Rhythm Case Study: Salt Creek

Rhythm Guitar: Salt Creek Case Study (Tony + Wyatt Rice's Secret Techniques)

In this lesson we will build upon some of the foundations in rhythm guitar that we’ve been covering in previous video lessons. As we’ve already set up the groundwork for the boom-chuck rhythm as well as progressed into the sub-divided eighth-note Jimmy Martin-style rumble rhythm, now we can start to understand some really incredible ideas courtesy of Wyatt and Tony Rice. 

One of my favorite ways to learn bluegrass is to do it by ear. Take the basic techniques we’ve developed and fine tune it by “borrowing” ideas directly from source recordings. This is perhaps the most important tool in your musician’s toolbox. The act of actively listening for things you like in other people’s playing and the time and discipline it takes to learn it by ear. 

In this case study, I’ve already done the grunt work (transcription by ear) for you. We’ll refer to a duo recording of brothers Tony and Wyatt Rice during a two night gig for the Acoustic Stage concert series in Hickory, North Carolina in 1996. These recordings are truly illuminating and a rare opportunity to really zoom in on all of the incredible rhythm guitar playing that the Rice brothers were capable of. You can purchase the recording from David Grisman’s record label Acoustic Disc. https://acousticdisc.com/product/tony-wyatt-rice-together-download/

I don’t believe this recording is available anywhere else. Highly recommended.

In this lesson I pull out some rhythmic ideas that Wyatt and Tony use frequently. We’ll make use of our subdivided 8th note rhythm guitar to create groupings of crosspicked chords that will blow your mind. Our rhythm studies will start to illuminate how bluegrass rhythm guitar can lock in with a banjo player and float on top of the quarter note bass and mandolin pulse. 

Honestly, this is some of my most prized and hard fought rhythmic information I’ve discovered. I’m really excited to share it with you!

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