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For country guitar playing, I lean towards a clean telecaster sound.

I don’t use much in the


way of effects, a tiny bit of reverb and compression. I sometimes use a little bit of delay, set
at a very quick time - somewhere around 100 milliseconds, but I find this sound over used
with many country players. A good tone doesn’t really need any of this stuff.

Here comes the hard part. To achieve the chicken pickin' sound that I like (popping the
strings with a percussive, quick sound) I use a thumb pick. I tried a long time to get around
using a thumb pick, but was never successful at achieving the sound I like. Once I put a
thumb pick on, it was like magic - the sound I was looking for. It took me a good 6 months
to begin to play well with one. The thumb pick is important because it frees the right index
finger to play strings and pop them whenever you feel like it. The index finger seems to be
the perfect size and weight to achieve this sound. It also frees up the other fingers for quick
playing. This takes some getting used to because ever line and every scale can be played
numerous ways with the right fingers.

Country isn’t dependent on one set of scales, like rock or blues. To play country, you must
play over the chords much like a bluegrass or jazz player. It is no coincidence that many
country players are also jazz players and vice versa. Every chord has different lines, chord
shapes, or riffs associated with it. The better the player, the more tricks he has for each
chord. In country, there are a few basic chords you must be able to play over - C, D, E, G,
and A.

Country also uses a great deal of first position playing, based on chord shapes like bluegrass.
This means the riffs played revolve around the chord shape, not just the notes in the chord
but others around the chord. Try an open position chords like D7. Here is a lick based on a
D7 chord.

The second lick is in G

Here is a lick based on the C Major Chord


Country players also use many creative bends to approach notes from different angles. Here
are some basic bend ideas. Here is Lick #4

Another bend for lick #5

And now let's learn lick #6

Let's take a look at our last bending lick