Tag Archives: jazz guitar tutorial

5 Jazz Guitar “Rules” That You Should Break (The Pros Do)

Jazz Rules!

Are there rules for Jazz? When you are learning something then it is nice to have simple and clear rules so that you can evaluate and practice towards something that fits the rules. Unfortunately, rules are rarely a good description for learning to play music,  as you will see in this video. There are a lot of very common “rules” that you should be breaking as soon as you can,  they will only waste your practice time and keep you from learning.

Rule #1 – Chromatic Notes

Let’s start with a very practical one, and then move on to some techniques and practice stuff that are bad advice.

A big part of Jazz vocabulary is the sound of chromatic enclosures and passing notes, and this rule is about that:

Chromatic Passing Notes Should Never Be On The Downbeat.

So why is this not a rule? The point of a chromatic leading note is to create tension that then resolves to a chord or scale note, and it does that whether you place it on a downbeat or an upbeat.

 

Placing it on a downbeat will only create more tension, but that is also something that works as a sound, like this:

You want to learn to use that creatively, and it is pretty easy to find examples here’s Charlie Parker’s Billie’s Bounce:

And he also uses it in Moose The Mooche

So you can put leading notes wherever you want, just like Parker. Let’s take another very common misunderstanding with notes, but this time the notes in the scale:

Rule #2 – Avoid Notes

Many questionable choices have been made in the name of “Avoid notes“. I imagine it is mostly just because the name is too short and unclear so it is easy to abuse or get wrong.

An avoid note over a chord is a note that is dissonant, the usual example is the 4th or 11th over a major chord, so an F over a Cmaj7. Listen to how the b9 interval between then E and the F really begs to resolve:

But just because you should not emphasize or sit on a note, that doesn’t mean that you should spend too much time worrying about not hitting it.

In general, it is better to focus on what you want to play, and not what you shouldn’t play, and there is no need to try to choose scales that have no avoid notes or only practice not using them in your lines, they are there to be used in the music, and the music is probably boring without them.

Check out how you can use it in your lines as a tension that resolves. Here I am playing the avoid note on beat 1 of bar 2:

Rule #3 – Bending

Once in a while, you will hear people insisting that certain techniques are not allowed in certain styles of music, so there is no tapping in Blues unless Billy Gibbons does it and there is no bending in Jazz.

But, of course, that is not really true, there is quite a lot of bending in Jazz even if there are also complete albums without any, and many guitarists that never use it.

Often this is connected to Blues phrases like this Barney Kessel example:

but there are also Jazz guitarists who have made it a part of their expressive vocabulary outside of Blues phrasing. My favorite for this is probably Pat Metheny:

I made a longer video on this a few years ago, and to me, it was always a bit surprising that this was such a sensitive topic, it is just a technique after all, and you don’t have to use all techniques all the time, surely there is no outrage that people don’t play sweep arpeggios in Blues. I don’t think I ever thought of this as a rule. You probably won’t find a lot of bends in Bop lines, because the effect of this technique really comes across better with long notes, something that there are not a lot of in Bebop, but it is up to you to figure out how it fits in your playing.

This might offend a few people, but I always imagined that it came from guitarists going to Jam sessions and then playing their blues clichés over jazz pieces without ever really sounding like Jazz, connecting to the song or the groove, but I don’t think I ever saw that at a session.

My personal favorites with this are probably Scofield and Metheny. Let’s go to what is probably the biggest waste of time for beginning Jazz guitarists

Rule #4 – Always Practice Everything In All Keys And All Positions

This rule will help you waste a LOT of time, so feel free to ignore it!

“You Need To Practice Everything In All Keys And All Positions”

There is a good reason for eventually taking some things and working through that in all keys and all positions, but this is probably more a few very fundamental things like the 3 basic scales: major, harmonic minor, and melodic minor. Diatonic arpeggios, triads, and that sort of basic foundational vocabulary.

Let me show you how easy it is to overload yourself with work like this very quickly:

This is a great basic line, consisting of an enclosure and an arpeggio

It’s a simple melody so you should check it out for all the diatonic chords in C major, in other positions, in other keys, do all 12, and it probably also works in Harmonic minor:

Or is it maybe more useful to work on using it in your solos?

You can take the lick and then add another ending:

Maybe it is nice with some more chromatic stuff and a leading note on the downbeat:

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Or you could be leading into it with a Coltrane Pattern;

Of course, you might have time to do both, but do you have time to do both for all variations in all keys, scales, and positions? You need to be realistic with what you get out of it.

Working like this is great for exploring but it should not be the way you always do everything. Ask yourself how common 7th-chord arpeggio inversions are in Bop lines? Are they common enough to spend hours practicing that? Or a similar thing: It’s good to sometimes take a song through all 12 keys, and it can also be fun. But it is not always the way to do, maybe it is better to get really good at it in the key you need to play it in?

