July 5th, 2012, 11:47 AM
1. What scales is best to start with when teaching yourself a chicken picking & country style of lead? 2. Also what scale seems to be the easiest when simply just following the melody of a slower pace song? Thanks for any advice!
July 5th, 2012, 12:03 PM
Almost all of the melodies will be the major scale, sometimes with a note here or there that is changed.
There is more info on scales for Country here:
July 5th, 2012, 12:12 PM
Yup, major scale and major pentatonic.
As you dig further, arpeggios and the dominant scale (mixolydian) will be very useful.
July 5th, 2012, 12:25 PM
I think a good way to look at it is a hybrid of the Blues scale and the Mixo (major scale with b7). Another way to see that is to play a blues scale with a major 3rd and the 6th.
C Eb F (F#) G Bb+ E & A= C Eb E F F# G A Bb (D also 'works')
Major 7th is rarely heard in country music especially in the fast chicken pickin' stuff. But just like if you look at Charlie Parker or Bach they break their own 'rules' constantly. So use your ear!
Don't put too much into scales though. If you play that scale verbatim it will sound really lame. Think of it more as your raw material for improvising. Try getting some of the vocabulary down instead. You'll get a lot more mileage from learning a bunch of licks from Don Rich, Brent Mason, Roy Nichols, Albert Lee, James Burton, and Brad Paisley than doing anything with scales. Sure if you don't know the scales you need to learn them because it gives you a lot of background knowledge, but the key is going to be getting into the vocabulary and licks.
For example, the b3 goes really well into the natural 3. But you wouldn't want to play a line like Bb F# Eb over a C chord-unless you were going crunchy country! Find the tendencies of the notes from the recordings, that will always give you better results than scales.
I've got a bunch of lessons on my site for a lot of that stuff. But you can do just as well to go get Merle Haggard or Buck Owens' first couple of recordings and just play along and pick licks up. You'll figure out that scale but go for the phrases.
July 5th, 2012, 05:22 PM
I have been having fun mixing blues and country alot lately though.
It's not done very much but I love practicing it, or when Vince Gill does it.
I love Gill's blues phrasing as much as his country chops and believe it's what makes him such a killer player...even underrated.
In fact, I wrote a song not long ago called "Blues Chicking" which has a combination of Blues and country phrasing. It makes country more interesting to me. Same with adding Jazz or country swing into country.
July 5th, 2012, 07:55 PM
The question isn't so much what scales to use, the question is, "How do you start PHRASING like a country player."
Listen to a lot of country music that is guitar heavy. (IE- Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Asleep at the Wheel, Alan Jackson, etc) that will get some of the sounds in your head. When you listen to a guy like Don Rich you will hear simple melodies and much of it is just from the plain ole major scale, however you can listen to someone like Jimmy Wyble, Dave Billar, or Scotty Anderson you will hear that they are basically jazz players playing with a country rhythm section.
Also, don't neglect using chord tones. If you just play scales scales scales in country without outlining the chord changes you will sound like you're lost. In many ways you have to think of country like you would think of playing jazz. (Making your dominant chords into iiVs, outlining the chord changes, etc) I would definitely say that at least at the beginning your arpeggios are going to be a heck of a lot more important than pretty much anything else.
July 5th, 2012, 08:29 PM
Also you WILL hear the major 7th sound quite often in country especially over the IV chord. When you listen to players that know how to hit the changes you will find that they don't shy away from it at all. If you play every chord as a dominant 7th you will sound like a blues player especially over the IV.
Some of my favorite licks that I've transcribed have a prominent maj7 at different points. Redd Volkaert uses that sound a lot especially goig between a maj6th and maj7th on the I and IV.
July 6th, 2012, 07:08 PM
Twangjeff speaks the truth!
I meant the maj 7th isn't heard a lot in those fast chicken pickin lines.
I'll have to check out some the Redd Volkaert. Saw him live a couple years ago and he's smoking.