workin man blues

The path from ripping electric blues to snappy twang is shorter than you might think. An in-demand Nashville player dishes out a few hands-on tips for getting your country chops together.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Learn how to transform stock blues licks into twangy country riffs.
• Create solos and phrases that outline the changes.
• Supercharge your hybrid picking. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

“I grew up playing blues, but now I want to play country!” These were my exact words in the mid ’90s. Back in the day, I remember surfing TV channels and breezing by a country music show called American Music Shop. I was exposed to some country music in my youth, but I mainly listened to and played blues, R&B, rock, and metal. I didn’t stay tuned into the show for very long but, one particular night I stumbled onto an episode just as Brent Mason was annihilating a blazing chicken pickin’ solo. I had never heard playing like that before and my life was forever changed. To get a taste of what I heard that day, check out the clip below of Mark O’ Connor’s tune, “Pick It Apart.”

The quest to play country guitar had begun. But here was the problem: I was a hardcore blues-rock guy who idolized Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix, Clapton, and the Allman Brothers. True, I could play major pentatonic ideas because I loved the Southern rock guys who could really navigate that stuff. Little did I know that would be the jumping off point for me.

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