Chris Eldridge

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Nashville Blues

First Solo - Case Study in Patterns

One of the hallmarks of flatpicking is a steady stream of 16th notes. If you took each individual note in a flatpicking tune (or even one solo) as it's own little event, the amount of information would be overwhelming! So it's very important to look for and find patterns. Once you understand a pattern there is so much less information to be reckoned with.

This week we're going to look at Norman Blake's first solo from The Nashville Blues. It's a great case study in patterns both physical and melodic. It's also just weird, wonderful and funky! Take your time with learning this and really make sure you can recognize the patterns that I point out. Take it slow and strive for tone.


Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Norman Blake
Nashville Blues
Chris Eldridge

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Nashville Blues Solo


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 0:18 Norman Blake's Approach to Soloing on Nashville Blues

Loop 4:46 Breakdown of Solo

Loop 21:05 Closing Thoughts






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adam herrmann
adam herrmann Feb 27, 2017


Hey Chris,  I'm new and just started working through some of the lessons but wanted to get something in soon so that I could get some direction on my fundamentals before I get too far ahead of my self. 


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Feb 27, 2017

Hi Adam, welcome! 

Sounding good! You've totally got the notes and the spirit of the notes down. There are two things that jump out at me that you could work on:

1) you are pulling good tone out of the guitar but it feels to me like you may be playing too hard and that may be interfering with a sense of "flow" in your right hand. It's good that you're practicing with the metronome. Try removing beats so that the metronome is clicking half and then a quarter as many times, but you continue playing the same tempo. Some smartphone apps make this super easy to do but you can do it with an old school metronome as well. So if you were playing at 100, set the metronome at 50 or 25. That way, the metronome isn't marking the subdivisions as much and it shifts some of that responsibility to you. This can help with your sense of "flow" and encourage you to lighten up naturally  

2) it looks as if you are pressing and pulling harder with your left hand than you need to. Again, your tone is good, but the sound is heavy. Try to find a "joyous" vibe in how you approach the solo. 



Darren Oct 19, 2016

 I'm I anywhere close to making this feel right? I play along with the NB video and I can feel it but just can't seem to get it on my own. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 21, 2016

Darren, that's a definite feel improvement.  Try playing it slower, but still with the close, careful attention to the feel. It's hard to make things groovy when you're going slow, but trying to do so can keep you honest about the subtleties of your feel. And to be clear, you sound really, really good. It's that last 5% that you have to work the hardest for!

John Dunn
John Dunn Sep 05, 2016


Chris, awesome lesson, glad to be coming back to this tune after a few months away. Think I may have messed up the pick direction in the final two bars with the hammer ons/ pull offs? Will continue to clean that up. 

Gotta say think your instruciton on 'stylistic tenets' of Norman, TR, Doc etc. is better than any other material I've seen out there (including much of the instrucitonal material of the greats themselves.)

Would love to see you take a lesson and apply this studied lens to your own style (And even your contemporaries/ frequent colaborators, pikelny's banjo licks, stuff you learned from Julian etc.) or working through a tune of some of the more avant garde stuff from Avalon etc. Just a thought! 

Thanks again for this! 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Sep 13, 2016


You sound great here!! Really nice flow to your playing, really groovy. Awesome. It gets a little hung up around 00:24 but you keep going and that's great. The only real issue is that you add an extra beat around 00:29. See my video from 20:47 for the exact spot.


Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Mar 03, 2016

Alright here is my lesson 3 ... old strummer dude ... finally trying to learn how to flat pick after years of not learning.

Having fun.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Mar 08, 2016

Kip, you're killing it! Really great job, no kidding. The music comes through when you play and that's really what matters most. There was one spot where I noticed you played one pickstroke backward (upstroke at 0:42 should be downstroke), but fundamentally it looks like you've internalized the alternate picking because I can see the up/down motion being preserved in your hand/arm even when you're taking a rest.

So with all of that being said, try coming up with your own solo using the melodies, licks, patterns, etc that you've learned so far. Ultimately, the reason to study this stuff is so that you can steal the parts you love the most and make them your own.

Really great job. I'm thrilled to have you on here!


Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Feb 28, 2016

Real cool solo ... hours of fun and days or weeks of pickin' practice ahead for me to get to a point where the fingers remember their way without having to think about it too much. You can really see on the video of Norman Blake playing that it seems to come so naturally and it makes me wonder how much practice it took for him to make it sound so real and natural. Along those same lines, Chris - I didn't know or hear of you before SJ (my loss) but since have watched and listened to as much of what is available as I can. You're a great picker and have obviously played your whole life, it would be of great interest to me and perhaps others to know how your musical journey started and how much time you spent and still spend just practicing. Ok - thanks for the great lesson.

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