The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music


i'm not sure if this is the right place for this, but I want to say thanks for your hard work in helping folks learn to love bluegrass music. I'm seventy years old, and in the last year I discovered how much talent there is out there in California, and I have come to appreciate my Granddad, who was a left-handed fiddler down here in East Texas. I wish i had listened to him more!

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Well, I have learned three chords on the mandolin. My goodness, but those frets are close together! And has anybody else noticed that 70-year old fingers don't wiggle very well?


Which chords did you learn ?
Is there a particular song you're learning ?
I'm learning Fireball mail. It's only 2 chords but it's fast. Practicing it in the key of A. So the chords are Just A & E. Building speed a little at a time.


I learned G, C, and D. So far, I'm practicing Shady Grove. It's odd, because I think I hear some chord changes, but when I watch the videos, it seems to stay in G. Maybe when I get farther along, I'll get it. One limit I have is, almost all my musical interest has lain in C&W, especially Johnny Rodriguez, Porter'n Dolly, some Buck Owens, and like that. So i don't know the lyrics to a lot of bluegrass songs. I'll try to find “Fireball” somewhere and give it a listen. Thanks!


Roy Acuff playing Fireball Mail is a good version because its lead is a dobro and it is not dominated by banjo… can clearly hear the mandolin.

cheers !

Edited Sep 18, 2017 by Marianne Moore

Hi David, Have you been to our song section?

You are right. Shady Grove does have chord changes but we keep it to 1 at the very beginning. Here are the changes. If you're playing in the key of G, your 1 chord is a G and the 5 is a D.

1Shady Grove, my little love
Shady Grove, my darlin'
Shady Grove, my little love
5 Goin' back to 1 Harlen

Best wishes! Leslie

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