Rob MacKillop – Musician

WELCOME! There are many recordings and videos on this site, as well as a lot of information, so do take some time to have a browse around.
There are Blog Posts archived on the left, and specific Pages above.
I am happy to hear from you:


New Album!!

Just Out!!


Read all about it HERE


My latest Mel Bay publications have arrived!


Tunes from the beautiful 17th-century Scottish lute manuscripts. Very enjoyable to play, with a pick or with the fingers. Mostly standard tuning or Drop D.

“Many great Scottish traditional tunes can be traced back to 17th century lute music. In this collection, multi-instrumentalist Rob MacKillop has transcribed and arranged 25 popular tunes derived from various lute manuscripts. While idiomatic to the guitar, some of these arrangements include fast runs and chord changes best suited to the intermediate-level flatpicking guitarist.

This guitar collection consists of the same melodies in the same keys found in its mandolin counterpart, Tunes From 17th Century Scotland Arranged for Mandolin (Mel Bay Publications). In both books, suggested chords are provided wherever appropriate. Consequently, the settings work fine as either mandolin/violin and guitar duets, or as solos for either instrument.

Until now, most of these appealing dance tunes and airs have been unavailable as guitar arrangements. Except for two tunes in drop-D tuning, all others are in standard guitar tuning. With MacKillop’s spirited online recording, generous performance notes and standard notation and tablature for each selection, get ready to explore a wonderful new take on an old repertoire! Includes access to online audio.”


This book contains music from various countries (Scotland, Ireland, Italy, England) found in Scottish manuscripts and publications for the guitar in the 18th century. Some great repertoire here! From traditional music to Italian classical violin sonatas, all found in these forgotten manuscripts and publications.

“In this unique collection, multi-instrumentalist Rob MacKillop presents 30 airs and dances from Scotland, Ireland and England transcribed for the modern guitar in open-D tuning (DADF♯AD). Although conceived for fingerstyle playing, most of these traditional, Classical and Baroque pieces are also playable with a pick.

During the mid to late 18th century, a wire-strung instrument which could be described as a cross between a guitar and a cittern appeared in Britain. With the exception of the publications in Edinburgh by Robert Bremmer (c. 1713 – 89), most period writings refer to this instrument as the guittar. In providing extensive historical and performance notes on this music, the author has adopted this spelling. While derived principally from the publications by Scottish guittarists Robert Bremmer and James Oswald (1710 – 69), MacKillop discovered additional Scottish publications and manuscripts in The National Library of Scotland and even more manuscripts in the uncatalogued library of Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland.

Written in standard notation and tablature, this book brings a particularly uncommon repertoire to light with an exceptional downloadable recording. Includes access to online audio.”


Two volumes have been released as a follow-up to my Introduction To The Lute for Lute and Guitar Players, one in lute tab, the other in guitar tab. 80 pages of great lute music:

Renaissance Lute Repertoire-Guitar Tablature Edition can be viewed as either a supplement to the popular Introduction to the Lute: for Lute and Guitar Players or as a standalone edition of 16th-century lute tablatures. Play from beautifully-typeset scores, music by John Dowland, Francesco da Milano, Vincenzo Galilei (father of the famous astronomer) and many others, including vihuela composers Narváez and Milán. Together, this collection provides a beautiful and extensive overview of music for the renaissance lute.

This edition is in Guitar tablature. There is a separate edition in lute tablature, see below.

TUNING: To get Renaissance lute tuning on a guitar, all you need to do is tune the 3rd string, G, down one semitone to F♯. That’s it. Then just read the tab as normal.


Renaissance Lute Repertoire-Lute Tablature Edition can be viewed as either a supplement to the popular Introduction to the Lute: for Lute and Guitar Players or as a standalone edition of 16th-century lute tablatures newly-set in French lute tab. Play from beautifully-typeset scores, music by John Dowland, Francesco da Milano, Vicenzo Galilei (father of the famous astronomer), and many others, including vihuela composers, Narváez and Milán. Together, this collection provides in lute tablature a beautiful and extensive overview of music for the Renaissance lute.


