The art of Bluegrass playing lies with the control and precision of flat picking.

This is basically controlling the pick to execute lines using downstrokes and upstrokes in a fluid manner.

Whether you’re playing bass lines, chords or lead lines you’ll need a sensitivity and awareness of the strings and how your pick articulates each one.

Many of the concepts in this course could utilize fingerstyle technique however, you won’t achieve that Bluesgrass flat picking sound, which is so unique to this powerful style.

Hold your pick between your thumb and 1st finger and allow your other fingers to curl into your palm in a relaxed manner.

Your 1st finger should provide a strong foundation for the pick by resting the pick on the side of your finger. Your thumb should be flat.

All you need to do is push through the string using your thumb and pull the pick back up using your 1st finger.

Obviously, your wrist will help with this motion but do not use your elbow to push and pull through the string.

Use a smaller motion with your wrist and you’ll be more relaxed, have more control and much more endurance, which is imperative in Bluegrass.

The exercises below will help you develop your flat picking technique.


Play every note using downstrokes

E |-------------------------------------------------5-6-7-8-----|
B |---------------------------------------5-6-7-8---------------|
G |-----------------------------5-6-7-8-------------------------|
D |--------------------5-6-7-8----------------------------------|
A |----------5-6-7-8--------------------------------------------|
E |-5-6-7-8-----------------------------------------------------|

Ex. 2

Play every note using alternate strokes (down-up)

E |---------------------------------------------------------------------|
B |---------------------------------------------------------------------|
G |-----------------------------------------------------5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8-|
D |----------------------------------5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8--------------------|
A |-----------------5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8-------------------------------------|
E |5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8------------------------------------------------------|
E |--------------------5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8---|
B |-5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8----------------------|
G |--------------------------------------|
D |--------------------------------------|
A |--------------------------------------|
E |--------------------------------------|

Want To Learn More …

bluegrass-boxBluegrass can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Not many other genres of guitar have this much flexibility.

It can be a lot of fun for friends getting together just playing basic chords or a five piece band of jamming talent.

Bluegrass is a type of music that has basically no electric instruments or drums. It excites the listener by emphasizing notes and just plain good old fashioned picking.

If you are already a bluegrass fan, then you know how great it is. It is a lifestyle in itself. It’s fun and has attracted a diverse and loyal following worldwide.

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