For those of you that aren’t aware of Brent Mason, you’re in for a treat. Brent has been one of the top call studio guitarists in Nashville for the past 25 years or so. This lick is from the blazing title track of his 1997 record, “Hot Wired”. Check it out if you haven’t, you’ll be a convert in seconds. Anyway, this is a great lick over A7, which happens at the beginning of his solo at :38 in to the track.
Brent starts this run on an open A string, and then continues mostly in the 2nd position. This run is highly chromatic.
It works well for 2 reasons:
1) He plays it blazingly fast, so it almost doesn’t matter what notes he plays!
2) He starts and ends on chord tones – the open A, and then the C# and E on the 2nd string. This is an important element to consider when trying to add some chromaticism to your playing.
Bar 2 and 3
Brent comes out of the flurry with a nice pentatonic box bend phrase in the A major pentatonic shape in the 2nd position. He’s bending from the 2nd note in A major (B) to the 3rd note in A (C#). This is the classic country guitar sound. If you want to start mastering country guitar playing, find this 2 to 3 combination in every position on the neck.
Bar 4 and 5
This bar starts off with a bend that, although it’s not easy, it’s sounds great and is a lot of fun to play. He bends the B up a whole step with his 2nd finger, then plays the high F# with his pinky at the 14th fret. There’s the 2 to 3 bend again (up an octave from earlier) I told you it was important! What makes bend even more classic, is what he does next. While sustaining the bent B note, his 3rd finger plays the 12th fret E, then he picks and releases the B string. Check the video for more details.
Brent’s next move is to employ a couple of sliding minor 3rd intervals, followed by a bluesy chromatic run from the 5th of A7 down to the 3rd. To get to the 3rd of A7 (C#), he uses a classic blues move, and dips down to the flat 3rd before landing on the 3rd. From here, he continues down the A7 arpeggio (3-1-b7-5) until he gets to the 5th. He uses the exact same chromatic move that he did a few notes ago, only this time an octave lower. This gives his line a nice continuity and flow.
He finishes this burning line by ascending an A major pentatonic scale (3-5-6-1), and then finally settling on the b7 (the G note at the 5th fret of the 4th string).
There are many things to learn in this line. He does a great job of combining chromatic, minor and major pentatonic ideas in the same phrase – as in the first half of the lick. By the way, you can use these techniques in a variety of styles – bluegrass, country, blues, jazz, etc.
Even though he’s using many techniques, he doesn’t lose sight of the chord tones of A7. I would recommend that you practice creating your own lines with these ideas. Practicing throwing in some chromatic notes to get from chord tone to chord tone. Remember, the chord tones for A7 are A/C#/E/G.
Here are some more ideas to get you started:
Once you’re comfortable creating these ideas over the A7, you can expand to playing these ideas over an A blues. In other words, you would then work these types of ideas out over the D7 and E7 chords as well.
Good luck with these ideas. Let me know how it goes for you!
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