24 Pieces for guitar (plectrum/pick – though fingerstyle/classical technique possible too) by Gilbert Isbin. Available HERE.

Gilbert Guitar Cover



New Mel Bay publications, three for mandolin, one for bass guitar:

84 thoughts on “Rob MacKillop – Musician”

  1. Dr Brian Davies said:

    Thank you so much for providing so much interesting and valuable material-especially the ‘Solo Flight’ parts for big band. I am about to try and persuade our leader to do this one meanwhile off I go to try and learn to play a suitable homage….

    • Excellent, Brian. I hope you get the opportunity to play it. Good luck.

      • jean cameron said:

        Thanks for doing the mandolin books! I just ordered the 17th Century and then the Kids book. Each will keep me busy this fall and winter! Love your books! Interested in the guitar lute book but worried it’s above my skill level. Maybe later on. Glad you did the mandolin books! THANK YOU!

      • Cheers, Jean. Have fun with them! As for the kids’ books, there’s no age limit on being a kid!

  2. Alan Birkinhead said:

    Rob, I really, really like your black & white photographs ( very artistic ) thank you

  3. Hello Rob, I’ve been following your page for a while now, there’s a lot of great information on here. Iv’e been hesitant about picking up Flamenco due to most players using long fingernails. After browsing through your site however, I’ve decided to make the plunge and give Flamenco a try. Now for the hard part, choosing a guitar, I’d be looking for a guitar to last me for a decade or so without searching for the need to upgrade after 2 years of playing. Any suggestions? Thanks for the inspiration sir!

    • Hi Eduardo. I love flamenco, and do feel nails can help, but not all flamenco guitar needs to be played the same way, and I enjoyed my research into early flamenco guitar. Of course, the feeling is what it is all about, like Blues. So, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your nailless study of it. As for guitars, I’m no expert, and I don’t know your budget. But there are roughly two types – bright and percussive, or warm and slightly less percussive. The former are usually made with cypress back and sides, the latter with rosewood. These are sweeping generalisations. As flesh playing gives a mellow sound anyway, I enjoyed playing the cypress-made instruments. I also don’t know in which region of the world you live, but I have found this website to be informative:
      Good luck with your search. Let us know how you get on.

  4. Tom Oskar Ortleb said:

    Your videos, displaying beautiful music played so calm and mild, encouraged me to start nailless playing in the end of the summer of 2017 after having played over four decades with nails. Today, while still a beginner on this “new” (old) style of right hand technique, I am almost happier with my tonal quality than ever before. Though this is still the beginning of a romance, I believe I will stay with and develop this capability further on forver due to the wonderful tonal outcome.

    Thank you for your very inspiring work and performance,

    • Cheers, Tom. You are not alone – I’ve had many similar messages this last couple of years. All I can say is, Stay With It! It took me a couple of years before I was 100% happy, and now I’ll never go back.

  5. Manuel Morais said:

    Dear friend Rob, Do you know the sources that say that Fracesco da Milano played with two silver thimbles with bird feathers? Abraço, Manuel Morais

  6. congratulations.
    It is the most profound, heartfelt and beautiful guitar.

  7. the antique guitar: Ángel Torrisi

  8. skaekhund said:

    Hello. I recently bought a copy of your 20 easy fingerstyle book and I’m delighted with it. However I can’t find the online audio snippets of each one that I think used to be on a CD. Do you know where I can download them from?

    • There should be an address on the first page, the title page, for downloads. If not, please contact Mel Bay through their website, as I have no control over such things. Good luck!

  9. is your torres model still for sale

  10. Philippe Callu said:


    I bought recently through Amazaon your method : (online audio)

    20 easy fingerstyle studies for Ukulele by Rob MacKillop.

    I have some difficulties to go on ‘on line audio’ and it will be easier for me to work with a CD.

    Is that possible to get it ? can you tell me the price included sending to France.

