Acoustic Guitar in Country Music: Top Collaborations

Photo of author

There’s no denying the impact that country music has had on the industry as a whole. However, it’s not just the genre as a whole that’s made music history, it’s also the collaborations that artists have formed with each other. When it comes to collaborations, there are numerous examples of musicians coming together to create groundbreaking works of art. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the famous collaborations of acoustic guitarists in country bands with other musicians, delving into the stories behind them and highlighting why they were such important moments in the history of country music.


As a fan of country music, it is fascinating to discover the magic that happens when acoustic guitarists in country bands collaborate with other musicians. There is something uniquely special about the combination of their individual styles, and when they come together, they create something extraordinary. In this section, we will delve into some of the most famous collaborations between acoustic guitarists and other musicians in the country music industry. From Keith Urban and Brad Paisley to Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia, these collaborations have left a lasting impact on the genre. So, grab your guitar and let’s explore these amazing collaborations together. If you’re interested in learning more about acoustic guitarists in country music, check out our Top 10 acoustic guitarists in country bands article for a closer look at some of the most talented guitarists in the industry.

1. Keith Urban and Brad Paisley

Keith Urban and Brad Paisley are two of the biggest names in country music. Both have enjoyed successful careers as solo artists, but they have also collaborated with other musicians, including each other. Their collaboration in 2008 for the hit song “Start a Band” was a huge success, bringing together their exceptional talent on the acoustic guitar.

Urban and Paisley are known for their intricate guitar work, and they did not disappoint in “Start a Band.” The song features guitar solos from both Urban and Paisley, showcasing their incredible technical abilities and musicianship. It’s no surprise that the song won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance.

Aside from “Start a Band,” Urban and Paisley have also performed together on the Grand Ole Opry stage and during the CMA Awards. Their performances together are always a treat for audiences and demonstrate the unique synergy that can happen when two talented musicians collaborate.

Keith Urban’s bluesy guitar playing blends seamlessly with Brad Paisley’s traditional country sound, creating a memorable listening experience. Both guitarists have a unique approach to their instruments, and their collaboration highlights the versatility of the acoustic guitar in country music.

Their collaboration is one of the greatest in the history of country music, and it has been celebrated by fans and critics alike. It’s just one example of the incredible talent that exists among acoustic guitarists in country bands, and the impact that their collaborations can have on the genre.

If you’re interested in learning more about the evolution of acoustic guitarists in country bands, check out this article. It provides an in-depth look at the history of country music and the role that acoustic guitarists have played in shaping the genre.

2. Vince Gill and Albert Lee

Vince Gill and Albert Lee, two prolific acoustic guitarists in country music, teamed up in 2013 for a collaborative tour, showcasing their impressive fingerstyle techniques and musicality. Gill, a Nashville native, is a Grammy award-winning artist known for his solo work as well as for his contributions to The Eagles. Lee, a British-born musician, has worked with a wide range of artists, including Eric Clapton and Emmylou Harris.

During their joint performances, Gill and Lee often played intricate acoustic guitar duets, showcasing a range of techniques such as alternating bass lines and lightning-fast flatpicking runs. They also incorporated plenty of improvisation and jamming into their sets, which kept the energy high and thrilled audiences across the United States and Europe.

One standout performance from their collaboration was “Tear It Up,” an energetic rockabilly number that showed off both Gill’s and Lee’s impressive guitar skills. They also paid tribute to legendary guitarists like Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins, playing a number of classic tunes that showcased their fingerstyle abilities.

Together, Vince Gill and Albert Lee demonstrate that acoustic guitarists in country bands can achieve great success through collaboration and mutual admiration. Their partnership serves as an inspiration for other aspiring guitarists to learn from each other’s techniques and push their own boundaries in their music. This collaboration is a perfect example of how combining the skills of two acoustic guitarists can create something beautiful and unique that resonates with audiences around the world.

If you’re interested in reading more about acoustic guitarists in country music, check out our articles on acoustic guitarists in country music and behind the scenes with acoustic guitarists in country bands.

3. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell teamed up in the 1970s and created a distinctive country rock sound. Their collaboration started back in the 70s, and their debut album, “Old Yellow Moon,” which was released in 2013, garnered critical acclaim and won a Grammy award for Best Americana Album.

