Chicken Pickin' and Modern Country (Guitar Lesson)


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DJ Phillips

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'."

Taught by DJ Phillips in Country Guitar seriesLength: 12:59Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (05:29) Introduction to Modern Country Chicken Pickin'

"Chicken pickin'" is a fast, percussive picking technique that is frequently employed by guitarists when playing modern country or bluegrass. The chicken pickin' technique is used to emulate the sound of other instruments such as the banjo. Open strings are used quite often in chicken pickin' licks. For this reason, the technique is usually employed in keys that feature several open strings such as C major, G major, D major, and A major.

To familiarize yourself with this style of playing, check out some of the guitarists listed below.

-Johnny Hiland
-Albert Lee
-Brad Paisley
-Brent Mason
-Ray Flack
-Danny Gatton

Tone

DJ plays chicken pickin' material with some light compression. Compression helps to balance out the volume between loud notes plucked by the pick and slightly quieter notes plucked by the right hand fingers.

Lick 1

Note:
Tablature and notation to all licks discussed in the lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

DJ demonstrates this quick banjo style lick at 02:18. These types of licks often combine the major and minor forms of the pentatonic scale. The minor third (Bb) is frequently used to embellish the major third of the key (B).

Notice how open strings are used in the lick. Open strings are used in the lick whenever possible. The lick begins with a unison played with two G notes. The open G string is plucked while sliding into the G note at the 5th fret of the fourth string.
Chapter 2: (02:12) Triplet Climb and Pull-off in G This lick is also played in the key of G major. Once again, the G minor and major pentatonic scales are blended within the lick.
Chapter 3: (02:05) Descending in D The third lick is played in the key of D major. Many of the elements from the past two licks are used again in this lick. This descending lick combines the D minor and major pentatonic scales. Open strings are used whenever possible.

Practice the lick on your own with a metronome. When you think you have it mastered, return to the lesson video and play it along with DJ at 01:09.
Chapter 4: (02:45) Ascending in D Once again, this lick begins with the major third of the key (F#) embellished by the minor third (F). Like the previous licks, it features several slurs and open strings. Make sure that you play all slurs exactly as written. Do not cut the first note in the slur figure short.

Practice the lick on your own with a metronome. Then, play it along with DJ at 01:27.

Preview of Next Lesson

The licks in this lesson were demonstrated with a flat pick. To play them at faster tempos and to give them the signature modern country sound, the right hand fingers can pick notes in conjunction with the pick. DJ will explore this right hand technique in the following lesson.


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.


adjohns3adjohns3 replied on November 3rd, 2010

I felt like I came in the middle of this movie.

sarabsarab replied on July 29th, 2010

Dj, you explain clearly but according to me is that it's not step by step as if you were really talking to somebody who has never heard about country. You give some things for granted. At least that's my impression, maybe because I'm not expert...

halldavidrhalldavidr replied on May 24th, 2010

Hi DJ: What are the names of a few songs by Danny Gatton that feature chicken pickin? Same for Albert Lee & Brad Paisley. Thanks.

Manzo 99Manzo 99 replied on June 2nd, 2014

dude any paisley songs have got it also look at keith urban, and lee kernaghan they both know what they are doing

rymsharymsha replied on December 29th, 2009

I love these licks. Especially the second one. Keep these videos coming!

joemontijoemonti replied on August 2nd, 2009

DJ, pretty cool licks, but it's kinda tough to figure out what you're doing with your right/pick hand... for a starter's lesson on the subject, a little more explanation would help... thanks

jahmerican876jahmerican876 replied on April 29th, 2009

Can you expand on this lesson. How can you move on from just palying these licks?

dj.phillipsdj.phillips replied on January 28th, 2009

By the way, before anyone points it out- these licks are not all necessarily technically chicken pickin', but it's in the same vein, so I'm just going to keep saying that. Deal? Deal.

mkorsmomkorsmo replied on January 28th, 2009

"Hot Country Licks" was probably taken. :)

mattbrownmattbrown replied on January 27th, 2009

Lick no. 2 is nasty!!!!

dj.phillipsdj.phillips replied on January 28th, 2009

Thanks, Matt. I'm not sure where exactly I stole that lick from. Just trying to keep it slick and dirty.

mkorsmomkorsmo replied on January 27th, 2009

This lesson is a lot of fun. Throw on a bit of compression and a slap back... get your pick'n on. Is that you playing the Claw? Jim D got me hooked on Jerry Reed earlier this year and that's one I've been working on for the last few months.

mkorsmomkorsmo replied on January 27th, 2009

OK... I guess the lead in audio was the finger picking stylings of Jim Deeming.

dj.phillipsdj.phillips replied on January 28th, 2009

Glad you like the lesson! Yeah, that's not me playing Jerry Reed. We'll be taking a look at some of his stuff later on down the line too though. Of course, Mr. Deeming is a really great source for that right now!

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 Members Only
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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