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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: “Nine Pound Hammer” - Key of A (Intermediate)

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Flatpick Guitar with Bryan Sutton. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Bluegrass Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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The next tune we are going to look at in
in learning how to,
you know understand rhythm and how to use
blue grass rhythm is
the classic Nine Pound Hammer played at
most jam sessions.
Anywhere you go, everybody knows Nine
Pound Hammer.
And so I'll just jump right in.
I'll play I've got a, again, a leadline.
And you can play with all these leadlines
as well.
You can download them.
And, so, here we're going to jump in with,
with everything that we've talked about so
far and here's a nine pound hammer.
A one, two, three.
[MUSIC]
All right.
Classic blue grass Nine Pound Hammer.
Couple other things that were in play now.
Again, we're talking about, you know, a
lot of the elements of bluegrass that,
that sort of define it.
We talked about the G run.
You know, we've also talked about walking
bass and, and
alternate coded ways to sort of move
through the chords.
[MUSIC]
Employing
a hammer on kind of a, little effect
there.
[MUSIC]
Instead of.
[MUSIC]
Just like we talked about how hammer
ons can kind of smooth out certain things.
When you're playing songs at quicker
tempos like this, especially in bluegrass.
[MUSIC]
That's ano, ano,
another sort of, you know, trick within,
with all these things we've talked about.
And, but the basic idea is that,
you're doing things within your rhythm
that don't get in the way of the melody.
The melody dictates
[MUSIC]
[SOUND] And
then that's the end of a phrase so.
[MUSIC]
You know,
you have a, you have a smaller moment
there.
Some of these tunes we've looked at have,
have longer stretches of space you know,
that you can, you can mess around with
different ways to sort of,
to make yourself known there and to
enhance the picture.
And another thing about nine pound hammer
is that it's the the reason I chose it in
this list is that it's, it also has a
verse and a chorus.
If you'll notice, the melody of the verse
starts out.
[MUSIC]
That's the lead part of the verse.
And the chorus starts out And it goes
higher.
[MUSIC]
you should also be able to sense a change
in intensity from.
To in, it's the chorus that happens every
time,
so, another sort of new thing to think
about in bluegrass,
as you move to the chorus would be like
this.so
heres the verse.
You know, the melody
moves up in intensity, so I'm gonna raise
my level intensity as well, as well.
Careful not try to over, overstate it to a
point to where it's distracting.
But that's one of the, ano, another thing
about acoustic, acoustic,
play acoustic music, ensemble music, you
know, bluegrass especially here,.
Is that, you now, you can do things within
the group, you know,
that create a bigger dynamic for the
group.
You know, and it's one of the great things
about being in a band and
being able to work on these things.
And, you know, we've got lots of bluegrass
instruments
covered here at the bluegrass school and
it's.
As any, any, any of the people that I play
with, that's,
that's one of the first things that we, on
a, on a recording session or whatever.
It's, we start sort of working on those
kind of things.
Either specifically talking about them or
just you know?
It's the first time I've played with a
particular group of people, you know part
of the common sense that I hope to bring
into a, a situation is I'm gonna listen.
And I'm gonna.
Try to, try to detect things like that.
I'm going to try to detect not only where
the phrases are if,
if it's a song I don't know but I'm going
to try to detect different levels of,
of intensity from the melody or the singer
or the soloist or whatever it may be.
And and so those are basic things.
You know, Nine Pound Hammer we've got our
capo on the second fret so we've got the,
[MUSIC].
That's the bluegrass A and
one of the other little elements that I'm
working here.
Is hammering into the g.
[MUSIC]
We got this, one of the great things about
this bluegrass forms is it kind of leaves
a little bit.
We can kind a, we've got a loose finger
here that, that can kind of either-
[MUSIC]
We've got that option or
just to put it down and make another voice
of the chord.
[MUSIC]
One of the popular things in bluegrass
we talked about the.
Strong down beats.
You know, that's the reason we walk into
things.
You know?
When our rhythm is smooth and consistent.
[MUSIC]
And
then the
[MUSIC]
That's sort of a, the.
Hammer on into that low note right there,
into that A.
[MUSIC]
It helps define that beat.
And again, all these are sort of
traditions that were set a long time ago,
in this, old-time, you know, country
music.
And, and that's, that's one of the great
things that sort of continues today as,
and to be aware of as bluegrass rhythm
players, are.
Little things like that.
And you know, that's another element with
you know learning about playing these
tunes.
You can kinda work on that stuff.
So, that leads us to the to the end of
these four tunes.
And so I want you to submit a video,
I want you to I want you to show me how
you're working on these things.
We talked about Bluegrass rhythm as
improvisation.
And so you've got the lead tracks there
you can download and
what I'd like to hear is you playing with
those lead lines.
Trying to employ a lot of these things
that we've talked about.
There's a lot there and a lot of tools and
again,
don't feel like you've got to use
everything all the time.
I'm, I'm more impressed.
With what I'll be looking for are how you
use things and how,
I can tell if you're listening to the
phrases of the melody.
The, the, the key lesson here is, is
listening.
What makes a good musician is to be a good
listener.
And so we're, you know, we've, we've
talked a lot about building technique and
about building specific things and we're
gonna continue that but.
We're at a point now with these lessons
where we're really gonna start working on
building musicianship and that's that's
all about listening.
And, I showed you some ways not to do
things and
showed you lots of ways to do things.
So, that's please come submit a video if
you playing one of these tunes.
I can, I can look at that and say, yes
you've, you're getting it and
you can move on to certain things.
Or, or provide feedback to you know, to
help you kind of work on things and so I,
I look forward to seeing that and helping
you guys out.
[MUSIC]