Blues Bluegrass and Beyond

Blues Bluegrass and Beyond

Saturday, April 20, 2013

St. James Infirmary Blues on Piano

Sheet Music. Photo Original 

     Another mournful folk song similar to The House of the Rising Sun would be St. James Infirmary Blues. St. James Infirmary is another sad song depicting a drunken gambler who is forlorn due to the loss of the woman he loved in a hospital named St. James. Much like The House of the Rising Sun, St. James Infirmary Blues is the product of an 18th century English folk-song, possibly a Joe Primrose. The original version of this song was named The Unfortunate Rake, and occasionally, The Unfortunate Lad, and The Young Man Cut Down in his Prime. The early rendition of this tune discussed the life of an English soldier who frittered his money away on alcohol and prostitutes. The song ends when the soldier dies due to complications of a venereal disease. When the song migrated to America, the tune instead dealt with the loss of a significant other or one's own struggle with gambling and alcohol addiction. Strangely, however, the song, St. James Infirmary Blues was named after an English leprosy hospital in London that closed its doors in 1532. During the 1800's the song would be transcribed in different ways, played in major and minor keys, and even evolved into songs such a The Streets of Laredo.

                 Click here to listen to Louis Armstrong's version of St. James Infirmary Blues.

                 Click here to listen to Cab Calloway's version of St. James Infirmary Blues.

                 Click here to listen to Arlo Guthrie's version of St. James Infirmary Blues.

                 Click here to listen to Eric Clapton's version of St. James Infirmary Blues. 

                 Click here to listen to Joe Cocker's version of St. James Infirmary Blues.

                 Click here to listen to Doc Watson's version of St. James Infirmary Blues.

                 Click here to listen to Hugh Laurie's version of St. James Infirmary Blues. 

     Since 1900, the song has been recorded dozens of times by famous musicians. The song has also adapted a certain tonality that each musician tweaks and augments to fit their own style. The first known recording of St. James Infirmary Blues was by Louis Armstrong in 1928. Since then the song has been recorded by legends such as Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, Son House, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby,  Burl Ives, Hank Williams Junior, Jerry Lee Lewis, Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Eric Clapton, Doc Watson, Van Morrison, James Booker, Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker, Danny Barker, Jerry Reed, and many others. Recently, the song has been recorded by Hugh Laurie and in February of 2012 was played by Trombone Shorty, and Booker T. Jones as an instrumental version at the "Red, White, and Blue" concert at the White House in Washington D.C. Below, check out my piano version of this song and St. James Infirmary lyrics.

St. James Infirmary Blues Lyrics

It was down in Old Joe's barroom,
On the corner by the square,
Drinks were being served as usual,
And a goodly crowd was there.

When up steped old joe McGuinny
His eyes were bloodshot red,
As he poured himself more wiskey,
This is what he said:

I went down to the St. James Infirmary,
I saw my baby there,
Streched out on a cold white table,
So sweet, so cold, so fair.

So Let her go, let her go, God bless her,
Wherever she may be,
She may search this wide world over,
but she'll never find a sweet man like me.

There are sixteen cold black horses,
Hitched to her rubber tired hack,
There are seven women goin' to that graveyard,
and only six of 'em are coming back.

When I die, want you to dress me in straght laced shoes,
A box back coat and a Stetson hat,
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain,
So the boys know I died standin' pat.

I want six crap-shooters for my pall bearers,
And a chorus girl to sing me a song,
Put a jazz band on my hearse wagon,
Just to raise hell as we roll along.

Now that you'v heard my story,
pour me one more shot of booze,
And if anyone comes askin' about me,
Tell 'em I got, Saint James Infirmary blues.


The House of the Rising Sun - A Stride and Swing Blues Piano Version

Piano Keys with Metronome and A-Style Mandolin. Photo Original

     Today, I would like to share my stride and swing/blues version of The House of the Rising Sun with the world. Stride and Swing is one of my favorite genres of music to play on piano. Stride and swing is a type of early jazz. It was the next generational step of the ragtime genre hailing from the early 20th century. Unlike ragtime however, stride and swing was heavily influenced by blues roots and gospel. During the 1920's and 1930's, stride and swing was at its height in popularity in the growing cities of New York and Chicago. This style of music developed in traditionally black areas such as Harlem, New York. During the Harlem Renaissance, legendary pianists such James P. Johnson, Thomas "Fats" Waller, and Art Tatum, to name just a few, developed the stride and swing genre from blues, ragtime, and their own musical acumen. These musicians integrated with other legends of the time such as Bessie Smith, "Dizzy" Gillespie, and Cab Calloway. The genre of Stride and Swing later led to the Big Band music of the 1940's, and served as an inspiration to many future pianists such as Little Richard, Ray Charles, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Eventually, stride and swing would also serve as a forerunner to Boogie Woogie and modern 4-beat jazz.

