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Twang 101: Chicken-Pickin' Triads

Applying chicken-pickin'' techniques to triads

What is Chicken Pickin’? The Chicken Pickin’ sound is created by mixing two kinds of attacks, a muted pick stroke and a popping of the string with the finger. This sound was pioneered by greats like James Burton, Chet Atkins, and Roy Nichols. In this lesson we will be applying this technique to triads.

Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 are exercises to build the Chicken Pickin’ technique. Start with just the single string then move on to double stops. To get the muted pick sound, release the pressure with your fretting hand. You will not be able to do this fast enough by just palm muting. The next move is done by grabbing and popping the string with your finger to get the string to slap against the frets.

Example 1 - Download Audio

Example 2 - Download Audio

Here are some patterns with D major triad shapes. Notice that they are all patterns of three.

Example 3 - Download Audio

Example 4 - Download Audio

Example 5 - Download Audio

Lets move one of these patterns across the neck using an E mixolydian chord scale. This lick would work great over Dominant 7th chords.

Example 6 - Download Audio

Now we will harmonize each note of a G Dominant 7th chord with a triad from the chord scale. First we'll do it across the neck then we'll try to stay in position.

Example 7 - Download Audio

Example 8 - Download Audio

Make sure you are confident with each pattern before you put it to the test. Go slow and allow your fingers to build good habits.