Tag Archives: acoustic guitar

Practicing Scales – This Is Something Not To Miss

The way most of us were taught scales and practice scales is centered around positions. That is a good approach and you should work on knowing all the positions, but it is certainly not the only thing to check out.

In this lesson, I am going to show you some examples of things that sound great, are easy to play and are not in positions, and then also talk about how you practice towards playing like that.

Triads on a String Set

This is an example of something that clearly is pretty easy to play when you stick to the same string set. This type of melody is also something that is very repetitive and a specific sound, but later in the lesson, I will show you some other more open examples of this.

If you look at the advantages you can see that:

  • The Right Hand is consistent
  • Phrasing and the Polyrhythm is easy to bring out
  • It is using the same type of melody: Triads

Fake Metal version

Let’s first look at how this doesn’t work in a position and then I will also talk a little bit about how this should combine with positions and isn’t really instead of.

You can play this in a position as well, that would be something like this:

But here it is a lot less natural to get the consistent phrasing and just difficult to play. And this is a really clear example of something that works a lot better along the neck.

Positions – The Final Frontier

If you play a phrase like this then there is one thing that you do need to be aware of is that you have to be able to keep playing where you end up.

Even though it is cool for Star Trek (0:46) B-Roll To boldly go where no-one has gone before it is not practical for guitar solos if you end up in a place where you don’t know what to play.

So you do want to know your positions and have that overview of the neck as well.

Practicing Efficient Things

So what do you practice to play something like the first example (B-roll of Example 1a maybe slow mo?)

It is not enough to just work on the scale on one string like this:

But as you can see the example is made from diatonic triads from 2 scales: G major and D altered.

So you can practice those like this:

and the altered scale is also really useful, like this:

For these exercises, I am really consistent with my right hand, and as you will see that is one of the big benefits of playing like this: It gets easy and consistent for the right hand.

Besides playing the arpeggios you also get to dive into the diatonic harmony of the scales which is really useful for having more things you can use in solos

And once you know the exercises then it becomes a lot easier to work on other similar licks like this one:

Besides the triads, there is another similar type of melody which is 10 times as easy to play if you give the right-hand priority I will get to that later but first let’s look at another way where moving around the neck gives you more options when it comes to creating strong melodies.

Motivic Shifting

This phrase is on a Dm7 Bb7 Cmaj7, so Subdominant, minor subdominant, tonic in C major.


The melody is a motif on the Dm7 and the motif is repeated and developed on the Bb7 to then resolve to C. Using that you can have a Dm melody and an Fm melody on the Bb7.

Because the phrase is shifting the motif up the neck then it is easy to keep the phrasing and in that way make the motivic development clearer while still changing things and adding to it. If you played it in one position then you would lose some of the phrasings and also make it much more complicated to move the motif.


Strict Arpeggio Tricks

Another place where you can benefit from having using a specific way to play arpeggios and move around the neck is to stick with a pattern similar to what I am doing in this example:

Here the Cmaj7 and Am7 arpeggios are played as 1-1-2 arpeggios which makes it easy to put them after each other.

1-1-2 Arpeggios are arpeggios with the four notes spread out so that the first two strings have 1 note and the last string has 2 notes.

To explore stuff like this it can be really useful to practice your arpeggios in diatonic 3rd distance like this


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The Great Thing About Jazz And Arpeggios

Learning to play jazz we practice a lot of scales and a lot of arpeggios. But you also want to make sure that you get as much out of your practice as possible. It is also more fun to work on making new lines and coming up with new things you can use in your solos, so you want to use arpeggios as much as you can and explore where they might sound good.

In this video, I am going to show you this process and help you get a lot more out of the arpeggios you know by finding more chords you can play them on.

To keep this simple, let’s take a Cmaj7 arpeggio and look at where we can use that.

You can play a Cmaj7 arpeggio like this:

I will probably use other fingerings as well in the examples, and in general, I think you should practice arpeggios in scales as diatonic arpeggios as I talk about in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

#1 Cmaj7

The obvious place to start is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord.

In this example, I am using inversions of the Cmaj7 arpeggio. The first part of the phrase is a descending 1st inversion Cmaj7 which is then turned into a 6 note phrase and repeated from beat 4 of bar 1. The second repeat is a descending root position Cmaj7.

The last part of the phrase is a series of descending chromatic 3rd intervals.

#2 Am7

If you have seen more of my lessons then you have probably seen examples of using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

Here I am using the Cmaj7 as the arpeggio from the 3rd of Am7.

Am7: A C E G and a great arpeggio option here is the Cmaj7 arpeggio: C E G B.

#3 D7

Similar to how the Cmaj7 works well on Am7 then it is also a solid option on the V chord associated with Am7: D7.

In this example, I am using the Cmaj7 at the end of bar 1. Similar to the previous example I am playing the Cmaj7 arpeggio as a triplet with a leading note.

#4 F#ø

The Maj7 from the b5 of a half diminished or m7b5 chord is a great very useful arpeggio. This is also related to the previous examples, but probably you would see this in the context of a minor key.

In this case, that is a II V I in Em and the F#ø is coming from the harmonic minor scale:

E harmonic minor: E F# G A B C D E

Diatonic Chords: EmMaj7, F”ø, Gmaj7(#5), Am7, B7, Cmaj7, D#dim

#5 Fmaj7

The Cmaj7 arpeggio is also a useful tool to use on a Fmaj7(#11) chord.

In this example, I am mixing it with material that really spells out the Fmaj7 sound: Fmaj7 arpeggio and Am pentatonic.

6 Abmaj7(#5,#9)

The final, more exotic, sound is using the Cmaj7 as a part of the augmented sound on an Abmaj7 chord.

The scale sound this is using is the Augmented scale.

The Augmented scale is a symmetrical 6 note scale that can be seen as the combination of two augmented triads or as the sum of 3 maj7 chords.

In this case: Abmaj7, Cmaj7, and Emaj7.

The scale consists of Ab B C Eb E G Ab

With a little enharmonic spelling (since this is an atonal symmetrical scale) you can construct the 3 maj7 chords.

The example here below is using first an Abmaj7 arpeggio and then continuing in a Cmaj7 arpeggio really bringing out the #5(E) and #9(B) over the Abmaj7.

A great Arpeggio Workout!

Here is a great foundation when it comes to working with arpeggios and pentatonic scales on a Jazz Standard:

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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