    Thanks in advance for you kind answer,

    Best regards,
    Philippe Callu
    2 Les Marottières
    41310 Villechauve (FRANCE)

    • Hi Philippe. I have no control over that. Just email Mel Bay from their website, and ask them. If you do manage to get the online audio, you can possibly burn it to a CD for future use. Sorry I can’t help you further.

      Best wishes,


  11. Nestor Guillermo Duce said:

    Toco guitarra clasica. Amo la musica de Lauro. Así descubrí su versión de La negra, que me impactó mucho. De ahi llegué a su página, y el impacto es mucho mayor por la enorme capacidad, talento, y versatilidad a un altísimo nivel musical, y la enorme capacidad que hay que tener en la vida que es tan corta para hacer todo lo hecho hasta ahora por ud. Así que felicitaciones. No hablo ni escribo inglés, sepa disculpar el texto en castellano. La sencillez y belleza de su arreglo para manha de carnaval me gusta muchísimo. Ese arreglo tal cual ud lo toca está escrito? de ser así quisiera adquirirlo. Muchas gracias. Y mis mas sinceras felicitaciones

    • In English: I play classical guitar. I love Lauro’s music. That’s how I discovered your version of La negra, which shocked me a lot. From there I reached your page, and the impact is much greater because of the enormous capacity, talent, and versatility at a very high musical level, and the enormous capacity that you have to have in life that is so short to do everything done so far. by you So congratulations. I do not speak or write English, I know how to excuse the text in Spanish. The simplicity and beauty of your arrangement for carnival manha I like very much. That arrangement as you touch it is written? if so, I would like to acquire it. Thank you very much. And my most sincere congratulations

      Ese arreglo está en mi cabeza, no en una página. Lo siento.

  12. Phyllis Williams said:

    Would you please share the tab for your version of Norwegian Wood in modal D?

    • Hi Phyllis. I just made it up a few minutes before making the video, and haven’t played it since, so there is no tab. Just try working it out by ear – which is the way I learned when I was a teenager. It’s the best method of learning this stuff. Good luck.

  13. John Gilbert Colman said:

    Hi Rob, Can you tell me where to find the complete A.J.Weidt Tenor Banjo Method?


  14. Hey Rob!
    Great work! I was primarily interested in the DADGAD stuff and I really like the pieces you chose in the book for classical music.
    However, when I heard your examples on youtube I was missing the “basso tones” (not sure whether this is the right term, since I’m no native).
    Is there a reason you didn’t include them?
    I guess the pieces would be even more beautiful with those “basso tones”.

    Have a great time!

  15. Janice Mask said:

    Rob, watched an old vid of short scale, 60cm, classical guitar technique using no nails. Just what I need, loved it. Having trouble finding a store brand guitar with that scale length though. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you. Janice

    • Hi Janice. That was my wife’s guitar. The Spanish guitar business is quite sexist, so that instrument was called a lady’s guitar…It is no longer in production, however, so I suggest you do a search for a lady’s classical guitar, or señorita guitar or guitarra. I have to say it was fun to play, so much so I am now banned from touching it 🙂 Good luck!

  16. I have been told that The Tanbur Metodu Emin Akan and Tambur Method Murat Aydemir are not for the Yayli Tanbur and I don’t know what the reason is. Wondered if you could shed some light on this please Rob, otherwise will these books be defunct for me.

    • I don’t know, John. I thought they were the same tuning and fret placement, but perhaps they are different. I don’t speak or read Turkish, and, as you know, finding reliable information is extremely difficult. I know there were tanbur players who played both, so I made the assumption the skills were directly transferable. I’m afraid I can’t help you further. Best of luck! Rob

  17. Hello! I am a Malagasy guitarist and singer and I recently discovered your YouTube video where you play a piece by Bach on the banza gourd tenor banjo. I immediately fell in love with the beautiful and warm sound of that instrument and I am wondering where one could find such an instrument? Where did you buy it or do you make them yourself?
    Many thanks for a reply and all best

  18. Hello Rob, I recently purchased a fretless banjo, and ran across your videos playing tunes on one. I am a true beginner with now musical back, and would appreciate it very much, if you could suggest some beginner exercises I could practice to become more proficient on my instrument. Thanks, I love the videos and look forward to learning to play some of the tunes.



