Bluegrass Guitar Lessons

Flatpick – Bluegrass Guitar Lessons Online

Are you trying to unravel the mysteries of Bluegrass Guitar? 

Bluegrass guitar in the styles of Billy Strings, Bryan Sutton, David Grier, Tony Rice, and more?  

I’m here to help make your flatpick bluegrass guitar journey more efficient.  Below I’ll go over the major challenges one faces when trying to learn bluegrass guitar

My Qualifications: I’ve played professional for over 25 years.  I’ve played on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and the Ryman Auditorium.  I’m also a three-time Georgia State flatpick guitar champion.   Visit my About me page if you’d like:


  1. Bluegrass Licks
  2. Learning from TABS
  3. Bluegrass Guitar Scales
  4. Bluegrass Guitar Rhythm
  5. Right-hand technique
  6. Ear Training
  7. Theory
  8. Closing Thoughts

Bluegrass Guitar lesson Breakdown

Bluegrass guitar licks:

Why does learning licks not work?  How many licks can you memorize? 10? 30? 100?  Then what?  Imagine if you tried learning to speak by memorizing 50 words but you didn’t understand how sentences are structured or how those words fit together? Naturally, no one could make any sense out of what you said.  In short-not all licks go together, they are like pieces of a puzzle.

This is why so many bluegrass guitar players sound like they are only stringing licks together and you can’t hear the melody to the song.  They never learned melodies, they learned licks.  They never learned how the licks fit together to make up a larger musical structure.  Having someone that has already been through the puzzle pieces phase can seriously speed up your development.

**There’s nothing wrong with licks in balance.  Licks are part of the equation, but not everything.

Learning from TAB doesn’t work

I’ve had people argue with me over this.  However, I end the argument quickly with the following:  Remember the names I mentioned earlier? Bryan Sutton? David Grier?  Name me ONE great/famous bluegrass guitar player that learned primarily from TAB?  There isn’t one. 

Now, that isn’t to say TAB is bad and you shouldn’t ever use it.  TAB is meant to be supplemental material and I HIGHLY recommend learning how to read it.  I use it in my lessons a good bit.  At the same time, it is a minor part of things and many people make it the MAJOR part of things.  Then they wonder why they can’t learn to play.  TAB doesn’t lead to becoming a great player.

Another problem-What happens when someone asks you to play on a song you don’t have a TAB for?  That there doesn’t exist one for?  If your musical training doesn’t prepare you for this, then it has failed.

Many students become TAB ADDICTS.  It’s a hard habit to break, but the sooner you do, the better off you’ll be!

Bluegrass Guitar Scales

Scales aren’t a bad thing.  In fact, I recommend learning SOME of them.  Once again, the problem is the scales can become the focus of the training and it shouldn’t be.  My first guitar lesson when I was 15 years old-my teacher gave me a sheet of paper with SEVEN modes in SEVEN different positions on it.  I didn’t know one song or one chord.  True story!  Horrible!!

Scales don’t do you any good if you have the improper foundation or don’t know the basics.

Scales are meant to increase your improvising abilities, to open up your fingerboard freedom so you don’t get lost.  Lastly, what scales you work on is dependent on the genre.  If you want to learn jazz or classical, you’ll need to know more scales than bluegrass.

Bluegrass guitar is largely based on pentatonics, major scales and Modes. 

Bluegrass Guitar Rhythm

A lot of people spend all of their time on learning leads, yet forget the bluegrass rhythm guitar skills.  Meanwhile, if you play with others, you’ll spend the majority of your time playing rhythm.  What are the defining characteristics of proper bluegrass guitar rhythm?  It has to give the music drive and propel it forward.  With every bluegrass song you learn, you should also practice your rhythm guitar skills as well.

Bluegrass Guitar Technique

guy playing a martin acoustic guitar

You don’t want to get five years into this and plateau off because you didn’t develop the proper right-hand guitar technique.  A lot of bluegrass music is super FAST (Go listen to Clay Jones play Big Mon if you haven’t).  In order to play fast, your right-hand has to make the proper motions at the proper time.  I can make sure you aren’t making mistakes that will mess you up for the rest of your musical life. I’VE seen this happen repeatedly!!  The longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to fix it.

We work on strict alternate picking and let me tell you, it helps to have another set of eyes watch your right-hand because sometimes it can have a MIND OF IT’S OWN.

Ear Training

Suppose you are at a jam and someone calls a song you’ve never heard.  Now what?  You had better have trained your ears to hear chord changes.  You can’t possibly memorize your way through all the material you’ll need to play at a bluegrass jam.  I’ll give you exercises to increase your hearing abilities. 

Students that spend time trying to play along with recordings or learn things by ear do better than students that only play from reading tabs or playing by licks.


Theory isn’t meant to be a bunch of memorized facts or “useless knowledge.” It is meant to increase your HEARING ABILITIES. I’ll teach you the exact theory lessons you need to know. I won’t throw in extra stuff you don’t need until, well, you need it.  Theory can help you improvise and create your own bluegrass guitar breaks.

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve made it all the way through this and you are interested in signing up for virtual online bluegrass guitar lessons, please contact me.  I’ll get back with you ASAP, get to know you a bit better, assess where you are, and devise a plan.  Let’s make you into the bluegrass picker you’ve always wanted to be!

All you’ll need is a free ZOOM account and a desire to learn.  My lessons page contains all the info about policies, rates, and more.