Chris Eldridge

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Gold Rush

Melody - A Part

This month we are going to tackle a warhorse of a flatpicking tune - Bill Monroe's Gold Rush. Tony Rice made an iconic recording of this song on his even more iconic record, Church Street Blues. I would heartily encourage you to pick up Church Street Blues. If I could only take one record to a desert isle, it might be the one for me. This recording is tight and muscular and with each time through the tune slowly unfolds from the plain melody into more Tony Rice-ish variations. It's great.

This week we'll just focus on the A part of the melody.




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

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Performance of Gold Rush

Loop 1:28 Introduction to Gold Rush, G Major Scale and AABB Form

Loop 3:35 Slow Run-Through of Gold Rush A Section (Note: Transcription is from First Performance)


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 4:34 Breakdown of Gold Rush A Section

Loop 15:41 Faster Run-Through of Gold Rush A Section

Loop 16:17 Closing Thoughts





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Jeremy jones
Jeremy jones Apr 01, 2020

Why not put the pick direction indication on music?

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 12, 2020

Hi Jeremy, that's a good idea and one that I will talk to Mike about for lessons moving forward, at least in parts where pick direction might get easily turned around. 

Asbjørn Sep 15, 2019

Hello Chris,


I have been months away from consistent guitarpractice and trying to get back in it. Don't know where to go from here, so much to learn and not enough time or just too tired to practice. Oh well!  I'm posting this and maybe you have so pointers on what and how to improve on this tune. Thank you for being on this site with us! 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 17, 2019

Asbjørn, you are sounding so killer. Despite the months away from consistent practice your rhythmic flow has gotten so good! There is an ease to to the way that you are playing this that keeps the listener moving forward. Bravo. I appreciate how you're spelling out some of the fun syncopations for the listeners. You do this very well at the beginning of the second B section (1:07-1:11). I also really appreciate how you are not playing it like me or Tony --- you are playing it like you, and it is graceful and filled with intention. That's how I want everyone on here to play: like a strong, graceful version of their own unique selves. You're demonstrating that here.

One thing to fix: going into the high variation around 1:29 there are some beats that get dropped and the bar structure gets disrupted a couple of times. I'll make a video to show you what I mean:

terryguitar Jul 16, 2019

been here on this site for a while with Duke R..... I also love your playing and lessons. Saw you guys Sunday night at the Woodville Town Hall Adelaide. ....Absolutely wonderful... come back soon!!!... thanks.....

Kind regards Terry

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Aug 08, 2019

Aw, thanks Terry! That was a fun tour. Wish we’d had more time to hang in Australia! It’s one of my favorite places in the world!

Greg Mar 11, 2019

I'm working on this with a metronome. What is a good target BPM? Thanks!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 01, 2019

Not to be coy but in all sincerity, aim for wherever you want to hear it! In the introductory video I’m playing it somewhere between 110 and 115. On Church Street Blues, Tony Rice plays it around 126, give or take a couple bpm. So those are a couple of targets, but if you like the way it feels at 100 or 135, have at it! 😎

mathis haug
mathis haug Feb 26, 2019

HI Chris 

Youre lesssons are amazing, thanks a bunch for posting all this material it's priceless! 

I'm not sure of the chords in this song, could you post a chord chart? 



Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Mar 03, 2019

Here you go, the form is just AABB, over and over until you're done!

Torgeir Jorem
Torgeir Jorem May 28, 2018

Like this? I can feel my forearm being more relaxed now, although my shoulder tenses up with higher tempo. As you describe it, mindfulness is about noticing (sensing) these tensions and be aware of them? Not forcing them away. 

Also thanks for the Old Grimes-comment and Tony Rice-reccomendation. It's all very helpful! 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 20, 2018

Exactly! See how long you can maintain that and/or start modulating how loudly or softly you are playing. Be sure to stay mindful of your tension as you do it. It can be very eye opening to do this!

Torgeir Jorem
Torgeir Jorem May 23, 2018

I've never thought of that, thanks for the tip Darren! 