                Click here To check out a book that teaches stride and swing playing styles. 

Piano Keys. Photo Original. 

     Stride and swing, like its earlier relative, ragtime, is rhythmic, percussive, and usually features a driving beat. Stride and swing left-hand accompaniments usually incorporate a single bass note, or bass octave or tenth, followed by a chord, while the right hand plays syncopated melody lines with blues based embellishments, fill patterns, and riffs. Much of Stride and swing isn't written in sheet music. Stride and swing pianists often would play popular music in stride style. Sadly, since many of these pianists would improvise when playing, sheet music for their songs has never been transcribed.

     Lately, as I had mentioned above, I crafted my own stride and swing rendition of The House of the Rising Sun. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this song is probably over 200 years old. Originating from 16th century England, the song has notoriously told the story of a destitute woman. Other versions of the song depict a brothel to which there is no escape. The song was revamped in the early 20th century in the southeastern United States, now featuring a new setting in New Orleans. The song has been played and recorded by blues, bluegrass, rock n'roll, country, jazz, and metal artists alike. Therefore I decided to share my stride and swing  version of the famous tune on this site. Check out the video and sheet music I have posted below.

Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 1.
Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 2.

Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 3.

Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 4.
Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 5.
Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 6.
Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 7.

Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 8.
Tom Kostelac's original version of the House of the Rising Sun. Copyright 2013. Page 9.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fishman Loudbox Artist Acoustic Amplifier Review

                                            Click here to visit Fishman's website.

     Acoustic instrument amplifiers are a breed apart in comparison with their cousins designed to amplify electric instruments. Today, I want to discuss the Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic amplifier, but before I do, let's learn a little about amplifiers in general.
The Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic amplifier. Photo Original. 
      Learning about amplifiers can be a complicated business. There are countless different types of amplifiers, and the list of differences between them could stretch on indefinitely. For the sake of attempting to keep this site interesting, we will only discuss the differences between amplifiers designed for musical instruments. Amplifiers were first used to increase the decibel level of music in concert halls. Since concert halls were large drafty facilities, amplifiers helped to spread the music onstage all throughout the facility. Until the 1990's, amplifiers functioned using horn-loaded bass bins. As the new millennium approached, amplifiers were manufactured to include sub-woofers for main sound projection. Today amplifiers could be broken down into a few categories:

                       Click here to check out the Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic amplifier.
  • Standard Amps- Standard amplifiers such as the Fender "tweed" style and Gibson amps can include tube amplifiers and built-in reverb and vibrato units. These type of amplifiers were created during the 1940's and were used with much success throughout the 1950's and 1960's. Today, these amplifiers are the perfect choice for blues and slide guitarists, country musicians, soft rock artists, and Rockabilly musicians. This amplifier is also perfect for harmonica players, traditional rock musicians, and anyone who wants to create a classic or 1950's sound. 
  • A Gibson Combo Amplifier. Courtesy of                                         
  • Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Amplifiers- Hard rock and heavy metal amplifiers are designed for, as the title suggests, hard rock and heavy metal music. These amplifiers can also be useful to Southern Rock musicians. Featuring either tube amplifiers or transistor amplifiers these amplifiers are powerhouses for gain, distortion, and loud noise effects. These amplifiers can be kept in cabinets, and have been used by famous musicians such as Jimi Hendrix. One of the main producers of hard rock and heavy metal amplifiers is Marshall.
A Mesa-Boogie Mark IV Amplifier. Courtesy of
  • Bass Amplifiers- Bass amplifiers are designed for bass guitars and upright basses. Typically, these amplifiers include 12 or 18 inch speakers, and may produce pitches of 40 Hz. Larger and more powerful bass amplifiers of 300 or more watts often are provided with external metal heat sinks and fans to keep the amplifier cool. 
An "Orange" Brand Bass Speaker Cabinet. Courtesy of
  • Acoustic Amplifiers- Acoustic amplifiers are best suited to folk, bluegrass, and acoustic genres of music. Theses amplifiers are usually used in conjunction with acoustic/electric guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, accordions, and other acoustic instruments. A hefty power supply of 100 or more watts helps these amplifiers create a "clean" sound. Normally built using class D amplifiers, these amps typically aim for a flat response. Modern acoustic amplifiers also feature anti-feedback, reverberate, and compression devices. The flat response rate of acoustic amplifiers is what really sets it apart from its electric cousins. 
A Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic amplifier. Courtesy of 
     The Fishman Loudbox Artist Acoustic amplifier is a fantastic addition to Fishman's line of acoustic amplifiers. At 120 watts, this amplifier is much more powerful than the Loudbox 100. This amp also features anti-feedback and tone fighting controls that help bring out the best sounds in a musician's instrument. One of my favorite features involves the Artist's bi-amplified controls. This amp features two channels that can allow for two musicians to plug into one amplifier. Also, a musician could plug an instrument into one channel and a microphone into the other. This dual purpose amplifier allows for a musician to travel light and carry only one amplifier. At 25 lbs, this amp is also capable of producing quality echo, reverb, gain, and distortion effects. The Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic amplifer can even be used with solely electric instruments and still sound professional. This amplifier is perfect for the performing artist and the novice musician at home. After buying one last week, I can honestly say I am more than satisfied with my purchase. Check out the photos and video below! 
Front Control Panel of Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic ampilifier. Photo Original.

