Chicken Pickin' and Country Guitar

Does anyone have recommendations of guitarists or songs to listen to in order to learn chicken pickin’?

Like many people here, I have mainly focused on blues and rock playing for years now. But, I have always found the chicken pickin’ style of guitar to be super interesting! I think it would be cool to learn (despite the fact that I don’t even listen to country music – is that weird?).

Steve’s Boogie by Eric Johnson is such a cool one and is an example of how versatile EJ is as a player. I’ve been trying to learn this one and it certainly has taken time.

Anyway, feel free to suggest anything that comes to mind. Maybe we can get a discussion going for people who are interested in this type of music. Thanks!

I love that style and there are so many greats it’s hard to name a few. Personally, if I’m trying to learn something, I like having the sheet music/tab to go along with the music, it fits better with being a visual learner.

To that end, The Hellecastors first record has a tab book and all three guys are absolute demons at the style. The second is Brad Paisley’s Play record, which also has a tab book. He is a killer player in his own right, but that record also has numerous country legends playing on it, so you get to hear (and see) their styles as well.

My personal favorite is Scotty Anderson, he plays with a thumb pick, so it’s not a direct comparison, but just Youtube him. His record Triple Stop is a game changing record.

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I’m not an expert in this style, but it seems Johnny Hiland is one of the big names for instruction in it.

Edit: I’m not affiliated with Johnny or Truefire, but here’s a link to the pitch for one of his Truefire courses:

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Danny Gatton
Brad Paisley for a more accessible sound
Brent Mason

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I believe Andy Wood even has some courses on it? And there’s a transcription book available for his latest album.

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@Frylock @Thegent @JakeEstner @shredhead7 Thanks for all the suggestions! I’ll have to check out all those guys’ playing. There’s definitely some good stuff out there. Danny Gatton’s name seems to be coming up a lot when looking around online

Danny Gatton did a Hot Licks VHS tape back in the day called “Danny Gatton: Telemaster!”. It’s available on DVD. It’s not yet available legally as a download, but it looks like Music Sales and/or Hal Leonard is going to remedy that soon:

There were Hot Licks videos by Brent Mason and Johnny Hiland as well, and apparently those ones are available online now. Plus it sounds like they’re packaged with ebooks with updated transcriptions:

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Levi Clay has been doing lessons on Brent Mason solos for a while now. The 90s output from Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn are probably the best to listen to get a taste of Brent’s lead style as he’s played on most of their output. Brent plays with a thumb pick and uses his middle and index fingers to pluck.
Brent is insanely prolific. If you dial in Prime Country on XM radio and hear a solo that catches your ear chances are it’s Brent playing.



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I have used, and suggest Doug Seven’s materials. For me, who uses an old Mac G5 with an outdated browser for online activity, the materials are available as CD-Rs.

I also like the old version of i-Tunes which has the long-deleted “cover browser” feature. I had this old version, and Apple took it upon themselves to change my program and “update” it without my consent. Now the cover browser is gone!

Actually, this is the reason I’ve not ordered any of Troy’s materials, because they are not hard copies like DVDs. I’d hate to pay for it then discover that I couldn’t access it. Plus, where I practice guitar is in my recording studio, where the computer is not on-line. If I had CD-R or DVD-R, I could take the discs into different rooms and use different (old) computers.

Even so, the Doug Seven’s teaching material is not “perfect” according to my criteria, since it does not specify left-hand (fretting hand) fingering, which I think is essential.

For example, on the Frank Gambale Speed Picking DVD, where he shows his pentatonic sequence, I had to do some “code cracking” of my own, and go through the video bit-by-bit, watching his hands to get the exact left hand fingering. At the speeds Gambale plays at, the correct fingering is essential.
I noticed that he would use different fingers on the same fret.

Also note this principle: that the ring finger (3) is the weakest finger, so sometimes a 1-2-4 stretch is preferable to a 1-3-4 stretch, even though it’s “out of position” in terms of the 4-fret span model of ‘one finger per fret.’ This is the way bass players play, and the way Chuck Berry played his famous rock rhythm.

If anybody wants the exact Gambale fingering, let me know.

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Doug Seven is pretty good, lots of material to cover, learned a lot.

I started with Sol Philcox, he was very young but I learned a lot, not perfect but he tries to demystify the techniques.

Brent Masons’ HotWired is a great album and it’s well transcribed, Adi Boot I think, so is Brad Paisley’s Play transcription, though I had a hellova time faking a G bender, not fair :grimacing:

Danny Gatton is god in this regard, IMHO, my fav youtube clip for years was:


This clip really transcends many genres, country really is jazz on the back pickup.

edit:
I think this style is has a lot to do with swing:


Buddy Emmons on the pedals is sublime here, just give it a bit to get going.
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