Bluegrass or flat picking book recommendations

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Gogogoch, May 14, 2021.

  1. Gogogoch

    Gogogoch Tele-Meister

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    Hi all,

    I’ve been learning some tunes from Tony Rice Teaches Bluegrass. I really like the book, but it starts off with the melodies for Red-Haired Boy and Little Sadie, but then moves on to intros and accompaniment and seems geared towards playing Bluegrass with a vocalist. I don’t want to subject anyone to my singing, so I’m looking to play tunes and learn how to build up to taking breaks of my own too.

    Should I be looking at Flat-picking books rather than Bluegrass books?

    Can anyone recommend a good book that has the melodies (ideally in tab and standard notation, but just tabs is fine too) for playing bluegrass or flat picking melodies?

    thanks.
     
  2. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Tony was a grand performer, but first a flatpicker. You probably know Doc Watson and Norman Blake are similar titans in the flatpicking world. All three used performance, which includes singing, as a career path. When I think of a flatpicker who poured his career into just picking, and teaching, I think of Steve Kaufman. I think his focus reveals his competition-based flavor, which is fine, but look at his stuff, and cull thru the stuff presented to win contests. He's not my all-time favorite stylist, but he has put more into teaching just flatpicking, than anyone. And he's a helluva picker by any standard.
     
  3. scook

    scook Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Steve Kaufman and Dan Crary both have good books. A lot of Kaufman’s stuff will give you different playing and skill levels and variations on tunes.

    If they’re still around, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine has some good resources.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
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  4. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    There are some good free resources online with tab you can print off. Just search "flatpicking xxxxx xxxxxx" and see what shows up.

    Brandon Johnson has got some nice YouTube tutorials with dual cameras where he breaks it down real slow, then speeds up. Some of his stuff is free and lot's of others for not too much money. NFA.
     
  5. dhodgeh

    dhodgeh TDPRI Member

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    Go to www.flatpick.com. That is the site for the now out of publication Flatpick Guitar Magazine.

    You can purchase the entire 20 year archive on a thumb drive that will keep you busy for years.

    Also the home of the Flatpicking Essentials series of books/courses. Each volume focuses on a specific aspect of flatpicking. Volume I explores the history of flatpicking and get you into playing rhythm.

    Also many other courses and instructables.

    Highly recommended.

    As mentioned in another post, Steve Kaufman has made his name on providing instructional material on flat picking. His site is www.flatpik.com. Loads of books/videos there.

    We're scheduled to be at his Kamp in June, after it was postponed last year.


    D
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
  6. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Check out some videos of David Grier, he does not really sing. He is a monster picker and if you like his stuff he offers Skype lessons. There are tons of books but I don't know as you can get a true Bluegrass vibe from a book.
     
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  7. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have no idea if it is any good, but maybe someone can comment!

    Clarence White's brother, Roland, released a book called, "The Essential Clarence White – Bluegrass Guitar Leads". It includes 2cds as well. It focuses on his early material.

    Worth it?
     
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  8. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    This was the book I was about to recommend. It's tabs for the recorded music on the cd, which is all guitar flatpicking instrumentals. I think bluegrass playing is all about doing variations on the melody, and that's what this is. Clarence White was a master at manipulating things like timing and doing little variations of the melody. You can really learn a lot from this, but be willing to put a lot of work in.

    I also have a book & cd called Master Bluegrass Guitar for Intermediate and Advanced Players by Russ Barenberg, which is all instrumental flatpicking - 6 CDs plus a book of tabs. It will keep you busy for a long time!
     
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  9. Texicaster

    Texicaster Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Here's a good source!

    http://www.bluegrassguitar.com/

    Note the "Top 10" list...http://www.bluegrassguitar.com/top10_complete.aspx

    These are pretty much the tunes you want to learn so you can get out there and play with others and nothing as good as jams for improving skills.

    Steve Kaufman "20 Bluegrass Guitar Solos That Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know! Series 1" is essential and subsequent volumes good too! Steve's "Complete Flatpicking Guitar Book" is great if you're a beginner. One of THE best beginning to intermediate guitar books I've found. Even some of the beginning stuff covers stuff I missed like harmonic tuning explained...
     
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  10. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Another thing to add, flatpicking is an extension of fiddle tunes, being tunes collected thru the ages that survive based on generational culling. The root fiddle tune is like a "head" in jazz. Its a melody that usually has an A and B part. Not too different from a lot of country and rock, and in fact probably the basis for most familiar tune structures we know as telecaster fans. Around the 1960's, some standout pickers got into the improvising aspect of picking, so that you augment or change around the tune like variations, similar to solo's in the tele world. Tony Rice was probably the first really progressive flatpicker to do it on a grand scale, but Doc Watson and Norman Blake were certainly ahead, with maybe less dramatic variations.