Rear Plug-In Panel of the Fishman Loudbox Artist acoustic amplifier. Photo Original. 


Sunday, April 14, 2013

1936 National Resonator Guitar at Guitar Center and a Brief History of Resonator Guitars

At the Guitar Center in Robinson Township Pennsylvania playing the 1936 National resonator guitar with a glass bottleneck slide. Photo original.

     Recently I have been rekindling my appreciation for resonator guitars. Upon coming across a 1936 National Duolian resonator guitar at Guitar Center, my interest had become sparked once again in resonator instruments. However, before I tell you about my experience, let me give you a brief history of resophonic guitars.

Modern Dean metal-bodied acoustic-electric resonator guitar featuring a biscuit resonator pot and a piezo 'lipstick' pickup. Picture original.

     Resonator guitars were originally created in an effort to amplify an acoustic guitar's natural sound before electric guitars were invented. During the early 20th century, acoustic guitars were used in antiquated dance orchestras and brass bands. However, the wind instruments would drown out the sound of the acoustic guitars. In 1927, Slovak luthier, John Dopyera was confronted by a guitarist known as George Beauchamp with a request for a guitar loud enough to play alongside brass and wind instruments. Dopyera and Beauchamp together formed the legendary National String Instrument Corporation in 1927. The first guitars the company produced featured metal bodies and tricone resonators. Tricone resonators consist of three conical aluminum resonators joined by a T-shaped aluminum bar that supports the bridge. In 1928, John Dopyera left National, and started Dobro Manufacturing Company, and began producing resonator guitars called Dobros. In his native tongue of Slovakian, Dobro means "goodness". However, instead of using tricone resonators in his guitars, Dopyera employed a concave resonator known as the 8-leg aluminium spider, which created more sound amplification than National's tricone; could be used in both metal and wood bodies, and proved cheaper to produce. Until the 1940's resonator guitars gained expanding acclaim as other noteworthy companies such as Gibson, Hound Dog, and Regal produced competing models. 

                                             Click here to visit National's website. 

John Dopyera holding a resophonic violin. Picture courtesy of

    Resonator guitars proved to be the perfect instrument for those seeking to play 'Hawaiian' and 'Island' music. During the late 1920's and early 1930's the popularity of Hawaiian music played with a steel or slide on a resonator guitar became a fad.  As a result, many companies began to engrave island scenes on their metal-bodied guitars. However, the fad soon disappeared leaving an abundance of resonator guitars for sell at cut rate prices. Due to availability and price of these instruments, they became a favorite for country blues artists in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Blues musicians and legends such as Robert Johnson, Son House, Fred McDowell, and Tampa Red developed new styles of guitar playing using bottleneck glass slides made from wine bottles, brass slides, and resonator guitars. The genre of music they created is known as Delta Blues and Country Blues. These musicians along with resonator guitars laid the foundations of blues, which would later inspire famous names in music such as Eric Clapton and The Rolling StonesLook below for a video sample of Delta Blues.
Legendary Blues musician, Son House. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Folk Ways.

