Electric Guitar Techniques Country Guitarists: Mastering the Unique Style

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Country music has a rich tradition of electric guitar playing that has influenced countless musicians across genres. The techniques used by country guitarists are often characterized by their precision, speed, and melodic sensibility. In this article, we will explore some of the key electric guitar techniques employed by country guitarists and how you can incorporate them into your own playing.

Bending and Vibrato

One of the signature techniques of country guitarists is bending strings to achieve a unique sound. By bending a string, players can add expressiveness and emotion to their playing. Country guitarists often use both half-step and full-step bends to create a distinctive twangy sound.

In addition to bending, vibrato is another essential technique in country guitar playing. Vibrato involves rapidly bending and releasing a string to add a shimmering quality to the notes. Country guitarists typically use a wide, fast vibrato to give their playing a smooth and fluid sound.

Double Stops and Pedal Steel Licks

Double stops, playing two notes simultaneously, are frequently used in country guitar playing to create a harmonized sound. Country guitarists often incorporate double stops into their solos and rhythm playing to add depth and texture to their sound.

Another hallmark of country guitar playing is the emulation of pedal steel licks. Pedal steel guitars are integral to the country music sound, and many country guitarists strive to replicate the emotive bends and slides of pedal steel playing on the electric guitar. By incorporating pedal steel licks into their playing, guitarists can evoke the classic country sound.

Hybrid Picking

Hybrid picking is a technique that combines flatpicking with fingerpicking to achieve a more versatile and dynamic sound. Country guitarists often use hybrid picking to play fast, intricate lines with clarity and precision. By using the pick for some notes and the fingers for others, guitarists can achieve a unique attack and tone that is well-suited to country music.

Chicken Pickin’

Chicken pickin’ is a percussive and staccato style of playing that is synonymous with country guitar. This technique involves muting the strings with the palm of the picking hand while plucking the notes with the fingers to create a sharp and snappy sound. Country guitarists often use chicken pickin’ to add a rhythmic drive to their playing and to mimic the sound of a chicken clucking, hence the name.

Open String Licks and Slides

Country guitarists frequently utilize open strings in their playing to create a ringing and resonant sound. By incorporating open strings into their licks and solos, guitarists can add a sense of space and brightness to their playing. Additionally, slides are a common technique in country guitar playing, allowing guitarists to smoothly transition between notes and add a fluidity to their lines.

Flatpicking and Crosspicking

Flatpicking involves using a flatpick to play fast and precise single-note lines. Country guitarists often use flatpicking to play intricate melodies and to add a driving energy to their playing. Crosspicking, on the other hand, involves playing arpeggios across multiple strings using a combination of pick strokes and fingerpicking techniques. This technique is commonly used in country music to create a cascading and harmonically rich sound.

String Bending and Pre-Bending

String bending is a fundamental technique in country guitar playing that involves bending a string to raise its pitch. Country guitarists often use string bending to add emotion and character to their solos. Pre-bending is a variation of this technique where the string is bent before the note is struck, creating a unique and expressive sound.

Looking to enhance your skills as a country guitarist? Explore different techniques like sliding in our articles on electric guitar sliding techniques for country music and acoustic guitar techniques for country bands. Dive into the world of country music with insights on electric guitars used in country music and the importance of choosing the right strings. For those looking for a personalized touch, check out our guide on custom electric guitars for country music!


In conclusion, the electric guitar techniques used by country guitarists are as diverse as they are expressive. From bending and vibrato to chicken pickin’ and hybrid picking, country guitar playing encompasses a wide range of techniques that contribute to the genre’s distinctive sound. By incorporating these techniques into your own playing, you can capture the essence of country music and add a touch of twang to your sound.

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!

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