View Full Version : Bluegrass!

07-13-2011, 01:51 AM
My husband and I attended the Redlands Bluegrass Convention, in Redlands, QLD last weekend. You might be surprised but bluegrass is huge in Australia. We had such an amazing time. We camped on-site, and I took my ukulele! I attended some guitar workshops and did some jamming, and Andrew had a great time with his double bass too.

We are both fired up to play more bluegrass! Is anyone here doing it with a uke? I think I need to try a low G to make some of the rolls have that bass-y sound on beats 1 and 3, but not sure what other techniques I can try. Maybe some mandolin tricks? Any advice would be great?

Hippie Dribble
07-13-2011, 03:20 AM
Hi Misty

I love bluegrass music too. There's a great book out by Fred Sokolow that you might find helpful:


07-13-2011, 03:33 AM

I recently picked up the uke after playing guitar for awhile and I've been trying to play traditional country, bluegrass, old country gospel, etc. ...... the kind of stuff I like to play on guitar. I can't really give you any advice, but I find myself trying to make the uke sound like a mandolin a lot of the times, even started using a pick to get a really clean attack until my right hand technique gets a little better. I don't really know how to play mandolin either, so it's kind of trial and error - but it's great fun and I'm starting to get some of the sounds I want out of the uke. I'm curious to see what kind of advice you get from more experienced players myself.....

Eugene - thanks for the link - that looks like an interesting book, going to have to check it out....

phil hague
07-13-2011, 04:01 AM
check out ken middletons web page. He has done some good bluegrass uke stuff which even I can make a fist of trying to play.

07-13-2011, 04:33 AM

In this video Hawaiimusicsupply talk about doing a banjo run with a high g uke.

07-13-2011, 05:36 AM
I've been playing bluegrass on the uke right along - actually, the only stuff i used to play on guitar that i can't play on the ukulele are those things that required runs on the E and A bass strings... so little by little, I've been finding where they go on the Uke.

I've also found that I've been playing banjo tunes, i.e. Foggy Mountain Breakdown, orange blossom special, etc. on the Uke. true, i do it more in an old-timey style rather than using a Scruggs 3-finger picking style, but the songs are recognizable.

So ignore the roadblocks, and you two can play to your hearts' content!


07-13-2011, 09:27 PM
Hi Misty

I love bluegrass music too. There's a great book out by Fred Sokolow that you might find helpful:


Now that looks interesting!

07-14-2011, 05:56 AM
+1 on the Sokolow book, it is a cracker, and Ken Middleton's sight as well. Then head on off to 23Skiddo (http://www.youtube.com/user/23skidooooooooo), Eugene Ukulele (http://www.youtube.com/user/eugeneukulele), and BigFrankieJ's (http://www.youtube.com/user/bigfrankiej3211)Youtube channels

07-14-2011, 06:12 AM
"Previous life" Bluegrass Mando player here! I noticed that Aquila sells a Mandolin Tuning string set. I have been tempted to try them :)

08-05-2011, 04:23 AM
There's a great book out by Ondrej Sarek, also.

08-05-2011, 07:00 AM
Hmmm.............I play some bluegrass on my mandolin and am a frequenter of bluegrass jams when I have the time and inclination. I would think if you want to play bluegrass on the uke you would want to go with a banjo uke. I think the issue is that bluegrass is played LOUD! So you would need a really loud uke. My loudest uke is my Keli'i and it is no where near as loud as my quiet mandolin (a Michael Kelly-known for their subdued sound) I once took it to a jam and I couldn't even hear it. Should prove to be an interesting endeavor though. Good luck with it. If you go jamming, be prepared for some sneers from the "purists" though.

Harold O.
08-05-2011, 04:04 PM
"If you go jamming, be prepared for some sneers from the "purists" though."

You know you're doing something special when you make the old folks smile by offending the purists. And if you're playing well with feeling, the guys who matter won't care.

09-04-2011, 11:20 PM
'New thing' ukulele bluegrass class

09-20-2011, 11:39 PM
Tab and slow midi for bluegrass ukulele

09-21-2011, 01:39 AM
Looks interesting, Ondrej, I'll have to check that out......

09-21-2011, 02:05 AM
I think the uke sounds good playing Bluegrass because it's kind of mandolin-ish sounding. You can do the chop strum like the mandolin. I used to go to the Bluegrass Assoc meeting down here and brought the uke once. You may get some stare from the Bluegrass "purists", but that'okay. Most people were cool with it. It blends in well with the other traditional instruments. As someone posted, if the uke isn't loud it probably won't be heard, but you won't be taking breaks with it.

You can actually simulate playing the banjo on the uke by tuning it the same as a banjo. The banjo is normally tuned Open G (gDGBD). You can simulate the same thing by tuning a Baritone ukulele to DGBD instead of DGBE. You'll be missing the top drone string, but can work around that. The same can be done on a regular uke by tuning it to GCEG instead of GECA. You should get a "Low G" string though. You'll be in an Open C tuning. By doing this you can work on Scruggs style 3 finger rolls or clawhammer style as well. There's a lot of banjo tab on the internet you can download and use.

I actually posted some videos on doing this a couple of years ago you can check out if interested. Pardon the mistakes in the video. Always need practice.

Ukulele & Banjo 1

Ukulele & Banjo 2

Clawhammer Uke Medley

You can also play Hawaiian slack key on the uke in the same Open G tuning:


09-21-2011, 03:12 AM
berean - good stuff! Thanks for the information. Also enjoyed the older videos - especially the clawhammer medley.... been trying to do that a little myself lately, nice to see such a good example.

09-22-2011, 02:54 PM
23skidoo: Enjoyed your videos.

09-22-2011, 03:10 PM
23skidoo: Enjoyed your videos.