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Twang 101

It doesn’t matter if you play in a ’90s country cover band or play in a band that only does metal versions of pop tunes—the system still works.



  • Understand the basic elements of the CAGED system.
  • Learn to visualize chords and phrases all over the fretboard.
  • Develop a more global view of harmony within a key.
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The CAGED system is simple way of visualizing the fretboard. Learn to visualize five chord shapes and pretty soon you will be flowing up and down the neck. The main thing I love about the CAGED system is that it can be applied to any type of music. It doesn’t matter if you play in a ’90s country outfit or play in a band that only does metal versions of pop tunes—the system still works.

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Rig Rundown: Ariel Posen [2023]

The silky smooth slide man may raise a few eyebrows with his gear—a hollow, steel-bodied baritone and .017s on a Jazzmaster—but every note and tone he plays sounds just right.

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Photo by Franco Monsalvo

Open-string licks, hand-wrenching bends, blazing double-stops, and much more.



  • Learn how to incorporate outside notes to a Mixolydian scale.
  • Understand how to phrase in both traditional and modern country settings.
  • Create a deeper vocabulary over dominant chords.
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How many times are you paralyzed by the sheer number of options you can play over a dominant chord? It’s probably one of the only chords where nearly anything works if you land correctly. One of the most common sounds to use is the Mixolydian scale, which is simply a major scale with a lowered 7. But let’s add on to this sound by expanding our musical Mixolydian palette with a few blue notes and some chromatic embellishments.

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Steal inspiration, vocabulary, and picking techniques from legendary acoustic players.



  • Improve your alternate picking.
  • Discover how to use the “country” scale.
  • Create a deeper understanding of chord shapes across the neck.
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Those who haven’t investigated bluegrass might write it off as simply another branch on the country music tree, but there’s so much more to dig into. Born out of the Appalachian mountain regions, bluegrass is the exciting meld of Irish and Scottish folk music with gospel, jazz, and blues elements. It’s a genre dominated by high-level playing on a variety of instruments, including flattop steel-string guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and Dobro.
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Tension is ubiquitous in music. It’s what makes the sound of the eventual resolution so satisfying and helps lead our ears when we are playing. Arguably, the most tension-filled chord in music is the dominant 7, which can be both complex and simple. There’s a wealth of vocabulary out there for dominant chords that can be applied to nearly every genre, but let’s focus on a few licks to demonstrate how deep the sound of these chords can be.
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