  19. Anonymous said:

  20. Steven Bentham said:

    Hi Rob

    I’m very new to DADGAD, and I bought
    your DADGAD Blues.
    Just thought I’d say thank you for the
    work you’ve put in.
    The book is a cracker, very easy to follow,
    I’ll be trying out a tune at Ramsey Folk
    Club in a few weeks. A good test.
    And plenty to keep me busy this Summer.
    Thanks again
    Isle of Man

  21. said:

    Thank you I will.

    Sent using Hushmail

  22. Daniel Vissi said:

    Thank you, Rob, for all your work and musical ideas!

    Dear Rob,

    A few days I beg to the Ning network if any member has the tablature file: Tomb[e]au sur la mort de Madame la contesse de Logi, Sarabande, and Menuet, attached by Hans Hockelmans (but now isnt upload). Any member answered me. Please, can you help me? Im working on transcriptions and I need a pic of the tablature: Tomb[e]au sur la mort de Madame la contesse de Logi, Sarabande, and Menuet.

    Thank you in advance!


  23. John Gilbert Colman said:

    Hi Rob,
    have there been British composers, contemporary to A.J.Weidt, who wrote pieces for solo Tenor Banjo?(there is definitely an American ‘twist’ to Weidt’s music. I wonder what Tenor Banjoists where playing in Britain around that time)


    • Hi John. Certainly, I would consider Emile Grimshaw as the English A. J. Weidt. I think I have one or two of his tenor pieces on video somewhere. I can’t think of anyone else, off the top of my head. His Method for tenor banjo is excellent.


  24. Marilyn Rigby said:

    Hi! I bought the Kindle version of 20 Spanish Baroque Pieces by Gaspar Sanz: Arranged for Uke. I was sight-reading Foliás, and noticed that p. 27 is missing from the book. Could that be the page where the strumming is indicated? How do I get a copy of that page? I have a MAC computer.

    • Hi Marilyn. Page 27 in the print version is deliberately blank in order to facilitate having no page turns in the middle of the following piece. Those blank pages have been removed for the electronic version. As for the chords, I just strum a basic Folias: Gm / D / Gm / F / Bb / F / Gm / D then repeat but ending on Gm.
      I hope that helps?

  25. said:

    Hi Rob, just downloaded ” 25 Scots Tunes arranged for Tenor Banjo ” Looking good. Will let you know how I get on. Thank You.

  26. Hi Rob – I can’t seem to get eMails thru to your address for private lessons. How else can I set something like that up?

    Thank you

  27. Simon McCreath said:

    Hi Rob, I love your work, your playing is always an inspiration to me, I return to your many videos repeatedly!
    Please can you tell me where I can purchase a set of genuine GUT strings for my classical guitar ?
    My kindest regards to you.

  28. Brent Bunker said:

    Hi Rob. I appreciate your demonstrations on the edward Light harp lute I own several of them but have been unable to get any music from Light for it. I would be happy to pay you For a copy of the pieces you pay. On you tube. I have been unable to find a copy on line for sale

    • Brent, as I said in my previous post, “The copy I used came and went with the instrument”. I had the instrument for four days, the music was in the case. I no longer have the instrument, case, or music. Sorry. The British Library will most certainly have what you seek. All you do is pay for photocopies.

  29. Anonymous said:

    Hi, I purchased 20 Easy Fingerstyle Studies for the Ukulele. According to the description on the Amazon site, it was supposed to come with a link for the audio. I can not find that link within the book. Please advise.

  30. Miles Dempster said:

    Hi Rob,

    I hope that you are keeping well and free of the ‘lurgies’!

    Long time it has been…

    I just happened on to your Youtube playing one of your Bach cello suite transcriptions on your theorbo tuned in D. Sounds wonderful.

    Just to let you know that I’m still around and have happy memories of our collaboration.

