The Instrument Builder's House
Original Tune by Butch Ross, for Mountain Dulcimer Players


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VideoAbout the Lessons

1. Demonstration Butch plays a spirited arrangement of his original tune.
2. Form of the Tune This song has 3 parts. To play it through completely, play A - B - C, A - B - C, A - B - C, and then part A one more time. The first time through Butch plays it low, the second time through he plays it high, and the third time through he moves back to low again.
3. A Part The A part features several hammer-ons and pull-offs. For a more in-depth explanation regarding this technique, check out our video on hammer-on and pull-off articulation, taught by Steve Eulberg.
4. Playing on the Middle String When the melody is on the middle string, it can be hard to bring that out. Butch explains that he angles the pick a bit and aims toward the bass string. The extra pressure being afforded the bass and middle string keeps that melody string from standing out.
5. B Part The B part walks down the bass line from G. Again, just like above, aim for the bass string. And then, in between the notes walking down the bass, Butch picks the melody string for added interest. For this section, Butch uses only "out" strums.
6. C Part The C section is just an A chord and a B minor chord, with a little melody thrown in under the chords, and then ending with an open G chord.
7. A Part Variation,
Higher Octave
One of the things Butch likes to do to keep an arrangement interesting is to move the melody to a higher register. In this video, he demonstrates how to move the A part up an octave.
8. B Part Variation,
Higher Octave
Instead of playing the same walk down the G string an octave higher. Butch plays a new variation much higher, frets 7 - 4 - 2 - 0, a big D major chord. A second harmony note can be added to this downward pattern.
9. C Part Variation,
Higher Octave
Again, Butch demonstrates how to take this section up one octave.
10. A Part, Variation 2
First Half
The third time through the tune, Butch changes the melody by introducing a minor tone. Because, in the recording, the guitar player is strumming a B minor chord, Butch just switches up a couple of notes to blend with the accompaniment.
11. A Part, Variation 2
Second Half
In this section, Butch plays the now familiar melody, but against a C chord and then a G chord.
12. B Part, Variation 2 Butch changes this section by playing the tune on the melody string, instread of the bass string, raising it one octave. In addition, he adds a minor harmony to the melody.
13. B Part, Variation 2

Butch is a master at adding variations each time he repeats a section. The melody stays intact, but he never repeats the arrangement.

You can think of his main melody (or theme) and all the variations like cupcakes. You start with a basic cupcake (the theme) and then add decorations on top (the variations). Some cupcakes might have frosting, some might have frosing and sprinkles, and some might have a creamy filling, but they are all still basically cupcakes. When all is said and done, it is the same A, B, and C sections being repeated 3 times.

14. Conclusion: Final A Part In this final section, Butch adds a harmonic at the 7th fret at the end of the first half. For additional help with harmonics, refer to our lesson by Nina Zanetti on harmonics.


  • Melody with Articulations
  • Melody Octave Higher
  • Melody with Chords

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