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Country Guitar Lesson: Connecting the Pentatonic Scales to Chord Shapes with Guthrie Trapp


When you’re first learning how to improvise, especially on the electric guitar, one of the best places to start is to develop an understanding of the major and minor pentatonic scales. These pentatonic scales are the building blocks on which most improvisations are built, especially within the blues, rock, and country genres, and are a great tool to get you improvising quickly and tastefully.


After you’ve mastered the major and minor pentatonic scales across the guitar neck, it’s important to start deconstructing the scales to understand the function of each note within the scales’ patterns. When playing solely within the “pentatonic box,” as many guitarists refer to it, crafting melodic improvisations that really highlight the chord changes of the song you’re performing can feel difficult. However, learning how to use the pentatonic scales to emphasize specific chord tones from within a song’s progression will make your solos sound tailormade for each musical piece you play.


In this online guitar lesson, ArtistWorks electric country guitar instructor and one of Nashville’s most sought-after session musicians, Guthrie Trapp teaches you how to connect the major and minor pentatonic scales to chord shapes in order to take your improvising skills to the next level. He even outlines a few basic music theory concepts that will allow you to meld simple triads and arpeggios with your pentatonic playing to seamlessly spotlight the most critical notes within each chord of a song’s progression.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play country guitar from a master musician like Guthrie Trapp? Try some free online guitar lessons now!


“These concepts are really important because they show us how the chords and pentatonic scales are connected,” Guthrie explains. “Understanding how common chord shapes and penatonics work together will unlock a lot of the mysteries of improvising and will give you a deeper understanding of the fingerboard.”


When approaching this technique, it can be helpful to break the overall pentatonic scale into smaller blocks of arpeggios. Guthrie presents this concept in a very direct and easily digestible way to allow you to better visualize where the chord tones are within each pentatonic scale.


“By breaking the pentatonic scale into these smaller chunks, we’re actually looking at things in a much simpler way,” Guthrie explains. “It might feel a little bit intimidating at first because the pentatonic shape feels really comfortable, but, after working through these exercises, new doors will open for you musically.”


To learn how to connect the major and minor Pentatonic Scales to fundamental chord shapes and continue to expand your understanding of the guitar neck, dive into this online guitar lesson from Guthrie Trapp:


Connecting the Pentatonic Scales to Chord Shapes with Guthrie Trapp:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play country guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Guthrie Trapp, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Guthrie’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, classic country tunes, improvisation methods, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians.


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



ArtistWorks Music Series Podcast—“How to Get Out of a Musical Slump” with Guthrie Trapp

Live “Dispatch from Home”—How To Find Your Own Sound with Guthrie Trapp & Audley Freed

Guthrie Trapp Joins Billy Gibbons Tribute Show Lineup




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