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Play Guitar Like Lyle Lovett

Lyle HatI'm a big fan of Lyle Lovett. It isn't just his voice, but also how he makes the acoustic guitar really stand out even when he's playing with his (very) large band.

One of the things I like about Lyle's guitar playing is he never does anything flashy.  No extended solos.  No improvisation.  When Lyle plays, it sounds tight and perfect.  A real cowboy doesn't show off.  After paying very close attention to Lyle in concert, we have learned a lot about how he does it.  Read about it after the jump.

 

1. Lyle plays Collings acoustic guitars. You can read more about the special edition model built for him here.  Lyle Lovett's Collings dreadnought is largely based on the Martin D-45.  Our friends at Gryphon Stringed Instruments tell us that Collings guitars are just plain louder than Martin guitars. Gryphon Stringed Instruments believes it is because of the slightly longer scale (25.5"). Eric Schoenberg of Schoenberg Guitars believes it is the metal contained in the neck (which also makes Collings guitars heavier).  He is usually playing dreadnoughts, but occasionally we see him play something slope shouldered.  Either way, the guitar itself booms.

 

 

2.  He uses a thumbpick and fingerpicks.  For thumbpicks, Lyle uses National Medium Thumb Picks and metal National Finger Picks.  I bought some of those finger picks myself and realized that I put them on backwards.  For the record, they go on with the open part of the ring on the fingernail side of your finger so they graze the strings rather than grab them.  I still laugh at the fact that I didn't realize this earlier.

3.  Lyle uses Medium Gauge Phosphor Bronze D'Addario strings

Now, let's try a song for beginners.

For Beginners:  L.A.  County

The first Lyle Lovett song I was able to play was, "L.A. County."  The song is a funny story about friendship, driving cross-country and revenge.  At the time, I liked it because there are a grand total of three chords in the entire song.  You can listen to the song on Rhapsody or download it on Amazon here:

L.A. County by Lyle Lovett

Here is a video of Lyle playing the song (always good to have something to shoot for):

Then, if you're ready to try it, here is a link to the best sheet music we have found.  Enjoy.

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