Howdy from Nashville TN! I hope everyone is doing well. I recently stumbled across this site and just love the level of detail in this content and I am excited to dive into it to break plateaus in my own playing. I am primarily a bluegrass player from North Carolina but studied jazz for a bit in college, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have toured for two years as a lead guitarist for #1 hit country artist, Chris Janson. I’m glad to see that Andy Wood has covered a lot of material here. He is truly a wunderkind and I saw him play multiple times when we were out on the road with LoCash.
I am no longer touring as my main source of income but I am still a very active player. Not having to be dependent on my music to eat has allowed me to really get back to my roots as a guitarist and focus on the types of music that I really enjoy.
With that said, I want to open up a discussion for people who specifically play bluegrass guitar and talk about various hurdles we have in our technique as well as our own approaches to fast, clean, and accurate picking.
Many of you may be familiar with Jake Workman (Lead Guitar for Ricky Skaggs) I’ve been able to take a few lessons from him as I am desperately wanting to overcome a speed plateau that I haven’t been able to overcome even with endless effort over the years. I felt that he was the right guy because I saw him play when we were playing the opry a couple years back and he was absolutely ripping “Rawhide” with blistering speed, accuracy, and a huge tone. It looked like he was relaxed but he was also using the arm almost entirely without his wrist being locked.
See a video here:
As a player, I have never been able to alternate my wrist back and forth rapidly. I don’t understand why my anatomy is that way but the only way I can get speed is by using the forearm and Jake’s playing appealed to me because of that.
With that said, I’ve never been able to be accurate using my arm until recently. I feel like I am beginning to unlock the door to a whole new level of tone, speed, and accuracy but this is early in the growth stage. I am really interested in trying different combinations of supinated or pronated grip with upslanted and downslanted angles. Changing strings confidently at speeds of 140+ is a challenge for me. Discipline is not the problem but there is a mechanical issue that I am hoping to overcome as I continue with Jake and dive into the material here.
Has anyone else found themselves in this scenario regarding plateau and how did you overcome it? What works and what doesn’t work?
Thanks so much and look forward to hearing from you guys.