Torgeir Jorem
Torgeir Jorem May 22, 2018

Tried to develop some speed on this song, any comments on my right hand teqhnique? For some reason it seems easier to play fast on the high strings, therefor I still have to practice to get the b-part in the same tempo. Thanks for a great lesson:) 

Darren May 22, 2018

hey Torgier, sounds good buddy. I'm no expert on this stuff but it looks to me like your "clamping" your right forearm to the guitar. If you look at Chris's video above you can see it looks as if his forearm moves freely as he moves back and forth across the strings. It almost looks as if he rests his bicept on the guitar and the rest of his arm would swing like a pendulum if he wanted it to. 


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 24, 2018

Hi Torgeir, thanks for putting this up. You have a nice flow between the notes here. Regarding your question, I think that Darren may be onto something about making sure that your whole arm is relaxed and free to move. It looks as if most of your picking motion is coming from a back and forth motion that’s concentrated in your wrist. 

Here’s something to try: on one string, start out playing SLOW up and down 16th notes. You can just play an open string. Gradually speed up and keep going until you are playing fast and keep going and going until you are playing as fast as you can. While you’re doing this maintain the sense of mindfulness. You don’t have to worry about sounding or even being musical. Just try to stay relaxed and probe at what it feels like to push your limits. What I hope will happen is that your technique/body will ”do what needs to be done” to try and accommodate this physical exploration. Your forearm might be free to move a little more, your shoulder might feel different. Just be open to it all and try to notice what’s happening without trying to control any of it. After you’ve done that for a day or two would you post another video of just that?



Also, ICYMI, there’s a great discussion down below on this same page about physical mindfulness and developing speed.

Logan Oct 22, 2017

Hey Chris, you should do a lesson on the Watson Blues.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 29, 2017

Great suggestion!

Gregg Deacon
Gregg Deacon May 28, 2017


I'm learning a lot thus far from you. It's really pushing my limits and skill set. Do you have any suggestions for increasing pick speed for flat picking? I'm assuming just keep going slow until you know the part and increasing gradually over time. Metronome as well? Just trying t owokr on left hand dexterity and flat picking properly. Thanks man! 

Allen StJohn
Allen StJohn May 29, 2017

I'm not Chris--nor do I play particularly fast or clean--but I think you're on the right track. 
You want to start by playing slow and clean with perfect technique, using a metronome so you stay in time.
And then devote some time to playing faster than your comfort zone.
Like trying at 80 bpm, 90 bpm, and 100 bpm with 85-90 being your "normal" speed. 
100 bpm will feel like a train wreck but you'll learn from that too. 

Gregg Deacon
Gregg Deacon May 29, 2017

Thanks Allen,

I super appreciate that. I haven't been playing in a while, and i've been relearning my old habits and disciplines. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 29, 2017

Hey Gregg, welcome!

I would agree with what Allen said with the caveat that you want to make sure you are staying relaxed all the time. Wheather you are playing fast or slow it's really important that your body doesn't get in the habit of clenching/tensing up. The idea of playing "perfect" can be counter-productive because perfection is impossible/superhuman. But you can keep yourself honest and make sure that you aren't making many mistakes/letting things slide that you wouldn't be proud of. Cultivate a habit of awareness. If you focus on staying relaxed, you might even become sloppier in the short term, but in the long term you will have learned to avoid the pitfall of tensing up. Tension is the main impediment to playing faster. 

Gregg Deacon
Gregg Deacon May 29, 2017

Thanks Chris,

I tend to have a "perfectionist" mentality, especially when i'm comparing my progress against others and yourself. I'll probably take what you said and push that to my own mental tension (perfcetionism). Sit. Relax. Hopefully enjoy what i'm playing! 

Thanks guys, super cool community here.

Allen StJohn
Allen StJohn May 29, 2017

In sports, coaches talk about the "myth of medium fast." That athletes often train at a pace that feels comfortable--medium fast. 
But if you want to improve you need to spent a lot of time working out slowly --to build an aerobic base--and then do some faster intervals to build speed and power. 
I think that kind of applies to picking. A lot of time really getting the tune "under your fingers" and some time spent playing a little faster than you can reasonably expect to get through it. 
And, of course, Chris is right about staying relaxed--both left and right hands, and even in your arm and shoulders.

James Macklin
James Macklin May 30, 2017

I read an article by a killer young guitar player named Daniel Donato (look up him playing with the Don Kelly Band on YouTube) where he said that he liked to start at a given tempo then go down 2bpm and then up 5 bpm . 

