Yesterday, I was contacted by a bass playing friend of mine who is a touring hired gun, and has played with all sorts of notable country guys, like David Alan Coe, and Sammy Kershaw, and so on, and was a session guy in Nashville for years.

Seems that some guy with a few songs and a lot of financial backing, found his name, and wants him to do a small Texas tour, and he wants to get some other players together. He called me to see if I'd play guitar. The thing is, I don't play Country Guitar. I havent ever worked on it, and yes I can figure out some songs if I have to, in order to teach someone the thing, but Country guitar is the one genre where I feel like a fish out of water (and anything involving more than Drop D). Its just something I never play or tried to play or practice.

So I told him I don't have any Country guitar skills, especially not to go on tour. And that I could'nt think of anyone that I would entrust to a project of that importance.

Well, then he showed up at the Academy, and he said "I need a lead guitar bro..." And I knew he was meaning me, and man I haven't toured in like almost 10 years! And I told him, "there's a big difference between teaching chops and being on stage touring chops...I don't have stage chops"

Well he brought in the CD of the guy and asked me to at least listen to it...and said, "I think you could do this bro." We've never even so much as played together but for some reason he has a lot of belief in me. Long story short I listened to the songs and yeah, nothing there I couldn't work out (when you've been transcribing Guthrie Govan songs by ear, other things have a way of being downright easy!)

Here's the issue, I have till the 25th of next month, when this tour starts, to work out these songs and some other country standards to stage proficiency. I don't like to take on anything project wise that I can't do on a Professional level.

We are supposed to get together Friday and map things out and get a feel for each other and I'll be meeting the artist.

Where I need help or advise are any resources that I can start working out country chops to, like pedal steel bends, and hybrid picking (something I don't work on or practice) on short notice. I have no problem woodshedding, but I really don't play or mess with Country, and I'm doing this to help my friend out, and there's no one I can trust to say to him, "use this guy. I explained my situation and unfamiliarity with the genre, and he understands, but I don't want to make HIM look bad when we first meet the artist.

If I could work that part out, I can do these songs. Also I'm playing .010's on my Reverend, and the few steel bends I started working on involve a lot of close to the nut licks. Is SOP in country to use .09's? or do you guys just have hands and grips of steel from doing it for so long? I'm worried about a thin tone from .09's up there on stage, the last thing I want to do is sound like I'm playing spiderwebs for strings!

Anyways, any advise that you can give me would be helpful. My fingertips are shredded for trying to get a feel for these grips, and I'm afraid that I'm going to have to teach myself hybrid picking to pull this one off.

TL/DR - Suggest some country woodshedding resources that I can work on in short notice.


Last edited by Sean0913 at Apr 13, 2011,
Hybrid picking is certainly a big part of country playing. Check out some thumb and even finger picks if that would help:

Danny Gatton has made some good country instruction videos.
Last edited by blue_strat at Apr 13, 2011,
Learn Albert Lee songs!

like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ualtLQW8xCg

Albert Lee uses most techniques you will need in country, just play along to youtube videos like this and you will get better, also you say you teach guitar? Surely you know someone who could give you a lesson or two on country?
Nope, I don't know a single teacher of this stuff. Most instructors here teach the same old Rock N Roll and Blues, Pentatonics stuff. That's not a problem for me. I'm actually considered the guy around here for Advanced stuff. I have actually gone to guitar instructors and asked about taking lessons from them, and they acted freaked out/intimidated because of my reputation as a teacher, like "I can't teach you! Dude...you know more than me!" (The thing is I'm nobody when it comes to flashy guitar...that's not my personal bag at all, I'm pretty basic)

But I think that there's always something you can learn from people, even if the material isn't new, you can get insights to teaching skills, resources, and be accountable to someone for a change. I think it's great to learn from others, no matter how much you know...but the point is no one will take me on as a student

Thanks for the fingerpick/thumbpick info (another thing Ive never tried to learn) and the heads up on Danny Gatton. I'm gonna have to learn to use a thumbpick. I found theres a 6 week course by Steve Trovato (6 weeks in 4...hmmm wonder if?) and 2 Danny Gatton videos, and a Scotty Moore and James Burton vid that's out there. I might also try and start working out some Bob Wills and Texas Playboys Country Swing, things I know of but never actually got into, namely cause I had no reason to.

I tend to wind up doing things like this, I'll say yes to something for the challenge of it. I don't know if I throw myself in the path of the train for the rush of being alive, or what...I don't really get scared either for some reason, but I still, feel like half the time, that I'm out of my mind for doing this, like some logic circuit that's just not there...

My first gig as a singer-songwriter was a major Texas Festival in front of ...oh, 3000 people. I had only been singing for 4 months when that offer came.

Anyways I'll probably start there. Ive been reading up more on the life of Danny Gatton this morning and reading some tour bus chronicles from people that toured with him, just getting into the mindset of touring again. I can feel the fixation starting to take place. I've listened to this guy's CD 4 times in the last 12 hours...

I'd say Gatton and Brent Mason would be two ideal guys to get into. Mason is one hell of a picker, and Gatton is well, dead and legend.

Pedal steel bends can be overcome by a B string bender when the going gets tough.

Guages would be 9's... the idea is to play and not struggle your butt off. Especially chordal bends... say from minor to major and vice versa.

The other guys to listen to for inspiration would be the Hellecasters (guitarists Jerry Donahue, John Jorgenson, and Will Ray) are frikkin insane! Donahue is another guy to look out for with a few dvd's.

As you know I cant check out for youtube things, but see if you can find a vid by Buster B Jones... acoustic and nylon stuff... very country. He's retired now but his vid is stellar. Lots of hybrid picking or rather thumbpick and the rest... open string rolls akin to Chet Atkins. Could it be done in 4 days? Hmmm... perhaps it could

Hope it helps you dude