Both Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell are gifted singers, songwriters and acoustic guitarists who have played a significant role in country music history. They have developed their own unique sound by incorporating different styles, such as traditional country, bluegrass, and folk, while balancing their acoustic guitar signatures to create a symbiotic blend.

Harris was known for her ethereal voice, which can be heard in her compelling performances of “Boulder to Birmingham” and “Tulsa Queen.” Her ability to blend seamlessly with other acoustic guitarists and musicians was an essential component of her collaborations with Crowell. Her understated strumming techniques and intricate fingerpicking style complemented her partner’s playing, resulting in a unique sound that captivated audiences.

Crowell, on the other hand, brought his intricate fingerpicking style and exceptional songwriting skills to their collaborations. He wrote most of their songs together, and his use of acoustic guitar playing techniques like hybrid picking and fingerstyle playing created a signature sound that they became known for.

Some of their most popular songs include “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” “Till I Gain Control Again,” and “Ain’t Living Long Like This.” These songs showcased their ability to harmonize together and had a hint of sadness that effectively tugged at the heartstrings of their listeners.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s contributions to country music are immeasurable. Their collaborations have influenced many contemporary acoustic guitarists in modern country music, and they remain one of the most successful country band acoustic guitarists to date.

If you’re interested in learning more about acoustic guitar techniques used in country bands or the best acoustic solos in country music history, check out our other articles on acoustic guitar techniques in country bands and the best acoustic solos in country music.

4. Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris

Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris have collaborated on several occasions over the years, crafting some of the most iconic country songs of all time. Their harmonies and distinctive voices have complemented each other perfectly, creating a sound that is both unique and timeless.

One of their most memorable collaborations was the 1987 album “Trio”, which also featured Linda Ronstadt. The album showcased their vocal prowess and cemented their status as country music superstars. Songs like “To Know Him Is to Love Him” and “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” became instant classics, thanks in part to the soulful guitar accompaniment.

Their guitar signatures were perfectly intertwined throughout the album, elevating the songs with harmonic complexity and emotional depth. The sparse yet haunting guitar work on “Those Memories of You” perfectly captures the bittersweet longing of the lyrics. Meanwhile, the high-energy strumming on “Wildflowers” adds an uplifting energy to the track.

In particular, the acoustic guitar work on “I’ve Had Enough” showcases the intricate fingerpicking style of both artists. The song is a heartfelt plea from a woman who has finally had enough of her partner’s mistreatment. Parton’s guitar adds a haunting depth to the melody, while Harris’ guitar provides an upbeat counterpoint that gives hope to the lyrics.

Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris have continued to collaborate over the years, both as solo artists and in other collaborations. Their contributions to the country music genre have been immense, and their influence can still be heard today in modern country music. Their partnership is a testament to the power of collaboration and the enduring legacy of acoustic guitar in country music.

Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris’s partnership is a testament to the power of collaboration in music. Their unique blend of vocal and guitar talent has helped to shape the country music genre and inspire countless other artists. Their guitar signatures are an essential part of their sound, and their influence can still be heard today in the work of many contemporary musicians.

5. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard were two of the most iconic country musicians of the 20th century, each with their own distinct style of playing. Despite their differences, they collaborated on several projects and became close friends. It’s no surprise that their joint shows and albums became some of the most memorable in country music history.

Here are some of their most notable collaborations:

  • “Pancho and Lefty” (1982) – This song, written by Townes Van Zandt, was covered by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard for their album of the same name. The song tells the story of two Mexican bandits, and the duo’s version received widespread critical acclaim.
  • “Seashores of Old Mexico” (1987) – This ballad was written by Merle Haggard and was first recorded by him in 1974. In 1987, he teamed up with Willie Nelson for a duet version, which was a hit on the country charts.
  • “Django and Jimmie” (2015) – This acclaimed album features Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s final collaboration before Haggard’s death in 2016. The album features both original songs and covers, including “It’s All Going to Pot” and “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash.”

Their signature style of guitar playing also left a lasting impact on country music. Both Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard were known for their fingerpicking style and blending of blues and jazz into their playing.

