Lesson – Discover the Country Guitar Technique with Lars Schurse
To celebrate the launch of his brand new Country Guitar App, Lars Shurse has put together a great guitar lesson based on one of his killer country licks. Make sure to download the free lesson’s material in the article. (version française)
About the lick
“To me, building a solid vocabulary of licks and phrases is essential to mastering any style of music. Other than in Rock and Pop music, where you often improvise in one key-center, you mostly play over each chord separately in the country genre. That means that the improviser changes his tone material when the chord changes.
The following solo consists of four two-bar-licks. By mastering this solo you will:
- add 4 great sounding licks to your vocabulary,
- learn the most important techniques in country guitar, such as hybrid picking, use of open strings etc.
Lick 1 (bars 1 and 2): This is a phrase in the key of A. The tone material is a combination of the A mixolydian scale (A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G) and the A Blues scale (A, C, D, Eb, E, G). The lick starts with a pedal steel bending. You combine the G on the B-String with a whole tone bending on the G-string. Both of them are chord tones. Notice that all the double stops are played with the middle finger (m) and the ring finger (a) of your right hand.
Lick 2 (bars 3 and 4): This lick in D starts out on the D major pentatonic with some added chromatic passing tones. In the second bar the tone material changes again to a hybrid scale derived from the Blues scale and the mixolydian scale in the key of D. The lick is in the style of Johnny Hiland
Lick 3 (bars 5 and 6): This is a Brent Mason trademark. Take a look at the right hand: Only the D-string is played with a pick. Again all the double stops are played with the fingers. The lick is based upon your open A shape.
Lick 4 (bars 7 and 8): This phrase is a great lesson in hybrid picking. It starts out with a series of forward rolls where the direction for your right hand is pick, middle finger, ring finger, pick, middle finger, ring finger etc. While practicing this lick concentrate on your timing. Also notice the combination of fretted tones and open strings. The result is a cascading almost harp-like sound.
Learning those licks should only be the first step: study the masters, transcribe their phrases and write them down in a lick book. You should be familiar with the playing of some great country guitar players such as Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert, Roy Nichols, Don Rich, Albert Lee, Brad Paisley, Johnny Hiland etc.”
– Lars Schurse