    I tend to like more subtle variations, and step back from the TR approach. Dan Crary might be about as progressive as I was interested in pursuing - mostly because for a TR approach to work, you really need a band format to back you up, and the scourge of flatpicking, is trying to compete on an equal level with banjos, fiddles, and dobros just on shear volume. David Grier or Bryan Sutton or any of the newer super pickers are every bit as creative and spectacular as any soloist today - but - you won't know it, because a flattop just can't generate the volume, so it becomes an apologetic contribution, unless you are in the studio, or on a super-tweaked stage. Its just the reality.

    As a result, I find the most flattering setting for flatpicking, to be two guitars sharing. Check out the dual projects by Watson, Blake and Rice, as well as others. Two flatpicking guitars is actually a tradition going back before the war, where guitarists excused themselves from the loud raunchy settings of blasting bands, into a controlled, refined setting, where nuance and expression are much better captured by the performer and listener alike.
     
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  11. Rick Schmidlin

    Rick Schmidlin TDPRI Member

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    Kaufman is the best to start , he is teacher of teachers and runs a great loved Lamp.
     
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  12. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Many flatpicking books have been published, but many are out of print. You could try Abe Books or Powell's books. They are some of the biggest used book sources in the US.

    David Bromberg has some mighty fine flatpicking fiddle tune recordings. He also has a couple instructional DVDs out, but I don't believe they are all flatpicking.

    I would google "flatpicking instruction DVD" and see what pops up. Some retailers like Elderly and StewMac have decent resources as well.
     
  13. Alcohen

    Alcohen Tele-Meister

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    If you have trouble sticking to books like I do (and even if you don't), you might check out Brian Sutton's flatpick guitar class/system on Artistworks.com. There are written materials, video demonstrations of each song or exercise, and the opportunity to submit your videos for him to critique. That's a lot of bang for your buck there. It's a very thoughtful system for mass teaching over the internet for not a lot of money compared to individual lessons.
     
  14. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    At the risk of sounding like a broken record... Steve Kaufman. https://www.flatpik.com/

    It's all about the melody... the song! All the fancy stuff extends the melody and falls into place after you know the song inside/out and backward. Nobody teaches that better than Kaufman.
     
  15. Gogogoch

    Gogogoch Tele-Meister

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    Thanks. Would you recommend his Complete Flatpicking Guitar Book? Or any others in particular?

    I recently bought a Russ Barenburg book, but was disappointed to find much of it based on accompanying a vocalist and none of the solos/breaks were transcribed. What I’d like is a book that teaches the tune AND a solo or break and then explains how the solo works - note choice, arpeggios, etc. - so that I can have a go at making my own solos (that don’t sound so pedestrian). Cheers!
     
  16. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Based on your opening post (wanting to learn songs and melody's) I'd suggest taking a look at his series "20 Bluegrass Guitar Solo's Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know". Find one with songs that interest you and give it a try. Those books come with a price tag, but they include a bunch of CD's and are quite deep in material.

    Don't let the word "solo's" scare you off. When Steve says "solos" he is often referring to "songs" you can pick on your own. It starts with the melody then expands on it.

    NOTE: If you already know how to play guitar (you just can't flat pick) stay away from any of his "beginner" or "easy" stuff - it truly is "Mel Bay Book 1" levels.
     
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  17. burtf51

    burtf51 Tele-Holic

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    How long have you played guitar, do you play by ear, can you hear/hum the melody to a tune and can you find notes and chords to the melody as you hear it. Now I'm just an old timer and a couch player nowadays and have always played by ear. In my case I never cared or wanted to use tabs to try and learn a tune. I just always felt if I had to use a tab to try and play a song I didn't have no business trying to play it anyway, but that's just me and one of my idiosyncrasies
     
  18. johnny k

    johnny k Poster Extraordinaire

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  19. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Friend of Leo's

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    I second this! I was a subscriber to the magazine...very high quality and excellent content! I never did try the Flatpicking Essentials, but I would expect them to be excellent as well.

    Just in case you did not notice, on their website they have some examples of the lessons that are in the magazines that include tab and audio, for example...

    Lessons (flatpick.com)
     
  20. ndcaster

    ndcaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    this guy makes a lot of sense



    +1 on learning top ten tunes

    I'd add White Freightliner
     
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