Tag Archives: Chord solos

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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Top 5 Jazz Books that I have learned a lot from!

“What books or methods do you recommend for learning jazz” is one of the questions that I get all the time on my videos and on social media. Everybody is looking for good Jazz Books!

I usually don’t really answer the question because for me books have been one of many ways I have studied and I have never worked through a method from cover to cover. There are many aspects of learning jazz and absorbing the information, and taking it from a book is only one way and not the path you can use for learning a lot of things. 

That said there are of course books that I have had a lot of fun with and learned a lot from. In this vlog I will try to talk about some of them and also talk about what I have learned and how I have used them. This way of approaching the usefulness of a book is often overlooked in my opinion. 

The Jazz Books

Charlie Parker Omnibook


  The Charlie Omnibook is a must for checking out Bebop! You just can’t go wrong with that one!

Kreutzer Etudes


  I have learned a lot from figuring out and practicing these etudes. This book is about making music with your technique but also about using your fretboard knowledge to be able to play them in the first place.

Ted Greene – Modern Chord Progressions


  Ted Greene could make music like no one else with chords. His use of different types of chords and always making the harmony flow in a great melodic way is certainly worth a study!

Joe Pass – Guitar Style 


Learning bop language is a tricky business on guitar, but who better to learn it from than Joe Pass?

Mick Goodrick – The Advancing Guitarist


The ideas and methods illustrated in this book are a huge part of my playing. In this book it is a good thing that most of the material covered you have to work out yourself.


The honourable mention:

Joe Pass – Chord solos


  Again Joe Pass is the one we turn to when you have to learn something really difficult. This time it is chord soloing!