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2019 Intensive: Classic Western Guitar with John Fullerton & Suze Spencer


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John Fullerton of Sons Of The Pioneers, with Suze Spencer

Thursday, February 21, 2019  1-4pm

John Fullerton is a native of Branson, Missouri. He is the seventh generation in his family to work in the horse and cattle business. As a child he was deeply influenced by listening to his grandparents’ gospel quartet who performed together for over 60 years. It was his grandmother who first took him to see Sons Of The Pioneers perform when he was seven years of age. Right then and there, John decided to make this music his life career. He began by learning all the vocal and instrumental parts to every record he could find and he has never stopped learning. Self taught, John has been playing guitar since age 11, and focused on Classic Western style for the past 16 years. He is equally accomplished on mandolin and bass. John has performed professionally since 1994, plays rhythm guitar and sings baritone with the Sons Of The Pioneers.

This rhythm guitar class will address the principals that make up the driving force behind complex harmony singing in the Classic Western style of the Sons Of The Pioneers.

* Development of right-hand rhythm technique

  •  The plectrum device
  •  Tone production, Pulse, Timing, Pacing
  •  Essential rhythm patterns
  •  Stylistic matching

* Development of left-hand technique

  •  Movable closed chord voicing
  •  Navigating the fingerboard
  •  Damping
  •  Sliding in/out of chords using leading tones

* Skill-building techniques and exercises

  •  Tone Production concepts
  •  Scales (major, relative minor)
  •  Corresponding harmonized scales in three and four note chords
  •  Blending stacked instrumentation

* Articulating it all together to create a steady, smooth, driving force is the goal.

Handouts will be provided in chord frame form with essential left hand fingering patterns to facilitate the chord voicing. Rhythm patterns will be demonstrated with historical recordings and up close demonstration. Chord progression charts will be provided for several selections of Classic Western music. Some singing may be used as part of the learning process, but not a prerequisite for the class.

Participants should arrive at this class with an open mind, prepared to focus on right hand technique, explore movable chord forms up and down the fingerboard of their guitar and to thoroughly enjoy becoming mesmerized by the beauty of this historic music. They should have working knowledge of major scales as well as harmonized scales and be comfortable using a rather thick flatpick. (Flatpicks will be available)

Upon completion of this class, participants may expect to come away with new and improved rhythm skills, an expanded chord vocabulary with a great appreciation of the role of a strong rhythm guitar player in a vocal group. They will gain an understanding of the historical significance of Classic Western music and the instrumentalists that have maintained the style for over 85 years.

This class is intended for individuals who are of intermediate to advanced skill levels.

Suze Spencer was born into one of America’s most renowned Western Music families – The International Cowboys and the legendary Sons Of The Pioneers. Raised in the fold of working ranch hands, musicians, artists and entrepreneurs, Suze’s grandparents and extended family were her vibrant mentors. Suze began learning guitar at age three from her grandfather and Karl Farr who was the original guitarist with Sons Of The Pioneers. She has continued to learn from many members of the group throughout her lifetime. In late 2005 she released her highly acclaimed album “Tall Boots, Rare Gems of America’s Western Music Pioneers. In 2006 she along with ‘Ranger‘ Doug Green of Riders In The Sky, published a guitar instructional book through Centerstream Publishing; “Rhythm Guitar, The Ranger Doug Way”. She teaches master classes in the Classic Western style and Western Swing style at university level and at music camps all across the USA.