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

What the hell is Brad Paisley thinking?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by polishcomedy, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2004
    trumansburg, ny
    i think this accurately describes brad and a lot of these players styles and tricks.

    there are really only 11 notes (12 with the next octave)... if they would be playing their rapid fire solos within the same register, it wouldnt sound nearly as wild or disjointed (dissonant). but, because they are jumping between registers with lower open notes, back up to 2 registers above, back down... all at break neck speed, it makes it sound very extreme and becomes harder for our ears/brains to pull it together. add some bends, slurs, glissandos etc and youve got WILD!

    imo, this is the essence of what they are really doing. and, its become a style in itself.

    (i know this because i can do a little bit of it myself... just enough for it to be a danger, as i cant alway put it together with accuracy and consistency)

    rand z

  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    So does anyone have an example of a BP line (preferably in standard notation) that we can pull apart?

  3. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    I would be interested in seeing an example of this. Specifically, I'd like to see where he places his harmonic tones (chord tones) rhythmically, what notes are emphasized rhythmically, and what non-diatonic notes he uses and where. It's fine to say that he is demented and evil, but I'd like to see/hear how/where. Standard notation is my preference.

  4. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    I'm finding in my own playing that note choice (especially "between" notes) doesn't matter as much as I used to think. As long as you establish the tonality at the beginning (think twice about starting outside), resolve at the end, nail some chord tones along the way, then the "between" notes can be almost anything.

    Here's an example of what I mean. Over a C7, shall we play C lydian dominant or C altered? One scale is the other, raised a tritone, so they are opposites, in a manner of speaking. Here's a simple lick that uses all the scale tones and no accidentals, done first with C lydian dominant (wish that Gb had been written as a F#) and then with C altered (The chords are | C7 | F | C7 | F |).


    While the second has that "altered" sound, the two versions sound more similar than different to me.

  5. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 12, 2005
    Fullerton, CA

    Brad is a Jazz buff and studied it earlier.

    It don't sound like Jazz when it's twanging like that though ;)

  6. xjazzy

    xjazzy Friend of Leo's

    Feb 17, 2007

  7. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

  8. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    A classic example of him 'boppin' over changes ala Charley Christian, Joe Pass, etc.
    The open string riffs in that particular example tie a lot of the runs together.
    Chord tones are definitely on the strong beats.

    *I'll re-iterate ... Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West and Jimmie Rivers.

    Transcribe some Oscar Peterson and Jimmy Smith, especially over an up-tempo blues or set of rhythm changes. You'll hear most of those licks.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010

  9. jjh37854

    jjh37854 Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 23, 2003
    Austin, TX

  10. daves561

    daves561 Tele-Meister

    Aug 24, 2003
    Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
    Here's a transcription of a couple of phrases around the 2:30 mark of Mr. Policeman that was mentioned earlier. I think this is a good representation of Brad's playing style: Major pentatonics with a lot of open strings and goodly amount of humor. The very first bar, I think, is already kind of a "guitar joke": A strict application of the classic B minor pent lick over a D major chord. I've always found this line/voicing funny because it's leveraging a "theoretical" equivalence -- B minor equals D major -- that in practice sounds kinda funny because the B minor "box" stresses notes that are less important to D major tonality (like the B note). To my ears at least. It always makes me think of beginning guitarists who learn these shapes and scales, and then they learn that, e.g., B minor equals D major, and hey! all of the sudden I can get double the mileage! Obviously Mr. Paisley is beyond this level of awareness, which is why (again, to my ears) I think this is kind of a sardonic little line. At the risk of sounding dismissive, the next two bars are mostly chromatic "filler" designed to connect the 7th-position D major with an open-position G major. The 5-8-7-5 part at the end of the second bar is a favorite of his; see the solo to "The Nervous Breakdown" for another usage. Bar 3, starting with an Eb to F# is a definite ear-twister and part of the chromatic passing stuff, as mentioned in an earlier post, that is, "it's not how you fly, it's how you land."

    The next line, starting with 5-0-3-0-4, is also typical Paisley because it features a pentatonic usage further up the neck combined with pull-offs. What I mean by that is that Mr. Paisley has a fondness for stringing together pull-offs to open strings that are five or more frets apart. This creates wide intervals, frequently yielding doubled up notes when you're in fifth position (e.g. open G string followed by 5th fret D), or surprising direction changes when you're further up (e.g. open G string followed by 7th fret D so even though you're going "down" the strings, you're going "up" in pitch). Again, see "The Nervous Breakdown" for more of this or my transcription of "I'll Take You Back". Along with the surprising intervals, you get some frenetic timbre variation as you alternate "round" sounding fretted notes with "twangy" open strings, sometimes made even twangier by accidentally catching the flesh of your finger on an adjacent string. Keeping an ear for this timbre is big help in transcribing lines like this, or the head lick in "The Nervous Breakdown." (As a side note, I may have gotten my open strings and fretted notes backwards in a few places in the following transcription. It's not easy!)

    The solo ends with another fine joke: after several bars of crazy pull-offs and twisty chromaticisms, he caps the whole thing off with a stone cold sober G run that would make any bluegrasser proud.

    Finally, something else I'd like to point out that maybe others have: using slurring (hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides) on off-beats. In the example below, this occurs from 9th fret to 7th going in bar 1 to bar 2, then the 4\3 slide in bar 3, and all over the place in the bars 5-8. This is the guitarist's version of a sax player's "tonguing" and slurring. Doing it on the off-beats gives the line way more swagger and hipness. Imperative technique for bebop, nearly as important in country.


