So i've posted an online guitar lesson on Done Gone based on the playing of Norman Blake, and I wanted to take a minute to talk about picking fiddle tunes on the guitar. I've posted several clips of guitar players and fiddlers playing Done GOne, and you might notice that the tunes are somewhat different. In fact, Norman Blake's version has sections that sound almost unrelated to the fiddle version. Of course, some of this has to do with the divergence that Texas style fiddlers create when they develop their variations. First check out the version I taught --

And now listen to a performance by Norman Blake, performed here in combination with a vocal tune named "Randall Collins". Done Gone comes in at 2:25 --

Fiddle tunes are so fun for the guitar, and are kind of a niche specialty within the broader bluegrass guitar genre. It's not something you'll typically here in bluegrass shows, unless of course you're watching a Norman Blake, Doc Watson, or more recently Bryan Sutton, who all are famous enough to do solo shows where they can feature their picking. Generally guitar players just like to jam on them together. That's because fiddle tunes have a lot of single note patterns and arpeggios that are both challenging on the guitar and are very challenging to play cleanly. It's also a nice change from the more generic lick-based solos you hear guitar players take in standard bluegrass songs. However, guitar players do have to alter the tunes a little bit to make them fit on the guitar. They often have to omit many of the double stops (playing two notes at once on the fiddle) because it doesn't really lay well on the guitar, although many of the big sweeping chords still work. You also lose some of the expressiveness of the slides you can get on the fiddle. Guitar versions also tend to highlight the open strings when possible since that creates such a nice open ringing sound, as opposed to fiddle versions, which can vary those basic melody notes without losing as much tone or ringing. Check out some fiddle videos below to compare:

Here's old-timey fiddler Clayton McMichen playing Done Gone in the key of C. In his version you can hear some of those slides I was talking about, especially when he slides up to that high note. You'll notice that his version doesn't hit any minor chords in the B part, instead saving the minor chords exclusively for the 3rd section. He also goes pretty nuts in the 3rd section. --

Now compare that to Bubba Hopkins, playing in the more modern Texas style. You can hear a lot of melodic variation, playing "around" the simple melody notes. --

Oh yeah, and you can't forget Jimmy Don Bates, Texas fiddle master. Accompanying him on guitar is fellow Texas maestro Joey McKenzie.