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  3. Leather Britches

Leather Britches banjo tabs

  • Tablatures

    Scruggs Style


    A simple arrangement of leather britches reminiscent of the B section to Cumberland Gap.

  • Melodic Style


    A really fun and involved version of Leather Britches as played by Scott Vestal on the "Ultimate Pickin'" record.

  • Backup Style


    Lots of open G rolling in this one, and it's a great example of how to play behind a fiddle player. Leather Britches is commonly played as a fiddle/banjo duet.


More about Leather Britches

The term may apply to' leather breeches,' a word for green (snap) beans dried in the pod and then fried in some sections of the American South and West. Sometimes the beans would be stabbed together with a needle and thread and hanged to dry where they would last the winter (but they would have to be washed before cooking to re-hydrate them). Or the name may apply to real leather shoes, and it has been pointed out that performing the melody on the fiddle requires bowing in a gesture that has been related to stitching motions with a needle and thread. Professor Samuel Bayard states that the song is derived from or connected to an Irish air named "Breeches On (The)" and "Irish Lad (The)" and a common Scottish reel generally called "Lord MacDonald (4)/McDonald's Reel." In particular, the order of the pieces is changed from the' MacDonald' theme. Paul Gifford claims that the first print version of "Leather Breeches" occurs in numerical tablature in Music for the Piano Dulcimer by Robert J. Rudisill (born in 1804, a farmer from Ralls County, Missouri.), written in 1859 by Stedman (New York) & Milton (Kentucky), distributed by L.S. & H. Wade. Apparently the volume was written to complement the dulcimers created by the Wades in Chautauqua County, New York, says Paul. Gifford remarks (in Fiddle-L, 2013), that "Leather Breeches," "is in A Tour Through Indiana in 1840: The Diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia (NY: Robert M. McBride & Co., 1920, now at the University of Pittsburgh Library), p. 227, where he wrote:"

Here are 3 killer arrangements of Leather Britches for you to share with friends at your next jam. The Scruggs style arrangement will get you started learning slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs. Once you’re feeling confident with that try your luck with the Melodic style solo, which will teach you how to play the melody for Leather Britches using up the neck scales. Finally, the Backup arrangement will show you how to play this song with others and sound like a pro doing it.

Each Tunefox arrangement teaches you how to create your own solos by using a feature called the Lick Switcher. The Lick Switcher features different style licks such as Scruggs, Melodic, or Bluesy and you can swap out measures in Leather Britches to learn about improvisation and creating arrangements. To use the Lick Switcher, click on the text "Original Measure" above certain measures in the song. Then select the lick you'd like to insert into the song. You can also click on "Shuffle Licks" at the bottom of the page to see a fully new version of the tablature.

There are a number of fantastic learning tools in Tunefox to help you memorize, learn by ear, and improve your speed. These special features are found in the "Tools" menu at the bottom right of your screen. The "Hide Notes" tool will hide a number of the notes in the tab so you can use your ears to learn parts of the melody of the Leather Britches . Next, try out the "Memory Train" tool, which will hide more and more notes each time the song or measure loops. This will help get you off of the tab you’ve been working with so you can play it by memory. The "Speed Up" feature gradually speeds up the song so you can hone your technique and challenge yourself to go faster.

Using backing tracks for practice should be an essential part of every musician’s routine. With Tunefox, you can practice Leather Britches as fast or as slow as you want and mix the volume of the tracks with the instrument to your liking. There’s also a metronome so you can always feel the pulse of the song with or without the band track playing along.

Members can export their arrangements into PDF, allowing them to print and bring them to their next jam session.