Chris Eldridge

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You Don't Know My Mind

Bass Runs

Chris Eldridge Lesson >

You Don't Know My Mind > Bass Runs

This week we're going to take a look at some great bass runs in the styles of Jimmy Martin, Clarence White, and Tony Rice. I'm showing you these runs in the context of Honey, You Don't Know My Mind, but they will work just as well in many other songs. Bass runs are absolutely one of my favorite things about bluegrass guitar. They provide a chance to inject rhythm guitar playing with a big dose of funkiness. Funky and inspired rhythm guitar is often the secret sauce that makes a bluegrass band sound great.

I hope you enjoy!





Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Chris Eldridge
Honey You Don't Know My Mind
Jimmy Martin
Tony Rice
Bass Runs
Rest Strokes

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:50 Introduction to Bass Runs

Loop 5:30 Example of Jimmy Martin Style Bass Run


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 5:55 Breakdown of Jimmy Martin Style Bass Run

Loop 8:44 Tony Rice Style Bass Run

Loop 11:15 Taking the Tony Rice Bass Run One Step Further

Loop 13:33 G Run Breakdown

Loop 15:07 Closing Thoughts






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James Reed
James Reed Jun 03, 2021

Hi Chris,

Is the general guideline for rest strokes something like: Use rest strokes to help your low notes project on downstrokes but use them less on a quick run?

All the best,

Jeff Caldwell
Jeff Caldwell Jun 16, 2017

Hey, Mike--not sure if everyone's got this problem, but "Bass Runs" and "Soloing and Playing to..." are the same exact lessons for me.

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Jun 16, 2017

Hi Jeff -- great find and you're absolutely right.  

All fixed.  Thanks for letting us know.

Maurizio Mar 09, 2016

Hi. Those bass runs that seemed so difficult to play are finally explained...

thank you! But after years on alternate picking it's almost impossible to me to play all downstrokes!

David Greene
David Greene Dec 09, 2015

I had to look up "penultimate." Good word.

David Greene
David Greene Dec 09, 2015

Hi, Chris.

On the basic TR run it seems that you mix up and down strokes on the first C note. Is this optional for you or just a quirk of recording the lesson? Up/down rules seem to dictate that this should be a down stroke. I sometimes switch the pick direction where it seems natural to me but when I realize it I go back and work on getting it "right" but think in the back of my mind that I have the option to do it either way. For example on the JM bass run my first instinct was to hit the G note with an up stroke. I have worked on this and can pretty consistently use all rest strokes now.

(PS We chatted at KC&Donny's wedding.)

(PSS I like your teaching style very much. I have previewed other online lessons but this is the first time I have signed up. I like the context info also, i.e. Rice does this, Martin did that. It helps me when I listen to various styles to understand what is happening.)

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 10, 2015

Hey David,

Glad to see you on here! Can you point out a couple of spots that you're talking about? It could be a quirk of recording the lesson. Sometimes I wind up doing an upstroke when I shouldn't! But some variations of the lick are intended to be syncopated to be "off" a 16th note. Much of Tony Rice's style is based upon syncopating phrases so that you have a full sequence of notes that are syncopated forward or backward by a 16th note. My guess it that I just screwed up, but I would be curious to see! :-)

David Greene
David Greene Dec 19, 2015

Well, Chris, I have to eat crow on this. I've looked all through the videos and can't find what I thought I saw. Sorry.


jed Dec 05, 2015

I was surprised to learn from the breakdown of these rhythm embellishments that the eighth notes all come from slurs. (When I listened to the introduction music for the lesson, I thought  the eighth notes were coming from alternate picking with downstrokes and upstrokes.) This has been a rewarding lesson for me.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Dec 06, 2015

Hey Jed,

To be sure, there are some bass notes taught in this lesson that would, if we were following the rules of alternate picking, ordinarily be played with an upstroke based on where they're falling on the beat. But the important thing here is that we play as many notes as possible using rest strokes because volume-wise the bass runs need to be able to really jump out over a band. The approach would be different if you were flatpicking a melody or taking a solo.



Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 30, 2015

Awesome! Glad you guys are enjoying them. Bass runs are wierdly incredibly fun!

jon Oct 29, 2015

Really great lesson!  I love playing rhythm and these licks really bring things alive.

Bruce Dumes
Bruce Dumes Oct 24, 2015

Wow, fabulous lesson, Chris! Those are great licks, and it's amazing how playable they are after you've broken them down. Thanks!

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