Welcome to Six String Country's very own country pickin' method. To succeed with this course, a solid command of scales and some basic improvisational skills will be helpful. A review of our Guitar 101 method is recommended to make sure you are comfortable with all of the concepts presented in that course.
Once prepared to begin, the course is designed to meet you wherever you are at in your country guitar journey. If you are brand new to this style, start at the beginning and the lessons will progress in difficulty as your skills develop. If you are already well-versed in the style, start somewhere that is appropriately challenging and work your way down. As you get to the end, you will find some very challenging passages that will require some effort to conquer.
We will be exploring this lead style on electric and acoustic, including slide guitar and mimicking the pedal steel sound. Our hope is that you will approach the course in a way that allows you to internalize these riffs and tools across many keys so that you can pull them back out when playing music with others in the real world. Take it slow and have fun!
4 Essential Country Guitar Riffs
Let's jump right in and get our fingers on some riffs! Take your time with it and get used the feeling of pickin' (with your pick) and cluckin' (with your fingers). Be able to play these riffs in the keys of A, G, and E.
3 Basic Country Rhythms
This course is focused on country lead work, but if you not familiar with these basic country rhythms, take the time up front to learn these styles. Much of the country lead work on the site uses variations of these techniques and moving seamlessly from these rhythms to lead work and back again.
Neon Moon - Solo
Aside from being a great country tune, this Brooks & Dunn classic features an accessible country pickin' solo. Head over to the lead solo lessons and conquer it!
Guitars, Cadillacs - Introduction
Although solos tend to be the most exciting things for us to learn as guitarists, and important component to this style is an ear-catching instrumental hook. Learn the country pickin' introduction to Guitars, Cadillacs.
4 Intermediate Riffs and Rhythm in 4 Keys
If you are new to the style, this lesson may stretch you, but you've got this! Be sure to learn the riffs and rhythm in all 4 keys. As we go through the course, we'll want to be consciously working on being proficient in all keys, but especially A, G, D, and E.
Riff in A Blues
Work up this short and sweet riff to be used over A chords. It's short enough to memorize and have a permanent place in the "toolbox".
Country Blues Jam
This lesson take a riff and moves it around the neck to give us a full country blues jam in A blues. Get your fingers on it at a slow tempo and work it up to speed slowly with a metronome. When you are done, you should have another useful riff firmly ingrained in your muscle memory.
Pickup Man - Introduction, Riff, and Solo
This song has some country guitar gold. Take some time with the lead part and at least get your fingers on the introduction, the main electric rhythm riff, and solo. This will be the most challenging exercise yet. As always, take it as slow as you need to at first and slowly work hard riffs up to tempo with a metronome.
Peaceful Easy Feeling - High Solo
This song is packed with great country lead work. Feel free to learn the whole lead part, but at least learn the high lead solo. This is good solo to be able to pull out note for note in a performance or jam situation.
Chattahoochee - Intro, Rhythm & Solo
This is a country picking classic. This is on the advanced side of intermediate, so take it slow and expect it to take some effort to get up to tempo. Remember - any time we find ourselves struggling with a metronome pushing ourselves to get faster, that is a good thing! You are becoming a better player. Learn the intro, electric rhythm, and guitar solo.
Double Stops - Country Blues Jam
Double stops are a country guitar skill that we will use regularly. Take a moment to understand what they are and how they work. Have some fun and learn this country blues jam using all double stops.
Guitars, Cadillacs - Solo
The solo in Guitars, Cadillac is packed with double stops. Now that we know what they are and how to play them, let's tackle this solo!
Differences with Acoustic Lead
Instructor Eric Knutson will walk through some of the things to be aware of when playing lead guitar on the acoustic instead of the electric guitar.
Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain - Solo
Willie Nelson is a heck of a picker, and he rifles off a really nice, yet accessible solo in this song. Let's pull out the acoustic and learn it.
Honkey Tonk Man - Introduction & Bridge Solo
This is another country classic with some intermediate pickin' to learn on the acoustic. Let's get our fingers on the introduction and bridge solo.
Two Pina Coladas - Solo
Two Pina Coladas has a very nice (and short) instrumental break where the acoustic takes the solo. Let's learn it now and continue getting our fingers more and more comfortable playing lead on acoustic.
Pedal Steel Riffs, Vol. 1
One technique country guitarists utilize is mimicking a pedal steel. There are a number of tricks we can use to do this which will explore in the following lessons. Start with this collections of riffs, and learn them in all 5 keys presented: A, C, D and G.
Pedal Steel Riffs, Vol. 2
In the second volume, we will explore using double stops and intervals, 3rds and 6ths, to shape our shape our sound and mimic a pedal steel. Again, learn the riffs in A, C, D, and G so that we don't get trapped being able to play in only 1 key!
