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How to get the country slapback guitar sound

Getting the country slapback sound for guitar is easy, and you probably have all the gear you need to do it right now.

Quick note before explaining how this is done: This sound also doubles as a rockabilly tone. The only real difference between the country and rockabilly version is that rockabilly uses a heavier mix. I'll give more detail on that in a moment.

What is the country slapback guitar sound?

A delay effect done in a specific way. This means you will need a delay effect to get this sound. If you have a guitar amp with built-in effects, you most likely already have the delay effect you need. If not, you will need a delay pedal.

As far as I know, every delay pedal can create a slapback sound because the effect is simple to get.

How to set your delay effect

First, set up your delay to have a single repeat. That's the "slap" part. On most delay pedals, making a delay have a single repeat means setting the "feedback" to 0%.

Second, mix in the delay effect to 50% or less.

Third, set your delay time to about 130ms. If your delay effect doesn't show millisecond numbers and only has a knob to change the delay time, set it to a short delay.

For a rockabilly sound...

If you want more of a rockabilly sound, it's almost the same as country slapback. Turn the delay mix up to 60% or greater, and increase the delay time slightly. If you have it set to 130ms, try 150ms or slightly more.

Playing style

This is the only part of the slapback sound that takes some practice to get right.

Slapback works best with shorter, quicker notes and chords. It also helps to not use overdrive or distortion as that makes the "slapped" delay sound much better.

If you've never tried a slapback delay effect before, the easiest way to start is muted single notes on the wound strings (low-E, A and D). For chords, the easiest country style progression is G major to C major and back again. To add some "flavor" to that later, you can change to G major 7th and C major 7th.

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