Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Playing classic country tunes in a trio setting

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by McGlamRock, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Friend of Leo's

    Jun 1, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    I just joined up with a singer and bass player and we're gonna do some classic country tunes. we're looking for a drummer, but for now it's just us three. The other bands I've been in we've had another guitar or piano.

    Anyhow, I was wondering if any of the gigging country guys had tips on how they deal with playing tunes in singer's keys. Are capos frequently used?

    We were playing "You ain't woman enough to take my man" in Ab, and when I play rhythm everything's sounds ok, but it's very bottom heavy hanging on the 6 and 5th strings. So when I go to take the 8 bar solo, the song suddenly becomes very empty. Anyone have any tips on dealing with this?

    Or a link to video you like of a good trio doing classic country tunes would be great...

    Thanks in advance!
    johnnylaw likes this.
  2. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Friend of Leo's

    Jun 1, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
  3. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's

    Jun 30, 2007
    Swanton Ohio
    I worked 3 pieces doing that type of music for many years..Drums, bass and guitar..I avoided playing rhythm chords just for that reason..I played fills when not taking a ride on lead..
    The sound remained constant..
    jim777, Chicago Matt and McGlamRock like this.
  4. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Take a cue from Kenny Vaughan above, he's playing very minimal rhythm between lead licks. He's leaving lots of air already, so no big, obvious empty spaces to worry about.
    McGlamRock likes this.
  5. Tele22

    Tele22 TDPRI Member

    Jun 18, 2014
    My teacher says he plays everything in C A G E D tuning. If someone wants another key, he’ll capo it. Say I guess Ab would be a capo on first fret and play G.
  6. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    for rhythm, work on chords on strings 2, 3, and 4

    for fills, jump to strings 1, 2, and 3

    the bass should take care of roots and fifths, so don't worry so much about strings 5 and 6 on the guitar

    as wise people say above, that it helps *not* to think in terms of the big dense first-position chords because, when you stop playing them, a big hole opens up

    Kenny Vaughn is masterful in that video

    another guy who does this really well, though not exactly country, is Brownie McGhee

    capoes are great, I think shaming their use is ridiculous
    stinkey, AAT65 and McGlamRock like this.
  7. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    using a capo is fine. If you are situationally aware and can remember where it goes, take it off for the next song etc...
    travis picking can help fill in the sound.. you have a bass player, he should be able to carry the tune while you solo (which your solo should support the melody and toss in some double and triple stops to punctuate the time and melody.)

    I dig that Cuddin' Kenny noodles between songs... classic!
    johnnylaw, drlucky, Frankie and 2 others like this.
  8. Brokenpick

    Brokenpick Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 29, 2008
    For a trio in this case, it'd be nice if the bass player was the singer... and the 3rd person was the drummer!
    Gettin a full sound when the singer drops out and you play lead...with nothin but the bass.... is gonna sound a tad "empty".
    It's tough going without The Rhythm Section -drums & bass.
    Can ya get the singer to play rhythm guitar? That'd help count for something... a little texture and timbre behind the lead...
    Best guess I can say is, keep your solos near the melody, and/or not too long. Don't worry about playing The Solo -as in, note for note coverband style. Chord leads and double and triple-stop techniques are nice. It ain't ideal. A singer that just sings...
    well.... I dunno. I'd rather hear a player that also sings but maybe not quite as good.
    Harry Styron likes this.
  9. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    and who can't help but admire how he completely ignores the gal bartender singer when he takes his solo

    I would find that very difficult, it goes against the very reason I took up guitar in the first place

    we're not worthy, Kenny! we're not worthy!
    JimInMO, McGlamRock and getbent like this.
  10. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    that girl would bring in the beer drinkers... and she has pretty good time.
    nojazzhere likes this.
  11. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    I heard she tended bar there at Robert's

    she sings well -- Nashville must be full of people like her

    Robert's still has that small-town feel, like local craic in Dublin
    Dennyf likes this.
  12. PastorJay

    PastorJay Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 12, 2014
    If I read the OP correctly, the current trio is guitar, bass, and a non-instrumentalist singer. Is that correct?

