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Classic Country (Guitar Lesson)


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DJ Phillips

Classic Country

DJ discusses the classic country style. He explains the rhythmic and structural differences between this style and western swing.

Taught by DJ Phillips in Classic Country Guitar seriesLength: 6:30Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (06:30) Classic Country The "classic country" genre includes the music of influential artists such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. This lesson provides a brief overview of the classic country guitar style.

The classic country sound features a two beat rhythm with an emphasis on beats 2 and 4. Beats 2 and 4 are often referred to as the "back beat" of a measure in 4/4 time. In this style, the bass player plays on beats 1 and 3 where as the guitar lives in the area of the back beat. In Hank Williams' band for example, the rhythm section is comprised of a bass player and a guitarist. No drummer is present. The bass player alternates between the root and fifth of the chord on beats 1 and 3. The guitar throws in chordal stabs on beats 2 and 4.

Tic Tac Rhythm

The "tic tac" rhythm is borrowed from tic tac bass lines. The tic tac bass features six strings tuned an octave lower than the guitar. In a classic country setting, the guitar part often doubles the tic tac bass line.

DJ demonstrates a tic tac bass line with a C major chord. The bass line is palm muted throughout the figure. The root note note is played on beat 1. The third of the chord, E, is played on beats 2 and 4. The fifth of the chord, G, is played on beat 3. These simple guidelines can be transferred over to any chord.

"Hey Good Lookin'"

DJ uses this classic Hank Williams song to demonstrate how the tic tac rhythm is used in a practical, musical context.

A Section Chords

This song is played in the key of C major. The A section utilizes the I, II, V chords in this key. Respectively, these chords are C, D, and G.

The tic tac bass rhythm is played the same with both the C and the D chords. Simply slide the figure for C up two frets to play a tic tac bass line for the D chord.

The bass pattern for the G chord is slightly different. A low root is played on beat 1. The root note located one octave higher is played on beats 2 and 4. The fifth of the chord, D, is played on beat 3.

Watch and listen at 03:50 as DJ plays through the A section. Practice this bass line on your own. Then, return to the lesson video and play along with DJ.

B Section Chords

The chords change twice as fast in the B section. The B section begins with the IV chord, F. The same basic pattern for G major is applied to F. Simply slide the bass line played over G down two frets when playing F. The I chord is also used in this section.

Watch at 04:36 as DJ demonstrates the bass pattern for the B section. Practice this section on your own. Then, play it along with DJ. The next logical step is to play through the entire form as a whole. This song features an AABA song form. Play the entire form along with DJ at 05:08.

Preview of Next Lesson

In the next lesson, DJ covers some modern country licks that utilize the "chicken pickin'" technique.

Video Subtitles / Captions





Supplemental Learning Material

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


turrid56turrid56 replied on July 26th, 2013

I find DJ's lessons interesting and rewarding and I have no idea why people are complaining......finding this series great!

hunter1984hunter1984 replied on December 18th, 2012

I find the WHINING and COMPLAINING and MOANING from people on here against DJ philips to be pathetic. DJ philips is a fine teacher, he's doing a fine job of explaining it. If you're not a good enough musician to follow along with these SIMPLE lessons, that's YOUR fault, not his. Don't go INSULTING him. I have no trouble following along with his lessons, at ALL. MAYBE you bunch of cry babies should do phase 1 lessons so you can become somewhat decent musicians, then you'll see how easy it is to follow along with DJ philips.

parnold45parnold45 replied on October 27th, 2011

I really enjoy DJ's style and as a beginner I have found him extremely willing to take the time to tackle my questions. It wouldn't help me if Hank Williams himself was teaching this song (although it would be really cool) it's going to be difficult regardless. Thanks DJ for a great set of lessons

adjohns3adjohns3 replied on November 11th, 2010

If you could hum/sing or something to give us a clue as to where you are on the supp sheets, it would be helpful to those of us who are beginners. I know you are an EXCELLENT musician, but hard for us real beginners to keep up with where you are without the word from either you or the supp material. If this is the basic lesson from which I should start, I failed first grade already...need your help to start right basics...thanks.

