March 24, 2002

#22: Novice questions

Andy from England writes:

1. How useful is a 5th string capo or spikes? as I haven't started jamming with anyone as yet and don't really know if it's something to consider when playing with others, or is it an item I wouldn't use that often?

As soon as you are in a jam session and someone says "Let's do this one in A", you will want the 5th string capo or spikes. That plus a regular capo makes it possible to play in keys like A and B while playing "as if" in G. Very useful. I recommend your getting hold of my video Bluegrass Jamming, which will give you a chance to jam "safely" in private and get used to the skills you'll need, including playing in keys other than G.

2. What are these d-tuners that I keep hearing about? How useful are they? Are they just a quicker way to get to altered tunings?

D-tuners are ingenious devices to allow retuning while playing, or quick retuning to a particular (D) tuning between songs. The repertoire that uses them is not very big, and in reality, d-tuners don't get a lot of use from most pickers. Not at all a necessity for a novice picker.


The one video that every new bluegrasser needs, as soon as they get their first instrument!

140 Classic Songs!
The only book with instruction on bluegrass singing, including bluegrass harmony, and many pages of tips from the all-time greats.