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Steve Trovato - Country Style Guitar Part 5: Contemporary Funky Country

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 30 **


To learn how to play funky rhythmic Country licks using fretted notes, pull-offs and open strings. Learn a lick that utilises this technique.

This technique, although not new, has recently been popularised by guitarist Brad Paisley. Brad's system of playing fretted notes interspersed with open strings notes has created a unique sound using wider interval skips than traditional Country guitar. This technique also adds an element of unpredictability that makes his playing sound fresh and new. For a great example of this type of guitar playing have a listen to Brad's instrumental called Nervous Breakdown. It’s fast and frenetic but one can immediately hear the wider interval skips and his precise flawless technique.   

This lesson played over a static one chord Country two beat vamp in the key of A.

It is a classic call and response lick where the second phrase musically answers the first. It uses notes from the Blues scale combined with open strings. Use a hybrid picking technique alternating between your pick and middle finger.

Let’s break it down:

The lick is in the fifth position. It is built by alternating a series of pull-offs against an open fifth string pedal tone. The pedal tone is played with your pick and the pull-off notes are played with your middle finger. The rhythm is steady UN interrupted 16th notes. The trick to getting this lick to sound funky is to articulate each note by sharply snapping it against the fret board.

Start by playing an open A string (pedal tone) then pull off on the fourth string from A to open D.

Play the open A again and pull off on the fourth string from G to open D. Play one more open A.

Now repeat the same rhythm but using the third string for the pull-offs. Pull off from D to open G on the third string and C to open G also on the third string. Always play an open A string between each pull-off. This is the complete first phrase which is then repeated three times.

The next part of the lick is played in the fifth position. The rhythm is uninterrupted steady 16th notes.

In the fifth position, using your third finger on the third string, bend a D up to E. Next, using a barre across strings 2 and 1, play E on the second string and A on the first string. Then, pull off from G to E on the second string. Finally, pull off from Eb to D to C on the third string, play an A note on the fourth string, rock your third finger to D on the third string, back to A on the forth and lastly, C on the third string.

The next section is a repeat of the first. Play the pull off lick three times.

The last lick is comprised of a series of triplet pull-offs across strings 1 -5. Using the notes from the A minor pentatonic scale, begin on the first string and pull off from C to A to open E. Then pull off from G to E to open B. Use your 4th and 1st finger for the pull off notes.

Now, on the third string pull off from D to C to open G. Continuing, on the fourth string, pull off from A to G to open D. Continue the same pattern across strings 2,3,4 and 5. End on a fourth string A.

Have fun!

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