Their collaboration not only produced memorable songs, but also served as inspiration for other country band acoustic guitarists to seek out success via collaborations with other musicians.

If you’re interested in learning more about how country band guitar signatures have resonated over time and influenced the genre, check out our article on Country Band Guitar Signatures.

6. Paul Franklin and Vince Gill

Paul Franklin and Vince Gill collaborated on several albums and songs, showcasing their incredible talents as acoustic guitarists in the country music industry. They first worked together in the 1990s, and have continued to collaborate regularly since then.

Their collaboration is known for its extraordinary blend of Franklin’s skillful steel guitar playing and Gill’s soulful acoustic guitar. Together, they have produced some of the most iconic country music pieces of all time.

Their work includes the album titled “Bakersfield,” which pays tribute to the Bakersfield sound of late 1950s and early 60s California country music. The album contains covers of classic country songs and some originals co-written by Gill and Franklin. The album features their guitar mastery, with each track showcasing their seamless partnership in creating music that captures the essence of country music.

One of their most standout performances is on the song “Branded Man”, in which they effortlessly incorporate their guitar sounds, producing a tune that is unmistakably country. Their guitar playing beautifully complements the poignant lyrics of the song. Fans regard the guitar work on this song as some of the best of all time.

The collaboration of Paul Franklin and Vince Gill is testament to the success that can be achieved when two talented musicians come together. Their combined abilities as acoustic guitarists have made them some of the most respected names in country music, appealing to both traditionalists and younger audiences.

To learn more about the success of collaborations of country band acoustic guitarists with other musicians, check out our article on country band acoustic guitarists’ success.

7. Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler

Chet Atkins, known as the “Mr. Guitar,” and Mark Knopfler, the lead guitarist and vocalist for the rock band Dire Straits, have collaborated and created beautiful music together. Their partnership began in the late 1980s when Knopfler was invited to record with Atkins at his Nashville studio.

Their musical styles complemented each other seamlessly, with Atkins’ country fingerpicking and Knopfler’s blues-rock riffing. They recorded two albums together, “Neck and Neck” (1990) and “The Best of Chet Atkins & Friends” (1996), which featured collaborations with other legendary musicians such as Jerry Reed and Suzy Bogguss.

One of the most popular tracks from their partnership was “Poor Boy Blues,” a soulful song that expressed some of the struggles of life. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and even won a Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance.

Together, Atkins and Knopfler were able to create a unique blend of country and rock music, incorporating intricate guitar melodies that showcased their exceptional skill and musicianship. The collaboration not only entertained music lovers but also paved the way for other artists to experiment with mixing different genres and explore a new style of music.

Their successful partnership proved that even musicians from different backgrounds and genres could collaborate and create something beautiful, showing that music truly knows no boundaries.

8. Brad Paisley and John Mayer

Brad Paisley and John Mayer are two exceptional guitarists who have both made a name for themselves in the country music scene. Their collaboration was a perfect mix of their individual styles and guitar expertise. They came together to give fans a taste of their unparalleled talents through their live performances and recorded songs.

During their collaboration, Paisley and Mayer exchanged guitar riffs and harmoniously complemented each other. They also played with a delicate balance of softness and strength, creating an unforgettable experience for their fans.

Here’s a table highlighting some of their most popular songs together:

Song Title Album Year Released
Cluster Pluck Play 2008
Beat This Summer Wheelhouse 2013
The Devil Is Alive and Well Love and War 2017
Shattered Glass Moonshine in the Trunk 2014

Their collaboration was not only a massive success but also showcased their individual guitar playing styles to the world. Most importantly, it brought together two talented guitarists who shared a common passion for creating some of the best country music together.

9. Earl Scruggs and Travis Tritt

Earl Scruggs, a renowned bluegrass banjo player, and Travis Tritt, a well-known country artist, created a fusion of bluegrass and country music in their collaboration. Their partnership began with their hit single, “Some Days You Gotta Dance,” which was a major commercial success in the late ’90s.

Scruggs was already a legendary musician in his own right, having helped pioneer the bluegrass genre with his expert banjo skills. Tritt, on the other hand, had made a name for himself in the country music scene with his traditional Southern sound and heartfelt lyrics.

