Tag Archives: jazz guitar lesson

Beginner Mistakes To Avoid: How To Solo Over Chords

There is a difference between how you think about chord progressions if you are a beginner and if you are more experienced, and that is something that is probably holding you back and making your solos sound like unconnected fragments instead of a real piece of music.

In this video, I am going to talk about how to fix that.

Great Bebop Etudes: Joe Pass – Guitar Style: https://geni.us/nTYWH

Better Fretboard Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_HZSUfOKwM&list=PLWYuNvZPqqcFeRNN2GxRUhISSieUyalLZ

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:20 Beginner Mindset – What Scale To use On Green Dolphin Street

01:14 What a Beginner Solo Then Becomes

01:51 Learning To Think Ahead And Play Towards Chords

03:01 Rhythm Changes

03:57 Target Notes

05:19 Zoom Out and See The Big Picture

06:20 The Next Level

06:27 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Simple Things To Play On A C7 That Sound Great

Sometimes it is great to have some things to fall back on when you are soloing. Stuff that you can easily get to sound good and that fits the chord, whether you solo on a song or on a Blues, you don’t want to run out of ideas or play something that doesn’t work.

In this video, I am going to show you some easy things to use on a C7 chord. Most of this stuff, you already know, I just want to show you how to tweak it and make it sound better.

Chromatic Shortcut

So we keep it simple, this C7 and this scale around it:

You probably know this way of adding chromatic enclosures around the notes of a chord where you use a diatonic note above and a chromatic note below. Joe Pass does this really often.

There is a way of using this that nobody really talks about, that really makes it sound so much better, I will get to that in a minute.

Like anything else, you should mix it with other things like the scale. Then you can make lines like this:

Here I have an enclosure around the G and the E, but this line sounds a little predictable and you can make it much more interesting if you turn around the enclosures:

so now I am skipping down to F# back up to A and then resolve to G, and the same thing happens on the E. This makes the line sound much more interesting and unpredictable but still has a natural flow.

So if you work on using enclosures then think about turning them around like I am doing here, that can really make a huge difference.

Make an Arpeggio Sound Amazing

Before I show you a visual trick that works great for dominant chords then you should check out this really useful concept that combines arpeggios, chromaticism and triplet rhythms.

If you have seen any of my videos then you have probably heard me talk about how you can use the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

For the C7 then you have the C7 arpeggio and from the 3rd, the E, then you have this Eø arpeggio.

This already gives you a lot of material, but an easy way to play this arpeggio so it sounds even better is to add some chromaticism around it and change the rhythm.

Here you add a chromatic leading note before the arpeggio, play the arpeggio as a triplet to add a little energy, and then also add some chromaticism going down from the top note.

And this works great for the Eø, George Benson does this all the time, but you can also do that from the root:

As you can see it is great to really know the diatonic arpeggios because a lot of them work on other chords, so if you want to check out some exercises for this then check out this video called The Most Important Scale Exercise For Jazz

Visual Triad and Quartal arpeggios

You probably know this as the top of a C7(13)

and a great visual connection is how this is diagonal across the strings and you can flip it around and then you have a C major triad.

and that is what I am using here, which sounds great and is pretty easy to play.

Let’s look at some another great arpeggio option

A Secret Arpeggio

One arpeggio, which is in fact another favorite of both Charlie Parker and George Benson, is using the arpeggio from the 7th of the chord, so for C7 that is a Bbmaj7 arpeggio. (filmed end of the examples no backing)

That is what I am using here, playing it as a triplet and putting it together with some basic scale melodies, typical bebop

But you can also connect it to a Gm triad like this:

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Get This Right About Everything You Practice

It is difficult to find time to practice and keep learning, so it is very important to not waste time with the things that you practice. Exactly what you practice is going to be different from person to person, but there are some useful questions that you can ask yourself about what you have in your guitar practice that will help you check that it will make sense to spend time on and is not a waste of time.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:28 Clear Goals

01:29 What Do I Need?

