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Great Country Guitar Solos - Whatcha Got?

Musachi

Member
Messages
175
Hey guys! Just started playing with a group that's looking for me to do a few "country-style" tunes - chicken-picking, travis-picking, etc. I've got very strong blues/rock/"shreddy" fundamentals, but the vocabulary is very new.

I've been listening to Johnny Hiland, Brett Mason, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, etc, but I'd love to get some recommendations on great solos to listen to. Any favorites? Also, any tips vis-a-vis solo building are also welcome...
 

Pedro58

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,149
Listen to the classics. James Burton's "Corn Pickin' & Slick Slidin'," just about anything from Merle Haggard, and some Roy Buchanan. Too many to list, really.

Follow the changes. You can't just blow over the root chord and hope it sounds good.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,105
Albert Lee-Sweet Little Lisa w Dave Edmunds-look for the video of the recording session on YouTube
 

Tim Bowen

Member
Messages
3,481
I agree with going back a few years and digging into the classics. Don Rich w/ Buck Owens, Roy Nichols w/ Merle Haggard, makes for a pretty good textbook.

Brent Mason, Paisley, Gatton, Albert Lee, Redd Volkaert, et al. Those guys are great, but a bit involved. I think you build a better vocabulary and get a deeper understanding if you start earlier and simpler, and work your way forward.

You'll probably need some sort of a comfort zone to draw from and get you through while getting a vocabulary together. Depending on what you might've played in the past, that might include some of the major pentatonic stuff over Allman Brothers Band, Eagles, Skynyrd, etc. That was my jumping off point at least.

Moving beyond that are subsets of the style, some more involved than others.

For chicken pickin', there is a simple solo I'd recommend learning. James Burton's solo on Merle Haggard's "I Am A Lonesome Fugitive". Or Roy Buchanan's version of the same song. Roy pretty much aped what Burton originally played with Haggard, with a little more attitude.

Travis picking is a study unto itself. Depends on where you're at with it. Obviously Merle Travis himself is ground zero, but you might want to take a look at some of the rockabilly parts that Scotty Moore played on the early Elvis sides. That stuff figures heavily into the country guitar lexicon.

Faux pedal steel bends. Basically emulating what steel does on a six string. I'm a fan of getting that mechanical bend feel together on a standard guitar first before (/if) pursuing bender guitars.

Banjo rolls. Albert Lee and Danny Gatton eat this stuff up. If you're okay with hybrid picking, see if you can get the "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" thing going on with guitar in G & E for starters. Maybe the signature G roll in Albert Lee's "Country Boy".

Faux slip-note piano. Floyd Cramer. Learn on guitar some of Cramer's signature moves from "Last Date". You can get a whole lot of mileage out of this stuff.

Classic intros and endings. Country players collect these the way blues players collect turnarounds. Learn intros and endings from fiddle, steel, piano, mandolin, etc.

Lots of playing chord-for-chord and hitting target tones. Locate your diatonic 3rds & 6ths within the CAGED chord shapes and move through those double stops horizontally and vertically on the instrument on different string sets. Working with major pentatonics, you can drill I-IV and I-V chord moves to work on nailing target chord tones. Not that you'd always want to phrase as such, but nailing the major third on the downbeat of each new chord is good practice. Chromatics often start figuring in when playing straight eighths or sixteenths over the chords.

Honky tonk & western swing. The early stuff is of course Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, as well as Hank Williams Sr. Hank Williams structures are simple, but some of the other swing stuff is a little more involved. Lots of secondary dominants. Your ii, iii, & vi chords aren't always minor. 6 & 9 chord sounds are often heard from steel, but guitar can play them as well. The same Roy Buchanan record that contains his cover of "Lonesome Fugitive" also has his take on Hank Sr.'s "Hey Good Lookin' ", which has some nice western swing moves for guitar, and that's a simple structure to work with, so a good starting point for swing.

There's also crosspicking, and the harp-like cascading open string/fretted runs. Lots of cool stuff.

With phrasing and nuances, what you don't do is as important as what you do. Unless you're playing the modern stuff, much of which is basically southern rock, those big, wide sexy blues-approved vibratos are not part of the vernacular. Not a lot of vibrato in traditional country guitar playing.
 

Tim Bowen

Member
Messages
3,481
Regarding pedal steel, much is often made of the tunings and color tones, and rightfully so, but a lot of the bread & butter stuff is fairly simple, harmonically. Emulating steel on a guitar quite often winds up being a study in triads and inversions with a suspension here and there, such as with this intro from Charley Pride's "All I Have to Offer You (is Me)."


On a different note, Albert Lee talks about the faux banjo thing and plays excerpts of the signature "Country Boy" and "T-Bird to Vegas" figures.


And some additional insight into the "Country Boy" roll in G.

 

Tone Loco

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,349
I always loved Vince Gill's Liza Jane solo - has lots of classic stuff in it:

Same with Stephen Bruton's solo on Face of Love, great phrasing and touch and hitting all the changes in kind of a rockabilly setting:
 

Clifford-D

Senior Member
Messages
17,045
A buddy just got me some old Jimmy Wyble charts for his country etudes. It also comes with some classical etudes.

Does anyone out there know what famous country band Jimmy Wyble played in?
 

Jahn

Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
29,253
I'm not a C&W fan, but when I heard Danny Gatton cover this back in college I was heavily impressed.

 

gennation

Member
Messages
7,919
I play a lot of country licks, some of my favorites that I've learned other than stuff like Country Boy, endless Albert Lee licks, and a number Chet Atkins tunes are...

Ricky Skaggs Don't Get Above Your Raising, I learned both Ray Flacke and Jerry Douglas (I that's who it is) parts:

Pete Anderson is maybe my favorite, I still teach this solo to up and coming country pickers:

Here's one you won't find on many's lists but this is hell of a guitar performance on an off the wall recording...

An all time fun tune is to pick out the pedal steel guitar in the classic.. Hey Good Lookin'...learn all these pedal steel fills...try it!

Here's a different take on country but it's a great jazz, gospel, swing with some country moves:
 

Phletch

Senior Member
Messages
9,896
Jerry Garcia has some really nice country phrasing on pedal steel you can borrow from this classic. The lyrics are a hoot, too.
 

johnnyelgato

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
333
What songs does the band want to do? If you are mostly a bluesy type player you'd probably be fine on something like Hank wouldn't have done it this way by Waylon. It's straight four on the floor and you can shred penatonics over the two chords. 4 on the floor stuff is great for chicken picken if you are coming from a Shreddin environment.
 






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