Riffs in the Bluegrass Realm...

You might not think you're a bluegrass fan, but next time you strum simple chords on an acoustic, bluegrass technique will add sparkle to your rhythm parts...

 In this lesson, we'll explore the basics of bluegrass playing, starting with an overview of the style of rhythm guitar used in bluegrass, then we'll move on to some of the technique.

Example 1: Basic bluegrass guitar riff
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With its alternating bass notes and chromatic runs, this is typical of bluegrass rhythm guitar. However, it's useful to be able to play this type of thing as it relates to a huge range of accompaniment styles. Pick evenly, keeping hand movement to a minimum.

Example 2: Advanced bluegrass rhythm picking pattern
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By cutting down on the frills and locking into a solid ascending pattern for each chord, you can develop what bluegrass players call the Rhythm Pick Pattern. To be able to sing and play effectively, you need to practice this pattern until it becomes second nature.

Example 3: bluegrass lick
                  (click on chart to enlarge) 

This lick uses the G major pentatonic (GABDE) with the addition of the minor third (Bb). Use strict alternate picking, making sure that the first and second notes are both played with downstrokes (the initial G is twice as long, so you're missing an upstroke there).

Example 4: bluegrass 6-bar progression
                   (click on chart to enlarge) 

 The 6-bar bluegrass progression applies bass-note and strum technique along with filler runs. At the end of the piece there's a turnaround phrase that is one of the most common ideas applied in bluegrass numbers. Learn to play the piece at the indicated tempo.



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