02:16 What Do I Learn?

02:44 The Right Way To Plan Practice

03:18 How Do I Practice Better?

03:30 Raw Material

04:02 Basic Application

04:30 Make Music With It

04:59 Going Through A Song

05:28 Use It Or Lose it!

05:58 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Practicing Scales – This Is Something Not To Miss

The way most of us were taught scales and practice scales is centered around positions. That is a good approach and you should work on knowing all the positions, but it is certainly not the only thing to check out.

In this lesson, I am going to show you some examples of things that sound great, are easy to play and are not in positions, and then also talk about how you practice towards playing like that.

Triads on a String Set

This is an example of something that clearly is pretty easy to play when you stick to the same string set. This type of melody is also something that is very repetitive and a specific sound, but later in the lesson, I will show you some other more open examples of this.

If you look at the advantages you can see that:

  • The Right Hand is consistent
  • Phrasing and the Polyrhythm is easy to bring out
  • It is using the same type of melody: Triads

Fake Metal version

Let’s first look at how this doesn’t work in a position and then I will also talk a little bit about how this should combine with positions and isn’t really instead of.

You can play this in a position as well, that would be something like this:

But here it is a lot less natural to get the consistent phrasing and just difficult to play. And this is a really clear example of something that works a lot better along the neck.

Positions – The Final Frontier

If you play a phrase like this then there is one thing that you do need to be aware of is that you have to be able to keep playing where you end up.

Even though it is cool for Star Trek (0:46) B-Roll To boldly go where no-one has gone before it is not practical for guitar solos if you end up in a place where you don’t know what to play.

So you do want to know your positions and have that overview of the neck as well.

Practicing Efficient Things

So what do you practice to play something like the first example (B-roll of Example 1a maybe slow mo?)

It is not enough to just work on the scale on one string like this:

But as you can see the example is made from diatonic triads from 2 scales: G major and D altered.

So you can practice those like this:

and the altered scale is also really useful, like this:

For these exercises, I am really consistent with my right hand, and as you will see that is one of the big benefits of playing like this: It gets easy and consistent for the right hand.

Besides playing the arpeggios you also get to dive into the diatonic harmony of the scales which is really useful for having more things you can use in solos

And once you know the exercises then it becomes a lot easier to work on other similar licks like this one:

Besides the triads, there is another similar type of melody which is 10 times as easy to play if you give the right-hand priority I will get to that later but first let’s look at another way where moving around the neck gives you more options when it comes to creating strong melodies.

Motivic Shifting

This phrase is on a Dm7 Bb7 Cmaj7, so Subdominant, minor subdominant, tonic in C major.


 

The melody is a motif on the Dm7 and the motif is repeated and developed on the Bb7 to then resolve to C. Using that you can have a Dm melody and an Fm melody on the Bb7.

Because the phrase is shifting the motif up the neck then it is easy to keep the phrasing and in that way make the motivic development clearer while still changing things and adding to it. If you played it in one position then you would lose some of the phrasings and also make it much more complicated to move the motif.

 

Strict Arpeggio Tricks

Another place where you can benefit from having using a specific way to play arpeggios and move around the neck is to stick with a pattern similar to what I am doing in this example:

Here the Cmaj7 and Am7 arpeggios are played as 1-1-2 arpeggios which makes it easy to put them after each other.

1-1-2 Arpeggios are arpeggios with the four notes spread out so that the first two strings have 1 note and the last string has 2 notes.

To explore stuff like this it can be really useful to practice your arpeggios in diatonic 3rd distance like this

 

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II V I – You Need To Practice This For Solos

The II V I progression is probably the most common chord progression in Jazz. In this video, I am going to go over some of the basic things that you need to practice and also how you take those basic tools and turn them into great material for a solo.

So that you can improvise over the chord changes so that your solos sound like Jazz and not just noodling in a scale.

What is a II V I?

