Tag Archives: Chord solos

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 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

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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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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!