Tag Archives: chord solos jazz guitar

Chord Solos – You Can Make It Easy Like This

Playing a chord solo seems if not impossible then very difficult but, actually, there are quite a few things you can do to make it a lot easier and still sound great. In this video, I am going to cover 5 hacks that will help you get started and add chord solos to your jazz guitar playing and once you get started it is going to be a lot easier to expand it.

The Chord Solo Licks That Scare You

Usually when we think about a chord solo then the phrases are like this:

And that is difficult and moving around the entire guitar with a ton of voicings for each chord.

But most of the time the phrases are not that complicated and you can really do a lot with some fairly simple things.

That is what I want to show you in this video!

#1 Keep it simple – Part 1

You can play great harmonized melodies with a lot less than this. First, let’s make it super simple and then I’ll expand it a little bit and then you can already do a lot.

Here are 3 voicings:

And just using these 3 chords and changing the melody you can make a lick like this:

Here I am just using the basic voicings from example 2 and then changing the melody and adding some rhythm.

Since we play fewer notes and simpler melodies with chord solos then rhythm becomes much more important, but that is great for developing the rhythm in your single-note solos as well, everybody wins.

Let’s take this up a level by playing fewer notes and then start to add some other cool tricks!

#2 Keep it simple – Part 2 – A little less simple

You have a few melody notes for each chord, but can also turn them into 3-note voicings that still work:

Film with arrows from one diagram to the next? Split-screen (film playing chords with lots of space

And then you have some more options for top note melodies and can play something like this:

Now you can start with a single position and improvise some chord solo lines, the next thing to do is to make it a bit more flashy and add some more movement.

#3 Arpeggio to Targets In Chord Solos

Playing arpeggios as block chords in a chord solo is tricky, you need a lot of voicings, and it is heavy to play.

Cut in: We also often like to play arpeggios fast which don’t help. (shot after #5)

(extra b-roll arpeggio playing is recorded) – The last two are good

But a clever way, that I stole from piano players, is that you can also choose to play the arpeggio and just harmonize the target note.

That sounds like this

Shot twice different zoom

Here I am playing a Dm7 arpeggio that takes me to the G7(#9) chord and I only harmonize the Bb. As you can hear this works really well.

#4 Super Easy Chromatic Chords That Sound Amazing!

If you want to play Jazz then you also want to use chromatic passing notes, and luckily there is an extremely easy way to use them in chord solos.

That sounds like this:

Here I am using chromatic passing notes on both Dm7 and G7alt. The way it works is really simple.

I have a chromatic note, a D#, before the E melody on Dm7, and I use the same voicing as I do on the E to harmonize the D# and the chord just slides into place.

On the G7alt the example is exactly the same, but here it is descending not ascending.

The next hack is a great way to harmonize more difficult melodies like arpeggios.

#5 Two-Note Block Chords for Arpeggios

As I already showed you earlier in the video, you can add arpeggios to a chord solo by harmonizing the target note of the phrase. There is another way to work with arpeggios that also works very well and is both easier to play and less heavy sounding, compared to harmonizing each note.

This is something you will hear Joe Pass do from time to time. Harmonizing an arpeggio with intervals, and usually 3rds because that sits very well in an arpeggio and makes it easier to play.

That sounds like this:

Here I am using an Fø arpeggio on the G7alt and putting a full chord under the high note the Eb. Of course, you can also choose to just use 3rds the entire way.


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Chord Solos – How To Get Started The Easy Way

I am sure you have heard Wes, George Benson or Joe Pass play great chord solos, and it is a great sound that seems almost impossible to get into your own playing, but if you are a little practical about how you start working on it then it may not be as difficult as you think. In this lesson, I am going to take one area of the neck and a II V I in G major and then I will show you how to start making your own chord solo licks with a few voicings that you probably already know.


The II V I

Keep in mind that this will help you develop your own chord solos, but it can also be a great addition to your comping and chord melody arrangements. I am going to build this up using drop2 voicings. The starting point is this II V I in G major. A chord solo is a melody that is harmonized with chords, so from these chords you want to be able to play a melody. Let’s start with the Am7 and the D7.

Chords for Am7

For Am7 you caa use these 4 melody notes which only really use two chords: In the sheet music I have written out what extensions are in the chord, but that is not that important, you can better just think of all of them as Am7 and as chords you can use to make melodies You might be thinking, 4 notes? That’s not enough for solos! But actually you can make some really good melodies just with these simple voicings Chord solos tend to have a lot simple melodies, which is good because that also makes it a lot easier to play them. Since you are playing a full chord you don’t have to spell out the harmony with arpeggios and It is as much about the rhythm. Here is another basic example:

Chords for D7

The same top note melody for the D7 could be these voicings:

A II V I Chord Solo Lick

For now I am going to stick with one Gmaj7 voicing and then we can expand on that later in the video along with adding alterations and some different types of chromatic chords. With these voicings then you already can make a line like this: The melody is pretty simple and I am as much trying to make the rhythm interesting while having a strong stepwise (and often repeating) melody.

