A Field Guide to Bluegrass Music

This portion of the Blue Octane Bluegrass Band website is hosting a book that one of our bandmembers, Jeff Westerinen, wrote about bluegrass music. The book is entitled “A Field Guide to Bluegrass Music” and is intended to bring information to anybody interested in bluegrass music, whether one is a veteran musician or a casual listener. The site is structured in such a way that it can be read in any order.


This short book provides an outline of Bluegrass music, and what it takes to become a better and more complete Bluegrass musician.  If you are just starting out, it will provide a jump-start by revealing many hard-won secrets that I believe separate great band members from good ones.  If you are already an accomplished musician, perhaps you can gain some valuable perspective and knowledge from my ‘trade secrets’ of playing better bluegrass.

It is my desire that you will find some wisdom in these pages, and that you can take a faster path to achieving your musical goals.  It is also my goal to do what I can to preserve and improve bluegrass music, and if I can pass along even a few small lessons to folks, it may help the music and community over the long run.

Don’t hesitate to provide me feedback on what you read here – I promise to read and to take to heart all comments – positive and negative.  I can be reached at [email protected]

Table of Contents (hyperlinked)


A Bluegrass Primer 

Instrumentation and Technique

– Bass

– Guitar

– Mandolin

– Banjo

– Fiddle

– The Bluegrass Voice

Skills Development

The Bluegrass Band

Bluegrass as a Business

Sound Reinforcement for Bluegrass Bands