If you look at the key of C major (play the scale)

then for each note in the scale you have a chord, this is what we call diatonic chords and for C major you have these chords:

(add the roman numerals on screen)

The II V I is a chord progression that starts on II (Dm7) goes to V(G7) and resolves to (I) Cmaj7. So the II V I is a short progression to take us to the C major.

If you play the chords of a II V I a little closer together you could get something like this:

Next, let’s look at some exercises you can do on the progression to give you something to solo with.

How To Solo Over A II V I – Basic Arpeggios

When you improvise in Jazz then you are playing melodies that are related to the chords that are in the song. That means that if you have a chord progression like a II V I then you want to know the melodic version of the chords, which is the arpeggios.

That means that a great exercise is to practice those arpeggios on the chord progression. Something like this:

Notice that I am playing the arpeggios as one-octave arpeggios in the same position, that is an easy way to practice these and especially easy to connect them to a chord progression.

Making Scale Practice Useful and Practical

Practicing scales and arpeggios directly on a piece of music is super useful to get an idea about how they sound in context and when to use them in a solo. It’s a great exercise whenever you want to learn a song or learn to use something on a song.

If you solo with the arpeggios then that clearly connects with the chord changes, so already with these arpeggios, you can make strong licks like this:

The trick is to make sure that you really bring out the notes of the chord, and here I make the change of the chord extra clear because I put a not on the 1 of the bar which was not in the previous chord, so the B on G7 and the E on the Cmaj7.

The Most Important Scale Exercise

The way I am playing the arpeggios as one-octave melodies is something that you can practice on a scale. If you do that then you are working on being able to play all the arpeggios in that scale in one place and you are pretty much ready to do the previous exercise for any progression.

Later in the lesson, I will show you why this exercise quickly becomes a gigantic short cut to having much more material on any chord you want to solo on.

Use The Scale As Well

As you could see at the beginning of this video, the whole progression is in the key of C major, and if you want to solo then you can use the arpeggios but you can, of course, also use the rest of the notes in the scale, so before we start to add some Bebop tricks then we need the rest of the notes:

 

Again it makes sense to practice this on the progression and hear how it relates to the chords, and you can do that in a very easy way by adding scale notes around the arpeggios from example 4

Like this, you can still hear the scale over the chord, and you still have the chord tones as the important notes because they are on the beat. (Highlight in the example maybe just on the Dm7 bar)

Now you can make a lick like this:

So there are more options with melodies, and the chord tones are still used, especially on the heavy beats of the bar: beat 1 and 3 which still makes it pretty clear how the solo relates to the chord.

Chromatic Notes (Bebop Made Simple)

Besides playing lines that are spelling to the changes then using chromatic notes in your solos is another part of the Jazz sound.

You can put up complicated rules for this, but you can also just try to start making lines and adding a chromatic note before a chord tone like this:

Here the chromatic notes are before a chord tone to help pull the melody forward and also really connect with the chords.

  1. First C# before the D
  2. A# to go to B on G7
  3. D# to E on Cmaj7

You can also see how the chromatic notes are used to really make the change of chord clear

And you can also use chromatic approach notes to other notes that give you a sound like this:

Here you have some chromatic notes scale notes, not chord tones, and also some places where I am using a chromatic note to delay the note, for example at the beginning of the G7 bar.

More Amazing Arpeggio Ideas.

As I said earlier if you practice the arpeggios in the scale then you get access to a lot more material, in fact, more than twice as much.

Let me show you an example:

If you look at a Cmaj7 arpeggio or chord then the notes are:

C E G B

When you solo on it then a line using the arpeggio sounds good because you are playing the same notes as the one playing the chords.

Since C E G B sounds good then the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord works as well because that is mostly the same notes:

C E G B

   E G B D

This trick you can do for all the chords in the II V I and then you get this exercise:

And you can take this material and make a lick like this:

And here I am using Fmaj7, Bø, and Em7 on the II V I, but you can also mix in the original arpeggios and there are a lot of options.