When Scruggs and Tritt came together for “Some Days You Gotta Dance,” they combined their strengths to create a unique sound that appealed to fans of both genres. The collaboration was a perfect blend of Scruggs’ masterful banjo playing and Tritt’s soulful vocals.

The song itself was a catchy, upbeat tune that had fans dancing along to the music. It was an instant hit, reaching the top 20 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and becoming a fan favorite.

Beyond their hit single, Scruggs and Tritt continued to collaborate, including on Tritt’s album, “The Storm.” The album featured Scruggs’ banjo on the track “Always Will” and received critical acclaim for its seamless blending of bluegrass and country.

Their collaboration created a lasting impact on both the bluegrass and country music scenes, showcasing the potential for these two genres to come together and create something truly unique. The combination of Scruggs’ mastery of the banjo and Tritt’s emotional vocals has cemented their place as one of the most memorable collaborations in the history of acoustic guitarists in country bands working with other musicians.

Earl Scruggs Travis Tritt
A bluegrass banjo player A well-known country artist
Helped pioneer the bluegrass genre Made a name for himself in the country music scene
Expert banjo skills Soulful vocals
Created a fusion of bluegrass and country music Traditional Southern sound with heartfelt lyrics
Collaborated on hit single “Some Days You Gotta Dance” Received critical acclaim for album “The Storm”
Continued to showcase potential for bluegrass and country to come together Impactful lasting impact on both genres

10. Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia

Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia are two of the most renowned guitarists in folk and bluegrass history. Their partnership in the early 1980s was an iconic moment for the genre, and their unique blend of styles resulted in some of the most distinctive and memorable performances in country music history.

Tony Rice Jerry Garcia
Tony Rice is a master of flatpicking and acoustic guitar fingerstyle. Known for his precise and intricate playing style, he is highly regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in the history of bluegrass music. Jerry Garcia is best known as the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Grateful Dead. His distinctive style incorporates elements of rock, blues, and country, and is characterized by his use of melodic improvisation and extended soloing.
The collaboration between Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia brought together two musical titans, each with their unique approaches to the guitar. The duo performed together in a number of live shows and recordings, including the classic album, “The Pizza Tapes”. Their partnership was legendary, showcasing a synergy that few musicians achieve in their lifetime. Their live performances were characterized by their chemistry and interplay, with each musician pushing the other to new heights.
Rice and Garcia’s work together helped to bridge the gap between the worlds of bluegrass and rock, setting the stage for the emergence of new movements like Americana and alt-country. Their music remains influential to this day and continues to inspire a new generation of musicians. Their partnership came to an end with the untimely death of Garcia in 1995, but their legacy lives on in their recordings and in the ongoing influence on the world of country and acoustic guitar music.

Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia’s collaboration was a testament to the power of musical partnerships and the potential for innovation and creativity when two masters of their craft come together. It serves as an inspiration for all who strive to push the boundaries of their art, and is a true highlight among the many famous collaborations of acoustic guitarists in country bands with other musicians.


After exploring some of the most famous collaborations between acoustic guitarists in country bands and other musicians, it’s clear that the combination of talent can result in some truly unforgettable music. These artists came together to create some of the most iconic songs in country music history, and their unique styles and techniques complemented each other perfectly.

From the legendary pairing of Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler, to the unexpected but stunning team of Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, these collaborations prove that when great artists join forces, they can create something magical. The exquisite guitar work of Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, the soulful vocals of Vince Gill and Albert Lee, and the timeless harmonies of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard are just a few examples of the stunning music that emerged from these collaborations.

It’s not just about the technical skill of the guitarists, but also the emotional connection they have with each other and with the music. These collaborations paved the way for a new generation of musicians to experiment with different sounds and styles, and continue to be a source of inspiration for aspiring artists.

Overall, the collaborations showcased in this article demonstrate the power of music to bring people together and create something truly special. As country music continues to evolve and change, it’s clear that these partnerships will remain an important part of its rich history and legacy.

