Improvising fills

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    Nancy BitterNancy Bitter

    Hey guys. I am at a complete loss on how to improvise where there is a fill in for the fiddle. Every time I tried to do it with a YouTube song I sound way off. I know I’m supposed to improvise and play how I feel going to the note they’re supposedly going to but mine never sounds right. Any help appreciate it q


    Hi Nancy,

    I’m a little confused on what the problem is.

    Are you trying to copy the notes on the recording or improvising something of your own?

    There are an almost endless amount of possibilities, and without a concrete example it’s hard to give advice. I find the simplest licks to be the best when I don’t have anything worked out ahead of time. Much of the time I’ll stay right in the triad of the chord and maybe add some slides on the 3rds & 5ths.

    One question to ask yourself when filling in is “am I tagging what just happened or leading into the next phrase?” This can help with the construction of fills.

    I took a great class from Megan Lynch where she taught “the money lick”…it’s a very simple backup lick that has a ton of variations. You might try contacting her and purchasing the class…it’s not expensive and is a great starter course on playing backup…one of the very few I’ve found to be worthwhile.


    As Dave has suggested playing around the triad notes of the chord you’re in at the time, here’s some chord triads for various Bluegrass keys: (listed in tonic, subdominant and dominant order)

    Key of G: G B D, C E G, D F# A

    Key of A: A C# E, D F# A, E G# B

    Key of B: B D# F#, E G# B, F# A# C#

    Key of C: C E G, F A C, G B D

    Key of D: D F# A, G B D, A C# E

    Key of E: E G# B, A C# E, B D# F#

    Key of F: F A C, Bb D F, C E G

    Key of Bb: Bb D F, Eb G Bb, F A C



    I am trying to improve in this area as well.  I have also heard that playing the Pentatonic scale of the key of your tune is also a useful approach.   Please let us know how it turns out and what worked for you.  Thanks



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