bluegrass · old-time

Old Time vs. Bluegrass

Note from Fiddlefreak: This post has been here for over 5 years, and it consistently garners more hits than anything else here on It appears that Peter has updated his original post during this time, making it even better, and more funny. So remember, this is humor, people… not Gospel. 

Bluegrass Band
Fig. A: Bluegrass Band

Peter Feldmann is a bluegrass picker from Los Olivos, CA who has been a stalwart of the Central Coast music scene for many years. A recent post on his music blog Pete’s Word outlines the differences between old-time and bluegrass music. I’m not sure of its original source, but he got it from Bruce Thompson and Wayne Shrubsall. This is serious stuff. Thou shalt not confuse the two!

Excerpts follow:

BG band members wear uniforms, such as blue polyester suits and gray Stetson hats. OT bands wear jeans, sandals, work shirts and caps from seed companies.

The audience claps after each BG solo break. If anyone claps for an OT band it confuses them, even after the tune is over.

An Old Time Band
Fig. B: An Old Time Band

A BG band has between 1 and 3 singers who are singing about an octave above their natural vocal range. Some OT bands have no singers at all.

BG bumper stickers are in red, white and blue and have stars and/or stripes on them. OT bumper stickers don’t make any sense (e.g. “Gid is My Co-Pilot”)

Read Pete’s full post in Pete’s Word.

5 thoughts on “Old Time vs. Bluegrass

  1. Thanks for your comment.

    I’ve been performing both old time and bluegrass music for just about 45 years now. Back in the early 1960s, there wasn’t that clear a distinction made between the two — that is, a lot of musicians sort of wandered across the dividing lines stylistically-speaking. I enjoyed that approach, and it seems now that I beginning to look at the differences with a lot more interest.

    My latest musical attempts have been in recasting songs from one style into the other, just to see what makes them tick. (See my “Grey Cat” album for one example.)

    Best wishes,


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