    All the best


  31. Cenk Beyhan said:

     I have a question, I would be very happy if you could answer to me.
     I play mandolin and I want to try playing lute. Is it possible to play the pieces in your book “Introduction to the Lute: For Lute and Guitar Players” with a seven course lute? Is seven course lute tuned as stated in the book?(The manufacturer’s recommended tuning for this instrument is A4, E4, E4, B3, B3, G3, G3, D4, D3, A3, A2, G3, G2)

    Thank you,
    Best Regards

    Cenk Beyhan

    • Hi Cenk. Yes, you can play everything from my book on a 7c lute. No problem.
      If the recommended pitch for your first string is A4, the string length must be quite short, which is okay. But remember that pitch was not fixed during the Renaissance, so players tuned their first to wherever it sounded good. Which is why they used tablature. Anyway, I talk about all of this in the book.
      Best wishes,

      • Cenk Beyhan said:

        Thank you very much for your reply. I am very happy to start my new music adventure with your book!
        With my best wishes and best regards.

  32. Edgar Neukirchner said:

    Hi Rob,

    I purchased your “20 Spanish Baroque Pieces” for Uke – these pieces sound really great on the ukulele! You are playing so many instruments with different tunings. Do you recommend working with tablature or conventional scores? I play guitar, but when changing to ukulele, sight reading scores becomes quite a challenge for me.

    Best wishes,

  33. Karol Steadman said:

    Hello, I found your webpage by chance. I work for The Governor’s Musick, Colonial Williamsburg’s early music ensemble. We have a copy of an 18th-century English Guitar with a Preston watchkey tuning mechanism. It won’t stay in tune, and no guitar people we’ve contacted know how to repair it. Any information you could give me would be so helpful.

    • Hi Karol. These old watch-key tuners are magnificent when they work right – not so good when they don’t. I don’t think you’ll find a guitar tech willing to take them on, but I took mine to a guy who repairs old watches, and he cleaned it out and fixed it up good. He is in Scotland, though, and actually the store has closed down. But hopefully you will be able to find someone is the US. Good luck!

      • Karol Steadman said:

        Thank you so much for getting back to me. I’ll take it to a watch repair place and see what they say!

  34. Jeffrey D Graf said:

    Mr. MacKillop,

    I’ve played guitar for more than 40 years (mostly blues and jazz) but recently, in “retirement” I have converted to banjo which I have long loved. I love all things banjo, and also all things stringed, including lute and oud. Through my deep dive into banjo, I have come to you and finding you has been one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received. What you do is truly beautiful. Let me admit it right off: if there is such a thing as a future life, I would like to be you. The gift you have given and continue to give, through your explorations of stringed art is nothing short of brilliant. I am in awe of what you do.

    I understand that you have recently battled with Covid and am hopeful that you will make a full recovery. And to those of us, and I must think that there are many, who are reverent of what you give, I can only hope that you will continue to explore and to to document your explorations.

    What a gift you are to humanity! I am not a religious person but the closest I ever get to being there is in experiencing what you give.

    Tell me, please, how can I donate to you without the middlemen?

    Yours truly,

    Jeffrey Graf
    Binnewater, NY, USA

    • Dear Jeffrey, thank you for your comments, which are dear to me. I appreciate what you are saying. I am not a religious person either, that just confuses things.
      As for the banjo – it is a much maligned instrument, capable of the most subtle nuances, something I’ve attempted to demonstrate. Keep exploring its riches, and if you need a particular score, I’ll give it to you if I still have it. Sadly I do not have a decent banjo these days, having been forced to sell quite a few instruments, but that’s just life, and I still have enough to keep me going.
      I never got Covid bad enough to be hospitalised, but it has left me with longer-term recovery, reducing my teaching to one hour in the morning, one in the afternoon. The rest of the time I am usually sleeping. My body is exhausted, and brain too. I have almost zero creative energy, which is really difficult for me to deal with. But I am in no pain, and hopefully things will improve shortly. Sometimes during some days I feel perfectly normal, which is a wonderful feeling, and I get some work done before the exhaustion returns. That’s just how it is.
      I used to have a Patreon site for people to donate to, but I got embarrassed about that and closed it. It seemed like begging, which isn’t me. But if you do want to donate something to the cause, then a PayPal donation to robmackillop at gmail dot com would be a simple transaction. Thank you.