  11. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    A lot of country chicken pickin incorporates ghost notes, chucks, palm mutes, and raw power hammers and pull offs. A lot of right hand technique just doesn't come through on the tab. Sometimes palmed E strings sound great, but not open. Those ghosts notes would practically sound the same wherever you pick them, so sometimes their location is a matter of convenience, and not a note on a scale.

  12. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    Bop with twang as the jazzers have already pointed out. Check out those circle tones in bars 4 and 5...and the cross rhythm groupings of 3 8th notes in the last 4-5 bars.

  13. smsuryan

    smsuryan Friend of Leo's

    when in doubt...accent the upbeat and you CANT play a wrong a certain degree anyway...:lol::D;)

  14. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

    Aug 4, 2008
    Eddie Van Halen described a lot of this kind of "slop" as "falling down stairs but landing on your feet" effect. Much of his high speed 'tapping things' were symmetrical patterns on the guitar but at speed and with target notes and such, all the 'mess' in-between flys by so that you get the 'effect' of "woah, what was that", without the effect of that's just wrong or makes no sense.

    Speed certainly helps as there is no time to linger and you hear the target notes or pattern outlines more than a blur, or as coltrane was described, "sheets of sound". A lot of things come down to "gesture" as well, especially at speed...I remember geting my hands on the 'cadenza' (at the end) to coltranes 'giant steps' and while everything made perfect sense in the piece, these notes seemed to fit no particular 'pattern or scale' musically...but it was more the gesture than anything else that made it sound 'spectacular'.

    As mentioned, players like Roy Buchanan used these kinds of things a lot,as do many of the greats in all genres do...

    I'm not a country offician-ardo, but much of the characteristic sound like open strings and oblique bends can also seen and used as 'gestures' as much as fitting into some kind of tonal harmonic or scalar 'sense' as such...

  15. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

    Mar 8, 2006
    Austin, Texas
    Dave - another outstanding contribution! Both the transcription, and the analysis.

  16. emu!

    emu! Poster Extraordinaire

    To me, a BP solo sounds like a lot of pull-offs to open strings and hammer-ons from open strings either ascending or descending...probably in the lydian, mixolydian, or ionian box shapes. The open strings of EADGBE will sound good in any natural key except B and F. Add a lot of amp distortion from his small tubish amps and you got something that sounds like total mayhem in a twangy way. And, like someone said, if you resolve on a triad tone in the proper key, you will sound like a genius.


  17. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    I had a jazz gig tonight so I just read through that example on an arch-top.
    Sans the open strings and bends, it would have fit in perfectly with everything I played this evening (changes permitting of course).
    If you're time is good and you play it at a medium to fast clip it'll ALL work over a G blues or the "A" section of rhythm changes. There'll be a few kinda out things but as long as you do it with intent it'll be fine.
    Strong beats: generally chord tones or minor 3rd's (blues emphasis). Pretty standard fare.

    The thing that has always attracted me, and probably most guitarists that aren't necessarily stone country players to hot country pickers (guitar, steel, fiddle) is their sense of time. They swing just as hard as Parker or Wes or Oscar Peterson when they play. It's a thing of beauty.

  18. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2004
    trumansburg, ny
    lots of valid explanations here. i just wanna add one more element that hasnt really been touched on. it does take a little of the magic out of it, but still requires a high level of playing, technique and quick thinking and PRACTICE!

    imo, a lot of what were talking about here is "tricks." for instance: vince gill plays the first instrumental section of "oklahoma borderline" pretty much exactly the same way, every performance. he plays the outro instrumental exactly the same way, too.
    if you watch vince's hands, he is playing specific patterns in either ascending or descending runs with double stops, triads, bends etc., up and down the neck. if you dont watch his hands, it sounds like he hitting a coupla dozen notes every 2 seconds. but, if you watch his left hand closely, hes hardly even moving it... just his ring finger or pinky. his right hand is doing a banjo type roll, hybrid picking style, that rapidly reproduces a cluster of notes, sounding like those dozen notes.


    and paisley, albert lee, ray flacke, vince, and redd are all masters of these "tricks." (as i said previously, pick up redd's dvd and he openly shows you some of em). the hard part is learning em, and knowing when and how to insert em. but, these guys play all of the time so they have a lot of that worked out... like gill on "ok borderline." (plus these guys are all monster player!)

    also, many of these players use the same "tricks." some were developed years ago by jimmy bryant, and later by jerry reed, chet atkins, james burton etc. they were trying to copy pedal steel bends, violin slurs and glissandos... and banjo rolls. it requires patience, practice, technique and dexterity to perform them.

    rand z

  19. MrDJoers

    MrDJoers Tele-Holic

    Jan 5, 2010
    Check out this video. It seems to me that Brad is doing a pretty nice job of slurring notes at the 1:48ish mark in the second solo break.

  20. polishcomedy

    polishcomedy Tele-Meister

    Aug 31, 2009
    Great post, Dave...loved the analysis. That's the kind of thing I like to do. To the rest, I must re-iterate that I was not looking for an explanation as to what playing outside is or country 101 guitar playing. I didn't mean literally, "How does Brad select his notes, and why do they work". I meant more, "that boy is crazy in his application".

    I'd scan a page of some of the licks in question, but I'm not sure that is permissible here, much less legal.

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.