Tag Archives: guitar solo tutorial

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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When You Really Know The Chords 

If you play Jazz then you need to know how to solo over jazz chords!

In this video, I am going to talk about how just assigning a scale to a chord is not really helping you play a better solo, but another approach which will make your solos sound a lot better.

There are many ways to think about a chord progression or a piece of music, but some of the common ways we break down harmony are really not helping if you want to learn how to solo over chord changes or Jazz Standards.

Locked in Thinking Scales

I have often come across students who spend a lot of time thinking about what scale goes where. This is also often what you will find phone apps say that they can figure out or in old Aebersold books.

Obviously it is nice to have a pool of notes to use when you are soloing and a scale is a practical thing that we can play.

And if you have to think about what scale you are playing you will not sound very good.

At the same time, 7 notes don’t really tell you a lot about how it sounds, you are not going to start all your lines on the root so it is far from a complete picture.

A lot of pieces have the same 7 notes happening all the time, but they don’t sound the same (think of 4 bars of Autumn Leaves). It is also difficult to know what to play out of those 7 notes that work well over the chord. There is more to it that will make it easier to play a good solo line.

Know the chords and How the Harmony moves

First, let’s look at what you need to know and a simple way to use that before I will get into some very useful soloing concepts. So this is what you need to know and then I’ll talk about a few ways to use it.

If you know the chords and the notes in the chords you can also see how each note in the chord moves from one chord to the next, but that is only possible if you really have a good overview of it and can voice-lead from one chord to the next.

You can figure out the Target notes that you want to emphasize in your solo since they are mostly chord tones and often you can look at notes that are not in the previous chord. ‘

This already helps you play something that connects with the chords and is clearly following the harmony.

Voice-leading for melodies and solos!

In the video, I also demonstrate how Voice-leading phrases is a great way to generate lines and something you want to have in your system.

This becomes a tool to really tie together different phrases and make youse solo a more complete musical whole.


0:00 Intro

0:37 Locked in Thinking Scales

0:52 Music is not just a Group of Notes

1:18 Autumn Leaves Example

2:10 Know the chords and how the harmony moves

2:26 Getting the Overview – Understanding a Chord Progression

3:03 I Remember You Example

3:30 Not just what the notes are but also how the voices move

4:38 Using Voice-leading in Comping and Soloing

4:53 Target Notes 3 examples

6:12 Voice-leading As A Melodic Tool

6:30 Moving Motifs with the harmony

7:29 One way to Practice this

7:53 Going through the progression

8:40 Example – Solo Using the Simple Exercise

9:09 Analyzing the Solo on the song – 3 ways of using voice-leading in a solo

10:44 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

When you start soloing over chord changes in Jazz then the first concern is often what to play over each chord. Of course, that is important, but maybe the most difficult part is how to play it, so that is what I want to focus on in this video:

How to play from one chord to the next in any chord progression

A Method that helps you play better solos not just fragments

And this is really because I found that to be such a huge difference for my own playing and it is time and time again what makes my students play lines that really connect with the changes and makes their solos sound much stronger and more natural.

In this lesson, I am going to quickly go over a progression and some chords, then find some target notes and talk about how you put those two things together to start creating some solid logical solo lines.

Here’s a basic II V I in C major.

Let’s keep it really simple: I am going to focus on playing from Dm7 to G7, so the first part of a II V I progression.

The progression is in C, so we don’t really need more than the C major scale: C major. As I have talked about in some of my other videos it is really useful(or necessary) to know the arpeggios for each of the chords etc.

Understanding the chord movement and how to play it

If you play from Dm7 to G7 then the most important note to change is the C in Dm7 moving to B in G7.

The is something we can use as a target note. If you want to play a solo that sounds like a logical melody and really connects well with the changes then using the B as a target note is a great choice.

So the idea is that if we play the B on beat 1 of the G7 bar then you can hear the chord change in the line.

One of the most important things to be able to do in music in general and jazz especially is thinking ahead. If you know you want to play a B on G7 then you can improvise a melody on Dm7 that leads into the B.

You can hear how it works here:

Solo Over Chord Changes- How Tor Practice

If you want to use this then you need to practice making lines on Dm7 moving to B., Of course, you can change to other target notes, I picked B because that is a very clear note and easy to hear.

So if you practice making lines that work like this then you might get something like this:

I would suggest you sit down and just try to improvise or compose lines, so play out of time but still think 8th notes so that you are working on being able to play lines from Dm7 to G7. As you work on this you get used to this way of thinking and you can easily implement it on other chord progressions as well. B-Roll – improvising rubato

I am of course using this on a II V I, but you can probably see how this will work on any chord set. They don’t have to use the same scale or be in the same key. This works on any chord progression.

Choosing Target Notes to Improvise Towards

The easiest choice is to pick a note that was not there in the previous chord or scale, so here I use B. If it was an altered dominant I could have taken a b13 or a b9 as well since they are not strong notes on Dm7 (or Cmaj7 for that matter)

For the res,t the 3rd is usually very clear, and often the 5th is too. In the beginning, you want to pick clear notes so that when you play a solo line without comping you can still hear the harmony change. This is really useful for your ears and helps you play a lot stronger solos.

Example on Take The A-Train

Another example: Take The A-train. Going from Cmaj7 to D7(#11).

Example one: Target note F# moving from C to D7.

Another good option for a target note is the melody note G#.

If you want to explore some other approaches that will help you improvise better solos and use other concepts than what I have covered here then check out this lesson where I am talking about improvising over chord changes but also how you might approach it in different ways:

3 ways to improvise over chord changes

Explore Target notes on Rhythm Changes

One of the most important strategies for soloing and how to learn that working on Rhythm Changes:

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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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