Chris Eldridge

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You Don't Know My Mind

Swing in Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar

Chris Eldridge Lesson >

You Don't Know My Mind > Swing in Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar

For week 2 we're going to look at Jimmy Martin and the idea of swing in bluegrass rhythm guitar. Jimmy Martin's music always has a propulsive, energetic quality that underpins it. To me, the secret ingredient that creates this feeling is his rhythm playing. It is both driving and bouncy at the same time. We'll deconstruct how he does this and hopefully glean some wisdom from the King of Bluegrass.




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

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Introduction to Jimmy Martin Style Rhythm Guitar

Loop 1:16 Breakdown of Jimmy Martin Style Rhythm Guitar

Loop 6:15 Playing Straight vs. with Swing

Loop 7:53 Practice Loop Playing with Swing


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 11:00 Closing Thoughts and the Importance of a Backbeat





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Drew Cohen
Drew Cohen Oct 19, 2015

Do you have a method for when you play C vs. when you play C/G?  Does it matter if you're playing solo vs. with a bass player?

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 30, 2015

Hey Drew,

There's really no method for C vs C/G. That's something where I just let my ear guide me. I'll play whichever one sounds good to me at that time in that context. So my advice to you would be the same: do whichever sounds good to you based on your intuition.



Bruce Dumes
Bruce Dumes Oct 17, 2015

Hi Chris -

I felt like you were right behind me when I was recording this, so it seemed very natural at the time to turn back towards you on your solo sections! Another very interesting lesson. It was a lot of fun playing along with you.

Best regards,


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 18, 2015


Your rhythm playing sounds great. You've got the basics down very well. 

2 things:

-although you mostly did a really good job of staying in the pocket, it came out a few times. Some of that probably has to do with following me on the solos, which probably were speeding up/slowing down slightly in between verses - that's ok and it is natural for that to happen when playing with other people. The place where you want to hold the pocket a little more steady is in the verses. You did a very good job, but if I'm looking for something to critique, that's the place. 

-the vocal is coming from a ne'er-do-well, a rambler, rounder or whatever you want to call it. So in addition to feeling the lonesome, feel the badass on this one.


Bruce Dumes
Bruce Dumes Oct 18, 2015

Ah, I see! I was thinking of the character more like a guy looking back kind of bittersweet on the mess he's made of his life; he knows he's been a rogue, but had a good time nevertheless. Instead, he's like a guy bragging to his current girlfriend about what his next one will be like. Sort of a Neal Cassidy/On The Road thing. Ok, interesting!

Yeah, I think I was less steady in the verses because I hadn't learned the words properly yet. So now that I have the character in my mind, it will be more fun to learn them and get comfortable with the rhythm of the words against the guitar. This idea of really absorbing the lyrics and drawing a character for yourself to sing as (this is how I interpret "feel the lonesome") that you feel from it, putting yourself into the song in order to sing -- acting, almost. I've never once considered it as part of learning a song. Odd, now that I say that out loud, considering I played piano and sang in bands for 30+ years. 

That is really so incredibly helpful! Thanks again!

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti May 16, 2016

Hi Bruce - just out of curiosity what is that guitar you're playing (btw really well). It's a beauty.



Bruce Dumes
Bruce Dumes May 16, 2016

Hey, thanks, Kip! Very kind of you to say so. That's my Gibson J-45.

Alex B
Alex B Oct 16, 2015

Thanks for the great lesson, Chris. Is this the same strumming pattern you use on tunes like "Brakeman's Blues"? Thanks so much and looking forward to next week. 



Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Oct 16, 2015

Hey Alex, 

Thr approach might change several times even over the course of one song (especially Brakeman's Blues, which is so loose and open), but this might be the most fundamental version of the bluegrass strum for me. 

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