I Am a Pilgrim (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

I Am a Pilgrim

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic bluegrass song entitled "I Am a Pilgrim." He covers strumming, the melody, and walking bass lines.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 28:57Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:24) Musical Introduction Steve plays through the traditional son "I Am a Pilgrim" to kick off the latest installment in the Phase 2 Bluegrass series. Merle Travis originally popularized this song.
Chapter 2: (10:00) I Am a Pilgrim Lyrics

There are different sets of lyrics that are often sung with this song. All of the verses can be found in the "Supplemental Content" section.

New G7 shape

This particular chord voicing doubles the 7th of the G7 chord. Compare the sound of this chord voicing to the sound of the G7 that you already know. It is much more difficult to switch from the G chord to this G7 due to the fact that you must use all four left-hand fingers to fret the chord. Drill this change at a very slow tempo until it becomes effortless. This exercise can be found in the "Supplemental Content" section. Typically, the 7th is not doubled within a chord. However, this chord grip for G7 frequently find its way into many bluegrass songs. Also practice switching between this chord and a C7 chord. This is a relatively easy switch, because the grip is quite similar for both chords.


At one point in this arrangement, the band stops playing with the exception of the bass player. The bass plays a chromatic walk from the G chord to the dominant chord, D7. Watch as Steve demonstrates this bass walk at 03:15. This feature of the song can easily be imitated in the context of a solo guitar arrangement. Begin on the note B after strumming the G chord with a staccato strum. Then, walk up chromatically in half steps to the note D.

The Entire Chord Progression

Once you become acquainted with all of the individual chord changes, begin to practice the entire chord progression. A transcription of how Steve plays the chord progression at 07:20 can be found in the "Supplemental Content" section. Bars 12-17 are the hardest. The chords change every measure. Spend extra time with this section if necessary. Remember that there are two ways to play a basic open G chord. Use the fingering that is easiest in relation to the chord proceeding it and the chord that follows.

Start out by playing the progression at a very slow tempo. Then work up to the tempo that Steve plays in the lesson video. This tempo is about 150 beats per minute.
Chapter 3: (02:33) Fun Bluegrass Licks Some bluegrass licks and bass walks can be added to the progression to give the song more of a bluegrass feel. For example, you've learned a simple walk from G major to D major or D7 in previous bluegrass lessons. These walking lines can be applied to the first two measures of the song. The F# note in this walk can either be fretted by the thumb or the first finger. Spend a significant time practicing the walk with both fingerings. Then, decide which version is more comfortable for you.

Note: A version of the chord progression with licks and bass lines added can be found in the "Supplemental Content" section.
Chapter 4: (04:59) More Bluegrass Licks G Chord Lick

A G major blues scale lick that you have already learned in this series can be played over the G chord in bar 5.

C Chord Lick

Steve demonstrates a brand new lick that can be played over the C chord in measure 8. This lick is based on the G major pentatonic scale. Hopefully, you are beginning to see that the major pentatonic scale and its corresponding blues scale are used quite often for bluegrass licks. A variation of this lick is used at the end of the tune as well to give some finality to the form. This lick employs the major pentatonic blues scale.

Practice the licks in the context of the chord changes on your own at a very slow tempo. Increase the metronome speed by one notch at a time until you reach the goal tempo of approximately 150 beats per minute. Then, play along with Steve at 03:44.
Chapter 5: (06:44) Playing the Melody Steve teaches you how to play the melody to the song in this scene. Notice how he chooses to play all of the B notes on the G string. If you let the open B string ring against the Bb blues notes in the song, it will sound like a horror movie, which is not the desired effect for this song. Practice the melody a phrase at a time. Learn the rhythms from "Supplemental Content." Then, look at how the rhythms and melody relate to the lyrics written on Steve's marker board. Once again, practice on your own at a very slow tempo to start out with. Then, gradually work up the tempo.
Chapter 6: (01:02) Playing the Melody with Steve Steve gives you an opportunity to play the melody on guitar while he strums the chords and sings the melody. If the rhythms you play do not match up with Steve, take another look at the notation in the "Supplemental Content" section. Then, make any necessary adjustments.
Chapter 7: (01:24) Play Along In this scene, Steve provides you with an opportunity to accompany him with the chord progression. Steve sings the remaining verses in this scene. If you make a mistake, just keep going. When you reach the end of the song, go back and address any mistakes that you made.
Chapter 8: (01:44) Finishing Up Steve plays an interpretation of the melody in this scene. This can be used as a great instrumental verse to use in between or at the end of verses that are sung. Notice how he doesn't play the melody exactly as it is written in the score. Instead, he embellishes the melody with some licks that give the song a distinct bluegrass feel.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

ctgaffctgaff replied on October 23rd, 2016

I am not sure, but to me it looks like, the supplemental content does not fit with what you are playing. (Scene 4, and the supplemental)

ctgaffctgaff replied on October 23rd, 2016

Enter your comment here.

