#1
So I'm a beginner and I play bluegrass/gospel, I was wondering if any of you had any simple licks or techniques that you think I should learn to help improve my knowledge, skill and allow me to be a better overall picker. I'm trying to bluegrass style but everything I try sounds very bluesy and less grassy than I'd like. Not that I don't like the bluesy sound but sometimes it just doesn't fit what I'm doin at the time.

I've learned the G run, and walk ins to the C and G shape, I need to practice hammer ons and pull offs and I also learned a bunch of chords that I occasionally throw into the mix to spice it up but I typically throw too much spice and it ends up sounding too jazzy.

I'd like some very bluegrass licks and maybe some space licks as well because I'm also big into psychedelic folk and psychedelic rock. I'm also into Irish trad but that's a different story.
#2
Likely if you surf over to the Flatpicker's Hangout:

http://www.flatpickerhangout.com

You can find everything you need. They have a good forum, lessons, recordings, all that.

Your basic bluegrass/country technique is the "boom-chicka-boom" thing... Alternating bass notes with a downstroke-upstroke. Often, while accompanying singers, the upstroke is eliminated and its a simple "boom-chick" to allow "room" for the singer.

Traditional stuff is pretty simple, structurally... 3 chords for the most part, maybe a minor if they get frisky....
Contemporary 'grass is more musician-driven, and you'll want to learn to throw in single-line runs and improvise a bit.
Stay in the major scales and the related minor, and the standard pentatonic shapes... They all work well. Generally, breaks are taken by improvising off the melody of the song, rather than getting too wild.
LISTEN to a lot of bluegrass players. YouTube is a great resource. Doc Watson, Norman Blake, David Grier..... Tons of 'em.
#3
To add to that, as far as chord progressions, just a few:

I-IV-I-V I-IV-I-V-I is probably the most important progression in all of bluegrass. Sometimes the first IV is omitted. Examples of this are... pretty much all the old standards. Blue Moon of Kentucky, Rollin' in my Sweet Baby's Arms, Dooley, etc.

The I-V-I turnaround at the end is particularly important, and so it is good to learn as many fills as possible for that, although usually the banjo player gets to handle the licks there.

IV-I-IV-V and IV-I-II-V are two vary common bridge progressions in bluegrass and also country. The II chord instead of the IV makes it sound very different. Blue Moon of Kentucky use the progression with the IV. For the variation with the II, really the bridge to most country songs use that, though a good bluegrass example of its use outside of bridges is in the verse to Fox on the Run (the "When woman tempted man down in Paradise's hall" part).

For scales, the mixolydian and dorian modes are very common. For example, if you are playing in the key of G, it is very common to flatten the 7th (which is a very bluesy kind of thing) from an F# back down to an F. The 3rd can be flattened as well (Bb). Flattening these notes gives it a "folkier" sound, since the major scale is very "sweet" sounding.

Also remember to put in both the flat and major 3rd together, similarly to in the flat run. A really great little lick (though it is more country) is to play:

E---3-2-0-------------
B---------3-2-0-------
G---------------0-1---
D-------------------2-


This uses the flat 3rd, flat 7th, and flat and natural 3rds. It can also be pretty easily adapted to other keys, though E is probably the easiest.


For technique, crosspicking is pretty nifty. It allows you to play banjo style rolls, and is neat because it gives a highly syncopated 1,2,3, 1,2,3 1,2,3 sort of feel. Generally it uses a "down, down, up" sort of picking, where the first down stroke follows smoothly into the second, and the upstroke allows you to pull the pick back up to the low strings. It is kind of tricky to explain, so look up some videos. Doc Watson, Clarence White, and Tony Rice do it real nice.

Hybrid picking is also neat for doing banjo rolls.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#4
In almost 40 years of playing, I've never been able to master crosspicking. Oh, I can do the patterns and do them adequately to accompany singers which is what George Shuffler did. however Watson and others can throw little crosspicking licks in to solos that are just as quick as "Earl" played 'em on the banjo.... And that I cannot do. I've tried several times, but I just can't bring it up to that sort of speed.
Ah well, too old to learn new tricks I guess.
#5
Thanks guys. That sites looks very helpfu, I'm signing up to it this weekend. Sorry for the belated response, I've been doin a lot of picking and listening to bands, lots to do to improve.

I'm still just baby to guitar but I'm "coming along" as everyone that I pick with tells me.