Tag Archives: how to play jazz solos on guitar

How To Make It Sound Like Jazz – Great Embellishments

In this lesson, I am going to show you some techniques and ways to play simple phrases that make them sound more like Jazz. There are some very common phrasing techniques in Jazz Guitar that are a huge part of the sound, and you can quite easily start adding them to your playing if you want to work on your Jazz phrasing.

I am going to go over how you might play them and also give you some good examples of how they can be added to a line.

In the lesson, I will show you how to get better sounding lines by adding them to a basic Cmaj7 arpeggio, and while I was preparing this video I was actually quite surprised about how they really give you a lot of sounds, especially some of the longer embellishments at the end of the video.

Slides (and the triplet trick)

The basic Cmaj7 arpeggio can be played as is shown below.

I am also going to play it with a leading note and then making it a triplet which is also a very bebop thing to do, which is shown in the following bar.

Adding a Slide to the top-note

One of the easiest ways to get this slightly boring arpeggio to have a little more life is to use slides, so you can slide into the top note, which serves as a sort of target for the arpeggio when you use the triplet.

Notice how I play the notes at the end of the phrases short most of the time, that is also a way to connect with the groove and make the lick sound better.

This is a big part of Wes Montgomery’s phrasing vocabulary like this from his solo on Unit 7. which is a Gm(11) arpeggio over a C7 chord

Delaying the target note

Chromatic passing notes are great for getting things to sound like Jazz, and this is a quite simple way to make that work on the Cmaj7 arpeggio. As I said before, the “target note” of the arpeggio is the B, and delaying this works really well:

Sometimes you will get told that chromatic leading notes have to be on the offbeat and resolve back on the beat. As you can hear in this example that is not true, but don’t take my word for it, ask Charlie Parker:

Above you can see how Parker uses a leading note on the beat. In bar 2, beat 4 and in bar 6, beat 3 and 4.

Turns

The names for embellishments like this are a little open, so sometimes what I am calling turns here are also called trills and slurs. It’s like chord symbols, just try to figure out what is meant and don’t worry about it.

For this video, a turn is more or less a short faster phrase with notes close to a target note. The examples will make it easier to understand what I mean.

There are a few ways you can add turns to this arpeggio.

Turn #1 – 16th note pull-off

The first variation is shown here below:

The easiest way to work on this is probably to play the scale with the turn on one string like this:

Turn #2 – 16th triplet – Mid Phrase

The 16th note triplet is also a good way to get into this. It should be executed with a quick hammer-on/pull-off and is a very common and very effective way to break things up.

Turn #3 – 16th triplet – Begin Phrase

Another way you can use this embellishment is at the beginning of a phrase.

That is what I am doing in the example below, think of it as a way of sending off the arpeggio. The line continues with a slide to the high B.

Joe Pass using “Double Turns”

To give you an example of how this is used by jazz artists, here is a lick from Joe Pass on a II V I in D major.

Pass uses the turns in the 2nd half of the A7 bar, and the last turn is used to introduce a b13 and create a little tension before resolving to Dmaj7.

Take It To a Song and Into Your Playing!

Take The A Train – Bebop Embellishments

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The Most Important Solo Tools For A Maj7 Chord

Sometimes it is hard to come up with something that inspires you when you are improvising a jazz solo. There are a lot of things you can use if you want to improvise over a maj7 chord, and in this video, I am going to give you some of my favourites terms of arpeggios, triads, pentatonics and a few special tricks as well.

You should have a lot of things to start working with at the end of this video, and most of it is really just a new way to use the things you already know.

Focus on how it sounds because I think that is how you are going to be inspired by it, and I will also give you some other tips on getting new ideas that are not only about what notes to play.

Cmaj7 – You can always get more out of this!

The basic material in this video is this chord, the C major scale.

And the one Cmaj7 octave arpeggio

Chromaticism – Pure Bebop

A great way to tap into Jazz as a sound and getting this type of melodies into your playing is to use chromaticism.

The example below has two short lines using different chromatic enclosures and a melody build around a Cmaj7 chord. You can check out more information on different types of chromatic enclosures here: 5 chromatic enclosures

There are more examples in this lesson: 10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

Be creative! Don’t just run up and down arpeggios

Very often when I listen to a great line and check out what it is and how to use it. Often I find that the melody is actually a basic arpeggio melody. Below are some examples of lines like this that I have come across.

You can use a variation of the Rosenwinkel melody like this:

You can also experiment with inventing melodies playing patterns with a one octave arpeggio. Try to mess around and see if you find something that sounds like an interesting melody.

Em7 – Don’t Box yourself in, you are missing out

The Em7 arpeggio is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of Cmaj7.

If you look at the notes of Cmaj7: C E G B – and look at the notes of Em7: E G B D you can see that they share most of the notes and the Em7 adds a D, the 9th of C. That makes it a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7.

In fact the arpeggio found on the 3rd of the chord works great for most chords.

Sometimes you miss great melodies because the focus is on learning in a position, in a scale or in some other shape. This example using an Em7 arpeggio is branching out of the regular patterns and making specific melodies a lot easier to play.

Gsus4 – Not Obivous and Very Cool

The thing with the sus triads is that they sound a little less obvious and that is why they are great to use once in a while. In this first example I am using the Gsus4 triad to make a 5-note group that I can repeat before continuing, another way to change things up in a solo: odd-note groupings.

Another way to play the notes of the Gsus4 triad is this beautiful C quintal arpeggio that is the perfect way to add some larger intervals to your lines. In this case, I am combining it with a sus4 triad which is another great tool on a Cmaj7.

The Esus4 triad is really useful (leave this clip out?)

Esus4 – Complete Chord And some Color!

