Bluegrass Rhythm Survival Guide

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Tyler Grant

Bluegrass music is ubiquitous in Americana music and a major role of the guitar is to pin down a strong rhythm section behind mandolin and fiddle players, as well as vocalists. If you're joining in on a Bluegrass jam in the near future, or want to, this primer course is for you!

24 Lessons

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


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

The Bluegrass Rhythm Survival Guide is designed for the accomplished player that needs a quick primer on the bluegrass rhythm style. You'll learn the basic techniques and tendencies of the genre from a rhythm standpoint, then move on to practical application in the second section.


Series Introduction

In this video, Tyler talks a little bit about what to expect from this series.

3:18 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


The Boom Strum

The "boom strum" is a foundational concept in bluegrass. In this lesson, Tyler will introduce you to this technique and show you an exercise to get the hang of it.

8:25 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Doubling the Bass Notes

Usually the boom strum alternates bass notes, but sometimes we double the bass note so the bass can step up to the next note on the chord change. Tyler gives you an example of this here.

9:50 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Chord Progressions

Continuing to explore boom strum bass lines, in this lesson you will learn some common chord progressions in the key of G major. Each of them has its own bass progression, and together they will show you how to boom strum your way through all sorts of songs.

15:20 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Bass Note Variations

Walk up and walk down bass lines are another really great way to enhance your bluegrass playing. In this lesson we will explore some bass lines that will expand your bluegrass horizons even further.

6:14 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Rhythm Patterns

From the full shebang right on down through some boom strum variations, Tyler gives you some great rhythm variations aimed at giving you a full range of ideas to draw from in your playing.

16:37 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


G Runs

In bluegrass, a "run" is a form of musical punctuation that typically comes in at the end of a verse, chorus or a guitar break / lead. Tyler shows you how to sneak G runs into your rhythm playing to create accents and conversations in your playing.

16:47 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


D Runs

In keeping with the theme, let's look at runs for the key of D, appropriately called "D runs."

14:21 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


C Runs

G, D, and C are the most common chord shapes in bluegrass music. So maybe you can guess that we will be looking at "C runs" next. This set of runs is a little different, in that we have no open string to use for our root note.

12:40 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

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Bass Melody

We have spent a bit of time exploring boom strum, and the various runs in different keys, and now it is time to explore thinking of the bass lines as a melody, and to get creative with how it develops through the changes.

9:00 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Waltz Time

So far we have been working with songs that are in 4/4 time, but there are a lot of bluegrass songs in a waltz time of 3/4. In this lesson, Tyler gives you an exercise to explore playing a boom strum in waltz time.

6:03 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Hitting the Downbeat

When we are starting a song with a band, often we are trying to start with a strum on the downbeat, so we need to know how to get back into our boom strum rhythm from a strong down beat strum. In this lesson, Tyler will show you how to practice this skill.

6:45 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty



Lets take a look at syncopation and how it's used in Bluegrass. Tyler demonstrates it's use as a fill in between a vocal line or between melody sections. He demonstrates various rhythms and also talks about filling in for the bassist.

15:13 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Modern Bluegrass Rhythm

In the 60's, guitarist Del McCoury created the modern Bluegrass rhythm sound. It focuses less on bass notes and is generally busier than the rhythm guitar played in earlier Bluegrass music.

6:55 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Using a Capo

A staple of Bluegrass guitar playing is the capo. In this lesson Tyler talks about its use in Bluegrass and why it's a fundamental tool for the genre.

6:54 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Economizing for Fast Tempo

Bluegrass music is often played at fast tempos. During the course of a song or set of songs and tunes, you may find that fatigue start's to set in or that you just can't keep up. This lesson is all about ways to economize fast playing to avoid fatigue and keep the rhythm from falling behind.

16:14 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty



Ending a song or tune has stylistic considerations in Bluegrass music where it's not typical to see fade outs and you may need to close a tune after a free form jam. Tyler talks about endings in this lesson and provides several examples.

5:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Dynamics and Other Musical Points

When you're chugging along on a fast bluegrass rhythm it's easy to introduce a lot of "sameness" in your playing. One way to keep the rhythm from getting monotonous is to introduce dynamics and other tricks to spice up your playing.

7:11 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Billy in the Lowground - Old Time Boom Strum

Now it's time to take the concepts and technques learned in the previous section and apply them to actual music. Tyler starts by giving us an overview of what the performance section will contain, then jumps right in to a Boom Strum rhythm workout using the song Billy in the Lowground.

11:36 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Swing Low Sweet Chariot - Bass Melody

Using the song Sweet Low Sweet Chariot, you'll be tapping into the bass melody style along with a standard boom strum.

12:08 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


The Prisoner's Song - Syncopation

Tyler is going to use this song to teach you some syncopated ideas as they apply to bluegrass rhythm techniques. Here you can see how it can be used to accentuate certain parts of a song.

11:59 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Paddy on the Turnpike - Downbeat

Here is another example of the techniques we have learned being put to use. In this song, we will start the rhythm pattern with a strong down beat.

6:43 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Bmaj 1-b7-4-1 - Modern Bluegrass Rhythm

The moden bluegrass style has more strumming and less bass note movement. We will use this progression to become familiar with this more progressive sounding rhythm pattern.

6:02 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Old Joe Clark - Fast Tempo

Sometimes for a fast song, we will choose to economize our playing. In this last lesson, Tyler will show you a few patterns that can be worked into faster rhythm playing for bluegrass music.

21:45 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

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

Reviews & Feedback 95/100 with 86 ratings

Great teacher Great lesson TG is the reason I renewed my membership MIKERGR


Great teacher. Cool techniques.

Gunnar Steinn

It was easy to understand. But I still needed long time to geat there :)


Teacher is fantastic.


Tyler is a great teacher, easy to understand and great pace.


Tyler’s lessons are always engaging. I have to stop and repeat and slow them down, but in the grand scheme of things, I can feel myself getting better at integrating the material and feeling more confident at playing bluegrass at the low level