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Most guitar players know at least a few country guitar "tricks"- pedal steel licks, banjo-type rolls, flashy open-string runs and so forth. It is the seasoned pro, however, who knows how to apply and integrate these techniques into a solo that sounds like a cohesive musical statement rather than a bunch of disjointed licks. In "Mercury Blues," Nashville gunslinger Brent Mason combines forward open-string rolls with pedal steel licks to create two very tasteful, melodic solos. Lets see how he does it
In bars 41 and 42, Mason plays a cool ascending run using the G Mixolydian scale (G, A, B, C, D, E, F) with a pure country approach. You can hear how fluid this idea sounds: the open-string rolls are seamlessly connected to the pedal steel bends.
The best way to team this lick is to break it down into two parts. First, master the roll technique. Most country guitarists play an ascending three-note pattern on three adjacent strings with the pick, middle and ring fingers, respectively. Play it over and over (I cannot stress this enough) until it becomes second nature. Once you feel comfortable doing this, try tackling bar 41. You'll need to shift positions with the left hand, but the right-hand pattern stays the same. Also make sure to let the notes ring into each other; this produces that authentic country sound.
In bar 42 Mason plays an oblique bend, holding and releasing a bend on the B string while simultaneously playing a note on the high-E string. He bends the lowered seventh (F) up to the root (G), then holds the bend while playing the third (B) on the high-E string. This classic pedal steel-style lick is a must-learn maneuver for the serious country guitarist. The hard part about playing this lick is keeping the bent note in tune. Make sure your middle finger (the one doing the bending) doesn't stray downward while you play the B, or you'll get some sour notes. You may want to try reinforcing the middle-finger bend with your index finger, as this will provide you with more finger strength with which to push the string.
Mason plays a similar idea in his second solo (see bars 133 and 134). Use the same approach to learn this lick as you did before, mastering the roll and oblique bend separately, then combining them.
Learn Mason's solos in "Mercury Blues," then try coming up with your own combination runs and start turning all your hot licks into hot solos.