Chromatic Passing Chords

The next thing to do is to add some chromatic chords. For the Am7 you could add two chromatic leading notes to the melody that you can harmonize by inserting a chord that is a going to slide into its target note from a half step below: You can play the slides like that or pluck both chords. The same but then descending where I am adding an Eb7 that moves down to D7 would be this: With these chromatic passing chords you can now make a much more interesting II V I lick like this: And as you can see I am just using the chords and melodies from the previous examples. How to work on this and get it into your playing. When you practice this then you should first just play through the exercises and get those into your fingers a bit. If you then use my examples as inspiration to make some II V I licks for yourself and from there move it into a song that you know. Remember that a great way to practice this is also to use that way of thinking and playing when you are comping, there you have more time to work with it and it doesn’t have to be so busy so you can really get the techniques and the melodies into your playing in a more natural way.

The b9 Guitar-hack

If you look at a D7(b9): D F# A C Eb  then that is really a F#dim with a D in the bass. This is useful because diminished chords are symmetrical so they are really really easy to move around on the guitar and that makes them perfect for chord solos. For the area of the neck that I am using that means that I have these voicings: This you could use in a II V I like this: On the D7 you can also use chromatic chords similar and here that means more dim chords which are nice and easy to play

A few more options for Gmaj7

Now we can have a look at what to do with the Gmaj7. Here are 3 voicings that will work really well. Notice that I am using a G6 to harmonize when the G is in the melody. This is also going to give us some more options in the next section.

Some Chromatic tricks for Gmaj7

There are few ways to add chromatic movement to a Gmaj7. The first one is a similar passing chord to the previous examples, but the second one is keeping some of the chords in one place and move the outer voices in half steps.

II V I lick with the new Chromatic voice-leading

If you put these to use in a II V on lick then that could be something like this:

Level up your chord soloing!

Summertime – Chord Solo

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Chord Solo – How To Make Melodies and find chords

How Do you play chord solos? It is something we hear people do all the time on our favorite records by Wes, Joe Pass or George Benson. But it does seem really complicated to do.

In this video, I am going to give you an example of an Easy Chord solo and then I am going to talk about how you can practice making your own solos. Another thing that you don’t want to miss is how working on this type of playing is something that can really boost your single-note solos.

  • Easy Chord Solo on Lady Bird
  • Exercises to Practice the chords in a melodic way
  • Some ideas on how to come up with melodies with them

The Chord Solo Transcription

First let’s check out the chord solo:

An important part of any solo is to play strong melodic ideas. If you listen to or play the chord solo you can hear several strong concepts being used in it.

Exercises for Chord Solos and Melody

When you improvise with chords then you can’t think about the voicings you play. You need to practice playing melodies and have the voicings ready. The way you learn to play melodies is by practicing doing that, but also by working on harmonized scales.

If you want to play this :

When you make exercises like this then keep in mind that you should use the voicings that fit for you. There are a lot of options available. A few alternative solutions are shown below:

Harmonizing a scale with Fm7 and Bb7 chords

To give you some more insight into the process here are the harmonizations of the Eb major scale using the Fm7 and Bb7 chords.

The Fm7 is pretty similar to the Cmaj7 example:

Above the Fm13 is a little tricky, but in this case, it is possible to harmonize that with an Fm chord.

On the Bb7 I am harmonizing the chords with the melody notes on the B string.

I do this with 3 note voicings because that makes it easier to combine these with 4-note voicings and make melodies that move across two strings.

A few thoughts on Melodic Structure

The solo is played thinking mostly of the melody I play. That is the best way to approach this way of playing in my experience.

If you listen to the first two bars you can hear a motif that is repeated and developed in bars 3 and 4.

The original motif is repeated in bars 5 and 6 and given a conclusion in bars 6 and 7.

Notice how the melodies are simple and step-wise. They also rely much more on rhythm than complex interval movements etc. This is, of course, a practical thing, but also an important part of why you want to play melodies like this and what you want to aim for.

Listen to Wes Montgomery for this type of melodic approach. Both with chords and single-note lines.

Repetition is also an important way to generate melodies. The Abmaj7 melody below demonstrates that quite clearly.

Learn more about Block Chards and Solos

Best Exercise for Chord Solos

Block Harmony and Block Chords

Take the solos up a level

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Get the PDF!

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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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