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Guitar Lesson - Country Songs and Chords

Updated on January 9, 2022

Country Guitar Chords

Although I'm normally found playing jazz chords like A13b9 or Ebm7b5 I do have a soft spot for country guitar playing - and if you are a beginner it's a great style to learn, as the chords are easy and the tempo is often slow, giving you some extra time to change chords. The songs of Hank Williams are easy to play, but strong compositions too - you might try Your Cheatin' Heart, Hey Good Lookin', Cold,Cold Heart, You Win Again, I'm So Lonesome.

Johnny Cash songs are very easy too, Folsom Prison Blues is a good candidate.

We're looking at 4 chords maximum - in the key of G these would be G,C,D or D7, A7. With this little arsenal of chords, let's look at Ernest Tubb with the great Leon Rhodes on lead guitar, and a drummer who is probably asleep. Try playing along to the video - chords are G,C,G,D a couple of times. Bridge part C,G, A7, D or something like that. Generally, count in bars of 4 beats. A good ear training exercise is just to count the beats, you don't even need to be playing.

You could play some lead guitar using Em pentatonic scale, or G major scale - just watch out for the A7 chord, which is non-diatonic. For that you could just play notes from the A chord (A, C sharp and E)

Country Guitar

Guitar info

Usually, you'll find country players using a Fender Telecaster, which is a great guitar for clean sounds. Leon Rhodes is using an Epiphone semi-acoustic here, nice tone through a Fender amp, probably. Those green cowboy hats will be coming back into fashion any time now. There is also some rule about having your name inlaid on the guitar neck, leather strap etc. It's OK for Tubb, but more problematic if your name is Rainbow Snell Van Gogh or Rimsky-Korsakov.

Very bad news for crustaceans everywhere.

Playing country chords in C

In the key of C the main chords are C, F, G or G7. But a very common Hank Williams move as in Your Cheatin' Heart is to use an added D7 chord, which is usually followed by G7.

Country chords in common keys

G or G7
A or A7
B or B7

Simple lead scales

In the key of C, use C major scale. An easier alternative would be Am pentatonic. From string 1, high E string, the fret numbers would be: 8, 5

string 2 : 8, 5

string 3 : 7, 5

string 4 : 7, 5,

String 5: 7, 5,

String 6: 8, 5

So the interval is either two frets or three frets throughout. The target note is A, and that is fret 5 on both strings 1 and 6.

All the other scales follow the same pattern, just moved up or down the neck. For instance, to play in the key of D, just move the Am pattern up 2 frets. For E, up another 2 frets, etc.


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