dj.phillipsdj.phillips replied on December 30th, 2010

Thanks for the comments, adjohns3! I will work on improving clarity in the future. A couple of notes for you regarding this series: 1. One of the best options for learning a lot of this stuff is to pick up the original recordings by the original artists. This is not to say that your point is not valid, but since music is so readily available these days, I recommend getting a copy of the song(s) in question and listening on your own! 2. Supplemental content is created after the recording of the lesson to give the most accurate record of what was played, so pointing to a measure number is not always possible. In the future, we will strive to better clarify, however. Thanks for your input!

graemejwgraemejw replied on December 26th, 2010

very difficult to follow this guy - talks to fast, often confuses notes/fingers - interested in this genre but needs re-recording with a better teacher

dj.phillipsdj.phillips replied on December 30th, 2010

Hopefully we'll find one somewhere around here!

adjohns3adjohns3 replied on November 3rd, 2010

The SOUND differential between his talking and his playing is so different it is difficult to pay attention without having your hand on volume to turn lesson UP or down.

Classic Country Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Having roots in Folk, Celtic, and Gospel music, Country and Country Western evolved rapidly in the 1920's. This genre of music has spawned two of the top selling solo artists of all time. Elvis Presley, and Garth Brooks.



Lesson 1

Introduction to Country

This short lesson will introduce you to the country style of playing and provide some necessary background information on how the genre got started.

Length: 2:04 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Western Swing

DJ gets to the roots of the country music genre with a lesson on Western Swing.

Length: 5:50 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Roly Poly

In lesson 3, DJ teaches a short song called "Roly Poly." If you ever find yourself jamming in a country circuit, you'll need this one in your repertoire.

Length: 5:22 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Classic Country

DJ discusses the classic country style. He explains the rhythmic and structural differences between this style and western swing.

Length: 6:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Chicken Pickin' and Modern Country

With lesson 5, DJ starts to discuss elements of the modern country style. This includes the technique known as "Chicken Pickin'."

Length: 12:59 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 6

Hybrid Picking

In this lesson, DJ discusses some of the finer points of the hybrid picking technique.

Length: 15:05 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Electric Country, Western Swing

In this lesson, DJ begins to talk more in depth about modern electric country guitar. He starts with the western swing style.

Length: 11:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Eldon Shamblin, Western Swing

Lesson 8 continues to cover the western swing style of electric country. Eldon Shamblin and his musical efforts are discussed further.

Length: 13:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Twin Guitar Boogie's Twin Lead

This lesson covers the twin lead section of the song "Twin Guitar Boogie."

Length: 17:59 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Twin Lead Solo: Part 2

DJ breaks down the second part of the twin lead solo from "Twin Guitar Boogie."

Length: 14:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Twin Guitar Boogie's Guitar Solo

Finalizing his teaching on the Twin Guitar Boogie with emphasis on Eldon Shamblin, DJ brings you this lesson on the guitar solo.

Length: 21:55 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Twin Guitar Boogie Techniques

Lesson 12 covers all the techniques involved in the previous lessons on the Twin Guitar Boogie.

Length: 7:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Solo Building

DJ takes the techniques he discussed in lesson 12 and helps you create a solo over a standard country rhythm.

Length: 17:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Fingerpicking

Lesson 14 delves into the realm of fingerpicking.

Length: 17:44 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Solo and Improvisation

In lesson 15 DJ demonstrates the techniques used by Merle Travis to build a solo, and improvisation technique.

Length: 12:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Guitar Boogie Pt. 1

Lesson 16 starts a 3 part series on Arthur Smith's "Guitar Boogie."

Length: 47:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Guitar Boogie Pt. 2

In lesson 17, DJ completes his note for note demonstration of "Guitar Boogie."

Length: 30:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Guitar Boogie Concepts

In this lesson, DJ takes a look at some of the country guitar concepts used in the song "Guitar Boogie."

Length: 16:13 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Whistle Stop

In this lesson, DJ teaches the song "Whistle Stop" by legendary guitarist Jimmy Bryant.

