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Haunting country licks?


TravvyBear

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So, I'm writing Alt. Country songs, but on some of the slower ones, I need some haunting, spookyish licks going on behind the chords. How do i achieve those? I guess most are done with a pedal steel, but all I have is a Dano set up for slide in Open G. Is there a scale I should learn? Should I tune it differently? What do?!

 

I guess something like this

[video=youtube;S6WFa6x3pUA]

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Everything nels did in that video could be replicated on a normal guitar in any freakin' tuning. A tuning of the guitar doesn't automatically make it sound "country" or "spooky".

 

You just need to stop worrying about these things and start worrying about how you are gonna replicate the sounds you want with whatever you got.

 

Oh.. and the moment you start worrying about what scale produces what sounds.. you can just throw the majority of your creativity out the window.

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Everything nels did in that video could be replicated on a normal guitar in any freakin' tuning. A tuning of the guitar doesn't automatically make it sound "country" or "spooky".


You just need to stop worrying about these things and start worrying about how you are gonna replicate the sounds you want with whatever you got.


Oh.. and the moment you start worrying about what scale produces what sounds.. you can just throw the majority of your creativity out the window.

 

 

Excuse me princess.

 

I know a tuning or a scale doesn't automatically make a certain sound, but it seems like it can certainly help... I just got into alternative tunings, don't know much about them.

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Open G with a slide and volume pedal will get you there. Plus some reverb/delay. Try slowly sliding a note on one string while playing an open string to fake some pedal string sounds.

Or if your action is high enough you can fret a note with your index behind the slide and get different intervals than open G would allow.

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Scales I would use would be you regular major scale, with the odd flattened V for bluesier or dissonance, depending on key. Add flattened II's which always add a sinister edge. Minor pentatonic would probably be too bluesy, but there's the odd not that you can pilfer here and there depending. Mixolydian works well too, although it can be a bit baroque-esque if you're running over standard I/IV/V changes.

 

What kind of keys are you writing in? If they're things like F#min then I would avoid an open tuning personally, because generally for the vibe you want - accidental minor in a major key = good, accidental major in a minor key = {censored}e. Although really the tuning can and should be whatever you play slide easiest in. If you wanna go the open tuning route, I suggest a capo as a massively useful tool. I also suggest a volume pedal if you can't get to your guitar's volume knob easily. Some slide players swear by compressors, but I find them harder to use with a volume pedal in line, and a volume pedal is ultimately more useful for me. If you're very inexperienced with slide, behind-the-slide damping is about as important a technique as you can spend time on. Get that before worrying about tunings.

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You should check out some Ry Cooder, Jim Campilongo, and Buddy Miller stuff - Marc Ribot too. Not trad country (well maybe Miller is), but those guys are awesome at getting the atmospheric faux pedal steel stuff happening. You don't always need a slide - multi-string bends into volume swells works too.

 

Just experiment and play along to some records - it'll come.

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