Below is a list of useful resources that either I have found or learned from others. Although some are related to bluegrass, many of them are around general musicianship. If you have a tool, teacher, etc that has really helped you, drop me an email and tell me about it and consider I'll add it here: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are thousands of youtube videos on the CAGED Method. So feel free to find the series/teacher that works best for you.
Here are two teachers we suggest:
For the true beginner, we suggest Dr. Molly May. Her video is 1.5 hours but broken into sections. It includes practice suggestions. It is WONDERFUL!
For the Intermediate Player, we suggest Ian Stich's awesome series:
Tom's Guitar Cheatsheet
Virtual Band to Practice With. Change keys, tempo, import 1,000s of existing songs. The app is $15, but the existings songs are free. This was a game changer for how I practice songs and learning to solo over chord changes. Worth every penny.
From their website: Real instrument sounds, mixed together in real time
Strum Machine generates backing tracks by stitching together individual notes, chords, and strums recorded on real instruments: guitar, standup bass, and mandolin.
It’s not just more fun to play with realistic backing tracks; it also better prepares you for real jamming situations.
Cost is $5 a month
From their website: Enjoy unlimited fun with your instrument and bandmates with over 60.000 covers and 400 new added each month. Our backing tracks catalog offers a wide range of music genres and instruments, all produced by professional musicians in our studios to offer the best quality.
Cost is $9 a month, but it has a limited free plan to see if you like it.
Same functionality as the Amazing Slower Downer App, but everything is visual and graphical. Overall outstanding app, but two key drawbacks:
Only seems to work on Apple Devices
Does not work with Spotify (same issues as ASD, it is Spotify's fault sadly)
Amazing Slower Downer App
NOTE AS OF Sept 1, 2022 - it no longer works with Spotify (boo!) Still a great app if you have the MP3 or Apple Music
This is a great app that I mostly use on my iPhone/iPad to take a song from Spotify and literally slow it down, but it can also change the pitch. I use it to work through some of my favorite solos to try and get the basics. The app leaves much to be desired on the User Interface, but it does exactly what it says it does. If you have an Apple laptop, you can use Garage Band todo the same thing, but lots more steps.
From their website:
The Swiss Army Knife of Apps for Musicians: With over 50 features, OnSong 2022 allows you to store, sort, customize and perform your music unlike any other app.
This only works on Apple devices (highly focused on iPad). It is a paid product, but if you are serious about improving your skills, consider this a required tool. For individuals, there is a $25 or $50 per year (depending on desired features).
So where do you get music to go into it? That is a bit trickier. I have looked high and low on the internet for a single zip file of the ChordPro format of bluegrass standards, but no luck. Lots of smoke but very little fire in terms of an easy mass import of songs. I'm sure copyright lawyers are part of the problem :D
For importing songs you like, I would suggest one of the large Tab sites, such as:
or for something more bluegrass focused, I recommend:
Also, feel free to email me (email@example.com) and I'll send you what I have, which is small but growing library. I am picky and my tabs are clean and accurate.
NOTE: I highly suggest you AVOID importing PDFs (unless it is sheet music) into OnSong because you loose so much of the functionality into terms of moving between keys, adding capos, or rearranging lyrics.
For many of us, our first purchase was a song book of 100s of songs. Here are a few very popular one. If I missed your favorite, then let me know by dropping me an email. (in the footer)
Lessons with Marcel
One of the best flat picking instructors I've seen. Slightly above beginner level, but worth every minute watching and I don't even pick guitar (I only strum)
Stich Guitar Method
General guitar instruction for the intermediate or motivated player, more focused on Rock, specifically Jam Band, but one of the BEST instructors whose material I've used. Great YouTube lessons.
From their Website:
Hi, it's Magnus! I'm here to help you take your mandolin playing to the next level. I've been playing this lovely instrument for over twenty years, and it's my biggest passion in life. I'm all about equipping you with the tricks, tools, and techniques to play your favorite tunes with confidence and joy.
Be a Music Maker, Play the Mandolin!
Wayne (Benson's) World of Mandolin
If Covid gave us any gift, it was it made Wayne Benson sit still long enough to record some lessons for us. He is a WONDERFUL instructor. Check out his YouTube instructions.
BBT Bluegrass Backing Tracks
Outstanding set of backing tracks for many Bluegrass standards. They are published at multiple speeds: 80, 90, 100, 120, 150 BPM. Very Helpful and well done!
Stores and Luthiers
If you are a music shop or a luthier, I'm happy to add you to the list, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The list below are just the stores and repair folks that I have had interactions with and in no way an endorsement or recommendation.
Maple Street Guitars
Here at Maple Street Guitars, we’ve dedicated ourselves to spreading the love of music and the guitar since 1981. We strive to serve the needs of players at all levels by maintaining a standard of best quality in every facet of our business - be it lessons, repairs, general advice, or instrument sales. Whether you are a total beginner or an experienced player, we are here as a resource for you on your journey with the guitar.
Ray Jennings - Luthier
Our Marietta GA Guitar Repair shop is the perfect place to take your guitar for any type of repair or service. We have an experienced and qualified guitar technician who is passionate about music and guitars. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!
At Righteous Guitars, we take pride in our in-depth inspection process and attention to detail. Our team of experienced professionals carefully examines each and every instrument to ensure that it meets our high standards for quality and playability. When you buy from Righteous Guitars, you can trust that you are getting a guitar that has been certified righteous and is ready to play straight out of the box.