Bluegrass ensemble playing uses back-up patterns that support the overall band sound. One approach to learning this kind of back-up playing is to use repeatable phrases of two or more measures over the chord changes. The examples below show what’s involved with slides over the chord tones over a G Major Chord:
Slides are actually ornamental slurs but are sometimes shown as sixteenth notes in tablature. To get the proper “slurring” sound, you delay the slide to coincide with the plucking of the following note. This is the way get that professional sounding timing effect. The first example below is on the fourth string. The slide is delayed slightly to coincide with the striking of the third string:
Fourth String Lead:
Did you hear it? The same idea is employed for the third and second-string slides.
Third String lead:
Second String Lead:
These three simple slide exercise examples will help you get a feel for great sounding G chord back-up licks.