Discover Top 3 Acoustic Guitar Bestsellers

SaleBestseller No. 1
Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster Acoustic Electric Guitar, Shadow Burst, Rosewood Fingerboard, with Gig Bag
  • Two pickup systems: Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless; Fishman Under-Saddle Transducer
  • Acoustic Engine delivers a new and unique set of acoustic and electric voices
  • Blend Knob selects and blends voices
  • Patented Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS)
  • Integrated forearm and back contour, and mahogany neck
SaleBestseller No. 2
Fender Squier Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar - Sunburst Learn-to-Play Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Strings, String Winder, Picks, Fender Play Online Lessons, and Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD
  • The Squier SA-150 is a full-size steel-string acoustic that offers big sound at a small price.
  • It's strong enough to stand up to the everyday use (and abuse) that beginning players might throw its way thanks to its all-laminate construction with lindenwood top and mahogany back and sides.
  • This guitar also features scalloped "X"-bracing, mahogany neck and a durable dark-stained maple fingerboard to give you an instrument that looks as good as it sounds.
  • With its slim, easy-to-play neck and full-bodied dreadnought tone, the SA-150 is an ideal choice for all rookie strummers.
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED IN ONE BOX: A gig bag is included so you can keep your instrument safe when you're on the go. The included clip-on tuner is easy to use and delivers reliable performance. Included in this bundle is a guitar strap, extra strings, string winder and picks so you can start playing your instrument immediately. Our exclusive Austin Bazaar instructional DVD provides the guidance you need as you learn your new instrument.
Bestseller No. 3
Martin 2017 D-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural
  • Antique white binding Aging toner Forward shifting non-scalloped X bracing Dovetail neck joint Style 28 mother-of-pearl fingerboard inlays Solid headstock with square taper and diamond inlay. SP Acoustic 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Medium (MSP4200) strings Multi-stripe top and back inlays
  • Sometimes innovation is in the details and this is certainly true with Martin’s re-imagined 2017 D-28
  • After nearly a century at the helm, and as the quintessential workhorse of music legends like Hank Williams, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and so many more, Martin's legendary D-28 has been lovingly and artfully enhanced
  •   “The post WWII D-28 had a slightly different look than its predecessor and became the centerpiece of the folk and folk rock movements at their pinnacle in the 1950s and 1960s
  • " says Chris Martin, Chairman and CEO of Martin Guitar, "We have extracted the finest features from the D-28 of both my grandfather’s and my father’s respective eras

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What famous country band has featured an acoustic guitarist in their music?

One of the most famous country bands to feature an acoustic guitarist is the Zac Brown Band, with Jimmy De Martini on fiddle and Coy Bowles on guitar.

2. Who is known for their distinctive acoustic guitar sound in country music?

Brad Paisley is known for his distinctive acoustic guitar sound in country music, and has collaborated with many other musicians.

3. What is the benefit of collaborations in the music industry?

Collaborations in the music industry can bring together different styles and sounds, introducing audiences to new artists and expanding the reach and creativity of each artist involved.

4. Who is known for their virtuosic acoustic guitar playing in country music?

Tony Rice is known for his virtuosic acoustic guitar playing in the bluegrass and country music genres.

5. What is a common feature of acoustic guitar collaborations in country music?

A common feature of acoustic guitar collaborations in country music is the combination of intricate fingerpicking and melodic playing with heartfelt lyrics and storytelling.

6. Who has collaborated with Mark Knopfler in country music?

Chet Atkins collaborated with Mark Knopfler on the album Neck and Neck, which featured the two guitarists trading solos in a variety of styles.

7. What is unique about Emmylou Harris’s collaborations in country music?

Emmylou Harris’s collaborations in country music often feature a mix of country, folk, and bluegrass influences, reflecting her eclectic tastes and dedication to traditional American music.

8. Who is known for their slide guitar playing in country music collaborations?

Paul Franklin is known for his slide guitar playing in country music collaborations, including his work with Vince Gill.

9. Can collaborations in country music involve non-country musicians?

Yes, collaborations in country music can involve non-country musicians, such as John Mayer’s work with Brad Paisley.

10. What is the importance of acoustic guitar playing in country music collaborations?

Acoustic guitar playing is often a key element in country music collaborations, providing a warm and intimate sound that complements the storytelling and emotional depth of the lyrics.


About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

Leave a Comment