Watch the By George online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from 30 Country Jazz Licks You MUST Know
The king of swing! Most people believe that George was the first person to record with an electric guitar, predating Charlie Christian. George was super young then and was working with Big Bill Broonzy. It wasn't long before George was hired by NBC as a featured performer. His playing predated bebop; he was a swing guitarist through and through. His improvisation is famous for its short memorable phrases and use of shifting a line chromatically up or down to create tension. He made some really wonderful guitar records. Guitars by George is a record of all multitracked guitars taking what Les Paul was doing making it a little more “hip”. Guitars Galore and Guitar Galaxies used his guitar choir, a lineup of 10 guitar arranged like a big band. It sounds insane, but they work really well; you don't feel like you're listening to 10 guitars. His most important and extremely rare record is Country Jazz. On this record, George took classic fiddle tunes along with a few originals and jazzed them up. It’s a smaller band and the arrangements are brilliant. It's a real education in how to develop simple melodies into complex tunes.
This George Barnes lick comes from "Old Joe's Boogie" off of Country Jazz. It's over a cycle back to the I chord, with a A7-D7-G-C7 progression. George uses tritone substitutions to have chromatically descending major arpeggios and to spice up the harmony. He ends up playing Eb-D-Db-C.