Country isn’t as one dimensional as most musicians would have you believe. In fact, country guitarists tend to use some of the most impressive guitar techniques in modern music. So why do they get such a bad rap?
Country just isn’t the most popular form of music.
There is no specific reason for this, just as there is no specific reason why you shouldn’t want to pick up some great country guitar playing tips—tips that will help you to become a meaner, faster shredder.
One of those techniques is the chicken picking styled guitar picking. In this article, we will go over chicken picking and help you to add it to your arsenal, not only rounding you out as a guitarist, but allowing you to push your shredding skills to the next level.
Chicken picking is very similar to hybrid picking. The difference is that fingers and pick are not broken up between strings (bass and treble). Instead, they are used together. Chicken picking involves plucking the string, or pulling it outwards with your finger, and then immediately muting it with another finger. This gives less twang and more precision to the note. It can be done with either the pick and a finger, or two fingers.
When you pull the string out, it is important not to let it “snap back.” This means, don’t release it as you would a sling shot or a rubber band. Instead, pull it just a bit and release. Once the notes sound, mute it with either the same finger or an alternate finger.
One of the worst things that you can do is try to mute the string with your fretting hand. This will cause your hand to become jumbled. Just like all guitarists, your picking hand focuses on picking and muting, and your fretting hand focuses on fretting.
There is a slight similarity between a grace note and a chicken picked note. Both notes are meant to be more subtle than other notes. The difference is that a grace note is typically a very light note that is more felt than heard, and a chicken picked note is meant to have a distinct sound.
The best way to get used to chicken picking is by playing with your scales. Try looking through the scales that you are familiar with. Find smaller shapes first, with closer grouped notes. Go through them and practice plucking and instantly muting.
You don’t want any notes to ring out; just like a chicken picking its food, you want to pluck and stop. Use a metronome when practicing, as chicken picking is a difficult and advanced guitar technique that isn’t easy to grasp at first. This means that it is easy to confuse yourself or run through your time signature when learning.
Take a block of time each day and set it aside for practice. Try to stick to your practice schedule regardless of circumstance. Make it a part of your day, each day. Dedicate a section of your practice to working on your chicken picking form. Remember; the more time you put in, the more you will get out. Good luck!
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