Danny Gatton is a true guitar player’s guitar player. While he never became famous to the general public, you can find his name mentioned in just about every interview with current country guitar players. Gatton mixed musical styles from jazz, country, rockabilly, and blues into a powerful sound that influenced all the players around him. He was nicknamed “The Humbler” and “The Telemaster” and a quick YouTube search will show that they were both well earned. Gatton’s entire giant bag of tricks would be impossible to cover in a short lesson so I focused on some of his more traditional playing ideas. The lesson will take you through 5 licks over a 12 bar blues in E.
The first lick uses double stops and hybrid picking. The pick plays the D string while the middle and ring fingers play the double stops. I mute the D string slightly with my palm throughout this idea. The D string notes are mainly rhythmic and muting them helps the melodic double stops stand out more.
The second lick begins with two double stop pre-bends. First, hit the double stop without bending. The G string is then pre-bent up a whole step while the B string remains fretted. Finally, release the bent note back to the original pitch. Then the same idea is repeated down a whole step.
The third lick is a double time idea. This lick sounds more difficult than it actually is because of the speed. Use hybrid picking with the pick again taking the D string and the fingers taking the G and B strings. Danny Gatton uses a lot of the repetitive ideas in his playing. In a longer solo, he might repeat the first bar much longer or even move it through the chord progression.
Lick four navigates the change from V (B7) to IV (A7) using double stops and the root. I play this using the same hybrid picking as the previous licks.
The last lick is another repetitive idea that is found in Gatton’s playing. I play this lick using all alternate picking. The basic pattern for the lick uses 5 sixteenth notes between every slide. This is another difficult idea because of the speed. Like the third lick, this one can also be repeated easily. I use a simple arpeggio to end the lick.