Country Guitar Lessons – 4 Essential Lessons

Wondering how to play country guitar? This article will take you through 4 essential things you need to know! 

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • How to use finger style technique in country guitar.
  • Awesome chicken pickin technique!
  • How to add roots and fifths to your normal chords to create killer basslines!
  • How you can make your guitar sound like a pedal steel!

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Country guitar not only sounds great, it’s also lots of fun to play. We’re going to go through some essential techniques in these country guitar lessons.

There’s a lot of information here, so it may be worth bookmarking this page for future reference!

Country Guitar Lessons #1 – Finger Style Guitar

Finger picking is an essential technique if you want to learn country guitar.

It’s heard in music by Johnny Cash, Merle Travis and Chet Atkins.

What Is Finger Style Technique?

Fingerstyle technique is like the name suggests, a guitar technique which uses purely your fingers on your picking hand!

Most players use a pick to play the guitar, but another common technique is finger style technique.

It’s important for a well-rounded guitarist to learn to play both with a pick and with the fingers.

Now we understand a little about it, let’s learn some essential techniques for finger style guitar.

If you’ve never played finger style guitar before, it may be a good idea to check out this article.

Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons – 5 Easy Ways To Sound Amazing

Country Guitar Lessons – Using Your Thumb

To start with we’re just going to concentrate on using our thumb to alternate between the bass notes.

NB: You can use a thumbpick if you have one at hand. If not, you can manage with just your bare thumb.

This is heard frequently throughout country music so it’s essential we get this down!

For now we’re just going to use the E and A strings.

country guitar lessons


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Country Guitar Lessons – Using Your Fingers

Once you have a grasp on how to alternate between your low E and A strings, the next step is to try and pluck your strings with the chord.

To do this we’re going to pluck

  • The D string with our first finger.
  • The G string with our second finger.
  • The B string with our third finger.

When we do this we’re going to pluck each string at the same time.

country guitar lessons

Country Guitar Lessons – Using Your Thumb And Fingers Together

Now we’ve had a look at how to use our thumb and our fingers, let’s start to bring the two exercises together into one.

This is where it’s gets a little tricky, so make sure you take it slow!

Our Thumb is going to be alternating between the E and A strings, whilst our first, second and third fingers will be plucking the D, G and B strings simultaneously.

To make this really sound good, we need a chord, so I used an E Major Chord.

 

E String Bass

 

Not sure how to play an E chord? Not a problem, go here!

4 Easy Ways To Play The E Chord On Guitar

Country Guitar Lessons #2 – Using Roots And Fifths To Create Country Chords

One awesome way to create country tones is to add root and fifths notes to our chords.

What’s a Root?

The root is the note that gives a chord its name, and is usually the first (and lowest) note we play when we strum the chord.

So for example in an A chord, the very first note you play is the A string.

Therefore the root note is an A.

country guitar lessons

Often on guitar, you find that there is more than one root note in a chord voicing.

For example in this A chord there is also a root note on –

  • The 2nd fret of the G string.

Does this chord look too hard? Go here!

3 Easy Ways To Play The A Chord On Guitar

What’s A Fifth?

In music, the fifth is simply the fifth note of the scale ie. 5 notes away from the root notes.

Are you familiar with do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do?

The fifth is the “so” note.

A chord is usually made up of  the root note, the third note and the fifth note of a scale.

That’s it! Nothing complicated. It can be tricky to find the fifth note but we’re going to show you a real simple way to work it out.

Firstly we’re going to have to know the musical alphabet.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 

A B C D E F G

So in this case our root note is A as this is the first note (our open A string).

To find the 5th note here,we simple go across five notes.

This gets us to the note E.

So therefore the fifth of note of an A chord is an E (our open E string).

This means if we want to play root and fifth notes in our A chord, we’d have to play the open A string and the open E string.

Finding The Root And Fifth Notes

So we’re going to play our A chord, alternating between the root (our open A string) and the fifth (our open E string)

Our pattern looks something like this :

country guitar lessons

Now let’s take a look at applying this essential technique to some other chords.

 

Country Guitar Lessons – The D Chord

The D chord is a great chord and is heard frequently throughout country music!

country guitar lessons

If you’re not sure how to play this essential chord, go here!

3 Easy Ways to Play the D Chord on Guitar

Finding The Root And Fifth Notes

We can again use the same method we used before to find the root and fifth notes.

However this time, instead of starting on the A note, we’re going to start on the D instead.

So our musical alphabet will look like this.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

D E F G A B C

So this time, our first note is D (the open D string).

And our fifth note is A (the open A string).

country guitar lessons

 

Country Guitar Lessons – The C Chord

The final chord we’re going to look at is a C chord.

country guitar lessons

If you’re not sure how to play this chord, go here!

Easy Ways To Play The C Guitar Chord

Finding The Root And Fifth Notes

Here we can use the same method as before, however this time as we’re using the C chord.

We’re going to start our musical alphabet from the letter C.

So it will go like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

C D E F G A B

We know that the root note of a C chord is a C note, as it’s the first note.

Now let’s go up 5 notes. This takes us up to the G note.

This means:

  • The root note is a C.
  • The fifth note is a G.

Now let’s try and find these two notes in our chord.

In the normal C chord there is no low G note, however you can add this on to the original C chord.

Instead of having your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the A string, you move it to the 3rd on the low E string, and place your pinky on the 3rd fret of the A string.

 

country guitar lessons

So if we want to create an alternating bass line in our chord, we’re going to have play between the A string and E string, whilst playing the C chord.

  • On the 3rd fret of the A string you have a C note.
  • On the 3rd fret of the G string you have a G note.

Here’s a pattern you can use to practice it:

country guitar lessons

If you want to know a little bit more about chords in the key of C, this article may interest you!

Understanding the chords in the key of C

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