Bluegrass jamming is the way to enjoy the music and the experience of playing with other musicians.  The nature of the bluegrass jam allows room for the ripe beginner to sit in and learn from the experts.   There are a few simple rules of common courtesy and tradition that enhance the participation on all levels.   In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment.

The traditional stringed instruments of bluegrass are guitar, acoustic bass, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin.   Dobro and harmonica are often included.   Other instruments that can blend in with the bluegrass sound are accordion, autoharp and ukulele & cello.   Drums and electrified instruments are not appropriate for these jams.

Sheet music is rarely seen with an emphasis placed on playing and improvising 'by ear'.  Most of the tunes associated with bluegrass were passed down through generations and learned in jams rather than from sheet music.  Today, youtube.com is a wonderful resource to brush up on a tune or two before coming to the jam.

Bring your instruments and enjoy!

Jam etiquette...

(thanks to Victoria Bluegrass Association)

Nashville Numbering System
(thanks to Victoria Bluegrass Association)

Fat Charlie's Circle of Fifth's
For your basic '3 chord songs' 
Choose your key ( example - G )
the letters flanking the key are the 2
secondary chords ( in key of G use G C D)
Most common bluegrass keys 
G C D,    D G A,    A D E     C F G  

For the Nashville Numbering System
the basic
'3 chord songs' become  1,4,5 songs
Choose the key  =  1     (example - G)
Going anticlockwise from the key is the  4 
    (example - in the key of G - 4 is C)
Going clockwise from the key is the  5
    (example - in the key of G - 5 is D)
The numbers can be applied to all the keys
G C D,    D G A,    A D E     C F G
1  4 5      1  4 5      1  4  5     1  4 5