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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: “Shady Grove” (Basic)

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going to look at a great old tune called
Shady Grove here for the basic curriculum.
I'm going to play this at 70 beats a
minute, and
then we'll talk a little bit about it.
One, two, and one, two.
All right, great old song.
Good lonesome mountain sort of mournful
melody there in A minor.
And so I just talk you through the tab
Again we got two pick up notes, quarter
notes so those will all be downstrokes.
Keeping with our pick pattern.
Down, now there's a bit if you think about
the melody.
This is just a direct sorta reflection of
the melody.
We're tying the first quarter note to the
and of two so
that makes keeping with our pattern of
numbered notes are downstrokes,
the ands of the eighth notes and the bar
are upstrokes.
The next note played is the and of two so
that's gonna be an upstroke,
That's how that happens there, and
it kind of sets up beat three of that bar.
And that's basically the, the title of the
Shady grove, all right?
Three quarter notes in a row,
three down strokes in a row.
then a similar thing as in the first bar.
we got a little string change right there.
It's on the, the open E is on the and of
So as you play the downstroke on the, on
the first fret, the C.
Then your,
your hand will play the upstroke on the
next string down.
So you may isolate that.
Just use,
use the natural momentum of your hand.
Now, if, if anything,
just practice that move right there of, of
a down stroke.
On a fretted C to, to the open E.
It's really easy to kind of tense
up right there.
And then we got a descending line.
That same kinda move where there's a,
a fu, a, the downbeat of,
of the that bar there is a downstroke on
the third fret, the D.
And again, you can kinda look at these.
You can break these down into simpler
phrases to practice.
And that would be one right there.
And then.
This kinda brings us back to the end of
the first half.
And then there's some extra pick-up notes.
And then again with our phrase with,
with the with the tied downbeat.
Then we're gonna get a little more notey
in this back half.
And here's a,
here's a good flat picking kind of climb
right here out of A minor.
works A minor is a relative minor of the
key of C.
And if you're unfamiliar with that
we'll learn a lot more about it later on
in the curriculum.
But essentially because we're playing out
of A minor,
all the notes in the C major scale will
work against it, and so
that passage there, if you're familiar
with your C major scale-
those notes come out of that, that scale
form right there.
Now back with some more phrasing there.
With the, with the tied A tied quarter
It's a little more of,
kind of keeping with our eighth note theme
Now that last bar
of the first page right there that, that's
a challenging little descending line.
Because what, what happens there,
again, we've got our downstroke on a
fretted third fret.
And then up to an upstroke on the next
string higher.
that gets us to the downbeat of the, of
the third beat of that bar.
But you can't really rest here.
And this is sort of the opposite of that,
of the other challenge, where we've got a
downstroke on the open G.
And then you'll see the and of three, one
and two and three and
is the open fourth string.
So that makes it an upstroke.
There's three and, so
that bar again real slow.
One and two and let me start over.
One and two and three and four and.
Again what I
want you to feel is that you can just sort
of trust the rhythm in that bar, [SOUND].
That's what's really, you know,
the mechanics of what your arm should be
Just allow, allow that to happen,
just be aware of what that feels like when
that can happen.
You know we're gonna kinda,
keep this momentum going here to end the
And then,
that last quarter note sets up the last
part of the tune.
One little note about this last bar, this
last little-
You know, closing the door kind of phrase.
They're all,
all the hits are on numbered notes.
Beat one, beat two, and beat three.
Notice there's an and of two written with,
with the hammer-on it right there.
So we're, bringing in our hammer-ons and
pull-offs for actual melodic and rhythmic,
support, to complete the line and
so the way that, that sort of count that
in your head.
If you, if you were to look at the eighth
notes again.
One and two and three.
One and two and three.
And so we, you really want to make sure
just as we talked about settling with
your, with your picking arm, picking hand,
and the mechanics of that.
We're also starting to think about
coordinating the moves
with the fretting hand with hammer-ons,
pull-offs, slides, things like that.
When all that's kinda firing together then
you've got, you got, you got this sort of
complete rhythmic kind of control working
with your technique.
And that's that's a good place to be.
And just comes with a lot of practice.
So this is a great old tune.
I enjoy working on it and I look forward
to hearing from you.
going to look at the rhythm changes for
Shady Grove and kind of how to play
rhythm with a song like this and where to
think about some walking bass and some,
some options like that as we're working
here in the basic curriculum.
So again, we're starting with A minor.
This song's
the song's in essentially in the key of A
A minor is a relative of C.
They kind of work well together.
So first chord being A minor.
One, two, three.
Change it to G.
Two bars of A.
And the next change is C.
And notice we, we've mentioned here a
couple of times throughout the site where
there is, if you've got a couple of bars
to kind of settle in with a with a,
with a with the rhythm and then there's a
new change.
Two bars later you kinda you can usually
use that as a clue to know when to
kinda walk into the chord.
You know again we're. [MUSIC] Talked about
how the C major relates to A minor.
And so all C major scale notes will work
in this song here.
Here walking from A.
Up to C is what we're gonna use there and
the second bar of that line, that whole
line is.
the last you know and also traditionally
the last two beats of the bar are good
place to think about putting walks in.
then again those strokes are good solid
rest strokes to get that get the,
the box moving and get the air kinda
punching out of the guitar.
A G.
Now here's a bar of an A for two beats and
an E-minor split with two beats.
sometimes in the song you may see this
Some people might play an E seven or an.
E major, E major type chord.
You know this song is a lonesome kind of
tune and, and it falls into the category
of, of slightly modal.
It's basically you know, A minor is,
is the strong kind of leading tonal center
But there a lot of chords, a lot of, lot
of voicings in, in old time music and
bluegrass that are kinda, they're neither
major nor minor.
And so, we refer to that commonly in
bluegrass as a,
as a modal key, which kinda, a lot will
And if you were to actually play an E
without any third.
The third being the G sharp.
Makes it the major.
G open third.
Gives it that E minor.
If you remove again what modal thinking
does is it sort of removes any sort of
opportunity for
a note like a third to, to effect the
sound of the chord.
So you would just play the roots.
In, in the, in the fifth,
which would be the B.
And the fifth of E is B, so.
You know it sort of even has a little
darker sound to not.
Or. Either or. I, I chose to put E Minor
here because it's, I think, for working on
rhythm especially to the basic level to
think about this big broad strums.
It would,
it would definitely works in this song.
And it kind of keeps in with the,
the thinking of just the general vibe of
this kind of tune.
And so that brings us up to the back half
And then we are going to walk again.
And basically the same thing again.
All right.
So there's the,uh, all the, all the chords
of, Shady Grove so good luck playing that.