This is the place to ask questions, request songs, and interact with your fellow rhythm guitarists.
September 28, 2015
Welcome to Peghead Nation's Roots and Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar course. Whether or not you aspire to play fast and flashy bluegrass solos or sing your favorite songs, becoming a good rhythm guitar player is essential. You can use this page to let me know how the course is going, if there are songs or styles you want to learn, and post any questions you have about specific lessons, general guitar technique, or the course in general. Hope to hear from you as you make your journey to rhythm mastery.
Comments and Discussion
We're mostly going to be concentrating on open-position chords and runs in this course, since that's where most bluegrass and roots rhythm guitar is played. I will get into some movable chords in an upcoming lesson, and I will talk about open-position scales in future lessons, since it is helpful to know those as you're working on bass runs. If you're interested in more chord theory, you might check out Mark Goldenberg's Guitar Theory course.
Co-Founder and Editor
I'm mostly playing straightforward boom-chuck rhythm on the Play-Along Tracks. I could put up chord charts for some (or all) of them. Are there any you're particularly wondering about?
Glad you're enjoying the course,
I just enrolled last week and love your teaching. On "Some Old Day" I had been jamming with the straight boom-chuck pattern. I love the strum pattern you teach but would like to have a slower tempo (MP3) to learn it. I feel as though I'm trying to pat my head & rub my belly at the same time on the tempo you sing it. Is there a way to slow it down by using riffststion?
Glad you're enjoying the course. We don't have MP3s for the lessons, but I've used a program called Transcribe! to slow things down -- and it allows you to record directly into the program from your computer's speakers. I'm not sure whether you can do this with Riffstation. If you're having trouble getting the upstrokes, my guess is that you're probably using the "bounce stroke" for your downstrokes (the "boom"). Check out my lesson on downstrokes for some advice about this. But the basic issue is that if you're using a "bounce stroke" on bass notes, then your pick is automatically bouncing back up in the air after playing the downstroke. Which means it's impossible to play an upstroke afterward - your pick has already made the upward motion. So you have to move your pick through the bass note and across the strings so that you can play the upstroke back up across the strings afterward. If you're having trouble with this, you can also try leaving out every other bass note for a boom-chuck __ a-chuck pattern. Hope that helps.
Glad you're enjoying the courses. A duets course is an interesting idea. We'll think about it. And maybe the next time we're in the studio together Joe and I will do a duets lesson. We'll see.
BTW - What strings are you using on your bluegrass guitars, Scott?
I would like to see some lessons on "walking bass" rhythm techniques used in backing up old time (contest style) fiddle tunes. I'm not sure which course I would need to enroll in to find such lessons.
In my Roots and Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar course I have a couple lessons on swing chords. The lesson on Trouble in Mind has all the basic chord shapes you'll need to play contest-style backup, and I'll think about adding a lesson that uses those chords specifically to play fiddle tunes.
Thanks for helping to create Peghead and for this course in particular. It's great to have access to your talent and skill.
Really enjoying the class and the site as a whole - great work! I've been taking the rhythm class for about a month and working my way through the lessons. Eventually I'll start taking your flatpicking course as well, and I was wondering if you have lessons in that course that teach how to improvise solos and/or fills over these tunes from the rhythm course? Seems like it'd be a nice way to build on what we're learning here.
Glad you're enjoying the rhythm course. The Flatpicking Course does have solos and improvising ideas for bluegrass songs, but necessarily for the same songs as the rhythm guitar course. But most of the ideas and licks are applicable to many songs, in the same way that the rhythm lessons are applicable to many songs not just the ones taught in the course. Hope to see you in Flatpicking some day soon.
I like your teaching style,your to the point and we get down to business.I have been playing for years but would say i'm about intermediate level ,but noticed my rhythm needed quite a bit of work with both the bluegrass and country,ole-timey etc.I play with my only 3 fingers on the chording hand.I do enjoy flatpicking and learning by ear also.
Appreciated the lesson on "stealth" chords. I find that I forget to add something like a Cadd9 when playing out with others. Any hints how to remember those or is it just practice, practice, practice?
Would Neil Young's "Comes a Time" be worth a look as a song to add for this course? It's not bluegrass but possibly could be considered Americana/Roots. Not hard to play at all and it's great practice for walkups and walk downs. It's just such a nice song to play and I've found I'm applying what I learn here to it. Thought you might be interested in considering it. Thanks!
Good idea -- great song with an unusual chord progression. FYI, the next few lessons will include a more extensive look at bass runs, so that would probably be a good song to work on, since there are so many different chords to move through. I'll keep it in mind.
Thanks for considering Comes a Time, I hope you use it as a basis for a lesson in the near future!
To supplement this course, I am also working through Flatpicking Essentials, Volume 1 by Dan Miller which is focused on rhythm, bass runs, and fill licks similar to the material presented in this course. I'm currently working on material in the order as presented for this course on the course web page and at this point I am fine tuning Long Journey Home with some up strokes and trying to get more proficient at rest strokes and I'm hot and heavy on Some Old Day. Should I continue to work through the material in the order it is presented? My guess was that was the case but now it seems like after working the first four videos, the next batch of songs could be taken on in any order (?) followed by fiddle tune backup material. The latest bass runs lessons looks similar to what I have been working on in Flatpicking Essentials so perhaps I could work that material at any time.
Just wanted your thoughts on how to consider the order of progression in the course. I'm really enjoying it. Thanks!
I present new material and techniques in each lesson, but following the order isn't essential. However, there are times when I refer to something I've covered in a previous lesson, but that might be something you know already. Everyone moves at their own pace and has their own interests. I always think it's better to happily work on something you're interested in than spend time slogging through something you're not.
I watched through the lesson video and your thoughts on handling the G to Bm transition were an Ah Ha moment for me as I have always tried to manage the Bm as a full barre and it just kept tripping me up as far as keeping the song tempo flowing. I'm still early along in this course (just getting into Storms are On the Ocean) but this is one lesson where I am tempted to skip forward and take it on. Really like the sound and the lyrics in this song, makes you feel good.
Non-music footnote (hope this is not out of place) - I'm a cyclist also and heard a podcast where you talked about your love of cycling. Just curious in the Portland area if you were familiar with Jan Heine and Bicycle Quarterly. I love that periodical and I love the kind of riding Jan promotes.
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