Chris Eldridge

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Old Grimes

B Section Melody

Hello Everyone,

This week we're carrying on with the B-part of Old Grimes. We haven't seen a fiddle tune yet where there is an extended chunk of melody that occurs over a minor chord. This week we fix that! Also, in playing said chunk of melody we use a variation on the Tony Rice trick from Gold Rush where you use an open string to pivot from a position up the neck back down into open position.







Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Old Grimes B Section Melody/p>


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 0:29 Breakdown of B Section Melody

Loop 16:57 Second B Part Variation

Loop 20:04 Closing Thoughts

Loop 20:30 Practice Loop with Chris Playing Rhythm





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Adam F
Adam F Apr 18, 2019

Hi Chris and the good folk of SJ,

  Here is a short AB only of Old Grimes with some involuntary "improvisation."  Any and all feedback always greatly appreciated.  Thx, Adam.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 19, 2019

Hey Adam, sounding good here too! Your left hand looks great with a very delicate touch. It can be easy to overpower the strings and use too much muscle but your hand looks fantastic.

It does look like you are holding a good bit of tension in both your right wrist and your right hand. Can you feel that? To begin addressing this try playing it a few times with your right hand being cartoonishly loose. It'll get sloppy and that's ok.  I just want you to notice and be aware of what it feels like to not have that tension. Once you know what that feels like, try to maintain that same sense of weightlessness and looseness as you play. It'll be sloppy but your body will subconciously begin to sort it out over time. 

Adam F
Adam F Jun 20, 2019

Hi Chris, thanks a bunch for your thoughtful feedback on my videos!  Looking forward to implementing your advice.  Thx!!  

Adam F
Adam F Jul 17, 2019

Here is the same AB with hopefully improved wrist action as recorded on the first take (if you don't count the other 20 takes).  Thanks again for any/all feedback!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Aug 08, 2019


This looks so much more relaxed and it SOUNDS so much better. There’s a really nice flow to the way you’re playing it here. Excellent. Now, try to apply some of that same awareness to the rest of your arm (forearm, elbow, shoulder, etc). Ideally you want your “right hand technique” to all be one integrated mechanism where all the component parts of your right arm from your shoulder (end even back) all the way down to the tips of your fingers move in concert as one. 



Adam F
Adam F Aug 09, 2019

More great advice from Chris and a new guitar to work on it with ... this is shaping up to be a top 5 birthday ;-)  Thanks again!!!

Chris Blankner
Chris Blankner Mar 20, 2019


Random question.  What strings do you use on your Martin?  I am playing a 46 J-45 and have been using a bluechip 48 and strumming sounds almost harsh and loud on my nickel bronze strings.  Not as subtle and soft as it sounds coming out of your martin.  Flatpicking sounds great but not rythm.

Allen StJohn
Allen StJohn Mar 30, 2019

I'm not Chris nor do I play him on TV but I'm going to say that a 1946 J_45 with Nickel Bronze strings would, in my experience, be the very opposite of "harsh and loud." A J-45 of that vintage (I had a 1945 Banner) is one of the smoothest, warmest strumming guitars ever made, and the NB strings are quite mellow. Until I read your post carefully I would have guessed you were using some clangy brand new 80/20s that needed some time to break in. 
I'm guessing it's not so much the guitar or the strings as something in your strumming technique. I've found that a relaxed right hand is super important, along with actively trying to strum gently and quietly. A thinner pick can help, but you do sacrifice some flatpicking tone. You've got really good taste in guitars. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 01, 2019

Hi Chris! I also use the Bluechip TP-48 and medium gauge D’Addario Nickel Bronze strings. Sometimes a pick can develop a bad edge that can sound kind of harsh. This is true of all picks, so bluechips, great as they are, are not immune. Try flipping it over and also rotating around the 3 corners. You may find that one sounds better to your ear than others. 

OR it could be that those strings and/or pick just don’t agree with the natural voice of the particular guitar that you own. In my experience, Nickel Bronze are overall just a hair brighter across the entire frequency spectrum than regular phosphor bronze strings, but there are less high overtones that jump way out with the nickel bronze strings, so they wind up sounding less “stringy,” for lack of a better term. But they just might not agree with your guitar. 