The Jazz Guitar Roadmap

My new online course is a great way to get started learning Jazz guitar, you can build your skills going through a step-by-step method.

✅ An organized approach for practicing and learning Jazz Guitar

✅ How to get you started playing solos that sound like Jazz

✅ What you need and how you start coming up with Jazz lines

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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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One Thing That Will Make Your Solos A Lot Better

There is a trap that you can fall into when it comes to practicing. Usually, we spend a lot of time learning songs and trying to hit the right notes in your jazz solo, but it can be very a huge problem if you only take your playing to that stage. That is not where the music is, there is a lot more that you need to develop to sound great when you are improvising, but most of it is fairly easy to improve if you are aware of it and focus on it in your practice routine, as you will see in this jazz guitar lesson.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

01:02 Metheny Practicing

03:07 Parker Thinks The Same

05:07 Practice Practice Practice

06:03 Telling Better Stories in Your Solos

06:30 Use Different Building Blocks

08:30 This video didn’t teach you anything

08:57 How to Connect Phrases 

10:09 Develop your skills

10:16 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

 

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10 Chord Melody Intros You Need To Know

It doesn’t really matter if you are playing chord melody arrangements by yourself or if you are in a band. Being able to play a great sounding intro to a song and really set up the listener for a piece of music is very practical.

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Content: 

00:00 Intro

00:55 The Turnaround – The Perfect Intro

02:43 #IV – All of Tonal Harmony (almost..)

04:42 Modal Interchange and Beautiful Colors

06:49 Pedal point – Creating Tension

08:23 II V chain – Minor Cadence movement

10:25 Melodic Pedal Point

12:04 Start On A Tritone Substitution

14:00 Sus4 Pedal point

14:58 Lady Bird Turnaround – Modal Interchange

16:26 Phrygian Intro – Pretend to be another key

18:38 Complete Chord Melody Arrangement to Check out

18:45 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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How To Make Your Own Bebop Licks

You already know that Jazz lines use arpeggios and chromatic phrases, but at the same time just knowing that doesn’t mean your lines sound like Bebop, and you don’t want to only play other peoples licks that you transcribed. You need to study phrases and learn how to create and hear those types of lines.

That is what I will show you how to do in this video.

Most of us already practice arpeggios and chromatic passing notes, but one thing is going over exercises another is to put it together and actually use it in your solos. As you will see in this video, One of the best ways to do that is to check out what makes up a strong lick and practice making lines with what you find. In this video, I am going to give you some examples and break them down so that you can take some things away and start using that to get some stolid bop lines into your vocabulary.

And when you strip down the lines then it is pretty amazing how simple they are!

Lick #1

Understanding How a Bebop Lick Works

This is a basic Bebop G7 lick, and it may seem very complicated, but it is really just built around a G7 and a Dm7 arpeggio:

Let’s break it down and then I will show you how you can start playing lines like this yourself:

The first part is a way of adding leading notes moving from F to D in the G7 arpeggio

You can see how the melody is moving from E via Eb down to D, and I am using the G as a chromatic note in between F and E. This is btw a Barry Harris trick.

So moving from F to D becomes F G E Eb D

The Eb to D is played with a pull-off because that gives and accent to the Eb leading note, that is more interesting, and the (boring) resolution is naturally a bit softer.

I am using the same principle between the B and C and inserting a D

Then you have the next part of the G7 arpeggio: G and F

From there the next part is a Dm7 arpeggio with an enclosure around the first note using a scale or diatonic note above and a chromatic note below, E and C#.

The lick ends on the B, adding a grace note.

Making Your Own Licks

Right now it might seem like there are a lot of things happening, and I think that if you want to work on making licks in this way then it makes more sense to just take a single thing and make variations on that, so, for example, take the first phrase and then try to use that together with a G7 or a Dm7 arpeggio

something like this line with G7:

or if you combine it with a Dm7 arpeggio:

And you can also just take the first part of the line and combine that with a Bø arpeggio like this:

Practicing With Material Like This

1 Be able to play the line.

2 to make a line with that chunk and combine it with the scales and arpeggios you use.

