Bluegrass Guitar Lessons
By Andre Sanchez
Typically, bluegrass lessons involve acoustic equipment: no electric at all, and no drums! Many people believe bluegrass guitar to be very complicated, but it can also be very simple. Bluegrass is what you make it.
Banks Of The Ohio - a simple bluegrass guitar improvisation
The origins of bluegrass lie way back to the days when times were hard for most; the day of shanties and life without all today's modern conveniences. It has a raw acoustic sound, and should be fun to play and fun to listen to. It is something to take your mind off the daily worries of life, and allow yourself just to be yourself.
Bluegrass guitar lessons will not teach you bluegrass in a week: it's for the longer haul and those of you that want to have fun while you learn. Bluegrass involves a good strong bass rhythm, and in between each bass pick you strum. You can make use of some of the traditional guitar techniques, used a lot by solo guitarists. Techniques such as hammers ons and pull offs can spice up a bluegrass run, and allow you to play with fewer picks.
Basically a hammer on is where you play a note then switch frets quickly by hammering a finger onto another note, using the same string vibration for more than one note. A pull off is when you fret a string, play it and then pull your finger off, playing another note with the same string vibration. Judicious use of these techniques allow you to play much faster and with fewer right hand movements.
You can then play two bass notes to each pick, and all the time remember that the picks take prominence over the chords. Which takes us on to chords. In bluegrass you have to learn chords and it is useful to have a good armory chords in your arsenal. The basic guitar skills of chords and scales apply as much to learning bluegrass guitar as to any other style. Bluegrass guitar lessons will focus on picks and chords, and your picking style is also very important.
Picking forwards and backwards combine with hammer ons and pull offs to enable you to increase your playing speed. These very fast bluegrass riffs that you all admire involve all of these techniques and more. You have no time to think on every individual note or chord, and have to build a memory of what comes next. That is where a mastery of scales can help you - that continual practice might seem a waste of time, but it is all money in the bank.
Bluegrass guitar involves learning different sequences of pick and strum, and then putting them together to form a finished piece. You don't have to think on the individual notes in each sequence, just how to fit them together so that from a few sequences you can fit them together in different ways to suit the tune.
Before you start on your lessons there is some essential equipment you will need in addition to an acoustic guitar. Your pick is important, and you will find it difficult to play bluegrass guitar with too soft a pick. The best picks are stiff and made from tortoise shells. If you can get that, your pick should be fairly thick and not bend or flex much at all.
You should also get yourself a capo: that's one of these devices that clamps onto the neck to effectively make the strings play shorter. What a capo does is to change the key you are playing in. Basically the capo allows you to play in G, while the capo adjustment makes it sound like other keys. Since bluegrass is played generally only between G and C the capo allows you to do that by learning to play only in G.
As for the bluegrass guitar lessons themselves, it is very difficult to learn just from a book. A good bluegrass guitar teaching book with a CD would be better: the CD at least let's you hear what you are learning should sound like. However, by far the best bet is a video or DVD. With these you can see what your teacher is demonstrating as well as hear it. You can copy the finger movements and see exactly how you should be holding your guitar and your pick. You will understand better how a capo can be used to change key without changing your fingering. However, there is an even better way.
An online membership that offers tuition in different guitar styles, with an option of teachers, is likely the best way to learn bluegrass guitar, or any guitar style for that matter. OK, you might have to pay every month, but you get fresh material with such a site, as opposed to the one-time-only DVD, and can also try out a few other guitar styles when you need a rest from the pick-strum-pick-strum sequences of bluegrass.
Try a bit of country fingerpicking style, or even some ole heavy metal! When you are practicing hard with an end in sight, it's good to relax a bit and enjoy practicing something else for a while. You could even get some practice at the techniques you will have to learn, such as hammer ons and others.
Without a doubt, bluegrass guitar lessons will teach a different guitar style that is fun to play, and if you choose your teaching medium properly, could open your horizon to a whole host of alternative styles and techniques that can do nothing but improve your abilities as a guitar musician.
For information on an online membership site that offers top-rated and highly regarded bluegrass guitar lessons, visit http://www.jamplaynow.com where you find a site offering everything any guitar student could ask for.