Finally, we probably would almost certainly sound pretty different even if we were playing the same guitar with the same pick and just handing it back and forth becuase every guitar player his his or her own individual touch. Would you mind uploading a video of you flatpicking and then going to rhythm? Maybe I can help get in there and see if there are physical tendencies on the strumming that would make it feel harsh?



Asbjørn Feb 10, 2019

Asbjørn Feb 10, 2019

Hello Chris. Congratulations on a very deserved Grammy!


I have just started practicing a lot again after suffering from neck injury at the start of November. 

I Thought I would post this of Old Grimes. I feel I generally have good Posture and relaxed in wrist, but this tune hurts my wrist, or in better words I get really tired in my wrist fast...  maybe it’s too much practice after a long break. Or maybe you see something I should change. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Mar 04, 2019

Hi Enslah, 

Just to clarify your question: is it your right or left wrist that is getting tired?

Asbjørn Mar 05, 2019

Hi Chris, Actually I think it was both, but I've changed strings now to 12-53. I normally use medium 13-56 which I like a lot, but I have very high action on my Martin, but I figured that was a part of why I got so tired. I noticed it when trying to record Ginseng Sullivan (Torgeir tipped me that it could be high action).  It feels better now I think.  I try to practice more with closed fist as well. Or is it OK with how I play with my picking hand? 

But to be honest I feel the feedback is often even better when I don't ask questions, because the general feedback is so spot on from such great teachers as you (and not too mean :P ) . 
I spend time at artistworks with Michael Daves and Bryan Sutton also, it's truly amazing to be able to take lessons and feedback from so many of my favorite artists. 

Thank you also for good feedback and your kind words on Ginseng Sullivan as well, that means a lot to me!  

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 01, 2019

So glad that the change in string gauge seemed to help! Are you still feeling better?

One thing that I notice is that when you are picking on the lower strings of the guitar, your wrist seems to move pretty far in an upward direction on upstrokes while the rest of your forearm stays relatively still. You might try lifting your shoulder and/or forearm very slightly to assist in accessing the lower strings. That way, the angle of your wrist relative to your forearm can stay more consistent. 

Asbjørn Apr 08, 2019

I think I understand what you mean. I'll try to focus on that. 
Yes, feeling better.  And now I have a new guitar! Looking forward to show it to you, but I need to practise more. 
Been working for a while on Gold Rush so I will post that eventually.  

Thank you! 

Asbjørn (Enslah)

Gregory Kelly
Gregory Kelly Jun 03, 2018

Hey Chris-

Decided it's about time I finally got your thoughts on my Old Grimes. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 07, 2018

Hi Greg, nice work with this tune! You’ve got all of the melodic contours and subtle variations down really nicely. The thing that most jumps out to me is that the feel is a little heavy on all of the 8th notes. What I mean by that is that all of your downstrokes (which fall on the big 8th notes: ”1” “and” “2” ”and” ”3” “and” “4” “and” seems pretty dynamically even from downstroke to downstroke but they are all also accented to be a bit louder than the upstrokes. I actually had a similar comment to Eric down below. I’ll recycle some of the advice I had for him: Rather than focusing in very closely on getting each note right, try zooming out a bit and thinking of whole phrases. If you do that your dynamics will naturally start to shift a bit and become more organic feeling. Try singing the melody a couple of times to see if that informs your sense of the dynamics (and try to be as musical as possible as you do it). You’ve really got all of the building blocks there, it’s just a matter of finding the dynamics in those melodic phrases and letting the music breathe a little more.

Keep up the good work!


Gregory Kelly
Gregory Kelly Jun 10, 2018

Hey Chris -

Thanks for the feedback, and I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been struggling with the overemphasized down strokes for a while now. I experimented a bunch over the last few days and tried thinking melodically as you suggested, and what I think I’ve found is that it is really my right hand technique that does me in. The attached video is me trying out a slightly different approach with my right hand (and  forearm and elbow), that feels like it flows much more balanced between the up and downstrokes. This is far from a finished product, and before i go investing a hundred hours into retraining my right hand, do you feel this technique is an improvement over what my right hand is doing in the prior video??

