Tag Archives: Jazz Guitar Technique

How to Play Fast & Difficult Jazz Guitar Phrases

You probably feel that you get confronted with your technical limitations very often. I think we all do, which of course is also only a testament to the fact that we always try to take things to the limit of our abilities and expand that limit.

Playing fast phrases on guitar is difficult, and with bebop phrases this is even more difficult because the music contains very complicated lines and melodies in Jazz.

There are actually many ways to play fast phrases. I think this is sometimes a bit overlooked, and if you are aware of the options it can really solve a lot of problems in your playing. In this lesson I am going to discuss how you can use different kinds of technique to execute the first phrase of Donna Lee. What techniques work for you is something that only you can figure out, but you should be aware of them, so you can choose instead of banging your head against the wall in 

The Dreaded Donna Lee Theme with Alternate Picking

Donna Lee is one of the more busy bebop themes. It was originally credited to Charlie Parker, but I personally find it unlikely that he wrote it. Miles Davis is a more logical choice.

The main technique that I rely on is alternate picking and usually that is where I start when it comes to playing bebop themes like this.

Example 1 shows the first phrase of the theme:

The first place to start looking for a better way to play the theme is the embellishments, so the trills and the 16th note phrases in bars1 and 3.

Solving problems with legato technique

These are easier to execute and sound much more natural if you play them with legato.

Legato technique is probably the most common way to make it easier to play fast phrases. When I say legato in this context I am talking about hammer ons, pull offs and slides. So basically any technique that does not relying on striking the next note.

If we turn the two faster difficult phrases into something that we can loop it might look like this:

Legato Strategy for difficult lines

The way of finding a way to play phrases like this that I go over here is probably something you should end up getting to automatically. I rarely sit down and go over phrases with so much thought. It is as much about trying to hear the phrase on the instrument and then let your fingers translate what you hear into sound.

That said it can always be useful to check out some phrases and really think about ways to play them.

The idea here is to try to insert a pull off when transitioning from one string to the next. This will buy your right hand some time.

In example 3 I am doing this with by pulling off from the E to the Eb. This also helps phrasing since it gives the E an accent.

Legato Exercises

To practice mixing legato and picking you can do the exercises here below. The idea is to pick two notes in a 3 note per string scale.

Below is an ascending and descending set of scale exercises.

Slide – the forgotten legato technique

The next technique to add to the example is Slides. Using slides is something that is actually very common bu that is not taught very often.

A great place to use this is in bar 3 where it helps us get some time to move from the A string to the D string in the Dø arpeggio.

Economy Picking

Another way to make it easier for your right hand is to use economy picking. The Economy picking idea is that when possible you can move from one string to the next in one go by not alternate picking but sticking to one direction. 

In example 7 I have shown how to do this with the Donna Lee Theme.

Exercise for Economy Picking!

Below is an exercise demonstrating how to play an Ab major scale using Economy Picking. The idea is pretty simple, but take care with getting the timing right when you play it. Economy picking can very easily rush.

Moving the melody around

Sometimes you can solve a lot of problems by changing position while playing a phrase. This is really due to the fact that sometimes a part of a line like an arpeggio or a scale run can be difficult to do.

In the example belowthe F7 arpeggio in bar 2 is moved around so that the first note A is moved to the G string. In this case it actually makes the shift back a little tricky, but it does work.

Shifting to another place completely

One way to solve problems is of course also to play the theme in a different place on the neck. It is always a great exercise and in doing so you can also discover what is difficult or what might work better for the theme.

Below is the phrase written out starting on another string.

Find the solutions that work for you!

The key element here is for you to find ways of playing the phrases that work for you. A part of that process is of course to check out the techniques and realize what it available as I go over here, but you need to check out what works for you and also what works for others.

Check out how I play double time phrases in this solo

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise

Most great Guitar Players mix a lot of different techniques when they are playing, and if that is the end goal then the scale exercises you do should also contain that element!

In this lesson I am going to go over some ways to take simple exercises and use them to combine legato, alternate picking and sweeping or economy picking.

Technique and Scale Exercises are for sound

For me it is in the end much more about having techniques so that I can play the music that I want to play and get it to sound right and having a flexible technique in terms of legato and picking is very useful for this.

Technique is there to help me play the Music that I want to play with The Phrasing and Sound I want to hear!

The exercises in this video is My take on how this works it is important to remember that the best solution is for you to 

Find YOUR way of combining different techniques
incorporate it into your practice routine and playing

Basic Scale Exercise and a few options

Example 1 is a C major scale in the 8th position played with a 3NPS fingering.

