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September 2014
more... IntermediateLessonsAcousticSound SamplesBluegrassLeadRhythmFebruary 2011

Country Guitar Endings: Classic Lines to Bring the Song to a Convincing Close

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Country Guitar Endings: Classic Lines to Bring the Song to a Convincing Close
Country tunes can be brought to a close in a number of ways: vamping on the song’s last chord, tossing in an interesting harmonic twist, interjecting one of several classic bluegrass clichés (as commonly employed on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, etc.), or unleashing a barn-burning, country-fried double-stop lick.

Whether you’re playing an electric or acoustic instrument, you have a host of unique options when it comes to putting the cap on a country cut. Keep in mind that all of these endings, many of which are based on open-position chords, can easily be transposed to other keys with a capo.

This first country ending, written in the key of D, is a simple vamp on the song’s closing chord (D). This chord is surrounded by an infectious D major pentatonic (D-E-F#-A-B) single-note riff ending on the G note (third fret, sixth string). This briefly implies the key center’s “IV” chord (G). After three repetitions of this one-bar figure, an A7 chord sets up a “V-I” cadence to D, bringing the song to a convincing end. Download example audio 1...


The next ending, designed for a country tune in A, inserts a dramatic harmonic shift by using chords outside the key—specifically C and F chords—prior to the requisite “V-I” change (e.g., E to A). Notice that the closing A chord gets an interesting treatment: the triad shape on the second fret is slid up to the 14th fret (one octave higher). This approach can be used with virtually any country tag that ends with an open-position chord. Download example audio 2...


Here’s a pair of classic country endings, each of which borrows a familiar “fiddle” line from the bluegrass vocabulary, performed in the key of G on acoustic guitar. Download example audio 3...



Download example audio 4...


This next ending is a lengthy scalar passage in open position, primed for a country cut in the key of C. In this type of fancy ending, the entire band typically lays out (except for the drummer, who keeps time on his/her hi-hat) until the last bar, while the guitarist cranks out his/her fiddle-inspired lines. These types of endings can be performed at any tempo, from medium-fast to absolutely blazing. Download example audio 5...



An electric guitarist often has the opportunity to wrap up a country tune with a quick double-stop lick. Like the previous example, this type of phrase may also be performed unaccompanied, with the band entering dramatically the instant you hit your lick’s final note.
Given that this double-stop lick contains several bends, you’ll need to pay careful attention to your intonation. For this reason, you’ll need to use a guitar with a fixed “hard-tail” bridge (e.g., a non-tremolo equipped guitar like the Fender Telecaster). Nothing sounds worse than an out-of-tune bend in conjunction with a stationary note! Try this one at the end of any country tune in G. Download example audio 6...


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Intros, Endings & Turnarounds
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