Thanks, and woohoo Mississippi Valley baby!


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 20, 2018

Hey Greg, this new version sounds a lot more free to me even if you sounded a bit more comfortable with the old version (which makes sense!). To me it's an improvement and I'd encourage you to keep experimenting with it. Make sure that with the newfound freedom of your forearm and elbow that you don't compensate by locking your wrist. Also, just as a reminder, the goal isn't to completely even out all of the accents, you just want to be more concious of what and how the notes are being accented. Just keep thinking about how you want it to sound - imagine it in your head - and try to bring your imagination into real life as you're playing. 



Torgeir Jorem
Torgeir Jorem May 13, 2018

Thanks for giving lesson on this song, I love the recording you did with Julian Lage. Again I'm still working with speed and tension (I guess I will always have to). On an earlier lesson (whiskey b.) you adviced me to have less swing feel, how do you think that seems now when I'm playing this tune? 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 24, 2018

Hi Torgeir, yes, this swing feels better to me! We will all always be working with tension and mindfulness, so it’s good that you’re making friends with it. 

Re the swing, have you ever heard Tony Rice’s version of Blackberry Blossom? If not, you should check it out. It’s really played quite straight, but it’s INCREDIBLE. Superhuman guitar playing. There’s a great record of Tony Rice’s called 58957 - The Bluegrass Guitar Collection. If you’re not familiar with it, it may be interesting to you because Tony has a very straight, driving sense of rhythm. There actually is a sense of swing in it, but it’s subtle and different than what we usually think of when we say “swing.”

Eric Moore
Eric Moore May 14, 2017


Hi Chris,

I just had to learn this tune.  I learned it from watching/listening to your video and tried to avoid the tab, although I have gone back and referenced it.  I feel like it is natural for me to try to rush the hammer and the slide in the B part.  I try to be conscious of that when I am playing.  Thanks for the feedback.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 29, 2017

Hi Eric, 

You sound very good and you're pulling a great sound out of your guitar! For what it's worth, I didn't notice you rushing the slide or hammer-on at all. But to that point, I would actually encourage you to "loosen up your grip" on the tune a bit. What I mean by that is that it sounds like you are trying (and succeeding) to play it correctly and very in time. In doing so it's feeling a bit controlled and dynamically even. Rather than putting your focus on each moment note to note, try zooming out a bit and thinking of whole phrases. If you do that your dynamics will naturally start to shift a bit and become more organic feeling. The time will likely move around just a bit more - and there's nothing wrong with that! Keep up the good work!

Zachariah Jones
Zachariah Jones May 13, 2017

Hi Chris, your lesson approach is great, thank you very much. I have been listening to these videos during my work week and just this morning finally got a chance to have guitar in hand in order to get it down! I hope to be less nervous in future submissions. ;)


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge May 13, 2017

Hey Zachariah, nice to have you on here! 

You sound really good and I appreciate how relaxed your hands look, especially your right hand. One thing that I notice which might be tripping you up at times is that your pick direction is inconsistent. There are times when it can be advantageous to sweep a couple of 8th or 16th notes for purposes of articulation, but I think it's important too to get a solid alternate picking foundation. You might check out the series on Soldier's Joy where I go pretty in depth on the alternate picking principle. But overall very nicely done! Looking forward to more!


Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Apr 15, 2017

I've been working on the "A" and "B" parts of Ol' Grimes.

A couple thoughts, when I play I have noticed that I have a death grip on the guitar ... the neck sits way back in the palm of my hand and my thumb almost always hangs over the top. I went back and checked out one of your Fundamental lessons where you talk about this ... I'm finding my way isn't an easy habit to break even though theoretically keeping a gap or space between the neck and hand allows for the fingers to more easily move around. Same goes for the thumb ... mine is over the top when it should be midway behind th neck. Just another thing to work on I guess but it's tough. It feels like I don't have control of the guitar.

