Learn some common Western swing progressions and turnarounds to help you dive into this sub-genre of country and jazz.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Learn common major 6 voicings.
• Understand how to use passing chords to make progression more interesting.
• Use chord inversions to create movement.

Click here to download a PDF and mp3 audio of this lesson.

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Gallop picking is a technique that combines forward rolls with open strings to create a lush sound.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Advanced Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Create “galloping” licks using forward rolls and open strings.
• Develop an understanding of triad shapes all over the fretboard.
• Use hybrid picking to play through arpeggios at higher tempos.

Click here to download a high-resolution, printable PDF of the notation.

Gallop picking is a technique that combines forward rolls with open strings to create a lush sound. I first heard this technique used on the bridge of Chet Atkins’ "Galloping on the Guitar.” It's pretty amazing how it immediately draws you in. It's definitely one of those "Whoa, what was that?" tricks. I used it for a section following my solo on "She's Something Sweet,” from my latest album Peach Crate. Here's the good part—it's not that hard to do. We will have to brush up on our triad inversions though, if we want to use it with any kind of proficiency. This lesson will start with some simple examples to get you comfortable with galloping and using inversions. Then we will look at a short piece that will hopefully give you some inspiration to start incorporating galloping into tunes and solos.

Let’s start with the technique. In Fig. 1 I’m going to start with a root position G major triad (G–B–D) based of the 4th string. We'll do a forward roll through the triad. A forward roll is a way of playing a series of notes across a string set with hybrid picking. I start by picking the fourth string followed by the middle finger plucking the third string and then the ring finger plucks the second string. If you haven't done this before then take some time to repeat it and build up some strength and speed. As it gets faster you'll start to notice the rolling effect. Start the lick off by doing this forward roll as a sixteenth-note triplet. The last thing to do is add a single note on the upbeat. After the triplet I'm picking the middle note of my triad on the third string. Put this together and you'll get the galloping effect. You could also try rolling forward and picking the high note of the triad on the second string. You can hear this in Fig. 2.


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We move the triads around in Fig. 3. I'm going to break up the guitar into three string sets (3–2–1, 4–3–2, 5–4–3, 6–5–4) and move through the different inversions of a G major triad. In each measure we will start with the lowest inversion and move up the neck. You might find it helpful to first play the triad shapes up and down the neck and then add the gallop picking in the right hand only when you're comfortable.


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In Fig. 4 we're moving each triad shape down chromatically a whole step. This will turn it into the shape of an F major triad. When you walk each triad down you will end up with some combination of F–A–C. If you're still playing over a G chord these notes will now be sounding as the b7th, 9th and 11th, which could give you a G9sus sound. Try doing this exercise on each set of three strings and in at least three other keys.


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Open up and say extensions! In Fig. 5 we're adding an extension to each triad in the laziest way. What's simpler than just lifting a finger? I'm using a Bb major triad based on the 4th string. I start with all fingers down and do my forward roll. Then lift your middle finger off of the third string and play the open 3rd string on the upbeat. Make sure your first and third fingers are still down. You want all of these notes to ring into each other. The open G is acting as a 6th within the Bb. Now lets switch the shape to an F7. Do a forward roll through the triad and play the open 3rd string again on the upbeat, which allows the 9th (G) to ring.


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We put everything together in Fig. 6. Hopefully this will inspire you to write your own. Good luck!


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In this lesson we will look at ways to add some twang to the blues scale.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Combine blues scales with basic country guitar techniques.
• Create cascading phrases that include dissonant notes.
• Learn how to use double stops effectively in a solo.
Print it!
Click here to download a high-resolution, printable PDF of the notation.
In this lesson we will look at ways to add some twang to the blues scale. This is a great way to get a new perspective and breathe new life into one of the most-used scales or revisit a scale that you may have put down for a while.

Let's face it, one of the most appealing aspects of soloing with the blues scale is that you can sound pretty darn good over most tunes without "playing the changes.” In other words, not addressing each new chord as a new tonal center. Now that's not a knock to the blues. This can actually make it harder to say something original. Not to mention, a player’s emotional commitment becomes even more transparent. Some of you may only know the blues scale or the minor pentatonic scale. No problem. While it's great to keep expanding your vocabulary, a lot of music can be made with just those scales. What I'm trying to say is it's not what you have but how you use it.

Below are four blues licks with four different approaches. Each lick will combine the blues scale with a country guitar technique. The idea here is that you don't just walk away with four cool new licks but four cool new concepts.

Country guitarists love us some double stops. Double stops is a fancy way to say two notes at once. This a technique country guitarist probably adapted from fiddle players. This lick in Fig. 1 is in the key of D and is based off of the the blues scale. Now they are two ways you can play these double stops–pick and middle finger or grab with the middle and ring fingers. Both sound good and will achieve the desired effect. In the audio example, I'm mixing these two approaches.


