easy bluegrass guitar songs

7 Easy Bluegrass Songs on Guitar

easy bluegrass guitar songsEven beginners can start playing a little bluegrass guitar. Music teacher Matthew K. shares a selection of his favorite easy bluegrass guitar songs…

When I first listened to bluegrass music, I knew I had to learn the guitar parts. They are very intricate and fun! The patterns weave in and out of each other, creating a sound that is unique to the genre. It can be a daunting sound for any beginner – and it may seem impossible at first – but remember, everyone has to start at the beginning.

There are some bluegrass tunes that are slightly less difficult than others, and easy guitar songs are still fun to play and impressive to listen to. The following are seven of my favorite easy bluegrass guitar songs.

Please note that you should have a general knowledge of guitar chords, and have the ability to use a flat pick in order to attempt these songs. It is always good to listen to the songs, as well.

 

1. “Keep on the Sunny Side” – The Carter Family

“Keep on the Sunny Side” is one of the most famous bluegrass songs. The version I am showing you is in the key of C. It is played with a standard bluegrass-strumming pattern: Down – Down – Rest – Up – Down – Up, then immediately repeat. Below are the chords used in the song and how they are played to the lyrics.

 Chord Chord (easy) Chord

C F C

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

G

Keep on the sunny side of life

C F C

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way

G C

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

 

2. “Foggy Mountain Top” – A.P. Carter

Here is another very popular bluegrass tune. It can be played quickly with a Down – Down strumming pattern while counting, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2. There is a new chord introduced.

uitar Chord D7

G C G

If I was on some foggy mountain top

D7

I’d sail away to the west

G C G

I’d sail all around this whole wide world

D7 G

To the girl I love the best

C G

If I had listened to what momma said

D7

I would not have been here today

G C G

A lying around this old jail-house

D7 G

A weeping my sweet life away

 

3. “On Top of Old Smokey” – The Weavers

“On Top of Old Smokey” is a slower song, played in ¾ time. It can be played with a Down – Down – Up – Down pattern, while counting to three. It features the G7 chord.

7 Chord

C F C

On top of old Smokey all covered in snow

G7 C

I lost my true lover by courting too slow

F C

But courting is pleasure but parting is grief

G7 C

For a false hearted lover is worse than a thief

F C

A thief he will just rob you take what you have

G7 C

But a false hearted lover will take you to your grave

F C

A grave will decay you turn you into dust

G7 C

And there just isn’t one girl a poor boy can trust

 

4. “Man of Constant Sorrow” – Dick Burnett

This is a song originally written by Dick Burnett, but made famous by The Cinch Brothers, and later made even more famous by the motion picture Oh Brother Where Art Thou. The following is a simplified version that can be played with a Down – Down pattern.

 Chord Chord

D A D

In constant sorrow all through his days

D G

I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

A D

I’ve seen trouble all my day

G

I bid farewell to old Kentucky

A D

The place where I was born and raised

A D

The place where he was born and raised

D G

For six long years I’ve been in trouble

A D

No pleasures here on earth I found

G

For in this world I’m bound to ramble

A D

I have no friends to help me now

A D

He has no friends to help him now

 

5. “Kentucky Girl” – Larry Sparks

“Kentucky Girl” is a nice song that only features two chords. It can be played much like “Keep on the Sunny Side.” The pattern is Down – Down – Down – Up – Down.

G D7

Kentucky girl are you lonesome tonight

G

Kentucky girl do you miss me

D7

Does that old moon shine on the bluegrass as bright

G

As it did on the night you first kissed me

D7

In a valley neath the mountain so high

G

The sweetest place in all the world

D7

In a cabin with vines on the door

G

Is where I met my Kentucky girl

 

6. “Old Doc Brown” – Hank Snow (“Just a Closer Walk with Thee”)

“Old Doc Brown” is a song that is played very slowly and has spoken word over it rather than traditional singing lyrics. It’s a classic. It was first performed by Hank Snow, but later popularized by Johnny Cash. It shares the same chords as “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” which is a very old hymnal song that bears no author. I chose this song because there are a few new chords introduced.

7 Chord7 Chord

A E A

I am weak but thou art strong, Jesus, keep me from all wrong

A A7 D A E7 D A

I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to thee

A E A

Just a closer walk with thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

A A7 D A E7 D A

Daily walking close to thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

 

7. “Nine Pound Hammer” – Flatt & Scruggs

“Nine Pound Hammer” is another fast-paced, classic bluegrass song. It can be played with the Down – Down –Rest – Up – Down pattern that we have seen before. The chorus is as follows.

7 Chord

G

Roll on buddy

C7

Don’t you roll so slow

G D

Well, tell me how can I roll roll roll

G

When the wheels won’t go

G

Roll on buddy

C7

Pull you load of coal

G D

Tell me how can I pull

G

When the wheels won’t roll

G

It’s a long way to Harlan

C7

It’s a long way to Hazard

G D

Just to get a little brew brew brew

G

Just to get a little brew

G

And when I die

C7

You can make my tombstone

G D

Out of number nine coal

D

Out of number nine coal

 

Please keep in mind that these seven easy bluegrass guitar songs can be expanded upon greatly. These are merely open chord versions of the songs. The best way to learn is by sitting with a guitar teacher, so that he or she can go through the strumming patterns and fills.

All chord photos are from JustinGuitar.com.

Want to learn even more bluegrass guitar songs and techniques? Working with a private guitar teacher is the best way to improve your skills. Search for your guitar teacher now!

Matthew K

Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matthew here!

 

 

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