or even worse, midis, but to find a whole set played by the same fiddler, at the same pace, has been a challenge. However, today I found a YouTube video recorded by Dr. John Cockman, the creator of Bluegrass Daddy, of which I am a member, playing the seven most important first-position scales. Funny thing I never noticed this lesson on the site. Guess I haven’t looked close enough and just stumbled upon it on YouTube.

In this video, John goes through the seven most important first-position scales to learn for bluegrass, old-time and Celtic fiddling: G, A, Bb, B, C, D, and F. What I also like is I can view the Tabs as I watch and/or play along.

Members of Bluegrass Daddy, can also download these scales in Tab and/or Notation. Like I do in the Fiddle Tune Tabs section here of Fiddling for Older Folks, I decided to write the tab versions out for myself. I’ve also made them available in a pdf downloadable file for anyone who wants to use it for their own practice. I will also add this to the Practice Resource area of this website..

If you prefer just an audio version of the video, here it is. You can right click on it and save it to your computer.

And, as I learn these scales I will use a program like Audacity to slow these scales down if I need to.

It is always nice to find a gem like this!

  7 comments for “First Position Scales

  1. October 2, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for the resource – this looks useful! I do like Bluegrass Daddy. Some of his older videos were some of the first videos I ran across when I was first buying a fiddle – I learned how to tune, rosin and set up my fiddle from them!

    How do you like the instruction on his site? I’ve been thinking about trying some different methods as the one I’m following is good, but the tunes may be a bit too challenging for me right now, causing some frustration. I’ve considered trying Fiddlehed again as I did like that site, but curious about Bluegrass Daddy, too.

    • October 3, 2019 at 4:33 am

      I like both sites. FiddleHed spends more time on technique in his teaching. Technique is usually taught within the context of learning a new tune. Bluegrass Daddy is more geared to teaching tunes, not so much technique. As far as BGD’s tunes being a bit too challenging, he does have tunes for all levels. You can watch his videos without membership, but you can’t download the videos, tracks, sheet music or tabs.

      • October 3, 2019 at 8:01 am

        Thanks for your thoughts! I also saw the post you wrote about it (after I asked here) but just wondered if you had a different perspective after using the site for a while. I checked it out and saw that it’s only $10 for a month, so went ahead and subbed to try it out.

        I see what you’re saying about technique vs. tunes. If I like it well enough, I might just get the lifetime and be done with it, then pick up FiddleHed as my subscription learning. The best of all worlds. šŸ™‚

        • October 3, 2019 at 8:06 am

          I really like how John teaches a tune on BGD. Remember, I don’t read music, so I love having the Tabs. I wound up buying the lifetime subscription. Heck, there are enough songs there for a lifetime! šŸ™‚ BTW…I believe if you decide to get the lifetime while you are on a monthly, you’ll get a discount…I think I remember that.

          • October 3, 2019 at 9:00 am

            It’s funny, but I’m having to wrap my head around reading tabs when I go to use them. I’m not great at reading notation by any means, and I understand what tabs are trying to tell me, but I just have so little experience with them that it’s an adjustment! šŸ™‚

            There’s enough songs there for a lifetime was exactly what I was thinking, too. Considering the cost of lessons or other subs, it feels like this is a good deal. I’ll check into that discount, but if not, no big deal. I certainly think the content there is worth the price.

            • October 3, 2019 at 10:28 am

              I have a section on Fiddle Tabs here: and Bluegrass Daddy has an excellent section on Learning to Read Tabs here:

              • October 3, 2019 at 10:48 am

                Awesome! I’ll check it out!

                Years back, I used to mess around with tabs for guitar, so I have an idea what I’m supposed to do with it. I guess it’s just going to take practice (like everything else).

                I also don’t want to completely give up on reading notation, because a lot of books you pick up use notation. But it’s good to have both skills, plus the ability to memorize. I’ve worked on memorization and learning by ear quite a bit the past month. So much to learn!

                Thanks as always for the resources!

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