     Resonator guitars also found a home in Bluegrass music. While the blues-men of the Southeastern United States used mostly round-necked, metal bodied instruments with tricone and biscuit resonators, Bluegrass 'Dobroists' preferred wooden, square necked instruments boasting aluminum spider resonators. The instrument's square neck allowed for the string action to be higher, or in other terms the strings were raised farther off the fret-board.  This allowed a musician to use a metal bar called a steel to play the instrument. Josh Graves introduced the resonator guitar into bluegrass by playing his instrument alongside Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Graves developed a system of finger-picking using 3 fingers that emulated Scruggs's banjo picking style. Other artists such as Jerry Douglas incorporated hard driving rhythms using resonator guitars. Today, the resonator guitar is still a staple of bluegrass music. Look below for a video by Dobro instructor, Troy Brenningmeyer, to hear Josh Graves famous Foggy Mountain Rock.  
The Father of Bluegrass Dobro, Josh Graves. Picture courtesy of

     As World War II ravaged the world, the American government required National, Dobro, and other companies to end production of their resonator guitars, and instead use their metal in the war effort. When production resumed after the war, the craze of electric guitar ended the popularity of resonator guitars. Postwar resonator guitars were built with thinner resonators and lesser woods, than their prewar cousins. This created a market for prewar instruments and made them more valuable. 
Modern Regal Bluegrass Dobro. This instrument features an 8-leg aluminum spider resonator. Photo original.

     Recently, Guitar Center has been getting into the market of vintage instruments. The last time I was strolling about the display of acoustic guitars at Guitar Center, as I had mentioned, I came across a 1936 National Duolian steel-bodied, 14 fret, resonator guitar. While the instrument's neck had a few scrapes, this instrument was a gem worth every penny of its $4,000 price tag. The guitar was adorned with an engraved island scene on its brushed steel body. I asked a salesman at the store to remove the instrument from its case so I could try the instrument out for myself. Unfortunately, the clerk left before I had an opportunity to ask him to tune the instrument (I was squeamish to tune it to open G or Vestapol myself, lest the rusty old strings would break). However, even with strings in need of replacement, one could easily tell the superiority of this instrument against that of newer resonator guitars. Its heavier body, thicker neck, and fuller tone boasted of a bygone era. For just a moment, I had the opportunity to hold a piece of history in my hands.

                                 Click here to learn more about vintage National guitars.
1936 National Steel-Bodied Duolian 14 Fret Resonator Guitar.  Photo Courtesy of

At the Guitar Center in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania playing the antique resonator guitar with a glass bottleneck slide. Photo original.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Kingston Trio

     I must admit, this was a rather unpleasant week. This week I had knee surgery to remove a cyst that was slowly crawling its way toward my kneecap. Medical procedures are my downfall, and I delay them until I must handle the offending issue. Well, I have been putting off the removal of this cyst for about six years now, and after much convincing from family and friends, I finally conceded and scheduled an appointment to have the cyst removed. As normal, I crept into the operating room waiting for someone to appear to examine my leg. A friendly doctor burst into the room alongside a nurse to begin the procedure. Unfortunately, I become panicked when I know a scalpel is slicing my leg like melted butter. So, as I was lying there pouring sweat, the doctor and nurse took pity on me, and struck up a conversation.

                                              Click here to learn about The Kingston Trio 
     Time flew as we talked, and soon the procedure was over. Meanwhile, however, I learned a few interesting things. The nurse who had been assisting me is a relative to a member in the American folk group, The Kingston Trio.  When I came home, I looked The Kingston Trio up on the internet, and learned that they were a folk group popular during the late 1950's and 1960's. Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds formed The Kingston Trio in 1957, however, they had been friends since their youth. Many of their songs included arrangements of public domain folk music. Some of their songs were created using a 5-string, Pete Seeger, long-neck, open-back banjo, a Martin acoustic guitar, and occasionally, even a ukulele. These pioneers in folk music opened a new genre of music that would be further popularized by Peter,Paul,and Mary, Fleetwood Mac, and The Letterman. During The Kingston Trio's peak years, they  recorded the song, Tom Dooley, which would sell over three-million copies. The Kingston Trio also reached Billboard's Top 100, fourteen of which ranked in the top 10, and five of which took the number 1 spot. Since the band's creation, they have also won a Grammy Award. While their initial fame may have ebbed by the mid-1960's, the group has continued to progress, and today has new members playing the original music of The Kingston Trio. I guess operating rooms aren't all that bad. 
Long Play Collection: Six Huge-Selling Albums
The Kingston Trio, Thanks for visiting Blues Bluegrass and Beyond! Image courtesy of
                                            Click here to visit The Kingston Trio's Website 

Below are two of The Kingston Trio's more famous songs; Tom Dooley, and Greenback Dollar. 

