Updated: Apr 2, 2020
When I first picked up the guitar I was enthralled by the ability to play chords and single note lines. After attempting to play some tunes it quickly became apparent that learning this instrument will be a very different experience then the saxophone. As a guitarist we can see the relationship of the scale tones, the voicing of the chords, much like on piano. As a kid with no formal theory or ear training this was difficult to grasp but learning chord shapes helped tremendously. So where do to begin?
We'll start with the humble e minor chord and e minor pentatonic scale. As we strum the chord be mindful of the notes that surrond the chord. Even though we are not playing the e minor pentatonic scale the notes are still there, waiting patiently to be played in all their pentatonic glory.
So here's where some of those little notes get a chance to shine. This riff is inside the e power chord @ the seventh fret. Notice how the riff stays inside the chord, not reaching beyond the 7th or the 9th fret. This isn't true for all guitar riffs but there's many riffs and solos that we can use a chord outline to accelerate the learning process.
This example is a bit more jazzy, but the concept is the same. even though we are not limiting ourselves to any one scale, we can outline the chord shapes to create interesting lines that fall in the jazz idiom.