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I start off by sliding into the root and b5 from a half step below then continue moving up the D blues scale in double stops until I reach the root and fifth on the top two strings. Now barre across the 1st, 2nd,and 3rd strings at the tenth fret to set up a pull off and place the pinky on the thirteenth fret of 3rd string. I'm picking the third string and grabbing the first string at the tenth fret with my middle finger at same time. Start your pull off down to the tenth fret. From here, I walk down the scale and tag the lick with a couple straightforward double stops. This leads us into a little chicken pickin’. Place your pinky on the D at the twelfth fret. This note will not change for the next couple double stops. Between each double stop I release tension in my fretting hand to achieve the muted sound.

The lick in Fig. 2 uses open strings and takes advantage of some of the dissonances achieved by letting notes ring into each other. This lick is based out of the A blues  scale. The key here is to hold each note as long as possible in order to create a ringing, harp effect. Also, make sure the pads of your fingertips aren’t touching the neighboring strings.


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We head into Western swing territory with Fig. 3. We use some major 6th voicings in order to imitate a lap steel guitar. I love how simple this one is. You don't have to change the chord shape at all. Just move it horizontally through the notes of a G blues scale.


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The lick in Fig. 4 is based out of the B blues scale. Here, we will use some chicken pickin’ and palm muting to help bring it into the world of twang. I start with a double stop on the top two strings with my middle and ring fingers. When I get to the third string I throw in some chicken pickin’. I'm picking the root (B) then releasing the tension in my fretting hand and plucking the muted string with my middle finger then end with picking the root (B) again. The muting for the rest of the lick is done with palm muting. I hope you get a lot of mileage out of these licks but remember it's the concepts behind the lick that is the gift that will keep on giving.


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That does it for this month. If you have any questions about the lesson, or concepts you'd like to see covered in the future, add a comment below and I'll address it as quickly as possible.

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In this lesson, we will look at pedal steel bends that are based out of common triad shapes.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Create pedal steel-inspired licks using basic triads.
• Learn how to bend melody notes while keeping other notes stationary.
• Develop ideas based on inversion shapes all over the fretboard.
Print it!
Click here to download a high-resolution, printable PDF of the notation.
The stringed octopus—also known as the pedal steel guitar—has inspired country guitarists for decades. As far as instruments go, pedal steel is fairly new since it's only been around since the ’40s. Some of the great early pedal steel pioneers included Speedy West, Bud Isaacs and Buddy Emmons. These guys help to shape the mechanics of the instrument as well as being great players.

A signature sound of the pedal steel is bending one note of a chord while the others remain stationary. This is achieved with the aid of foot pedals and knee levers—two elements that we need to learn to replicate on the guitar. There are a seemingly endless amount of methods of approaching this, so we will narrow it down to just a few.

In this lesson, we will look at pedal steel bends that are based out of common triad shapes. These are great for embellishing your rhythm playing behind someone or even for taking a lush solo over a ballad. Although pedal steel attacks are usually done in combination with a volume swell and vibrato, I left those out so we can focus on the technique. Once you feel comfortable with the examples try adding vibrato and volume swells to each new chord. Remember, pedal steel players don't strum, so use a hybrid pick-and-fingers approach.

Fig. 1 is based around an A major triad in second inversion (which means the 5th is the lowest note). You can think of it as an A major barre chord at the fifth fret minus the barring finger. This is very easy to visualize and it's a position we can get a lot of mileage out of. The bottom two notes of the triad are played with third and fourth finger and the top note is played with the index finger. Use your index finger to bend the minor 3rd (C) up a half step to the major 3rd (C#). Be careful not to pull the stationary notes out of tune.


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In Fig. 2 we will use the same fingering as before but we approach the third of the chord from a whole step below.


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We mix things up with Fig. 3. In the previous examples, we pluck the note and then bend into a chord tone, completing the sound of a triad. Here, we will bend the note first, pluck it, and then release the bend resolving to our target note. This is called a pre-bend and can be used to resolve into either major or minor triads.


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We move to a root position A major triad in Fig. 4. Use the same fingering as the previous examples with your index finger grabbing the b5 and bending it up a half step.


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In Fig. 5 we combine the root position triad with a pre-bend. This time we start with the diatonic note above the 5th (F#) and resolve to the E on the 3rd string.


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The final inversion is shown in Fig. 6. It can feel a little crowded at first but will become easier with a few reps. Focus on only moving the top note of the triad. The pre-bend version is demonstrated in Fig. 7.


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We put everything together in Fig. 8 with a nice little country waltz that uses all these inversion shapes. Try using this concept with minor, diminished and augmented triads. Pick slow tunes with simple progressions and begin writing some solos. Don’t be afraid to move these bending ideas to other keys as well. Pretty soon people will be wondering where you have hidden your knee levers and foot pedals!


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