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Published on April 24th, 2012 | by Sam

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Brent Mason Chicken Pickin’ Licks

Brent Mason’s A Lot About Livin’ Licks

Cover of "Lot About Livin"
Cover of Lot About Livin

Brent Mason is one of the most recorded guitarists of all time.Just about every major country recording artist has had Brent as the guitarist on their record, and he has played on tons of #1 songs, won Grammy’s, and has won Guitarist of the Year from the Academy of Country Music 14 times! He’s prolific and an amazing guitarist.

I think the most commonly said quote about Brent Mason is along the lines of “You may not have heard of him, but you’ve certainly heard him!”

This lesson is based on licks gleaned from the Alan Jackson recording, A Lot About Livin’ (and A Little About Love). Brent’s work with Alan Jackson is some of the coolest chicken pickin’ and country guitar on record.

She’s Got the Rhythm

The first lick we’ll check out is the ending lick from “She’s Got the Rhythm.” The lick happens at 2:11 in the song. Country and blues players have some great endings. This is definitely one to put in your back pocket. It’s in A, and is composed of thirds moving down what many call the country hybrid scale. It’s basically a combination of the blues scale and mixolydian mode. Much of this stuff lays out easily on the guitar, and this is no exception. He combines fourths and thirds in the lick, but it’s all right where it would land under the fingers. The lick ends with a typical blues move-a 9 chord on b2 resolving a half step below.

I Don’t Need the Booze

The next lick we’ll check out is a fill from “I Don’t Need the Booze.” He snaps the strings using a thumb pick and fingers. The lick is during an A chord, but he plays the straight pentatonic scale here. When copying this lick go for having a sharp rhythm, that’s what really makes it here.

The second lick from “I Don’t Need the Booze” is a short solo fill. Again, based on the pentatonic scale, but this time it’s the normal ‘box’ shape everyone is familiar with. It gets its character when he pulls the 5th fret of the G-string up to a C# (or the major 3rd) and slowly releases the bend before resolving to the root.

Mercury Blues

“Mercury Blues” is a treasure trove of great chicken pickin licks. The tune is a cover of an old country standard. Brent really shines throughout. The first lick is a fill early on in the tune. It’s very similar to the first lick shown in “I Don’t Need the Booze,” transposed to D. Again he uses the minor pentatonic even though the chord is major.

The second lick here is from the end of his solo. This one is a quintessential chicken pickin’ lick. During the first measure Mason plays muted notes on the B string and counters those with nice bends. He finishes the lick with some great hybrid bending (bending one note while keeping the other stationary). The whole thing is pretty staccato, make sure to check out the original recording for the feel.

The third lick from the tune is another great chicken pickin, double stop lick. He uses some of the same material that was featured in the lick from “She’s Got the Rhythm,” with descending chromatic double stops. This one also has some staccato chicken pickin as well. You could play this in standard tuning instead of Drop D by moving the last note up an octave.

Finally we have another fill from “Mercury Blues.” This one is a very interesting that is during a G7 chord. It’s very blues and has the honky-tonk triplet feel along with the staccato double stops. Brent says often in his instructional video that he just wants to make solos that stand out. His use of interesting rhythms and phrasing here definitely accomplish that goal.

She Likes it Too

The last lick we’ll look at from the album is from “She Likes it Too.” This one has two ear catching moments. First is the b7 and 3rd bend in the third bar. He bends the b7 up to match the root while hold the third of the chord on the high E string. This is a must-know bend for any country guitar player’s trick bag. The last bar also has a pull down, where he pulls the 2nd note of the scale down to become the third. You’ll have to pull the note down as he is hold the string above while doing the bend. Brent used this move famously in his tune, “Hot Wired” during the melody statement. Another must know ‘device.’

We could fill books with great Brent Mason licks, so it’s good to be able to look at a snapshot of his playing. All of the Alan Jackson recordings from the early 90s, even up through today, have some of the best country guitar playing out there. They are all worth at least a listen if not a deep search for cool licks and grooves. Brent carries on the ‘session guitarist’ flame during that period.

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