      • Jeffrey Graf said:

        Dear Mr. MacKillop,

        Since we last corresponded at the beginning of August, I’ve purchased your album of Romantic Spanish Guitar. It is a beautiful album.

        As I’ve been listening to it, I can’t help but wonder after your health. You had mentioned in August how low in creative energy you had been since Covid. I’m hoping your health has improved.

        Please advise.

        Hoping for improved health,


        Jeff Graf

        On Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 2:14 AM Rob MacKillop ~ Musician wrote:

        > Rob MacKillop commented: “Dear Jeffrey, thank you for your comments, which > are dear to me. I appreciate what you are saying. I am not a religious > person either, that just confuses things. As for the banjo – it is a much > maligned instrument, capable of the most subtle nuances, som” >

      • Thanks, Jeffrey. I’m definitely getting better, though not quite there yet. You’ve cheered me up with your comment! Glad you like the album! Rob

    • Thank you, Jeffrey. Much appreciated!

      • Jeffrey D Graf said:


        My pleasure. A small payback for what you give us.

        I should mention that here I am, an American, getting turned on to an almost forgotten part of American banjo history. And that revivification of what has slept for more than a hundred and fifty years, through what you have given, is truly a great gift.

        I’ve gotten your book Early American Classics for Banjo and first decided to tackle one of the simpler pieces (not so simple, at first, for this newbie to the form), Buckley’s Waltz with Variations. I feel like I am drinking from the very fount of Americana. Again, thanks. And the funny thing is that this resurrection of really old-time American music comes not from some American, but from a Scotsman! Brilliant.

        So, again, I thank you. And I hope you gain strength and the zeal to further your explorations.

        One final question: have you studied, transcribed or recorded any of the work of the mostly mandolin-playing but also exquisite Sicilian banjo player Giovanni Gioviale who was recorded in 1929? If you’ve recorded anything he wrote/played, I should be very interested to hear about it because he was the bomb!

        Get well because we need you back to full form.

        Jeff Graf
        Binnewater, NY, USA

      • Giovanni Gioviale’s music doesn’t appear to have been published, at least I haven’t come across it, but his playing was absolutely virtuosic. Good luck to anyone who takes him on! I haven’t tried.
        Best wishes,

  35. Jay Forsythe said:

    Hello Rob, I love your recordings of the Scottish lute music, and I wanted to ask if you know of any keyboard manuscripts or sources with similar repertoire — I want to play and study these pieces but I am a pianist and not a baroque-lutenist.

    (My first thought was to make transcriptions from the tablature, but it doesn’t appear to be available for free online, and I will have to wait until the pandemic is over before I can request a copy from the NLS.)

  36. Peppe Privitera said:

    Hi I have read your Method for Lute and currently use a 6 string classical guitar with G tuned to F#
    I am considering to buy a 8 string classical
    Do you recommend it and which tuning ?
    I saw for Lute pieces That David Estrem uses a capo probably G To F# but only on 6 strings
    Not sure what he tunes to the 2 Low strings
    I play jazz too and wanted to use as well the 8 string to experiment chords and bass lines
    I guess for That i should tune B F# the 2 low strings

    I mainly wonder how to tune the 8 string to play Lute tunes as well to play classical pieces
    Thanks for suggestions!
    Ps mindblowing what you show om ukulele too it opened an entire World (mandolin tuning and Renaissance guitar tuning ! Great !)

    Peppe Sweden

    • Hi Peppe. I had an 8-string once, and used various tunings. I think you will need to experiment a bit, find out what is best for your music and playing style. A capo isn’t necessary, but can occasionally be useful, just to give some variety to the sound.

      A 8 string lute also used different tunings for the bass. On a guitar, D and C would be the equivalents, with the C sometimes going down to an A.

      Yes, the ukulele in 5ths tuning surprised me too! 🙂


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