Length: 19:41 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Yodeling Guitar

DJ demonstrates the song "Yodeling Guitar" by Jimmy Bryant.

Length: 32:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Joy Ride

DJ teaches the song "Joy Ride" as performed by Jimmy Bryant.

Length: 30:37 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Jimmy Bryant Concepts

Now that DJ has covered "Whistle Stop" and "Joy Ride," he'll be looking at some of the concepts used to play these songs.

Length: 23:05 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Got a Lot of Rhythm

This lesson covers the tune Got a Lot of Rhythm which features the playing of Hank Garland.

Length: 10:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

I Need Your Love Tonight

In lesson 24, DJ takes a look at an Elvis Presley song "I Need Your Love Tonight."

Length: 19:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Sugarfoot Rag

In lesson 25, DJ continues his in depth look at Hank Garland's playing with a demonstration of Sugarfoot Rag.

Length: 32:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Walkin' the Floor

DJ takes a look at "Walkin' the Floor" by classic country guitarist Leon Rhodes.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Honey Fingers Pt. 1

DJ Phillips teaches the progression, structure and melody of the song "Honey Fingers."

Length: 35:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Honey Fingers Pt. 2

In lesson 28, DJ demonstrates the entire guitar solo for the song "Honey Fingers."

Length: 27:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Applying Concepts and Skill Building

Looking back on the lessons on Leon Rhodes' playing, DJ offers up a lesson on applying the new concepts.

Length: 11:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Luther Perkins

DJ discusses the tic-tac techniques used by Johnny Cash guitarist Luther Perkins.

Length: 18:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Tic-Tac Rhythms Applied

Looking at guitarist Luther Perkins, DJ helps you to apply the tic-tac rhythms in your playing.

Length: 7:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

Style of James Burton #1: Open String Licks

DJ returns to his country lesson series to profile legendary country guitarist James Burton! In the first lesson of this mini-series, DJ takes a look at open string licks that are common in James' playing.

Length: 16:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Style of James Burton #2: Chicken Pickin'

DJ is back with the second lesson in his James Burton mini series. For this one, DJ takes a look at how James Burton started the Tele sound with the use of hybrid picking and chicken pickin'.

Length: 13:21 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Style of James Burton #3: Double Stops

In lesson 34 of his country series, DJ is expanding on his look at James Burton. In this lesson you'll be taking a look at double stop and partial chord concepts utilized by this country great!

Length: 12:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Style of James Burton #4: Bends

To finalize the concepts and techniques portion of his mini-series on James Burton, DJ offers up a look at bending technique.

Length: 11:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 36

Style of James Burton #5: Combining Elements

Now that you have all the lick based elements and concepts under your belt, it's time to apply them. In lesson 36, DJ plays all of the licks you've learned with a backing track.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About DJ Phillips View Full Biography Like many guitar players who began playing around the same time, DJ began plunking out Nirvana and Soundgarden tunes when he first picked up the guitar in the mid-nineties. While these grunge-y roots certainly have their merit, it wasn't until DJ's eldest sister took him to a Led Zeppelin laser light show that the full potential of the guitar began to come into focus.

With Jimmy Page's Les Paul pyrotechnics as his inspiration, DJ began fervently practicing for hours on end in the suburban jungle of Southwestern Ohio. This newfound passion (combined with his complete lack of athletic prowess and physical coordination thus completely ruling out all sports) led him to form rock bands in junior high and high school. He grew to love the performance aspect of music and soon decided on it as a career path.

College led him to Nashville, Tennessee where he began to pursue a degree in Commercial Music at Belmont University. He also started another band and got his first professional theater gig the following summer. Since that summer, DJ has spent nearly every waking hour finding ways to play music and avoiding a real contribution to society in any other way.

He moved to Minneapolis after college, rocking out between theater gigs with his current rock band Brother Big Bad. He has now convinced the band to move to Nashville where music flows like water.

DJ is elated to be a part of JamPlay and is thankful for everyone's warm welcome and says "Now, let's ROCK, people."

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