Love all the comments on this both from Allen and Chris. All so very true. I've been doing a lot of slower playing these days and really keying in to my right hand, then kicking the tempo back up and it's paying off. Just a little mental zen-thought: When you're relaxed and in control, it doesn't feel fast or hard no matter the tempo. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 30, 2017

Yes good dialogue here. Thanks fellas! 

One other thing: sometimes I will use the method that Allen describes, but in extremes. For example, if my target tempo on something is 150bpm I might practice it REALLY slowly. Like 60 bpm. It feels crazy and almost not connected to the song anymore. But part of the practice is finding the music in it at that super slow tempo. Heighten your sense of awareness and see if there are any spots where you are not as confident about where the notes are. If so, focus on those spots. Then I like to jump around a bit tempo wise. Maybe next I'd play it at 130 and do the same process. Then maybe 85. And so on. 

After I've worked out any kinks using that method I will practice REALLY fast - say 170 bpm, which is way faster than I can play. When I do this the goal is NOT to play it perfectly or cleanly or anything like that. The goal is to STAY RELAXED. Learn what it feels like to move that quickly without tension. You can be totally sloppy during this stage because the cleanliness will come eventually *if and only if you learn to stay relaxed*. That is the first order of business. After you've done this for awhile drop back down below your target tempo. Keep bouncing around at these different tempos with these different methods. It's amazing how well this approach of practicing the extremes can work.

Darren May 26, 2016

 Hey Chris. Back again. I have to keep reminding myself about the tension. Is this feeling any better than some of the last songs I've posted?


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 30, 2016

Darren, it sounds great and ALIVE! That's what we're going for. Killer job!!

Alex B
Alex B Mar 10, 2016

Hey Chris,

Wish I could have been able to post something here sooner but I've been having all sorts of problems with the camera on my computer and figured audio was better than nothing. Here's one pass from a few weeks back (pre new guitar purchase). The take is far from perfect--there are a few sour/mis-struck notes and slightly-late strums--but I was (and still am) aspiring to give the tune a beautiful quality, a note that you gave another instructee a few weeks back that has resonated with me since. Look forward to hearing from you! 




p.s. I wasn't happy with the first end-tag I did so I through another one in there for good measure. 

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Mar 11, 2016

Hi Alex --- that's some beautful playing.  Inspiring.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Mar 13, 2016

Alex, great playing! Really great job of learning it too. Something to note: you've changed some of the C# notes to C (0:37 and 0:39 for example), which is great and fine and you can totally play C there if you prefer, but notice the sound that the C# creates. It's ugly, but it can be cool.

The other thing is that it sounds like you're playing an arrangement. I suspect some of that has to do with tension, but some of it also has to do with a mindset of "playing it right," (which often begets tension). Ultimately you want the melody to sound fresh, almost as if you're hearing it for the first time as you play it. Also, practicing and refining is obviously great, but make sure that you're giving yourself room to be imperfect too. It's ok and even good if things go a little off the rails at times.

You've learned all of the content that I taught, so now you can play it however you wish. Come up with your own variation(s).
And again, well done!

John Dunn
John Dunn Jan 22, 2016

 Thanks for the lesson Chris, I was going to go through and record all the sections today having played around with the whole lesson in aggregate, and then when I went to record this realized my pick direciton was wrong. Slowed it way down and goin to try and work through the rest over the course of the weekend. 


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jan 23, 2016


Very nicely done! You've got your pick direction straightened out for 99% of it. That is great. There are two spots where you are playing upstrokes where you should have downstrokes. Check 0:21 and 0:41. The notes there are all quarters (or eighths, depending on how you're counting it) so they should be downstrokes.

Now that you've got your pick direction sorted, we want you to start finding that up down flow in a less regimented way. Try to relax your whole right hand and right arm. If you are feeling (or seeing) any tension, try to let it go. Give yourself permission to be sloppy in your execution when you're doing this. You might even try speeding it up a bit, but with the understanding that for right now it's totally OK if you're not playing everything cleanly.

Keenan Hammack
Keenan Hammack Jan 03, 2016

 Ok, I think I may have got it this time. And thanks I'll definitely listen to it, I love Tony Rice's style.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jan 04, 2016

Yep, that's it. Mighty fine!

