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Thread: Bluegrass Ukulele

  1. #1

    Default Bluegrass Ukulele

    Anyone here ever play bluegrass on a ukulele? What techniques have you found most useful?

  2. #2
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    Yeah, but I couldn't point out any techniques, since I play by ear. I just play what sounds right to me.

    Same goes for Old-timey stuff, and jug band music.


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  3. #3
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    I play some bluegrass also. Same technique I use on my guitar, including using a pick. Like Kurt said; I play by ear and what sounds right to me.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the replies. I guess that's more or less what I've been doing so far, strumming like a guitar but also hitting the high G string a lot with my thumb so it kind of works as a drone string (I've been playing a lot in the key of G, so that works). Then for the instrumental breaks, I try to imitate a banjo a little bit. Hopefully it doesn't sound too ridiculous.

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    What do you mean by "playing bluegrass"? Are we talking playing bluegrass songs in the basement, showing up at a bluegrass shindig with a ukulele, or playing in a bluegrass band? I mean, you can play anything on a ukulele, but bluegrass music itself is pretty much defined by the instruments. In my own experience I've found that it is very difficult to fit into bluegrass music with a ukulele. There just isn't a ukulele part. Not saying it can't be done, because as sure as I say this someone is going to post a video of somebody playing a ukulele in a bluegrass band, but I've not found it to be the norm. There is a combination bluegrass/ukulele festival in Minneapolis next month, but the two don't mix .
    Last edited by Rllink; 10-11-2017 at 05:05 AM.
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    I would think you'd be competing bigtime with the mando player, who often keeps rhythm with the chop style chords. Seems like a good soprano could do that, but the lightning fast mando leads with a pick would be tough to duplicate. Of course, if there's no mando player, you may fit right in for rhythm, as long as the banjo doesn't drown you out. I bet serious Grassers would sneer at a uke, many I've met can be very traditional: if the instrument wasn't in Bill Monroe's band, they don't want to include it.
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 10-11-2017 at 04:25 AM.
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    If you want to experience invisibility, show up at a Bluegrass jam with your uke. No one will be able to hear you speak, either. ��
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    Aaron Keim has posted several clawhammer-style uke tutorials on YouTube, if that's what you're considering.
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    And BTW, our jam did an all-bluegrass night at a local tap room during the International Bluegrass Music Association's annual convention. Several of us brought banjo ukes and we had a bass player, but with enough of us in a small space, it sounded pretty good.
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  10. #10
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    This reminds of a video I saw on youtube yesterday:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DELE3PNsIo

    I say play whatever you want however you want on ukulele. Just don't expect to be accepted by the traditional bluegrass crowd. I do get where they're coming from. They're trying to maintain a tradition, and that includes only certain instruments.

    That said there's a lot of what I've heard termed new-grass, or at least bluegrass type style mixed in with other rootsy type stuff. I've seen ukes with that.

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