The Esus4 is really the complete chord, it has an E and a B so the 3rd and 7th of Cmaj7 and also the 13th: A adding some color. Here I am using it as a 3-note grouping and again taking advantage of sus4 triads being less obvious so that it is easier to repeat them in a melody without it getting boring.

Em pentatonic – Quartal Cmaj7 licks

The Pentatonic scale is very closely related to the sound of quartal harmony, and since it is a scale that we guitarists are usually very familiar with then it is a great place to find some interesting lines.

Practicing the pentatonic scale in the way shown below can help you explore melodies similar to what I use in the example.

Triad Pairs

This triad pair works fantastic for Cmaj7, besides that they are also what I used to make the most annoying picking exercise I ever cam up with…. (B-roll) and the way I usually improvise with triad pairs is by chaining together inversions to get different colors on top of the chords. This has a sound that is different from other types of melodies and still produces very strong melodies.

Putting these concepts in a song

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How To Make Jazz Licks From Easy Chord Shapes

When you use the chord shapes you play to make solo lines you can access a lot of very useful material. The Link also helps your solos in other ways because it makes it easier to use the chords to tie together several phrases.

In this lesson, I am going to go over this approach with some easy chord shapes and show you how you can apply this to a song and also how you can put it to use on complicated progressions like Giant Steps.

Setting up this Jazz Solo Lesson

To show you how easy this is I am going to take the first 8 bars of Take The A-train, make some easy voicings and use them to make some lines. (here we go)

Finding Voicings for a Solo

A simple way to play the chords of Take The A-train with basic jazz chords could be:

To make them more useful for solos then it makes sense to take away the root and turn them into more compact 3-note voicings:

Examples making lines on a Cmaj7

Now you have some chord voicings and you can start working on turning them into solo lines. The concept is really simple, the melody is using the notes of the chord and adding notes around it from the scale.

These two examples are just basic ways to turn the rootless Cmaj7 voicing into a line by using the voicing and some of the notes around the voicing.

Another example could be this one:

Notice how the lines are different from what you normally will end up with if you use scales and arpeggios.

Playing a Solo based on the Chords

Turning this into a complete solo is really just following the same principle

First, let’s have a look at how the lick is constructed and then I can show you how that works in connecting the lines.

Voice-leading Jazz Licks

The big advantage is that now you have a melody based around the 3-note chord and for the next chord you can use the same lick and just move it to that voicing. In that way you are voice-leading the entire thing. This is exactly what I do in example 3 on the Cmaj7-D7 chords.

Voicings as more interesting melodies

If you use this technique on a II V I with common voicings like the ones shown below, then you can get some really great fresh sounding melodies.

The melody is really just arpeggiating the Dm7 shape, but because the voicing has the 9th(E) in there then we get a nice maj7 interval in the melody.

If you think about this then it is as much a question of learning songs to improvise on and then use the chords as a way of getting some solo material as well

A Practical approach to turnarounds

A basic way to play a turnaround in C could be using the chords shown below.

This is easily turned into a lick, just playing the chord shapes and adding an occasional extra note here and there:

A Solid Strategy for Giant Steps

This is also a refreshing way to approach Giant Steps where you can get some new melodies using shapes that you already have in your fingers.

Using these shapes to play a lick could give you something like this:

With Giant Steps I think it really works well to also add melodies that are not only 8th notes, something that we play too often on changes like that.

Learning Songs to Solo on

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5 Ingredients Of The Best Jazz Phrases

This Jazz Solo Lesson is for you if all the lines in your solos are just a sequence of “now I am playing an arpeggio” then “a bit of scale”. That is of course not that exciting to listen to. There is more to jazz lines and jazz melodies than just trying to put arpeggios and scales next to each other.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the ways that you can make more interesting melodies in your solos. It is all about surprising to the listener without just being weird and hard to understand.

In hindsight, this is a lesson I really wish I had when I was starting to learn Jazz and wanted to play better lines in my solos.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Less boring and predictable Lines in Your solos

0:57 #1 Breaking up Scale melodies – Adding a lower chord tone.

2:05 Example 2

2:52 #2 Breaking up Scale melodies – Chromaticism & Chord Tones

3:56 #3 Breaking up Scale Melodies – I can fit an entire arpeggio in here!

5:34 Example 2

6:10 #4 Benson’s Top-note melodies

7:37 Simpler Example

8:24 #5 Pedal Point Strategies

9:13 II V I Example

10:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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3 Things You Need to Improve in Your Jazz Solos

The fact that you need to improve something in your playing is not the end of the world. In this jazz solo lesson, I am going to discuss how you are able to spot problems and realize that it needs work. Then you can start looking for a good strategy to fix issues and get you on the path to becoming a better Musician.

This Jazz Solo Lesson is a little philosophical and going over 3 very common problems that I come across with students and with my own playing. I also discuss some of the strategies that you can apply to help solve the problem.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:12 Improving and learning is a part of playing Jazz

0:28 3 Common Problems and how you deal with them

0:52 #1 Overplaying

1:34 Good Taste?

2:15 A Solution (and Wes Montgomery)

2:58 Ideas for Exercises

3:28 #2 Timing – A problem with a few nuances

4:10 Authentic Re-enactment of bad timing

4:44 Ideas for Exercises and ways of working

5:40 #3 Playing The Changes

6:00 Identifying the problem

6:25 Ideas for exercises

7:24 Like The Video? Check Out My Patreon Page

Get your Timing and Practice sessions together

Rhythm is the most important part of Jazz, and a big part of having good rhythm is your ability to play in time and feel time. Check out some solid exercises in this playlist:

Metronome Practice – Tips and Tricks for Jazz Learning

If you want to check out more advice and ideas for your practice sessions and your journey to learn jazz guitar then check out this playlist:

Learn Jazz Guitar – Thoughts and Advice on how and what to practice

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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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