Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Bluegrass rules for the end

I was noodling on the mandolin (my favorite noodling instrument) and came up with an ending for “Whiskey Before Breakfast” I thought was fun to play. It’s basically some arpeggios followed by the little G D A D (4-1-5-1) progression that ends the phrases in the song. The downside to noodling is that I typically forget things after a day or two so I figured I’d tab it. Here it is:
WB4BreakfastEnding.tef (772 Bytes)

After I tabbed it, I realized that the ending chord progression was different than the one I learned from Ben for the same song. That got me to thinking, what are the “rules” for endings? I realize that if you are coordinating a song (i.e. recording) you can do whatever you want, but in a jam situation, you typically don’t want to do something that isn’t telegraphed or expected. When playing rhythm I’ve just always played what “sounds right” for endings without giving it much thought. It usually works out ok. I do know that it always seems to start on the 1 chord and go 5-1 for the last two chords, but for the stuff in between that I don’t really know. Any thoughts? Maybe Ben has discussed this in a video and I forgot it or missed it.

Thanks Ben!

So… the first rule of bluegrass ending is that there are no rules :smiley:

I can live with that.

— Begin quote from ____

Most all the progressions for the endings I make are custom, meaning that I wouldn’t try to pull 'em off at a general jam session.

— End quote

I can understand that. I keep my endings short and simple -usually just repeating a few bars of the chorus/B section- in a general jam. More elaborate endings add a lot to a song, but if everyone isn’t on the same page, it muddies up the tune and makes for a for a real dud of a finish.

A good intro and an ending is all you need . as long as you finish together,. That was what a guitar guru told me once in jest but it is somewhat true,.