In September I did a lesson of 5 Country Shuffle Guitar Licks. It was a solo over a traditional country shuffle feel in C. I decided to do another lesson on the same country style but this time show ways to play rhythm guitar over it.

Rhythm guitar in this style can be very different from other country feels like a train beat or a country boogie. In this style you can play more of a comping style similar to how you would approach playing rhythm in a jazz combo. This lesson takes you through a short example composed of five rhythm guitar ideas.

The first lick is a simple repeated idea that mimics the bass line. This idea works well because it leaves lots of space for the vocal or other instruments. I find myself coming to ideas like this more often than something advanced because they always work. Playing more advanced ideas might be more interesting on their own, but they also have a greater chance of clashing with what the other musicians are playing. Technique-wise, use a bit of palm muting throughout. The sound is very similar to the bubble guitar parts you hear on R&B records.

The second lick is another fairly straight forward idea. It uses a major 6th chord voicing on each upbeat. This rhythm emphasizes the shuffle feel of the drums. I use the pick to play the root note. Then on the chord I use the pick and fingers (middle and ring). Where I might use the first idea on a verse, this idea might be better used for a chorus.

The third lick begins with fill ideas. I would normally use something like this in the empty spaces around the vocal. For the purpose of the lesson these ideas are put together instead of leaving space. The lick begins with an E minor triad descending chromatically to a D minor triad. These two chords together outline a G13 chord (G-B-D-F-A-E). The second bar repeats the same idea using a different inversion. Try using vibrato on each notes in the chords to emulate a pedal steel sound. The next two bars function as a kind of turnaround back to the top of the chord progression.

The fourth lick is focused around the movement between C to F, and from F to C. The first uses C7 voicings to build tension towards F. It uses small voicings that create a melody moving toward the F chord in the third bar. The second moves a D minor chord shape chromatically to build up to the E minor at the beginning of the fifth lick. Using a D minor over the F root creates a F6 voicing (E minor with a G root creates G6). This is a very common sound in this kind of country music. Try using vibrato on chords here as well.

The fifth and final lick involves more ideas to use as fills in your rhythm playing. As described in the fourth lick, this idea begins on a G6 chord. Sweep each note of the chord quickly and then hammer-on and pull-off the D note on the high E string. Then slide everything down a half step while keeping the chord ringing if possible. The last two bars is an ending phrase that is a favorite of mine. For this, I use my fingers to pick everything except the C note on the D string.

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