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hotmachina
09-06-2007, 04:45 PM
This post is aimed at catching Steve when he has a chance but I will open the questions to everyone regarding some thoughts I have with the bluegrass genre.

1: Is it "wrong" to play bluegrass on electric guitar? Do you have any feelings about acoustic over electric for this particular sound? I ask because I own both but find my electric guitar easier to play, should I persevere with my acoustic? Has anyone else of the boards had any experience with bluegrass on an electric guitar?

2: You mention at the start of the lessons using turtle shell picks, would you recommend always using a plectrum for bluegrass over thumb? Again I find the tactile feedback of using my thumb and fingers a lot easier for picking but I notice it gives a mild kind of dreamy sound not really in keeping with traditional bluegrass recordings I listen to, should I just force myself to use a pick?

3: I tend to find myself either playing too fast or too slow, does bluegrass have a traditional tempo I can set a metronome for? If so what should it be?

Any feedback appreciated.

steveeulberg
09-06-2007, 07:07 PM
This post is aimed at catching Steve when he has a chance but I will open the questions to everyone regarding some thoughts I have with the bluegrass genre.

1: Is it "wrong" to play bluegrass on electric guitar? Do you have any feelings about acoustic over electric for this particular sound? I ask because I own both but find my electric guitar easier to play, should I persevere with my acoustic? Has anyone else of the boards had any experience with bluegrass on an electric guitar?

2: You mention at the start of the lessons using turtle shell picks, would you recommend always using a plectrum for bluegrass over thumb? Again I find the tactile feedback of using my thumb and fingers a lot easier for picking but I notice it gives a mild kind of dreamy sound not really in keeping with traditional bluegrass recordings I listen to, should I just force myself to use a pick?

3: I tend to find myself either playing too fast or too slow, does bluegrass have a traditional tempo I can set a metronome for? If so what should it be?

Any feedback appreciated.
Hi hotmachina,

you caught me when I have a minute!

1) Wrong? No. Untraditional, yes. If you want to play in a bluegrass jam with other players, the expectation is that you'll be acoustic and unplugged. However, you might end up inventing a new genre if you choose bluegrass styles and play them electrically. And if you do, some folks will like it, some won't. So go have fun!

2) In this case, I think your experience is already pointing you to the answer. I prefer my thumb and fingers for that tactile connection--but I sure can't get the bluegrass sound from that--especially since the chop is so integral to the beat and is the engine that drives the band. I know of no way to get that using one's fingers--I keep hearing the dreamy sound you mention...even if the dream does get a bit frenetic and frantic when I try to play faster!

3) Like with many genres, there will be different tempi (the plural of tempo!) from different bands--but generally, bluegrass is known for faster speeds, especially when the music is instrumental rather than vocal.

A good way to get a handle on this is to take your handy tool, the metronome, and try to match the beat on some of your favorite recorded bluegrass tracks (from your collection, iTunes or other digital sources) and then separate the waltzes (3/4 time) from the hoe-downs (4/4 time) and some Bluegrass Gospel songs (4/4 time) that might be at a slower tempo for singing. Then write down what you discover...that way you'll get a good sense of the varying speeds, from your own research!

Cheers,

Steve