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Clinch Mountain Backstep

I’ve been playing some of those dark “modal” tunes lately. Here’s one, called The Clinch Mountain Backstep. I believe this one comes to us from the late great Ralph Stanley, who played it with bluegrass picks rather than clawhammer (although he was a mighty clawhammer player too). Most people play this one in a tuning called Sawmill. It differs from standard G tuning in that the 2nd string is sharpened up a half-step.

This tune is so much fun to play! At some point I was playing it out on the porch and I started putting in that vibrato note at the start of the B part. It just feels right so I play it that way all the time now.

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