Secondly, in the first half of the "B" part it's a challenge to keep the notes smooth and ringing as opposed to choppy and short. Smooth and ringing really makes the "B" part rock and it's very iffy for me but I'm cognizant of of how crucial it is to be smooth and ringing.


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 17, 2017

Kip, it sounds really good. For what it's worth, I'm not actually hearing much of a difference between the A and B parts.

It sounds like you have identified a big source of difficulty in where you are holding your thumb. By having your thumb up over the neck while you are doing big stretches you are almost guaranteeing that you will hold the guitar too hard because with your thumb up you don't have any natural leverage. You wind up having to make up for the lack in leverage with muscle strength. So long story short, get that thumb down into a better position and it'll make your life easier! :-)

James Macklin
James Macklin Apr 14, 2017

Hi Chris, your comments totally made sense. I had been watching/listening to a bit too much David Grier and took his fiddle bounce emphasis a bit too seriously. It really is a beautiful tune and should be played as such, as opposed to a Whiskey Before Breakfast/Angeline the Baker type way. I hope you like this one. I wish I had a better mic. I was trying to for smoothness and nuance. Is this more towards what you are talking about?

Allen StJohn
Allen StJohn Apr 15, 2017

Nice job, James. Just listen to the final strum in both versions. In the first version (which is still really good) you're whacking the gutiar pretty hard and the tone is a little harsh because it's overdriving the guitar. At the end of this version, which just seems more relaxed, that strum is much gentler, but you still get plenty of volume because the guitar is resonating. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 17, 2017

YES!!! This sounds great! Bravo!

There's definitely a place for both approaches but part of the game is knowing where and when to deploy each one. 

James Macklin
James Macklin Apr 09, 2017

Hi Chris, here's both parts together.  Looking at the right hand I can see, like Kip said in his video, there's still more wrist than really should be. I find that while I'm not necessarily resting on the bridge pins anymore I still hover and brush over them and volume still gets affected. Making headway on the right hand though, at least I think. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 10, 2017

James, GREAT JOB! You've gotten it to a really solid place and it sounds really good. Aside from the right hand issue that you brought up I think you can play it with a little more delicacy and nuance. I'm being nitpicky here because you've already gotten it to a really nice place, but there's a bit of a bull in the china shop quality to the notes. They're all very strong but maybe sometimes it would be nice if they lightened up and became a little more seductive or sly. Let your dynamics change (let your intuition guide you in this department). I don't think you need to do anything drastic, but a few subtle changes of dynamics and color would add another dimension. Does that make sense?



Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Apr 07, 2017

Thanks Chris for taking extra time to explain the opening phrase ... that really helps (me).  

Also, I know you've been emphasizing for a long time the importance of being able to sing it before anything else. I didn't fully buy into that idea until recently ... maybe I was in too big of a hurry to just learn or memorize the notes ... but it definitey helps to at least hear in your head what you're supposed to be playing and before you can hear it in your head you need to be able to sing it. When I started with this ... each song was knew ... many I hadn't even heard of ... so it was like being hit with the double whammy.

Right off the bat transitioning from the A-Part to the opening phrase of the B-part is challenge #1... as well as the stretch involved across 3 frets with the pinky to the A note. Other than that piece of cake ... LOL.

I'll figure it out and get the hang of it. One last thing ... I think you're probably playing the tune at about 85 BPM in your introduction... maybe a little more. What do you figure an acceptable minimum would be tfor this tune to be musical. To me your play along at the end ... though slower sounds musical to me.

Thanks again for all of your help.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Apr 10, 2017

Kip, I'm happy to hear that you've gotten on board the singing train! I believe that it's crucial.

I don't think there are any set tempos that are correct. You could make it musical and many different tempos. I would suggest that you play it wherever it feels comfortable, and then make sure that you are playing it musically! Easier said than done, but really that actually all there is to it. It's the players job to find the musicality at any tempo. This is true for almost any tune. You're very musical so I know you can do it.



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