‘Ebon Coast’ by Andy McKee – 3 Takeaways for Baritone Guitarists

As guitarists and musicians, most of us are always on the lookout for ways to push the limits of our creativity and playing. Thankfully, the internet has made it easy to find lessons from master-level musical mentors. In this post, we’ve dug up one such YouTube session with solo instrumentalist and one of the best baritone guitarists, Andy McKee.

Andy knows a few things about creativity and technique. In the following live video performance, Andy plays an excellent rendition of ‘Ebon Coast’, a track that showcases his unique style on baritone guitar. The video concludes with Andy taking time to explain his playing technique as well as some of the composition practices he uses when writing. After the video, read on to learn the three main takeaways that will help you become a better baritone guitarist!

3 Takeaways from ‘Ebon Coast’ for Baritone Guitarists

We’ve highlighted three valuable takeaways from this performance and short lesson to help you become a better baritone player. Most of these points are applicable to any baritone guitar artist, regardless of genre or style.

1. Blend interesting chords with interesting transitional phrases.

Andy McKee builds many of his songs using two distinct ingredients: beautiful chord selections and artful transitional phrases, arpeggios, and short licks used to connect his well-select chords.

If you want to develop your playing and incorporate this songwriting technique into your own toolkit, consider expanding your chord vocabulary. Once a week or once a month, learn a new chord shape or chord voicing. You can download various guitar chord charts or pick up a guitar chord encyclopedia book from Amazon.

With most online or printed chord resources, you will need to do some transposing when playing on baritone. However, it’s a small price to pay to expand your horizons as a player. Even if you only learn and apply one new chord voicing a month, you will go a long way toward staying out of a songwriting rut and keeping yourself growing as a player.

2. Use harmonics thoughtfully.

I have met some players who sprinkle harmonics liberally throughout their playing, using pinched, tapped, or plucked harmonics in the same way a bad cook uses ketchup – as a gimmick to make something bland seem interesting.

In actuality, there is nothing wrong with harmonics (just like there is nothing wrong with ketchup). However, you need to be intentional. At 7:30 sec into the video, Any McKee offers an excellent example of intentionally selecting a tapped harmonic in order to complete a musical phrase within ‘Ebon Coast’.

As a songwriting challenge, consider intentionally selecting one harmonic (tapped, picked, or otherwise) as a part of a planned musical phrase. You may just find that this little bit of intentional songcraft goes a long way.

3. Try standard guitar songs on baritone guitar.

Andy McKee has been a friend of the baritone guitar for some time now, recording many of his instrumental tracks on baritone. 

In the video, Andy McKee explains that ‘Ebon Coast’ started out as a standard guitar track. However, once he tried the song on baritone, Andy realised it sounded much better a perfect fourth lower than a standard guitar.

When was the last time you dusted off a standard guitar tune and tried it on baritone? Switching from standard to baritone will change the voicing of songs you thought you knew and understood, breathing new life into familiar tracks. After reading this article, dig through your mental vault of songs and try a few standard guitar tunes on the baritone. For an extra challenge, consider taking a song that is typically performed on an entirely different instrument (like a piano) and arranging a baritone guitar rendition.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for taking the time to watch the video and read through our post. I hope you found something worthwhile that will inspire your playing or augment your technique in some way. And be sure to check out more of Andy McKee’s music, he really is a musical genius!

Finally, if you’re thinking of buying a baritone guitar, be sure to have a look at our acoustic baritone reviews and electric baritone reviews. Thank you!