Get more out of that G-run, yeeh-hah

guitarWith  many of my students I work on improvisation and developing  runs. In this lesson In will use a classic bluegrass run to show how you can get much more out of it in terms of developing solo ideas and phrases.  In this lesson we will use a standard run from the bluegrass genre and see where it might take us when creating our own break over a standard chord progression. 

The run we’ll use is a G major run, essentially a G major blues scale (G major pentatonic plus minor third or so you wish the E blues scale started on the G note). Ultimately we will use the lesson material to play a break over the following common chord progression ( BIG SANDY RIVER).

||: G  |  G  |  D  |  D  |

  |  G  |  G  |  D  |  G  :||

||: G  |  C  |  D   |  G  |

  |  G  |  C  |  D   |  G  :||

The G major blues scale run

Ok,  here  we go.

Ex. 1


We could also do this run in a closed  position (no open strings)



First of all transpose the run to C and D


Play it backwards

Ex 4


I’ll leave it up to you to play this in closed position and to transpose it to C and D.

Playing around with these six notes we can come up with alternatives.

Playing  around with the notes

Ex 5  Start at a different place in time


Ex 6 Leave out the root


Adding notes

Ex 7 Adding the flat 7th


Ex 8 Adding the flat 7th


While all examples are in G I leave it up to you to transpose.

Application of what was learned: Big Sandy River break/solo

Time to apply what we have been doing so far to a real life situation: a break over the chord structure of Big Sandy River, a bluegrass standard. A melody arrangement of the tune can be found here >>>









Experiment with hammer-on pull-off etc, remember that this is alternate picked (on the beat down, off the beat up) and if you have a question let me know. Below a you tube video of Big Sandy River for some extra inspiration.

All the examples and the break are available as a pdf here >>>


Have fun!