Master Class: The Guitar Style of Jerry Reed


This method begins at an intermediate level, using everything we learned in the Chet Atkins method as a connecting point, and continues onward into the dense chordal and cascading single-string banjo rolls central to the guitar style of Jerry Reed. If you have never played any finger style guitar before, the Introduction To Fingerstyle Guitar Techniques video and Chet Atkins method is recommended first. However, don’t let that stop you from exploring the materials if you are not a finger style player. Along the way material focusing on rhythm & single-string lead solos has also been provided (blues-based lead solos as well as the rhythm guitar lesson on Jiffy Jam will all played with a traditional straight pick). 

Four note-for-note Jerry Reed compositions are taught with exact transcriptions provided by SSC instructor Sean Weaver. The transcriptions were created from the original Reed recordings and will match Jerry’s original recordings as well as the Jam Along videos which accompany the lessons here. Each of these include backing tracks, pdfs of the bass lines and original drumset grooves. These resources will be indispensable when playing these tunes with your fellow bandmates. The song lessons are presented in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest. Each will likely require patience and persistence, but the tools are here to conquer four of Jerry Reed’s all-time classic guitar compositions.


Lesson 1: Drive In 

(Difficutly: 4 Stars. Song: Intermediate.  Solo: Intermediate.)

This is the place to start if you are well acquainted with Chet Atkins-style thumb picking but not yet ready to dive into Jerry’s more advanced banjo rolls, jazz chords or chromatic walking bass lines. The lesson and transcription re-create Chet Atkins’ recording of this Reed composition, with a custom single-note blues solo replacing the organ on the original Atkins recording. The main composition is driven with a classic Chet Atkins alternate bass thumb picking groove. First Chet influenced Jerry and then Jerry influenced Chet. This one is the most “Chet-style” Reed composition of the series. Sean’s custom Stratocaster solo mid-tune has also been transcribed note-for-note and focuses on general lead guitar techniques, so even if your focus is soloing with a band instead of playing finger-style guitar, this lesson has a little bit of something for both kinds of players.

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Lesson 2: Jiffy Jam 

(Difficulty: 4 Stars. Song: Intermediate-Advanced. Rhythm Guitar: Beginning-Advanced)

This one is ideal if you are just dipping your toes into the deep reservoir of Jerry Reed’s guitar genius. In lieu of a Chet-style alternating bass, it incorporates the single-note bass lines (often walking & chromatic) Jerry would frequently use in his own compositions, paired with a great Reed melody. For beginners and advanced players alike, a basic rhythm guitar lesson also accompanies the video and is recommended for any level of player.

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Lesson 3: Reedology 

(Difficulty: 4.5 Stars. Song: Advanced. Solo: Intermediate.)

Are you ready to dive deeper into the Reed style? If so this lesson is for you. The tune itself showcases Jerry’s deep love for and the influence of Ray Charles on his compositions, along with some grown-up jazz chord voicings. The chordal work in this one is very dense and a bit more complex harmonically, but the tempo keeps things manageable. A deep element of groove will be central to (and taught throughout) this lesson complete with the backing tracks. In lieu of the harmonica solo on Jerry’s original recording, a custom solo focusing more on basic blues & jazz sensibilities has been provided, and if your focus is lead soloing instead of fingerstyle, there is something in here for you too.  

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Lesson 4: Jerry's Breakdown 

(Difficulty: 5 Stars. Jerry's Solo: Very Advanced. Chet's Solo: Very Advanced. Rhythm: Intermediate.)

This is the final lesson in the series and a piece for you to never grow complacent of practicing! Arguably the most iconic Jerry Reed guitar instrumental and a duet with Chet Atkins, both Chet & Jerry’s parts are taught in note-for-note detail. Don’t let the speed scare you. Each section is taught in great detail and very slowly, with specific practice tips provided for working up to the performance tempo. Jerry’s main part showcases his characteristic banjo rolls and cascading single-string lines later adopted by many chicken-pickers, while Chet’s solo holds its own with the best. This is a very challenging piece but learning it is something to be proud of.  

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Other Jerry Reed Lessons: East Bound and Down

If you just can't get enough Jerry Reed, be sure to check out instructor Tony Bakker's lesson East Bound and Down.  The lesson is a stylistic departure from the fingerstyle pieces Sean taught, but has some nice guitar work all the same.  This lesson features a fast strumming acoustic part and harmonized lead guitar solos. 

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