Country music has many sub-genres, from Western Swing, Bluegrass, and Rockabilly, to Country Shuffles, Outlaw, and Country Rock, all the way to Country Boogies, Americana, and the Country Waltz. Each of these important styles has their own distinct techniques, licks, guitar tones, effects, harmonic approaches, and rhythmic cliches.
Jason Loughlin’s Country Soloing Styles edition of Essentials is designed to help you identify each of these sub-genres, grasp their underlying concepts, and learn how to solo over each so that you can accurately capture the mood, and honor the history, for how guitarists have played over these styles in the past.
”We’ll be covering how to solo in 11 common country styles. We’ll kick off with a Western Swing solo in G, a Bluegrass solo, followed by a solo in the Rockabilly style. Next, we’ll learn a Country Shuffle solo in C, a two-beat, country train style solo, and then an Outlaw Country style solo. The Country Rock sound can be thought of as ‘countrifying’ the blues, and we’ll do just that with the next solo, and then wind up the course with four more solos, in four additional styles; Tex Mex, Country Boogie, Americana, and Country Waltz.”
Jason will guide you through 11 Soloing Performance Studies that cover the range of techniques, licks, guitar tones, effects, and harmonic approaches for 11 country styles. For each study, Jason will demonstrate the performance and then break it down for you emphasizing key concepts and techniques.
Western Swing Solo - ”We’ll kick things off with Western Swing. We'll be playing over a progression in G that includes a secondary dominant cycle for a turnaround. The use of secondary dominants remains a common device right up through the 90’s. We'll be using the G major scale in a few positions and across single strings. We'll also be outlining major, diminished, and augmented arpeggios and embellishing them with half step approach notes and using chromatic passing tones to connect chord tones.”
Bluegrass Solo - ”Soloing over bluegrass usually embellishes or adds variations to the melody of the tune. Since we're not using a classic bluegrass tune, I'm going to show a few ways I get into the language of this style. One thing to do is try and copy the sound of a fiddle playing legato. You can do this by using hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. Four note scale patterns that leap up or down a 3rd are very common in bluegrass. Another scale pattern that is used is to do an eighth note run starting on any chord tone. These are a few of the approaches we’ll explore in this study.”
Rockabilly Solo - ”Rockabilly takes all the swing concepts and combines them with the blues. This is high energy music, so our first goal is to make sure we come right out of the gate with confidence. You have freedom here to alter your I chord going to the IV, and your V chord going back to the I. You’ll be combining blues scales, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, major scales, whole tone scales, and outlining common chord shapes in solo. We'll also use double stops and Travis picking.”
Country Shuffle Solo - ”Shuffles are the music of the honky-tonks. Buck Owens and The Buckaroos were the kings of the country shuffle, with walking bass lines and shuffling drums with guitars playing with strong accents on the upbeats. Guitarists steal a lot from pedal steel players when playing shuffles - this study will use steel bends, contrary motion licks, staccato arpeggios, and blues licks in the study all come from steel players. As a soloist, using substitutions in shuffles sounds great. This study is in C and is on the up-tempo side of shuffles.”
Country Train Beat Solo - ”Two-beats are kind of a free for all. Any country guitar technique and any way of dealing with harmony works. This study is inspired by Emmylou Harris' version of "Ooh Las Vegas”. The Hot Band was home for two of the most incredible country guitarists we'll ever know: Albert Lee and James Burton both lent their talents to this band. We’ll be using chicken picking, double stops, bends, open string licks, banjo rolls, and embellishing triads in this study.”
Outlaw Country Solo - ”Waylon Jennings is king of the outlaw country sound. Halftime drum grooves, funky guitar, and the sound of the MXR Phase 90 goodness. Soloing over this style leans more on the sliding major pentatonic, blues scales, and funky syncopation. You’ll be targeting b7s, b3rds and roots more than usual. One of Waylon's common licks is to pull-off from the 4th to the 3rd of a chord. This concept can also be heard used in Southern rock.”
Country Rock Solo - ”The country rock sound can be thought of as countrify-ing a blues shuffle, usually played faster than a blues shuffle and incorporate double stops, hybrid picking, and syncopation. Technically this is similar to a two beat where you can use open string licks, double stops, bends, chicken picking, banjo rolls…though if you start altering chords or adding a bunch of substitutions it begins to sound a little heavy handed. In this study, you’ll be using triplet pull-offs, bends, approach bends to the interval of the 6th, double stops, open string licks, and the blues scale.”
Tex Mex Solo - ”The southern California and Texas country sound has always had elements of Mexican music. A lot of this comes from the rhythm section with the drummer playing side-stick, maracas shaking, and the bass player on beat one and the upbeat of beat two. As soloists, we'll be running through scales, using the eighth two sixteenth rhythm, tremolo picking to imitate mandolin, diminished arpeggios on V chords, and using half set approach double stops. The track is in D and has a couple clichés in the progressions. The major VII leading into the I and a IV to iv to and I chord are both common sounds for the Tex-Mex genre.”
Country Boogie Solo - ”The country boogie is based on the boogie-woogie piano style that came out of Texas in the 30's. The rhythm guitar is usually playing some variation of a boogie bass line while the bass player plays on beats one and three. When soloing over boogies, any piano concepts are going to sound great. We'll use piano rolls, boogie patterns, augmented arpeggios, and double stops.”
Americana Solo - ”Americana has become a safe haven for all American roots music. Blues, country, rockabilly, or folk-inspired songwriting is now considered Americana. I've made a grittier track for this study because I think a lot of the approaches being used here can also be applied to modern country rock soloing. First, the guitar sound is more distorted but still clear. There are three harmonic concepts you’ll be using: the blues scale, the sliding pentatonic using 2nds, and outlining arpeggios. To evoke the country sound, you’ll use double stops, bending double stops, and hybrid picking. The rhythm track is in drop D and filled out with bluesy lap steel licks.”
Waltz Solo - ”Knowing how to phrase over 3/4 is important but knowing how to show restraint and play something simple and beautiful over a slow tune is crucial. Establishing a solid melody for you to embellish is a solid approach. Sometimes just playing the vocal melody with a few slight variations can make for the perfect solo. In this study, you’ll start by playing a low simple melody. Then you’ll get into the mindset of imitating other instruments to make the solo sound more colorful. You’ll play a phrase similar to what a mandolinist would do and then lead into it using pedal steel bends. If there was a steel player on the session or gig, I would pick a different direction. You don't want to take over someone else's role. We'll be using these concepts over a simple progression in C.”
All of the performance studies are tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. You’ll also get Guitar Pro files so that you can play, loop and/or slow down the tab and notation as you work through the lessons. Plus, Jason includes all of the backing tracks for you to work with on your own.
Grab your guitar and let’s expand our country palette with Jason Loughlin!