                                                                         Tom Dooley 

                                                                    Greenback Dollar 

Images courtesy of; videos courtesy of YouTube. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bluegrass Piano - Ghost Riders in the Sky

     Welcome back to Blues, Bluegrass and Beyond! Today I want to talk about playing bluegrass music on piano, and in particular, examining the country song, Ghost Riders in the Sky.
Bluegrass Piano. Thank you for visiting Blues, Bluegrass, and Beyond. Photo original
     The piano is an instrument that is not very adaptable to bluegrass music. Also, due to a keyboard’s sheer bulk and size, usage of a piano or keyboard in a bluegrass band is very sparse. However, it is not impossible to play bluegrass music on piano. I have personally found that the most effective way of playing quality bluegrass on piano, is to mimic 3-finger banjo picking styles. However, playing banjo roll patterns on a keyboard can be a daunting task. For instance, while playing a G-Major forward-roll pattern on banjo would only involve some basic 3-finger picking skills, and literally no movement on the fret board, (unless a musician is attempting to play different chords or a G-Major progression) playing the identical tune on piano would require a musician to strike keys nearly an octave (8 keys) or more apart in rapid an precise procession. It had never occurred to me to attempt playing bluegrass music on piano until a few years after I began learning banjo. Then, one day, it struck me! I could apply roll patterns to simple songs, and even syncopate them to achieve a bluegrass piano sound. So, as time passed I arranged numerous bluegrass songs for the piano keyboard. Among them are, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Cabin in Caroline, Clinch Mountain Backstep, Man of Constant Sorrow, The Ballad of Jed Clampett, and Ghost Riders in the Sky. I had never written the notation to any of my arrangements until recently. The first arrangement I have completed is for Ghost Riders in the Sky. I arranged the song using Noteflight.
Bluegrass Piano. Thank you for visiting Blues, Bluegrass, and Beyond. Photo original

     The song, Ghost Riders in the Sky was written in 1948 by Stan Jones, a forest ranger and technical advisor for Columbia Pictures. Jones hoped the song would be used in Western movies of the time, however, the song was turned down, claiming it sounded like a funeral dirge, or a version of When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Stan Jones recorded the song himself in 1949, and it became a #1 hit for Vaughn Monroe. Other famous musicians and bands such as Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Scatman Crothers, Gene Autry, Frankie Lane, Sons of Pioneers, Johnny Cash, Riders in the Sky, and Bluegrass Country Gentlemen, has all arranged and performed versions of the song. The song was later performed in the movie, The Blues Brothers 2000.
     Recently, I have been dabbling in other forms of bluegrass piano, such as employing mandolin techniques to piano songs. I am also eager to return to the topic of bluegrass piano, and am looking forward to posting more arrangements of bluegrass songs on piano. In Addition, I am considering creating a bluegrass piano video and text instructional series in the near future. Thanks for visiting Blues, Bluegrass, and Beyond, and come back soon!
                                                 Look below for my video. 
Also, Check out my sheet music arrangement of Ghost Riders in the Sky below.

    All photos, videos, and sheet music are origina

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tuning Up for Your Jam or Gig

     Howdy! Welcome to Blues, Bluegrass, and Beyond! Today I want to talk about chromatic tuners. Any professional or novice blues or bluegrass musician needs a tightly tuned instrument. In fact, no matter what genre of music one plays, and no matter the instrument, a tight tune must be achieved in order to sound good. Even professional musicians need tightly tuned instruments in order to produce their best music.
     While the tuner market is flooded with an army of smartphone apps that claim to assist you in tuning your instrument, there is no exception for the traditional chromatic tuner. A chromatic tuner is a device used by musicians to detect and display the pitch of notes played on musical instruments. Usually these tuners allow all 12 notes of the scale to be tuned. This feature is especially useful if one is trying to achieve an obscure tuning to play a certain song. I have owned a plethora of chromatic tuners, but my personal two favorites are the BOSS TU-12 Digital Processing Chromatic Tuner, and the SNARK Clip-On Guitar Tuner. Therefore, let me first introduce you to the TU-12.

