Bluegrass Flatpicking Survival Guide

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Tyler Grant

Bluegrass flatpicking as a genre is full of unique repertoire that includes genre bending concepts and techniques. From blazing hot licks to banjo rolls, it's got a little something for everyone. Want to join in a Bluegrass jam and make it out alive? This course is for you!

21 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

96% Appoval

46 of 47 of our members have given this their approval.

Tabs & Info

Download tabs, helpers, JamTracks and docs included with lessons.


Access this course, along with all other courses with Membership.

Full Course Breakdown

Tyler Grant takes a paired down approach to Bluegrass Flatpicking in this survival guide. Intended for the accomplished player needing a basic understanding of the style, Tyler starts out with the concepts and techniques that make up this unique style. Taking the lessons learned in the concepts section, you'll apply them practically in the performance section.



Tyler Grant introduces 'The Bluegrass Flatpicking Survival Guide'.

3:02 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Flatpicking Physics

To start off the Bluegrass flatpicking survival guide, Tyler will first give an overview of the concept section before launching into teaching the basic physics surrounding the Flatpicking technique.

6:35 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Picking Hand Technique

It's time to calibrate our picking hand. There's a lot going on with your picking hand so it's important to make sure your entire picking mechanism is up to speed. Tyler discusses how to get there.

6:54 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Fretting Hand Technique

Just like your picking hand, your fretting hand will need to be calibrated. Lets spend some time getting your fretting hand sorted out.

4:54 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Major Scales

A core basic component of Bluegrass music is the use of major scales in songs and tunes. Tyler works with you to not only get the major scale under your fingers, but also in your ear.

8:09 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Blues Scales

The Bluegrass style borrows from the blues and other classic Americana genres. It would be impossible to survive a Bluegrass jam without also knowing the blues scale.

6:43 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



Bluegrass Flatpicking repertoire is made up of songs and tunes, each with their own characteristics. Tyler discusses the Bluegrass song in this lesson and uses the traditional song Swing Low Sweet Chariot as an example.

3:23 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Melody Strum

You won't always have a band to back you up as a Bluegrass guitarist. As a result, it's important to know how to create solo arrangements. The first technique Tyler discusses is called Melody Strum.

5:52 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

View this Lesson


A staple of Bluegrass guitar, crosspicking is a borrowed technique from the Banjo that can also be used to spice up a melody for a solo arrangement.

8:05 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Kickoffs and Breaks

Two elements of Bluegrass playing that are typically present are the kickoff and the break. Although the kickoff is not typically played by the guitarist, in a solo arrangement it is necessary to be able to cover this part of a traditional bluegrass song or tune. The break is another word for solo and where you have the most artistic license as an instrumentalist to go wild.

1:52 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



Tyler mentioned previously that Bluegrass repertoire is made up of both songs and tunes. In this lesson he'll discuss the tune. These are typically derived from fiddle players and are meant to accompany dances.

5:15 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Taters and Tags

In Bluegrass music, the Tater and Tag are the bookends of the jam. The Tater sets the tempo and the rhythm and the Tag ends the song or tune.

4:05 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



Bluegrass music has a certain bounce to it derived from the fact that it typically accompanies a physical dance. The shuffle concept is a combination of swinging notes out of rhythm and accenting notes that are off beat. Every player has a shuffle style they prefer and in this lesson Tyler will help you find yours.

3:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Using a Capo

Some would say that capo usage is cheating. Not so in Bluegrass music. This form nearly requires the use of open position shapes, commonly the C, G and D shapes. In order to change keys to support a vocalist, the capo is a must have in the Bluegrass Flatpicker's arsenal.

4:26 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Seeing it Done

There isn't much better way to learn than by observation. Before Tyler starts the performance section of this survival guide, he discusses seeing the Bluegrass playing of others that have come before you.

1:40 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Performance 1 - Kickoff

Now we move on to practical application of the concepts taught in the first set of lessons. To get you started, Tyler will give an overview of the performance section, then jump in to a Bluegrass kickoff using the song Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

10:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Performance 2: Crosspicking

Ok. Now let's expand on Swing Low Sweet Chariot to include the chorus and the verse with an alternate picking style. In this lesson, Tyler will incorporate a cross-picking technique that can be used to add color and flourish to the piece while still maintaining the core chord structure.

13:02 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Performance 3: Guitar Break in C

Swing Low Sweet Chariot contains one of the most common chord progressions in bluegrass music, making it a perfect training tool. Here, Tyler will provide a guitar break in C that targets specific melody notes while utilizing key embellishments that we have learned so far.

9:15 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Performance 4: Guitar Break in G

Moving forward, let's keep with the same chord progression but detach it from the Swing Low Sweet Chariot melody. We'll use this popular progression to expand our vocabulary of the licks and tools that are useful when navigating a I - IV - I - V progression.

9:57 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Performance 5: Guitar Break in D

Let's round out our study of the three main keys that bluegrass music is played in with this guitar break in D, which uses a I - IV - I - V progression. Using these shapes, in conjunction with your capo, will offer you the ability to play in any of the twelve keys!

8:03 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty


Performance 6: Jamming on Leather Britches

Congratulations! Here we are on the final lesson of The Bluegrass Flatpicking Survival Guide! In this lesson, Tyler will walk us through a smokin' jam of the legendary bluegrass standard 'Leather Britches'.

11:39 Runtime

4.5 Difficulty

Let's Start. Together.

Setup your account and explore our courses, teaching tools and resources.

Get Started
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Playing since 1980
  • 461 lessons at JamPlay

Reviews & Feedback 96/100 with 47 ratings

all of the above


You were gong a little fast on the licks at the end and I had to keep going over and over them. I did it though and hope I can apply them to songs when I get those notes into my muscles.


breathing and relaxing is difficult for me


Tyler makes it simple and simple just works! Thanks so much!