Chris Eldridge

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Gold Rush

First Solo and Tony Rice Style Improvising

Tony Rice has a very personal and idiomatic soloing style. He has created a quick and agile, but bluesy and funky vocabulary that known, at least a little, to all bluegrass guitar players. I once heard someone say that there were two types of bluegrass guitar players - those who were trying to sound exactly like Tony Rice, and those who were really trying hard not to sound like Tony Rice. No matter which camp you are in, you have to reckon with Tony Rice and his ubiquitous contributions.

This week we're going to look at his first "solo" on Gold Rush and start to decode some of his vocabulary.





Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Tony Rice
Gold Rush
Bill Monroe
Chris Eldridge

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Gold Rush Solo AABB


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 0:44 Tony Rice Style Improvisation

Loop 4:14 Breakdown of Tony Rice Style Gold Rush A Part Solo

Loop 13:55 Breakdown of Tony Rice Style Gold Rush 2nd A Part Solo

Loop 18:00 A Part Practice Loop

Loop 18:29 B Part Variation Breakdown

Loop 19:35 B Part Practice Loop

Loop 21:48 Closing Thoughts





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Micah Nov 06, 2018

Hi Chris,

Here's a video of Gold Rush, including the 1st solo.  I clobbered the beginning of the first B section, and I think at least one of the A to B or B to A transitions added a beat or two.

I'm trying to reduce tension in my right arm - it's feeling more loose.  I took your advice and am trying to watch with a mirror, and even watching the video is helpful.  I'm going to try working on this song with my pinkie anchored on the pick guard and see if that doesn't help me get more wrist movement.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Nov 21, 2018

Hey Micah, nicely done! There's a nice relentless drive to the way you're playing this. It sounds like you basically know what to work on. There's still a bit of tension in your right arm just above your wrist, but you're still making it work well. 

Your life might be a bit easier if you shorten your guitar strap slightly - maybe 1 inch, give or take a bit - and move the guitar a little closer to the center of your body. Experiment with it. Right now it looks like it's pretty low and pretty far to your right which is increasing the downward angle of your right forearm (for me this makes the right hand harder to control) and also you're having to bend your left wrist quite a lot. You already sound good and musical, but I suspect that a slightly adjusted guitar posture might really help you reach a new plateau. 



Travis Styer
Travis Styer Feb 06, 2018

Chris I uploaded a video of me playing Gold Rush.  I usually practice a little slower but pushed myself a little and was ok with not the smoothest playing.  I feel like I still have more room to grow in fluid lines and just not sounding so choppy.  The key just slowing down ?  

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Feb 06, 2018

Hey Travis, nice work! Yes, maybe think about the concept of FLOW. You want the guitar playing to just flow along relaxed but powerfully. You get there at times and at other times it sounds like you're trying to stay in control. It's good that you're pushing yourself out of your comfort zone at times. Keep doing that, but make sure that you're also playing it slower where you really can find and feel that sense of flow. Also, maybe woodshed the TR/Clarence triplet pulloffs (for example at 1:03) and make sure you can play them and dismount into the proper rhythm and groove. You could just loop that lick into a 2 note G run over and over and over...

Keep up the good work!


Travis Styer
Travis Styer Feb 06, 2018

Jeff Falke
Jeff Falke Dec 07, 2016

Gold Rush starts about 9:53.

It was super cool to listen and watch and then recognize what I've learned on here!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 08, 2016

Thanks for posting that video! Yeah, it's pretty amazing to see Tony do all that stuff. So fluid, elegant and powerful. 

Ryan Dilts
Ryan Dilts Jul 21, 2016

Hey Chris.  Just wanted to send this video by way of an introduction.  Any thoughts about technique or note choice would be greatly appreciated.  This is my take on Gold Rush, played Tony style, with a bit of my own stuff scattered throughout.  All thoughts welcome and appreciated!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 22, 2016

Hi Ryan, great playing! I particularly liked it when you played your own solo starting around 0:50 because the dynamics came alive. Loud notes were loud and surprising and there was a dynamic countour to your phrases. That's all stuff to invest in! When you were playing the melodies or the Tony solo note for note it was all a bit flat by comparison. See if you can find a natural way to bring those dynamics into playing the melody.

Great to have you here, looking forward to hearing more!


Darren Jun 15, 2016


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 22, 2016

Hey Darren, good eye! I always used to play those pull offs going down, but I noticed that Tony almost always does them going up. It's subtle, but there is a difference in sound - up is a little more aggressive I think. That said, either one will work. Try the up one for a bit and see how it feels.

Darren Jun 15, 2016

 baked the end, more practice required


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 22, 2016

Great picking! 2 comments:

-Feel free to use slurs (hammer-ons, pull-offs) to give your right hand a break from having to pick so many notes. Picking almost every note can cause tension. Look for spots where the slurs would sound good. I lot of times I will hammer from an A to a B on the 3rd string (see 0:30 and 0:40 on your video). As long as you play them with power they can sound great.

-Try lightening up with your right hand. It's a wierd paradox of bluegrass guitar, where it sounds really muscular, but you really don't play very hard. You want to find a spot where you are loose and relaxed but you are still driving the guitar top efficiently and effectively. Also, the precise nature of bluegrass timimg adds to the illusion of muscularity.


John Dunn
John Dunn Jan 23, 2016

 Don't think I quite go tit but really enjoyed this lesson, just getting the minor/ major pentatonic variations on the tune and actually understanding what you/ Tony are doing. Increddibly cool.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jan 23, 2016

John, great! There are a few extra beats here and there, which you can iron out by playing along with the lesson at a reduced speed, but you've got the sound of a lot of those licks. One thing, your pick direction flips at 0:06. The 2nd half of that first phrase should start on an upstroke.

Keenan Hammack
Keenan Hammack Jan 10, 2016

 Loving this song more and more with each lesson! I've always wondered what Tony and other amazing bluegrass guitarists (including you) do to get that bluegrassy sound. Thanks so much! You rock!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jan 10, 2016

Fantastic! I love the low lick at the very end just before the final chord. Super surprising but super cool! The B-part could be refined a bit, but that's being nitpick-y. 0:16 is really the only spot that could use a little help. You've added an extra beat there and glossed over the slur. Check out my video from 14:28-14:38 to get a feel for what it is up to speed. Listen, without playing to that loop for a minute or two until you know exactly what it is supposed to sound like. You can also make a loop from 14:53-15:03, but I would encourage you to not to do that unless you need to. Better to try and pick it up at speed, know in your mind's ear exactly what it is, and then figure it out on the guitar.

Also, watch the economy of motion in your left hand. Your fingers are traveling much farther than they need to.

Overall though, very good Keenan. Keep it up!

Jeff Caldwell
Jeff Caldwell Dec 19, 2015

Beautiful, Chris.  I think I read somewhere that you studied with Tony Rice?  Is his use of blues scale for soloing on major bluegrass stuff unique, or an extension of something Clarence White was doing? 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 19, 2015

Hi Jeff, yes, Tony was my mentor for a few formative years in my late-teens/early 20s. I feel very fortunate to have had that experience. He is a very special person.

Yes, I would agree that Tony's use of bluesy notes was an extension of somethig that Clarence White did from time to time, although Tony took it much further to the point where much of his improvising language was based on it. 

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