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Bluegrass (Pickers)

A place to get together and talk and play Bluegrass.

Members: 38
Latest Activity: Nov 1

Discussion Forum

Blue grass finger picking 7 Replies

I Was wondering if its possible to fingerpick Bluegrass guitar as im not very good with a pick!I love the Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Tony Rice All Stars ectKind RegardsGary :-)Continue

Started by Gary McNaughton. Last reply by Gary McNaughton Nov 1.

MACC show in Columbus

I was hoping to get together with other members who may be going to one of the best shows of every year. All the money goes to St Judes and always an all star line up:…Continue

Started by Joe Allen Jun 8.

Martin and Bluegrass ... Why? 15 Replies

Just looking for input on a question that I get asked frequently.Why is it that probably 98% of all Bluegrass pickers play either a Martin or a specially made Martin clone?Thanks to Doc Watson, you…Continue

Started by Jud Hair. Last reply by Michael S. Jackson Jan 19.

What was your introduction to bluegrass music, and what is your current involvement? 13 Replies

   Since I am introducing this topic, I suppose I should lead by example and answer my own question.  My entre into bluegrass was probably just the reverse of most folks.  My experience with others…Continue

Started by Ken Bellingham. Last reply by Eddie Charles Jan 18.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Jud Hair on May 24, 2012 at 12:56pm

... and now it's not looking good for Doc Watson :-(

Doc Watson Hospitalized

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on May 17, 2012 at 9:58am

First Earl; now Doug. Bad news every time I turn around (found out yesterday that my wife is critically ill).

I have always admired Doug. He was a huge influence on John McEuen. Doug's Tune is one of my all time favorites. Notice how he picks almost in a completely verticle finger position? I've been told he rested his pinky on the bridge. Very unusual, but it allowed a clean, even sound. If you have not picked up their video, do so. Their rise to "stardom" is fascinating and it's a good documentary of life in the Ozarks.

My heart is on the ground. Thank you, Doug, for all you have given.


Comment by Jud Hair on May 17, 2012 at 9:42am

RIP at age 75 to banjo player Doug Dillard of The Dillards best known for their portrayal of "The Darlings" on the old Andy Griffith show ...

Comment by Phil Manuel on May 3, 2012 at 11:40am

@Ken Bellingham,

Well, brother take that little recorder out and record yourself. I'd appreciate listening. I'm not after perfection in my recordings, just the truth as it's played at the time.  I know I've got work to do, but recording helps me put my playing in focus.  I abandoned playing "Spike Driver Blues in open-G tuning, because I didn't like the way I approached it.  I'm doing another recording in standard tuning which feels better to me when I play  this tune.

Oh, yeah, working on Bluegrass chops daily.  I've got a couple I hope to record this weekend, "Jimmy the Newsboy", and a version of "All along the Watchtower".  I'm hoping to do some multi-tracking to add resonator, and mandolin to the mix. 

I've been using a site run by Banjo Ben Clarkto learn more about basic bluegrass picking.  Ben is a pretty great player and teacher - pretty funny guy too.  Another, I just found this week that looks promising is Adam Schlenker, who has some interesting videos posted on YouTube.  I don't consider myself a true Bluegrass player though, I could never play in the company of most of those pickers I've seen, but in a small group of 'stringwinders' I could probably cope OK.  I think there is a Bluegrass group locally, but I've been putting off attending, as it's a fair drive on weeknight they get together.  Work just takes too much out of me to go far from home during the week.  It's hard to setup my mics and record, let alone drive somewhere 30 miles away.  Old fellers have limits, or as my friend Gene likes to say - 'idiot-sin-cracies'.  Sounds like you're close to some good sources of folks to jam. 

Thanks for the ukelele links, I'll tell my son about them.  He's got some good recordings by a lot of players, including the phenom, Jake Shimabukuro. We recently saw Jake in-concert, and after the show were able to meet and talk with him.  He's a really nice man, and gentle spirit, and really appreciatvie of folks listening to him.   Oh, well, lunch is over, so I'd better get back to reality.  Talk to you soon...