Keenan Hammack
Keenan Hammack Jan 02, 2016

 I think I may have messed up a few notes and a few of the pick strokes but I love the song! I have never really paid any attention to pick strokes because I don't usually learn the melodies to most of the songs that I play because I love to improvise and let my fingers roam wild, but I am going to start focusing more on the fundamentals that I was blind to. Thanks so much!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jan 03, 2016

Hey Keenan,

Your guitar playing sounds good and the picking is working but there is an issue that needs to be addressed: you're adding quite a few extra beats to the melody. The song is in 4/4 so you should be able to count along, "1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4." My advice to would be to loop the intro from 0:00 - 0:19 and/or the slowed down version from 15:46 - 16:12 and work on it until you can play it exactly like I'm doing it. Once you've got it down that way, then you can depart and put your own signature on it, but not before. Make sure you can sing it first; if you can sing it you'll be able to play it. Also, you might enjoy hearing Tony Rice's version from his album Church Street Blues. That whole record is incredible, but the version of the song that I'm teaching here over the course of the month is basically note for note what he plays on Church Street Blues.



MarkB Dec 24, 2015

Chris, in regard to pick strokes, and if the pick stroke should be up or down depending on. I understand the concept of why it is used (timing, etc) and have done a lot of work many years ago to reasonably make the up/down strokes happen. But in your opinion, does it matter if the odd stroke just goes with how the player feels comfortable. It just does not feel comfortable for me to change just for precision, when I reasonably have it working.

Thanks for the lessons


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 25, 2015

Hi Mark,

I feel like it matters if it creates a problem and in my experience it often does. That said, if you feel comfortable with how you are playing and it isn't holding you back in any way then great! Tony Rice doesn't follow the alternate picking dogma at all and it all seems to have worked out for him. :-) Now, he's a big-time exception to the rule, but it's important to note that you can make great music without this. But, in my many years of teaching I've noticed that it almost always has a big impact. Also, more often than not, even with relatively advanced players, the feel will get wierd when the pick direction gets turned around.

The reason that mindful picking is important, especially for people who haven't ever considered it before, is that it provides a very solid and reliable mechanism in terms of time, groove and flow.

Happy holidays!


Troy Slinkard
Troy Slinkard Dec 10, 2015

Chris, I'm really ejoying the lessons.  Don't worry about repeating the things you think are important ... like pick direction.  I didn't really focus on it before, but I'm starting to grasp how important it is.

I'm looking forward to more lessons and trying to keep current.



Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 10, 2015

Great. Glad to hear it. I'll keep hammering away!

Allen StJohn
Allen StJohn Dec 05, 2015

Another great lesson. I may be jumping ahead but I've got a question that's been bugging me. 
In the second go-round of the A-part at the very beginning, you move up the neck (about 0:38 to 0:40 on the video) and the melody changes "flavor." (there's another tinier snippet of the same thing at 1:24)

It strikes me as a pretty common bluegrass "move" I've heard in other tunes and from other players (especially Tony Rice IIRC) but if there's a word or term for it, I've never heard it.

Can you explain what's going on there, what you'd call it, and how we might apply it to other melodies? (Or just politely encourage me to be patient and that you're planning to get to it later.)

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 05, 2015

Hey Allen, 

Good to see you here! That move that you're talking about is classic Tony Rice (and therefore classic bluegrass). The plan is to unpack that week after next. BUT - in the meantime I'll tell you that he's essentially playing minor pentatonic licks against the very major tonality that our ears have come to expect based on hearing the chords and melody. We'll dig in in due time! :-)



Allen StJohn
Allen StJohn Dec 05, 2015

As usual, Chris, you're two steps ahead. 
Jazzed to learn more about this classic TR move and maybe even add something to my tool box.
I'll be seeing TJ over the holidays and I'll say 'hi' for you. 

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Dec 05, 2015

Hi Chris --- great tune.  Each time I hear it, I discover new things.  I'm not sure if I'm saying this correctly, but the intervals of the A section melody really catch my ear.

I really appreciate you hammering on the pick stroke direction.  If left to my own devices, I tend to always start a phrase with a downstroke.  I'm having to retrain myself --- and as I do it --- I really enjoy the perpetual motion aspect of flatpicking.  It's really cool --- and has a very satisfying groove / feeling to it.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 05, 2015

Mike, glad you're enjoying the tune. It's a great one for sure!

Flatpicking is one of those things that becomes very addictive once you get the hang of it. It just feels good to do and the tunes are challenging but still fun to play!

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