Your Man - Intro Pedal Steel
The introduction for Your Man was played on the pedal steel, which we've converted to guitar. Get your fingers on these pedal steel riffs.
Did It for the Girl - Solo
This solo mimics the pedal steel mainly with the bends that we are using. Let's learn this solo from Did It for the Girl.
Intro to Slide Technique
Another frequent technique used in country guitar is the slide. There are a lot of different ways great players use the slide: different fingers to put the slide on, using a pick or not using a pick, etc. It mainly comes down to personal preference and what is most comfortable... as long as the end result is a good sounding slide part! If you have a guitar with higher action, that will help for this section. This lesson will talk through some basic pointers for using a slide effectively.
Whiskey Lullaby - Outro
The outro to Whiskey Lullaby is a great place to start on our journey. It's not too fast. Overall it's pretty accessible, but it's a great sounding part. Learn the slide part in the outro of Whiskey Lullaby.
Smoke - Slide Solo & Bridge
Check out the solo section and bridge for Smoke and learn the slide part. It's a straight forward part in the key of G using familiar scale shapes, but it's a great example of how much a slide part can add to a song.
Die a Happy Man - Slide Intro & Solo
Pull out the acoustic and get your fingers on the slide intro and solo. Action on the acoustic is typically higher making it a pretty good option f
Cover Me Up - Slide Solo
Jason Isbell is a fantastic slide player. Check out and learn his slide solo on the beautiful song. It's well crafted part.
Good One Comin' On - Slide Solo
Have a listen to this rockin' country slide solo. It's also a good example of how we can use both our slide and fingers on our left hand. Learn it now.
Humble and Kind - Slide Solo
We'll need to get our guitars in an unusual tuning to get this one sounding right, but it's a great example of how we can can creatively accomplish some pretty cool sounds with the slide.
Long White Line - Slide Solo
This is one of the more challenging solos on the site (definitely the most challenging slide solo) so expect it to take some time. Fortunately, you will also become a better player in the process of learning this solo. Laur is one of the top telecaster pickers in the world, and it's always fun to learn form the best!
Fast Country Blues in A
In this lesson, we'll take a pass over a fast 12 bar country blues progression in A. We'll be using a lot of chicken pickin' and hopefully adding some advanced riffs to your "toolbox".
2 Passes of Advanced Chicken Pickin' in E
This is a fairly typical fast country/rockabilly progression in the key of E. We will solo over the progression 2 times using country guitar techniques.
Advanced Country Pickin' in G
As you've probably picked up on by now, we're trying to get you comfortable in the style in all of the important keys. Because open strings are often important to the sound, they keys of A, E, and G are most commonly used. Now that we've learned some advanced licks in A and E, let's learn a pass in the key of G.
Chicken Pickin' Across Pentatonic Shapes
Although you could use this riff in performance, this lesson is also an advanced exercise in chicken pickin' relating how you can move seamlessly up and down the neck with the pentatonic box shapes. We'll do the exercise in G, A, and E.
Open String Riffs in G
Another stylistic "trick" is the use of open string riffs which give a distinctive sound. Let's learn a pass in the key of G.
Advanced Country Pickin' Solos from Songs
Contained in Six String Country's lessons vault is enough advanced country pickin' to keep most pickers busy for many, many years. Although this is nowhere near a comprehensive list, the songs below include advanced solos that are worth studying as we try to gain a command of the style. Try not to get hung up on the how much you like the artist or song in particular, but look at these solos as ways to get some new riffs under your fingers. Approach your learning in a way that will allow you to use your favorite riffs in the real world when you are jamming with other musicians. Internalize them.
Amie - intro & Solo
This is really advanced-intermediate, but it's a great example of some solid acoustic country pickin'. Let's learn the intro riff and the solo.
Shady Grove - 1st Solo
Let's check out Eric's first solo on the acoustic in Shady Grove. There are some really nice acoustic riffs to get under the fingers on the advanced side of things. If you are a fan of bluegrass it's not a bad idea to learn this melody, too, as it is a standard.
Blackberry Blossom - Acoustic Solos & Melody
This is another bluegrass classic and Eric delivers some excellent country pickin' and open string work on the acoustic. Just like Shady Grove, this is a classic and the melody is worth learning on acoustic as well.
Gentle On My Mind
Glen Campbell was an amazing musican and guitar player. Let's close out our advanced acoustic picking section by learning a solo he took live on Gentle On My Mind.
If you've made it this far - congratulations! There is a lot more to work on in our song lessons than we can list in this method, but if you'd tackled the material presented here you should be in great shape to learn just about anything that you discover on the site. We hope that you feel as though your efforts have made you a better player and that you have had fun along the way.