Chris Eldridge

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Whiskey Before Breakfast

Basic Version

Chris Eldridge Lesson >

Whiskey Before Breakfast > Basic Version

This week we're going to jump into one of my favorite fiddle tunes, Whiskey Before Breakfast. Every flatpicker of note has played this tune, and for good reason - it's one of the best. Julian Lage and I recorded a freewheeling version of it on our record Avalon. This first week I'm teaching a fairly basic version of the tune. We will look at some thematic embellishments that are possible in the following weeks.





Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Julian Lage
Whiskey Before Breakfast
Chris Eldridge

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Whiskey Before Breakfast


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 2:49 Introduction to Whiskey Before Breakfast

Loop 3:43 Breakdown of Whiskey Before Breakfast

Loop 18:43 Closing Thoughts and Outro





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Mike May 19, 2019

Is the underside of your thumb* touching or grazing the bridge pins or E, A, or D strings while you play the G string?

*indicated in the diagram below by the term Thenor:

Image result for palmar thumb anatomy hand

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 19, 2019

Yes, it is!

Mike Widman
Mike Widman Jul 05, 2018

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 07, 2018

Mike, this looks way better to me! Your hand actually looks a lot like Michael Daves’ now, which is good because Michael’s technique really allows him to leverage the weight of his hand to drive through the strings. Another thing you might want to play with is loosening/opening up the non-pickholding fingers on your right hand. Bryan Sutton got me to do that once years ago and it was really interesting how it had the effect of loosening my entire forearm. 

Also, as promised, here is a video of me accelerating from playing a single open string slowly to going as fast as I can. The whole time I am trying to be very mindful of tension in my arm. I felt it creeping in in my shoulder, elbow and back at various points. You can see me shifting my shoulder around to try and let it go. Mostly I was just trying to maintain a calm feeling as I was pushing against my physical limits. 


Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jul 07, 2018

Mike and Chris -

I think this single note picking advice on a G string is one of the most important lessons I have ever recieved during this journey. I spend at least 5 to 10 minutes everyday during the course of my practice to warm up in the beginning and cool down at the end. Although I won't be playing as fast as you are anytime soon ... I play tempos at interval of 5 bpm ranging from 75 to 95 spending about a minute or so at each. I've found some days are better than others but the mindfulness aspect is always helpful to stay loose and relaxed. Accuracy is also a by product but secondary to form and technique. Thank you!

Mike Widman
Mike Widman Jun 24, 2018


Despite how stiff my technique looks I've been working towards loosening things up. I'm getting similar feedback from MD and others with which I've worked. As for your suggestion of 16th notes on a single string slowly and loosely and gradually speed up while sustaining loose mechanics... this is something I need to see to absorb and then go ahead and put in practice time on it.  Also playing the melody overly loose while not being afraid to engage surrounding strings sloppily is great tip and I will practice it.  I watched the Gold Rush video but aside from stressing downstrokes on strong beats and upstrokes on weak beats' I'm not sure what you're pointing at?



Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 25, 2018

Hi Mike,

Sorry, I don’t think I was clear about the Gold Rush lesson. I actually was referring to the discussion in the comments section rather than the video itself. My apologies!

I’m traveling now but I’ll make a video of the single string exercise when I get home to show you what I mean. 


Mike Widman
Mike Widman Jun 16, 2018

Hey Chris,

I'm interested in your feedback on right-hand technique,


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 20, 2018

Hi Mike, 

First of all, cool musical ideas throughout! Bravo on that front. 

Re technique, your whole mechanism looks pretty stiff to me, and it seems to get stiffer as the tune goes on. In particular, when you're playing the melody, by the time you get to the B part your wrist looks like it's pretty locked. When you switch to rhythm you loosen your wrist and it looks much more comfortable. 

I'll give you an exercise that I gave to Torgier to help practicing loseness when playing single notes: on one string, start out playing SLOW up and down 16th notes. You can just play an open string. Gradually speed up and keep going until you are playing fast and keep going and going until you are playing as fast as you can. While you’re doing this maintain the sense of mindfulness. You don’t have to worry about sounding or even being musical. Just try to stay relaxed and probe at what it feels like to push your limits. What I hope will happen is that your technique/body will ”do what needs to be done” to try and accommodate this physical exploration. Your forearm might be free to move a little more, your wrist might feel different and out of control. Just be open to it all and try to notice what’s happening without trying to control any of it. You might also try playing the tune with a comically loose wrist. Make it sloppy. You've got a free pass to do so. But feel what it feels like for your wrist to move when you're playing single notes. Cultivate that feeling. In time with mindful practice your body will sort out the details of "cleaning up" your right hand performance.

There was a great discussion about this particular topic in the Gold Rush A Melody lesson that you might be interested in reading through:



Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Aug 24, 2016

Chris - Thanks for the thumbs up. Yes ... tension is my middle name and I will continue to work on loosening the right hand, arm, and wrist. I have also been working on developing more of a floating right hand, a.k.a. removing right hand from bridge with varying degrees of success. I want to have solid technique but that is something one really has to work at ... as with any craft. I'm looking forward to the next lesson in this series with hopes that someday you will show us Ginseng Sullivan. It's another new favorite of mine from Norman Blake and another that you guys did a fine rendition of on Avalon.

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Aug 23, 2016

When I decided to join Sonic Junction I couldn't pick a lick. Over the past however many months I've become a big fan of this kind of music and of Chris Eldridge. I certainly can't play as well as I wish I could but I can play a little and I'm motivated to get better and work on problem areas like timing and speed. I like this song and I love the way you all played it on Avalon. So, here I am posting again while I continue to work on Five Pound Hammer and Church Street Blues so on and so forth.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Aug 24, 2016

Nailed it! GREAT job, Kip! My main piece of advice is to try and let your right hand and arm FLOW a bit more. I actually really like the way that you are articulating the melody, but for practice's sake, try keeping your right hand/arm/wrist really loose and relaxed. This will probably even out the way you are playing the melody, which will probably make it sound a little less interesting in the short term, but I want you to try that in pursuit of bettering your technique (which you can then use in service of your cool articulations/dynamics). 

Roy Cotton
Roy Cotton Aug 21, 2016

Chris , I signed up at Sonic Junction for and waited for Church Street Blues, after I saw you on the tribute play through on the Bourgeois on youtube. And about that song i just say, wow, both your play through and your lessons on Sonic. I had planned to pay only for that one song lesson month , but after several months now  you just keep putting them out there. I have been taking blue grass lessons in Austin, Tx from Eddie Collins for 5 years and have come a long way with Eddie , to get to where i will even attempt something like Church Street Blues. But after working on your versions of several other songs on Sonic , I feel like I have a second instructor, and am working on Whiskey and Wildwood and others now as well.You make it look so easy, with so many cool things you add to all  these numbers,  keep up the great work. Roy 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Aug 21, 2016

Thanks so much Roy! Glad you're enjoying them!

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