Tag Archives: jazz guitar arpeggios exercises

Jazz Guitar Licks With No Scales – This Is Why Its Great

The ingredients of most common approach to jazz guitar: Scales and Arpeggios. never thought I would hear myself say this, but you can make some really great lines by ignoring scales completely. This way of thinking is quite different from the idea of assigning scales to the chords the way we usually do. At the same time it is a traditional way of making lines and a very useful approach to changing things up.

The problem with too much scale movement

The way of making lines that I am going to cover here is at the very least helping you get rid of lines that sound as predictable and boring as this:

Of course in the long run you probably want to learn you scales just the same. It is better to have more options after all. I will talk about why later.

The George Benson Connection

I came across this way of making lines while analyzing a George Benson solo and I realized that if create lines with this concept you can make some really strong lines that don’t move in a predictable way but still make sense.

In this video I am going to show you how it works and how you can start experimenting with it in your own playing.

The basic concept: Triads and Leading notes

This is a really simple concept. Instead of making lines with scales and arpeggios (my entire system for guitar just fell apart) then we can also just think in simple triad arpeggios and leading notes. So Lines are constructed by having triad tones as targets and adding small melodies of leading notes that point towards those triad tones.

The Chord and The Progression

For this lesson I am going to focus on how to use this on a II V I in Bb major, and especially the Cm7 in that progression!

Cm Triad and leading notes – Two Exercises

So the way the melodies are made are from using the simple triads for example: Cm. The basic material I am using is an enclosure and a leading note on a Cm triad like this:

Putting the idea to use in a II V I lick

And an example of a line using this could be something like this:

Above the triad targes are first Eb, then a low G and finally a C. The beginning of the F7 line is also using a chromatic enclosure to move to the 3rd.

The big advantage to Chord and Leading notes approach

What is liberating is that when we play like this then it often works to just jump from one place to the next and you don’t have to think so much about the direction of the scale run or arpeggio run, and because it is using a very basic arpeggio then the leading note melodies make a lot of sense.

Here’s another example on a II V I. Again using chromatic approach phrases to move to both Cm7 and F7 chord tones.

Of course there are also some things that this doesn’t do, and I would not only use this way of playing as a total approach to everything, but it is a nice way to come up with some lines that sound different and still work with the chords. Using this method to create lines with more more extensions gets a little difficult because the extensions also want to sound like leading notes and the leading notes for the extensions are often chord tones.

This example is using one of the lines that Benson uses a lot on the dominant. It is in fact a Parker lick that Benson learned.

How to work on this approach

So the best way to work on this is to mix it with another approach. This is also what George Benson does in his solo. I will link to my video analyzing this in the description of this video.

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Herbie Hancock Voicing = Awesome Huge Arpeggio on Guitar

The amount of notes and colors that you can add to chords on piano is always making guitar players jealous. But in this Herbie Hancock Guitar Lesson I am going to take the Herbie Hancock Voicing for a m11 chord and show how you can transform it into a great arpeggio with a huge range and a lot of nice colors. In the process you also get a Herbie Hancock Guitar Chord that you can use for maj7 chords or m11 chords and taking this further to create some other arpeggios and chord voicings for other chords.

Learning things from Piano or other instruments

This lesson is as much about applying material from piano than it is about this specific voicing.

Learning and using material from other instruments is a very important part of Jazz. Jazz is a genre that is not dominated by one type of instrument, and different instruments have a leading role throughout Jazz history, just look at the shift from Alto to Tenor with Parker to Coltrane. The guitar is a little late to the game even if it has gradually become one of the most influential instruments in Jazz since the 1970’s.

The Herbie Hancock m11 voicing

The Herbie Hancock voicing can be seen as a poly chord. If you play it on piano then the left hand is playing an Am triad (as a spread triad) and the right hand is playing a 2nd inversion G major triad.

This gives us these pitches:


Which is an Am7(9,11) chord.

The chord is shown in example 1 both as a complete 6 note chord and a more playable version that leaves out the root.

Construction of the Piano Voicing

The best way to understand this is to look at it as consisting of two parts (similar to left and right hand on the piano)

The lower part is this Am spread triad or open-voiced triad. 

And the upper part, a G major triad.

Turning the voicing into an arpeggio

While it is difficult to really play this chord on the guitar it is very possible to turn it into an arpeggio and use it as an interesting melody with a large range.

The easiest way to do that is probably to play it one note per string, as shown below in example 4.  I have added an extra D on top because I like the sound of it.

Putting the Herbie Hancock Arpeggio to use

Now that we have a great Am7 arpeggio it is easy to put it to use in a II V I in G major like this:

Creating more Arpeggios and Chords

The first thing to try todo to create some more variations of the arpeggio is probably to understand it as a part of a scale. This allows us to move it around as a diatonic structure and hopefully find some other great sound and playable arpeggios.

In doing so then it makes sense to start with the lower part. Here are the 3 string versions of the open-voiced triads. With this I think the low and the high G major are both a bit tricky, but it depends on how you sit and your guitar.

Diatonic Transposition #1 – Cmaj7(#11) chord

The first thing to try is to move up the arpeggio a diatonic 3rd. This is shown in Example 7.

This yields a Cmaj7(9#11): C G E F# B D

and an interesting Cmaj7(9#11) chord voicing (2nd half of the 1st bar)

Diatonic Transposition #2 – D7(#11) chord

Repeating this process and moving it up to D7. When you do that strictly in the scale you have a D7 with an 11, a G and that is not the nicest note to have on a D7. One way to fix this is to make it a #11. Changing the G into a G# gives us this arpeggio and another interesting new chord voicing (at least I didn’t know it)

Changing the Arpeggio and making it more playable

The lower part of the arpeggio is very difficult to play, so it makes sense to try to change that for another structure. Similar to the Kenny Barron voicing the lower part could be a quintal chord (also known as a stack of 5ths)

Implementing this change on the Cmaj7 and using an Esus4 triad as an upper-structure yields this arpeggio:

And a similar idea using the D quintal arpeggio and an F#dim(sus4) arpeggio creates this arpeggio:

Explore more and put it to use

I hope you can take this idea and use it in your own playing. Try to mess around with different arpeggio and chord ideas and let us know what you come up with either here or on the YouTube video!

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Every Arpeggio in the Known Universe

This video is an overview of different types of arpeggios and how they sound. The Arpeggios are demonstrated in 7 different licks to give you an idea about how they could be used.

Are you an Arpeggio master? Do you know all the different types of arpeggios and how to use them in your playing? The Arpeggio is a very important tool when it comes to jazz and jazz guitar.

Demonstrating arpeggios in a musical context

This video is going over a lot of different types of arpeggios. Showing how you might using them in different licks. Applying the arpeggios in a musical context is a much stronger way to apply them in my opinion.

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro – Are you an arpeggio master?

0:22 Did I miss one? 0:43 Example 1 – Basic Arpeggios

1:14 Example 2 – Diatonic arpeggios and the “from the 3rd rule”

2:05 Example 3 – Harmonic minor?

3:24 Example 4 – Not always 4 notes and a little Melodic minor

4:16 The triads we forget to check out

4:34 Example 5 – Not always 3rd based

5:41 Example 6 – Larger intervals like the Police!

6:45 The Magic Arpeggio!

7:38 Example 7 – Three notes but not a triad

8:42 Another great sound from Melodic minor

9:22 What did I forget?

9:35 Like this video? Check out my Patreon Page.