nspdxnspdx replied on July 14th, 2014

Steve, I Just wanted to take a second to say thanks for creating all of this lesson content. I've been following your lessons for a bit and they are fun and helpful! I've gotten a lot better, thanks to you! I'm really digging the bluegrass lessons! Thanks Again!

bkormobilebkormobile replied on November 6th, 2010

At last!! Playing these songs actually sounds like music. Your lessons are taking my playing passed that durn boom chucka plateau!! Thank you, Steve. (Now, for a lot more practice . . .)

helloitsmehelloitsme replied on February 11th, 2010

I am not sure, but to me it looks like, the supplemental content dont fit with what you are playing. (Scene 4, and the supplemental)

jackloganbilljackloganbill replied on October 16th, 2009

Steve, I have been playing a long time and can finger most chord grips but am having a heck of a time with open G using fingers 2,3,4 instead of 1,2,3. I can finger it, but finger 3 on low G mutes the B note on string 5. Any suggestions for fingering this grip cleanly? (perhaps it is because i cut off 5/8" off of finger 2).

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on November 1st, 2008

The way I sang and posted it on the board is the way I learned it. Sorry, I didn't type up the lyrics...don't know the source of them. Steve

mattbrownmattbrown replied on August 25th, 2008

I think the lyrics in the supplemental content are what Merle Travis sang...not 100% sure though.

cdoyle64cdoyle64 replied on August 24th, 2008

this a great song Steve, but why did you change the WORDS in the lyrics it says AND, GOOD LORD, GOOD LORDY THE MELODY & LICK BOARD SAYS,BUT,O GOD, O LORD.?

Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Bluegrass is one of the most recognizable styles of guitar. Some refer to bluegrass as a celebration of the simple things in life. Dive into this series to learn the essential components of the bluegrass guitar style.

Lesson 1

Intro to Bluegrass

Steve demonstrates basic, essential bluegrass techniques. In this lesson, you will learn the bass/chop technique.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Building the Song

Now that you have the bass/chop down, Steve demonstrates additional bluegrass techniques.

Length: 21:06 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Walking Between Chords

Steve takes our bluegrass song one step further in this lesson. He demonstrates how to play a walking bass line between chords.

Length: 21:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Accenting Your Play

In this lesson, Steve discusses hammer-ons and pull-offs and how they are used in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 33:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Double Picking and Scales

Steve explains double picking, also known as alternate picking. He teaches a scale that enables you to play an awesome bluegrass lick.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Bluegrass Licks

Steve teaches a widely used bluegrass lick.

Length: 22:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Descending Lick

In this lesson Steve teaches a descending bluegrass lick.

Length: 34:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Bluegrass Melody

Steve gives tips on playing a melody line in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Raising the Octave

Steve demonstrates how you can use "closed chord" voicings in order to raise the octave of the melody. Great lesson!

Length: 38:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Fun Bluegrass Licks

Steve demonstrates some bluegrass licks that serve as introductions, endings, and transitions within a song.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

I Am a Pilgrim

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic bluegrass song entitled "I Am a Pilgrim." He covers strumming, the melody, and walking bass lines.

Length: 28:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Angel Band

Steve teaches a bluegrass waltz titled "Angel Band."

Length: 28:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Catchy Bluegrass Lick

Steve dives deep into another classic Bluegrass lick that you can use to flare up a jam session or song.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 14

Wabash Cannonball Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches the first part of the bluegrass classic, "Wabash Cannonball."

Length: 18:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Wabash Cannonball Part 2

Steve continues his two part "Wabash Cannonball" series by teaching how to develop the basic rhythm and melody into unique solo sections.

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ballad of Jesse James Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches this old tune as if it were being played back in the old days. Here, Steve demonstrates the verse, chorus, and melody. Enjoy the story behind this one!

Length: 15:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Ballad of Jesse James Part 2

In his second lesson of "The Ballad of Jesse James," Steve Eulberg demonstrates a more in depth look at how to play the song in a bluegrass form. This lesson is all about double stops, and when combined...

Length: 21:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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