Thank you for visiting Blues Bluegrass and Beyond! Photo obtained from . 

     The TU-12 is loaded with various features. This chromatic tuner is capable of tuning a wide range of instruments. Whether you play guitar, banjo, trumpet, or accordion, this tuner can handle the wide range of tones effectively. The TU-12 sits snuggly in a black leather case with open areas to allow for tuning through a condenser microphone, and a variety of other tasks, without ever removing the tuner from its case. Unlike many chromatic tuners, the Tu-12 features input and output ports. This allows a user to plug electric instruments into the input port, and plug an amplifier into the output port. Therefore, the tuner could easily distinguish different tones through the electric instrument’s pickups, and a musician would hear the note as it emanates from the amplifier. The tuner also contains an ac/dc power adapter to allow for use through an electrical outlet, or a user can operate the tuner via a 9volt battery. The TU-12 also features a condenser microphone to pick up acoustic tones from a wide range of instruments. Other features include special settings for use with a guitar or bass guitar, in order to tune these instruments to their respective standard tunings. While this is a great tuner, I believe that it does have a couple drawbacks. First, the tuner is very bulky, and will require a sizeable amount of space in an instrument case. Secondly, it can be difficult to use in a loud room due to noise interference. Third, this tuner offers so many options, that it can occasionally be confusing to use in a hurry. Lastly, this tuner does not feature any LED lighting, making the tuner difficult to read in a dark venue. The TU-12 retails from anywhere from $72-$100 depending on the vendor.

Thank you for visiting Blues Bluegrass and Beyond! Photo is original .

Here are some of the Boss TU-12 Digital Processing Chromatic Tuner features:

  • Sharp/flat LED indicators, tuning meter for precise information
  • Adjustable standard pitch from 440 to 445Hz in 1Hz increments
  • Switchable between Guitar/Bass and Automatic Chromatic tuning
  • Built-in condenser microphone for acoustic instrument tuning

Thank you for visiting Blues Bluegrass and Beyond! Photo is original .

     While the TU-12 is a fantastic chromatic tuner, my personal favorite chromatic tuner is the SNARK Clip-On Guitar Tuner. This tuner is fantastic! However, this tuner is limited for use with stringed instruments. It can successfully tune instruments ranging from guitars, to banjos, to mandolins, to basses, to bouzoukis! This handy tuners is great for busy musicians specializing in music ranging from a variety of genres, including blues, to bluegrass, to rock n’ roll, to classical.  The SNARK chromatic tuner is a small simple tuner that provides easy usage. Basically, the soft but strong rubber clips of the tuner clamp safely to the headstock of your instrument without damaging your instrument’s finish. The bright, large, full-color display is easy to read quickly, even in the darkest of rooms. The SNARK tuner’s display screen is connected to an adjustable neck, which allows for full 360 degree movement. This handy tuner also features a transposing tool. This allows players to tune their instruments normally without ever removing their capos. Lastly, this tuner features a metronome device to aid musicians in keeping time. I have used this tuner for years on a variety of instruments, and at a variety of locations, and still have no complaints. My favorite features in the SNARK are its ease of use, and its ability to live on the headstock of my instruments without causing damage. Also, this tuner works incredibly well in a loud room since it relies upon vibration from your instrument to distinguish a tone. This tuner ranges from $15-$30 depending on the vendor.

Thank you for visiting Blues Bluegrass and Beyond! Photo obtained from .

Here are some of the SNARK Clip-On Guitar Tuner features:

  • Full color display
  • Place anywhere on front or back of headstock (no dead spots!)
  • Display rotates 360 degrees (works for right or left handed players)
  • “Stay Put” clip
  • Tap Tempo Metronome
  • Capo compensating “Flat Tuning”
  • Pitch calibration (415-466 Hz)

Thank you for visiting Blues Bluegrass and Beyond! Photo is original .

Good luck in picking which chromatic tuner is right for you! Thanks for visiting Blues, Bluegrass, and Beyond, and come back soon! 

Photos are original and retrieved from