In the video I play it with alternate picking:

You can do this mixing with legato as well. Let’s do that like this: Down Up Hammer-on:

and of course you can also do Down Hammer-on UP:

 Technique priorities – what to choose

The way I think about this is no that it has to sound the same, different techniques sound slightly different and when I play I am going to use the technique that is playable or easy AND that sounds the best.

The goal is to use the different sounds and dynamics of the technique in our phrasing

So it doesn’t have to sound the same!

Actually you make choices on this already with the exercises.

Here’s the scale in 3rds with alternate picking:

And you can try to add as much legato as possible by doing this:

But somehow it’s nice to have one more picked note to get it to sound a little more natural:

With all of these exercises I am choosing the approach and techniques that I like and that fits to me, but of course this is different from person to person so you might find that other combinations work better for you. The important thing is to make sure you can play it in time and that you get the phrasing or sound that you like.

Adding Economy picking to the mix

Of course you can also work with sweeping or economy picking, When playing arpeggios this becomes very practical. For example with diatonic triads.

And we can combine all of it in an exercise like this with triads up one down the next 

It is up to your imagination and you get to challenge yourself and develop your ability to mix

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:

This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise – PDF

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.

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it!

You may think that this is a guitar technique video about major scales, but there is more to scale practice than moving your fingers. Most musicians study major scales as part of their practice routine. In this video I want to talk about what you want to learn, what you need it for and how you use it to build on when making music. Hopefully you can recognize and maybe re-shape your practice and connect things more.
 For a lot of you this may be a big check list that you can cross a lot of stuff off on, but it will also give you some new ideas on where to go and connect the things you already know. I may give you the advice to learn a bit of theory.

List of Content:

0:00 Intro – What you need to know, what is going to make you play better

0:18 It’s more than moving your fingers

0:57 Step 1 – Learn the scale on your instrument

1:07 Learn the notes of the scale

1:31 Combine The theory and the scale practice

1:50 Learn the Fretboard using the scales

2:29 How knowing the notes helps in a solo and how you use it

3:26 Step 2 – Learning the Diatonic Chords and Arpeggios

3:39 The chords are in the scale

3:58 Construction Diatonic arpeggios in the scale Cmaj7 and Dm7

4:32 What you need to know about the diatonic harmony

5:19 Knowing the notes of the chords in the scale and using that.

6:01 The 7th chords in Jazz and the Triads

6:30 Triads and how they are built

6:47 Triads in Jazz: Upper-structure triads and how they are used

6:56 Em triad as upper-structure on a G7

7:24 Step 3 – Beyond the Basics

7:44 The “Diatonic” Minor Pentatonic scales – Modern Jazz Sounds

8:11 The three Pentatonic scales

8:45 Connecting knowledge to understand the pentatonic scales

9:01 Super-imposing Pentatonic scales on Extended chords

9:32 Example of how to relate a pentatonic scale to a Cmaj7 chord

10:00 Improvising with the super-imposed scale

10:32 Quartal 3-part arpeggios

10:47 Playing the arpeggios and Quartal chords in the scale

11:02 The mysterious chords and how we use them

11:33 How to use the Quartal Arpeggios in your playing

11:56 Example of analyzing some chords against a Cmaj7

12:45 The Many other subsets, arpeggios and structures to work with

13:25 What you need to learn and use!

14:00 Do you have a favourite scale exercise or approach?

14:48 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

My Guitar Practice Routine 2017 – Technique: Open Triads, Quartal Arpeggios

We need to work on guitar technique, but at the same time, it is important not to get stuck with the same guitar technique exercises day after day. Having an ever-varying technique routine is a better way to help you prepare for jazz improvisation and practice guitar effectively.

Since my video on things you should include in your guitar practice routine. This video is discussing the Guitar Technique part of a practice schedule and is just an overview of what I work on. It is my version of the best way to practice guitar, but it is of course not the only way.

Some of the topics I cover are:
0:00 Intro (26-2)
0:22 What is a good Technique Schedule?
1:17 Do you have a good idea for an exercise?
1:45 Basic Coordination and warm up

3:49 Arpeggios across the neck
5:36 Triads Across the neck
7:28 Improvisation with Open voiced or Spread Triads
8:48 Steve Morse Exercise with open triads

9:39 Scale Practice
11:01 C melodic minor across the neck
11:25 Scales in position
12:06 Triads
14:14 Diatonic 7th chords

14:57 Basic intervals
16:15 Focus on different Right Hand Techniques

17:50 Other Structures
18:35 Quartal Arpeggios
18:59 Shell Voicings
20:05 Drop2 voicings
20:51 Triad Inversions

21:28 A few closing thoughts on my routine
23:49 What’s your opinion? & Kreutzer Etudes