And if you work on it like that then you will start to hear melodies with it can come up with great sounding licks of your own that use this.

Let’s have a look at another example and go over some more things you can use in your playing plus see other ways of using what I already covered.

Lick #2

More about how the viewer recognizes the structure?

Maybe you can already begin to see the structure.

The first part is a G major triad in 2nd inversion, followed by a scale run, an Fmaj7 arepggio, and two G7 arpeggio notes.

The G major triad is played in the 2nd inversion with a leading note before the first note.

You can get a lot of interesting melodies by just adding a chromatic leading note before an arpeggio or triad, and practicing this as scale exercises and exploring melodies with it is very effective. Think of melodies like Well You Needn’t or Night in Tunesia

Adding a chromatic passing note to the scale run between A and G

The next part is a descending Fmaj7 arpeggio with an added trill on the first note:

And finally two notes from the G7 arpeggio.

Analyzing Licks for New Vocabulary

Now you are probably beginning to see how you can also transcribe some of your favourite phrases from Joe Pass or Parker and then really try to understand what is being used in there and use this method to get that into your playing.

A huge part of improving our playing is actually figuring out what it is we like and what we need to change, and that is very difficult when you are on the inside looking out.

So now whenever you find something you like in a transcription you can analyze what is going on, and instead of only having a single technique you can copy/paste, you can now start to make it a method for thousands of variations that you can use to develop your own bebop vocabulary.

Let’s check out another lick and get some more things to work with!

Lick #3

This lick is mostly coming from scale melodies, but then you can add a lot of interesting twists and turns to make those more interesting to listen to, but you can already now see that there are some new tools in there that you can use in your own playing.

So, as you can see, then removing the embellishments leaves 3 pretty simple building blocks:

Which is two scale melodies and two notes from the arpeggio

The first part is adding a trill and a leading note around the first D, using hammer-on pull-off to play the fast 16th note triplet and the fast notes really add a lot of energy to the line.

The next technique is one of my favourites, and it is great for making a scale run sound a lot better! Here I am first inserting a low A in between the F and the E, it is similar to the way I use the G in example 1, but adding this large interval below sounds great.

I follow it up with another chromatic leading note between E and D

The next scale run is another example of how you can get a great sound out of adding a lot of passing notes in a line. Here it is also really changing the direction of the line and making it much more playful and surprising.

Chromatic note from D to C, Chromatic note above between C and B, and an extra leading note below the B.

And then finally two arpeggio notes to still nail the sound of the chord

More Bebop Vocabulary

If you want to build your bebop vocabulary and play more interesting lines then check out some this download:

Take The A Train – Bebop Embellishments

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Pentatonic Scale vs Arpeggios – Focus on The Right Things

What to focus on when learning Jazz Guitar: The Pentatonic Scale, that you know or the arpeggios that everybody keeps talking about? It is difficult to make the right choice, but you also want to get it right so that you don’t practice something that won’t help you get what you want from playing Jazz!

This is a very common question in YouTube comments and my Facebook group.

Surprisingly the answer is not that simple, because it is really about what You think is important and what you want to achieve, but it is still important that you make the right choice.

 

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:30 A Difficult But Important Choice

00:40 Pentatonic Scales – Start With What You Know

02:27 Chords That Don’t Fit With A Pentatonic Scale

02:54 What Do You Think?

03:23 A Jazz Lick with Pentatonic Scales vs A Bebop Jazz Line

04:46 How Most Jazz Musicians Think about Pentatonic Scales

05:55 Arpeggios – Directly Into The Jazz Vocabulary

06:24 Connecting To The Harmony

07:19 Jazz & Bebop Vocabulary

07:45 Which one is better?

08:25 Getting more out of Pentatonic Scales!

08:30 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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