Comment by Ken Bellingham on April 29, 2012 at 12:10am

@ Phil Manuel,

   Hi Phil,  I thought we should probably move over here onto the main thread of this discussion board.  To answer your question, I do have a couple of small recorders - an Edirol R-09, which I acquired shortly after they came out on the market, and more recently a Tascam DR-07 with enhanced features, which was given to me as a gift a few years later.  I haven't spent much time trying to record myself, however, and if I did, few people would be interested in hearing my recordings.  I mostly use them as learning tools.  I may record a friend who is trying to teach me a tune.  I record workshops and classes with the instructor's permission.  I sometimes transfer a tune I am trying to learn onto the DR-07 from a CD or a download, so that I can slow the tempo or change the key while trying to figure out some of the licks on the recording.

   There hasn't been a lot of participation on this particular discussion board, but if you are currently working on your bluegrass chops, I would be interested in hearing about your progress - triumphs and frustrations - and any related experiences.  I'm fortunate to be living in an area where there is a fair amount of interest in bluegrass.  Just this afternoon I was at a 3 hour jam.  This is a casual association that meets about 4 times a month.  Today there was quite a range in experience and ability, but the group is very supportive of everyone, and it's a good place to venture outside your comfort zone.

   Friday afternoons I go to the house of a friend who is learning to play the banjo.  We are learning some of the standard jam tunes and practice by taking turns playing lead while the other provides the backup.  Yesterday, we had another fellow join us.  He is already an accomplished banjo player, but he is just taking up the dobro.  We said he could practice with us on the dobro until he gets too good.

   There are several restaurants and taverns in our area that host bluegrass jams on some kind of regular basis, so there are pretty good opportunities to meet other players.  We also have some formal bluegrass associations that are quite active.  The largest would be the California Bluegrass Association(, which has a year-round calendar of events around the state.

    I live about 25 miles east of Berkeley, where there is a wonderful folk club, the Freight & Salvage (  A couple of years ago it moved into a new facility and now not only provides a venue for some really good talent, but also has established a series of workshops, classes and jams.  It is doing a lot to promote wider interest in a variety of acoustic music.  Just for ducks, I enrolled in a six week jam class with Bill Evans, who is a well-known banjo player around here.  The first class will be this coming Wednesday evening.  It's nice to be able to get acquainted with some of these professional bluegrass musicians, but I was also hoping that I might meet some new folks who are looking for playing partners.

   If your son has taken up the ukulele, is he familiar with James Hill?  James was an instructor at a music camp I attended a few years ago, and the guy is a remarkable talent.  He could sit down and fit in with any music circle in the camp.  It didn't matter if they were playing bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues, sophisticated swing, jazz, Latin music, Celtic, whatever.  He was demonstrating that the ukulele doesn't have any limitations.  You can find a lot of videos of him on the web.  I'm attaching one here that I just picked out at random.  Hope it provides your son with some inspiration.

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on March 29, 2012 at 2:02pm

That would be great - thank you in advance!


Comment by Jud Hair on March 29, 2012 at 11:54am

@ Michael ... I do have the clipping in some box somwhere in the attic crawl space.  I started rummaging around for it when the news broke last night, but was overcome by dust and claustrophobia and had to quit.  I need to man-up and look some more.  If I find it soon enough, I'll scan it and post here.

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on March 29, 2012 at 11:49am

I know what you mean. It's sort of like the time my friend and I tried to change a 1920s Gibson L5 into an electric bass and totally destroyed it.

Or maybe it's more like when I was driving a truck picking up laundry for a local compaly and one of my stops was the Browning home. Mrs. Browning used to invite me to swim in their pool, bring cookies and lemonade, etc. and a couple of time Val Browning invited me into their home and showed me his private firearms collection. As a teenager, I was only mildly interested in the collection and more concerned with getting back to the pool.

Some have been ostracized from these electronic pages for even mentioning firearms. So, if you are not offended by them, take the latter example as my reminiscence of "if I only knew then what I know now." If you are a hoplaphobe, just read the former recountence and forget I mentioned those evil implements of destruction.

At any rate, Jud, you had one golden opportunity that all of us - and I'm sure even you, today - would absolutely love to have. Do you still have a copy of your interview?

Take care - m

Comment by Jud Hair on March 29, 2012 at 11:01am

In 1974 as a recent college grad and fledgling reporter of a local newpaper, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs prior to a concert.  Unfortunately as a 21 year-old in the early 70s, I assumed that they were "just those guys who were on the "Beverly Hillbillies" and absolutely did not realize that I was in the presence of greatness.  Sadly, for me at that time, if it wasn't Neil Young or James Taylor, etc., it was not important.  Sigh ...

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on March 29, 2012 at 10:12am

Rest in peace, Uncle Earl - you changed the world for the better.



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