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Michael Johnson >> Acoustic Kentucky Bluegrass >>


Michael: This interactive lesson covers some of the basics for playing acoustic bluegrass. We'll continue more picking techniques then add some licks. We are privileged to have guitar legend Hank Garland join our lesson. Hank has played with Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash and many other country legends.  Hank will share stories about Bill Monroe or Flatt and Scruggs throughout this lesson. 

Hank_Garland: Bill Monroe was a great man and flatt & Scruggs were friends of mine, yes, we were good friends.

Michael: Hank knew most of the Nashville players, The scale we'll use is the G Major scale:



  Michael: much like the blues, Bluegrass progressions are based on the I, IV, V, notes of a scale



Michael: Here's the I, IV, V of G major, do any of you know what those notes would be?

Whup: GCD

Ian: G CD

jed: G C D

Michael: thanks, here's the looping jam track: you can play that scale and the licks to come:



Michael: ok this progression start with the G, the C, G, D or what you might call the I, IV, I, V of the scale, here are the chords and strumming patterns you can play





Hank_Garland: one time Bill Monroe was getting a mandolin from Gibson and he thought they were going to put Monroe on the instrument and he did not want it because it said Gibson. I thought that was pretty funny

Michael: that's funny, you can finger the G major chord using your 1,2,3,4 fingers

John: .i love that chord

Michael: notice in the video I pick the 6th string then strum the chords on the 1,2,3 strings, then you pick the 4th D string and repeat the picking pattern



Michael: here's the fingering I use now let's try the C chord pattern







Michael: on the C chord you can pick the 5th string, strum the 1,2,3 strings, then pick the 6th string while you lift the first finger on that string





Michael: let's try the last chord D







Michael: the D you pick the 4th string, then strum the bottom strings then pick the 5th string then strum the chords, ok now you can play these chords on the 3rd, 8th, and 0th frets





John: you can drop your two fingers on the low E & A down one step toad and get the lazy mans C?

Michael: yes you can John



John: i still have problems with that F shape chord

Michael: notice how I use the F chord fingering position on the 3rd, 8th, 10th

John: ok

Michael: it is difficult for many people to barre the 1st two strings, you can adjust your elbow by swinging it away or towards you, that should help. You can play the same chord progression to the jam track. First you play on the 3rd, then, 8th, 3rd, then 10th



Michael: here's the tab for the progression, now you can add licks to this progression, here's the first lick starting on the G

Sean: do tradition bluegrass players play up the neck at all?

  Michael: some do Sean






Michael: see how that lick uses the G maj chord notes, ok now you can use that lick then play the C chord on the 8th fret then the D chord on the 10th:





Michael: try playing the last lick to the looping jam track

Andy: ah, I get it now

Andy: the video helps

Michael: there's the lick

bill: Teacher , I know most of the different scales but I don't know how to use them so what do I need to do with them

Michael: you need to learn how to run the scale down into licks, runs and melodies. OK for the next lick you can pull-off notes:



Whup: it's a bit of a stretch that last lick :)

Kevin: no joke....any tips on reaching teach?

guitreal: seems easier up the neck

Michael: you can practice stretching by holding the finger on one fret........ then practice stretching one fret further each time, it's pretty much like a stretching exercise just like in running or sports

Eddie_solo: what fret can u reach from the 5th fret teach

Michael: you can get a farther stretch by moving your thumb to the middle of the back of the neck

Michael: let me see Eddie, I'll send you the picture

Skedman: I got the 12th fret.



Michael: here you go 5th to 13th

Andy: ouch!

Michael: you can practice stretching

Sean: I got 11

Larry: i bet he broke his finger and cheated ;)

Michael: it hurts of course but very beneficial

Ian: do you really use that stretch to play music.

Michael: you have to adjust for the fret spacing that's for sure

Eddie_solo: are stretches like that actually used when playing

Michael: sometimes Eddie

rick: How about hand strength you do any exercises

Michael: sure Rick you can do several exercises

bill: teacher , playing some of those classical tunes will stretch your fingers too

Michael: yes Bill, you bet eddie, that song makes your fingers ach playing the add9 chords for 5 minutes

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