Levi Clay is one of my favourite music educators that I follow on Facebook. In addition to being a really passionate educator and musician, his educational material (videos, books and articles) have always been top notch quality. When I found out about this book, Country Guitar Soloing Techniques, I was excited to get into the material. This is one of 3 country guitar books he’s written for Fundamental Changes. I’m a fan of Country Guitar Heroes which goes beyond the standard ‘here’s a collection of guitar licks in the style’ to actually explaining each player’s style and including tips for playing the licks therefore maximising the impact of each lick given.
In Country Guitar Soloing Techniques, Levi goes deeper into the technical aspects of the style. In 10 chapters, Levi not only explains how to understand the style harmonically but also the individual idiomatic techniques essential for this Telecaster-driven style.
In the first 2 chapters, Levi begins by giving us the foundation for creating harmonically strong melodies. He shares triad and major pentatonic fingerings that are suited for the style. A strong proponent for using the CAGED system for visualising the fretboard, we get to see how to practice CAGED fragments and turn them into harmonically clear ideas. The first chapter alone is worth the price of admission for anyone who has heard of the CAGED system but hasn’t seen how it relates for rock, pop, blues or in this case a country context.
In the second chapter, Levi shares the differences between using the minor pentatonic and major pentatonic scale. There’s a strong emphasis on understanding the underlying triadic harmony (both visually and aurally) which is great! In addition to giving tons of examples for lines around the various CAGED system shapes, Levi also includes ideas that connect different shapes together. These provide great exercises for anyone who is trying to break out from position playing.
Chapter three goes into applying the tools to Buck Owens’ Together Again. Levi begins with simple examples and slowly goes to develop them into idiomatic solos that includes bends and slides to create lyrical melodic variations. Levi also emphasises the importance of different elements coming together. The examples he’s written allows us to learn the fretboard, develop our ears and understand the style.
Chapter four goes into alternate picking with plenty of examples to help the aspiring picker understand the mechanics of good alternate picking. I particularly like how Levi introduces concepts like outside picking, inside picking and crosspicking systematically throughout the examples. Levi’s writing style is very conversational and makes it easy to follow the music.
The following chapters continue to demonstrate various techniques within the country music context. For chapter five, we discover the differences between how slurs are used in rock and country music. Chapter six contains a lot of hybrid picking ideas from single note, double stop and triple stop examples. Some of the examples were familiar sounds that I have heard and enjoyed playing but many including the triple stops ideas were brand new territory that I look forward to explore more.
Chapter seven builds on the hybrid picking technique as we go into banjo rolls. Levi makes it a point for us to always focus on a good time feel and musicality. Chapter eight is a great exploration of how to include open strings within your country lines. Levi also shares how different iconic players use open strings and how this technique allows each of us to develop our own unique sound.
Chapter nine goes into idiomatic bending tricks for country guitar playing including double stop bends and behind the nut bends. Closing the book with chapter ten is a 3-minute guitar solo in A with a Jerry Reed vibe. This is a definite workout that is a great way to close the book. Levi does a nice breakdown of each part before ending with the entire transcription.
Pros: Very well organised, lots of material to work and high quality instruction.
TLDR: A great book to get especially if you already have the other two Country Guitar books by Levi Clay. Very organised and lots of good ideas to implement.
You can get the book here:
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