As country music and country guitar playing become increasingly more popular, there are several techniques that are crucial to capturing that true country sound. This article will focus on a key component to getting that snap, crackle and pop kind of sound on guitar with an emphasis on double stops. Double stops are defined as simply playing two notes at once. The notes selected and played are typically thirds, fourths, fifths, and sixths, but not exclusive. The style of Jerry Reed, Les Paul and the more modern sounds of Brent Mason are a cornerstone and great examples of double stop playing.
In this article, we will focus on four licks to get you up and running in the double stop style.
Figure 1 uses a very basic technique pulling off with your ring finger and barring with both your ring and index finger on the B and G string. The ring finger will also grab the note on the D string. For maximum snap, you should use the pick only on the D string and use the middle and ring finger on your right hand to snap the highest two strings. This is called a hybrid technique and will give you a more country sound. Nails on the right hand are optimal to give you that snappy staccato sound. If you memorize the pattern in the lick it is easily moved around up the neck so you can play the lick over any chord. Being able to play this over a 1/4/5 or in this case the chords D, G and A allow you to play thru a progression using the same sequence of notes. Easy but effective.
Figure 2 is an easy way to chromatically approach an A chord. Left-hand fingerings are notated and crucial to executing all these licks. Think of it as a delicate dance. If you don’t have the proper technique you will stumble and not be able to play any of these licks at breakneck train-beat tempos. The passing tones in this example add color and taste and as in example 1, you should work on playing them all around the neck over a simple 1/4/5 progression. In this example A, D, and E.
Before I go any further, your right-hand should have the following thinking to really getting a hybrid picking sound. Play six string chord and pick the lowest string and use your middle and ring finger on your right hand to achieve a triplet type of rhythm. Then use your pick and combine the middle and ring finger at the same time. In a nutshell, this is hybrid picking.
Figure 3 outlines a moveable shape that works well and gets some cool colors for an E chord. The important thing to remember with this lick is that the ring finger on your left-hand needs to pull off and cover the note on the D string as well. With all these examples master it slowly then work your way up in tempo. The hybrid right-hand technique should follow the guidelines mentioned above.
Figure 4 is a mirror image kind of lick where your essentially playing the lick once and then doing it again in a lower register. By far the most complex of the four licks, the important thing to remember on this one is to use your pinky on the left hand to hold the note down on the pedal tone on the 13th fret of the B string on the first part and the 10th fret of the D string. This is the note that all others are working to a tension point and then resolving to release at the end of each phrase. Left-hand fingerings are notated and should be followed to get the lick correct.
For much more in-depth analysis and video lessons, be sure to check out my channel Matthew Lee’s Nashville Hot Pick’en on TrueFire, and happy picking!