** As featured in issue 28 **
Here is a cool country guitar lesson using one of the most popular techniques in Country guitar: Chick’n Pick’n. This guitar technique is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. Chick’n Pick’n originated probably sometime in the 1950s. Some of the early country guitarists credited with Chick’n Pick’n were Red Nichols, the guitarist with Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and James Burton who was the guitarist for Elvis Presley.
This guitar technique is essential for any Country guitarist and is the most recognisable guitar sound in classic Country music.
Chick’n Pick’n requires a hybrid technique that utilises both the pick and the fingers of your picking hand. For this technique you’ll use the pick to play all down strokes and the fingers will play up strokes. The result is a percussive thump followed by a cluck sound. Basically, it sounds like a chicken.
This lesson is an 8 bar progression in the key of A. It’s a Country two beat. The progression is A, D, E, A. Each chord gets two measures.
Before we learn the solo you’ll need to learn the fundamentals of this technique.
Let’s break it down:
Start by fretting an F# on the second string at the seventh fret using your third finger. Then with your picking hand, put your middle finger on the underside of the second string the mute it using the flesh of the finger tip. Simultaneously play a down stroke with your pick on the second string. Since you have the string muted with your middle finger you’ll hear only a percussive thump. Using an upstroke of your middle finger, snap the string against the fret board. Should sound like a chicken cluck. Repeat this combination rapidly alternating between your pick and middle finger. As you play, slowly bend the second string up a whole step. Practice it slowly at first.
The first chorus of the solo begins with two double stop chick’n pick’n licks. One in the 10th position and one in the 7th position. They require a pre bend. As you play the double stops release the bend. See the video example for specific instructions.
The next lick is on the second string. Slowly bend the string up a whole step as you play it.
The last lick is a series of descending diatonic sixth intervals played by alternating between your pick and middle finger. Choke the notes so that they are somewhat muted.
The second chorus begins with a bend against a fixed note. Be sure that you have the high note of the phrase fretted before you begin the lick. The video will provide a good demonstration.
The last lick is a chromatic run using half steps on strings 2 and 3. Start by fretting the 9th fret of the third string and the 6th fret of the second string using your little finger and first finger respectively. Play the third string with your pick and the second string using the middle finger. Move this lick up in half steps with your first finger following with your little finger four frets below. The last lick is in the 12th position. Use your third finger to play the F# and bend the second note of the phrase using your first finger. Again, the video is essential. This one is tricky so practice slowly.