How to Play Runs in Bluegrass in Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn how to play runs in bluegrass from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.


I'm going to talk about some Bluegrass runs now. Now, what is a run? A run is basically some bass notes to get from one chord to the next. Instead of just some simple strumming [guitar music], and then you switch to the next chord [guitar music] you can make it a little more interesting by throwing some notes that get you to climb up to the next chord. You're going to have to almost think like a bass player here.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to climb [guitar sound] up from the G note here that I'm holding down with my second finger [guitar sound] to the A string open to the B [guitar sound] to the C [guitar sound], and I'm going to use that simple run to get from a G chord to a C chord. Kind of like I'm using stepping stone, those notes as stepping points to get to the C chord [ guitar music]. Just like that.

Now if I need to get, say, from a C to a D chord what I'll do is I'll use some chromatic notes [guitar sound]. I'll start with a C [guitar sound], I'll go down to the B, [guitar sound] back to the C, climb up to a C sharp and then I've got my [guitar sound] D string open.

So that one's a little more tricky. I'll do that again. C,B, C sharp, D, and then I can strum my chord. I'll use an example now. [guitar music]

You'll notice I did a little run to come back to the G. I used the open E string [guitar sound], F sharp [guitar sound], to G [guitar sound]. I'll do the whole thing again, just to show you. [guitar music]

Bluegrass runs.

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