Welcome to Bill Nesbitt's
Little Rock Mandolin

Web site

I don't sell mandolins. But if you ever run across something called a "Little Rock Mandolin," you'll know I came up with the idea first, right here.

My name is Bill Nesbitt and I play and teach mandolin in Little Rock, Arkansas. I've played mandolin since 1979, mostly with a variety of bluegrass bands around Arkansas.

I teach mandolin lessons in my home studio here in central Little Rock. I also teach guitar and 5-string banjo. While the majority of my students at any given time are learning guitar, usually there will be eight or ten mandolin students on my schedule as well. I'd love to see more, because the mandolin is coming into its own as a more general purpose instrument, not as typecast as it used to be. For guitarists, it's a good second instrument to learn.

My main intention for this site, naturally, is to try to find some mandolin students in the Little Rock area. But I also want to make this a helpful site by posting some videos and tabs -- so far I've got a couple of pages of fiddle tunes and some bluegrass stuff -- generally trying to help cultivate in you the same love for mandolin that I've enjoyed for decades.

Ever since before I was born (that was 1958, for all of you noticing how youthful I look), there has been a mandolin in my house. My mom always had a good ear for picking up tunes, and occasionally would pick them on the old Kay mandolin my dad bought after the War. Some of my earliest memories are of watching her play some old standard note for note on that mandolin.

My dad always wanted me to learn to play. I learned a few chords along the way, but not much more. Once he offered me five dollars to work my way through the Nick Manoloff "mandolin method" book, but I, being the pig-headed youth I was, didn't bother.

Then, in 1979, he was gone. He left behind the Kay mandolin which I kept and started to learn to play, hoping that somehow my dad could hear me and forgive me for not taking him up on his offer.

New Videos:

"Over the Waterfall" (Easy) -- Download Tab

"Over the Waterfall" (Not Easy) -- Download Tab

"Cripple Creek" (Easy) -- Download Tab

"Cripple Creek" (Not Easy) -- Download Tab

After a few months I had learned some simple fiddle tunes and could get around them pretty well. I had heard a bit of Bill Monroe's playing on record and was impressed, but my favorite at the time had to be Sam Bush. His playing was fast, clean and had a bit of rock guitar influence that I could relate to. He and David Grisman were the big dogs on mandolin in the late 70's.

It was a few years later that I casually decided to pick up a few Monroe chops. Easy, right? I thought so until I sat down with the "Bluegrass Special." That was a 12-bar blues riff in A recorded in 1945 that featured Stringbean on banjo and Sally Ann Forrester on accordion. I tried to play along with old Bill (31 at the time), and even though I could learn the notes, I just couldn't make it sound the way he did. Such speed, power and expression — every downstroke dripping with old-time blues. Thus began my journey into the Bill Monroe sound that continues to this day.

A friend on campus told me of a band needing a mandolin player. Now, thirty years and several bands later, it's still as fun as it was the first day I learned a two-finger G chord. Like I said, I also play and teach guitar and banjo (as well as bluegrass upright bass, in case anyone's interested), but the mandolin has always been my "money" instrument. Of course, I use that term in a highly relative sense. If you hear me say I make hundreds of times more money playing mandolin than banjo, you'll know I'm talking about hundreds of dollars versus zero dollars, respectively.

"Silent Night" for mandolin — Download Tab >>

"Silent Night" for mandolin, in the key of G. Explained step by step and line by line with on-screen tabs. This fairly simple rendition should be easy to learn for anyone with some experience playing the mandolin.

"Silent Night" is one of the most beloved Christmas carols in the world, written in 1818 by Franz Gruber with lyrics by Joseph Mohr, for the church's Christmas service in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.

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