    Love the Kenny Vaughan video, but that band has a drummer, which makes everything very different in terms of what space needs to be filled or might better be left empty. How would you apply that with just bass and guitar?
    McGlamRock likes this.
  13. JL_LI

    JL_LI Tele-Afflicted

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    I accompany myself on an electric guitar. Just me and my (usually) Telecaster. I play leads and solo intro's and outtro's in many songs. The key to keeping things in balance is to play finger style and to play solos off the chords. That way, chords aren't strummed; each note is sounded individually. I play double and triple stops. Stops fill chords and solos both. I'm not saying I do everything finger style. There are some songs that just work better with a pick, but playing finger style is now second nature. I played with a pick for the longest time. It took about a year to develop technique and a finger style that worked with the songs I play. I play some solos mostly thumb and do a couple of songs with a thumb strum. On the surface, country music sounds pretty simple. Playing it isn't.
    drlucky, Random1643 and Pineears like this.
  14. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Friend of Leo's

    Jun 1, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    Thanks for all the suggestions,

    Sounds like the answer is to play as little as possible except for short fills in between vocal phrases. I've been alternating, playing along with the records and then playing with a metronome unaccompanied. When I play with the metronome, all the space feels weird

    So far, I've only played with the singer- we met up on Wednesday. The bass player's a friend of mine, and the three of us (singer, bass and I) are going to meet up next Thursday. We're on the look out for a drummer... but haven't found one yet

    These are the tunes we're gonna try on Thursday

    Just Because I'm a Woman- Dolly
    He Still Thinks I Care- Patty Loveless version
    You Ain't Woman Enough- Loretta
    The Bargain Store- Dolly
    She's Got You- Patsy
    Fist City- Loretta / The Little Willies
    Two More Bottles of Wine- Emmylou
    Long Sermon- Brad Paisley
    Hello Trouble- Buck Owens
    Jerry's Breakdown- Jerry Reed
  15. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015
    Every time I've seen Wayne Hancock it's been a trio, though that means 3 instruments. No drummer though. If you check out what the lead player is doing here, it would still work if wayne's rhythm guitar were gone. Especially if your bass player can slap (to add some high frequency percussion sound back in).
    I just assumed we were talking about acoustic double bass. Is that correct? If its electric bass, I'd say just do your best to find a drummer.
    Either way, I think the best you can do is try to comp rhythm parts low key and quiet, and arrange around being the only chord and lead fill instrument.

    drlucky likes this.
  16. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    Texas and Louisiana
    How on Earth do guitarists do this? I've tried more than a few times--am I that bad? I've done better with bass and another guitarist than I ever have with guitar/bass/drums. Plenty of bar bands around here sound just fine that way.

    Is there something wrong with me?
    Pineears, JustABluesGuy and Papa Joe like this.
  17. PastorJay

    PastorJay Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 12, 2014
    With your repertoire, your third instrument wouldn't necessarily have to be a drummer?

    What would it be like with fiddle, dobro, mandolin or even banjo? Or another guitar player?
  18. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's

    Jun 30, 2007
    Swanton Ohio
    That doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you..It's all a matter of experience and big balls attitude ..Another musician once remarked of me that what I lacked in talent I made up for with balls .lol..
    I can even play fill when I'm singing..
  19. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    Texas and Louisiana
    I can play some fills and signature riffs while singing too: Mama Tried, Funny How Time Slips Away, Stars on the Water, Daddy Frank to name just a few...but doing it without a rhythm guitar has always unnerved me. Maybe lack of the right bassist? Not to fault anyone I've worked with over the years...I always assumed I was the weak link.
  20. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

    May 9, 2008
    The single best way to sound good covering any song is to learn the song thoroughly from the version you intend to perform ... learn every note, every chord, all the correct phrasing. From there, you can decide what elements of that arrangement you are able to convey within the instrumentation of your combo. Then if you need to change the key, use a capo ... no reason not to.

    I rarely hear Country music that clearly features six-note bar chords, especially on electric guitar. It happens, but not very often. Let the bass play the root of the chords. Learn the notes the guitar players are playing on the recordings you are learning from.

    Also, an acoustic guitar can make a musical Duo sound very full, especially if you need to transpose with a capo.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.