Familiarize yourself with bluegrass music
It might sound obvious, but I thought it worthy of a mention. You need to listen to some bluegrass music! There's no point looking at sheet music, for example. You need to have a feel for the rhythms and styles of bluegrass tunes out there.
YouTube is a brilliant place to check out some amateur and professional bluegrass sessions. I recommend listening to both classic and modern tunes so that you can decide which ones you wish to learn. For instance, there's the traditional and well-known Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Earl Scruggs.
For something newer, try songs from artists such as:
Also, search for "bluegrass guitar players" on Google and you'll find plenty of inspiration!
Buy a guitar
When you've figured out what styles you like, the next step is to get a guitar! Of course, if you've already got one, you can skip this step. If not, here is what you need to know.
First, bluegrass uses acoustic instruments. So, if you wish to use your Fender Telecaster, perhaps something like newgrass music is more for you. Traditional bluegrass instrumentalists frown upon the use of electrified guitars!
You can use any acoustic guitar for playing bluegrass. But, it's crucial that you get one that "sounds" right when you play it. Anyone with a critical ear can tell the difference between a poor guitar and a brilliant one.
For example, Taylor guitars and ones by Martin will sound a million times better than budget ones. It might be worth seeking out some online reviews before you buy.
Schedule some practice times
Now that you've got a guitar, it's time to start learning how to play bluegrass music! As with anything new you learn, it's essential you are not interrupted in your sessions.
I suggest scheduling your practice times when you know you will be at home alone. Otherwise, consider renting a music studio for an hour or two. Or go and practice at a friend's house. It doesn't matter where you learn. What does matter is you can do so without constant interruptions.
Start with simple tunes and riffs
Last, but not least, you should start with the basics. The bluegrass musicians I mentioned earlier have taken years to hone their skills. So, don't worry if you can't master bluegrass guitar in 24 hours.
There are plenty of online tutorials you can follow to learn basic bluegrass tunes and riffs. Keep practicing and you'll soon get the hang of it. Thanks for reading!
Site last updated 22. March 2020