Rule #5 – You Need A Foundation in Technique and Theory

A very similar Rule that people think is part of Jazz is that you need to have a foundation in Theory and Technique to play it. That is also not true. You could get started with a lot less, even no theory at all, and just start learning solos by ear and other vocabulary only to learn the theory as you work on the vocabulary.

If you are starting with some not-too-modern bop-inspired stuff then most of that is going to be major scale, a few chromatic notes, and the odd blues phrase here and there. You can get very far with that. Don’t get lost in modes, and different minor scales right away, you can better focus on learning to improvise, getting the right vocabulary, and learning to play songs.

Getting those things down will get you to play music and really, and it is probably also closer to why you are interested in Jazz in the first place. I am sure you did not start playing Jazz just to learn how to play melodic minor.

My Jazz Guitar Roadmap course is built around that as well, a major scale, some arpeggios, a song, and figuring out how to play solos, using rhythm, phrasing, and chromatic stuff to make it sound right. It really doesn’t have to be that complicated!

Check it out here: The Jazz Guitar Roadmap

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3 Reasons A Guitar Teacher Is The Fastest Way To Learn

I don’t think this discussion is specific to learning Jazz, a few weeks ago, I had a guy in the comments talking about how Jazz teachers were making things more complicated and trying to keep students from learning, which I thought was both incredibly funny and a little weird conspiracy and tinfoil hat sounding. But then I remembered that I once had a student who in the lesson told me that I was not teaching him the right things because when I played it sounded way better than when he played, so I had to be keeping something from him.

Needless to say, the difference was probably just that I had practiced a bit more than him, but he was convinced that couldn’t be it, so I suggested that he might be better off finding a teacher that he trusted and stop having lessons with me if I thought I was holding back information. Sadly I couldn’t talk him into going to another teacher at that time.

All of this doesn’t fit at all with my experience. I have had a LOT of guitar lessons from a lot of different teachers, in fact, I started having lessons when I was 12 years old, and mostly I have had friendly, encouraging, skilled, talented, and motivated teachers who were incredibly patient with me and all the stuff I couldn’t do and had to learn, and that is a massive part of why I can play today and make a living playing guitar, and it is also why I love teaching. So I thought it would be helpful to talk a bit about what the benefits of having lessons are, and especially why it is probably better to have real in-person lessons compared to watching a YouTube video or reading a blog post like you are now. I think this is a critical discussion both for teachers and students, but I am also very curious about what you think about it.

Of course, I’ll add some stories about less fantastic teachers in there as well, but we’ll get to that. Let’s start with one big misunderstanding, with teaching, probably for learning anything, but especially with learning an instrument.

Information Is Everywhere

If we return to the angry student then he felt that he was not given the information he needed to play well, and before the internet then I guess that was possible. At that time you had to have a book, or a teacher maybe access to a library so that you could get information.

But with the internet that is no longer the case.

By now you can find information about anything just by searching on the internet, or even asking ChatGPT what to practice or how to solo over There will never be another you, but ok, maybe AI isn’t really there yet. But there are articles and YouTube lessons on pretty much anything you want to work on.

The challenge is how to figure out what is actually useable or relevant information,  and even if you know that then you still have to get that internalized in a step-wise manner which is very difficult. An example of having information but not being able to use it even before the internet is when I started out trying to learn Jazz. The only books I could get at the library were the David Baker Bebop books,

and they were completely useless to me, and Ironically, they might have been great if I had worked with a teacher, but I’ll get to that later.

On the internet, everything is probably there for free, and if you want an ordered approach of online lessons then you can get access to that for the price of two or three guitar lessons, by enrolling in an online course similar to my Jazz Guitar Roadmap.

In a course, you pay to get access to a longer connected learning path and don’t get stuck having to waste time by putting it all together like a puzzle where you need to Google every piece in there.

So why would anyone take guitar lessons? There are actually quite a few really good reasons for that.

#1 A Teacher is A Guide

This first one may maybe obvious and follows the problem I just pointed out with unconnected lessons on the internet. Information is not ordered in a way that is tailor-made for you as a student, even if you get a course that is also made to fit a lot of students and that may not be the most efficient way for you to learn. But that is exactly what a teacher can do: You get material based on how you play, what you need to develop, and what you want to learn, so instead of searching for hours on the internet you only spend that time practicing and learning. The mix of exercises and songs is also something that a teacher can adjust so that it fits the student, within reason at least, which means that the way you are taught fits you. Maybe you have an easy time picking up solos by ear, or maybe you are more comfortable reading etudes or composing your own licks, there is room for a lot more flexibility.

The best part is that you and the teacher can find a way of working that is, efficient, more fun and practical for you.

To return to my example with the David Baker books, the problem I ran into with them was that I did not have any help in putting them to use in solos, and when I played the examples

then they were played with bad phrasing and I did not have someone to demonstrate how it could sound which meant that it was just a bunch of notes with my horrible phrasing, uninspiring and useless, without that being David Bakers fault.

I certainly tried my best to make my course useful for most students and I have seen a lot of them really benefit, but that level of personalization is just not possible, even if I did come up with a way to fix it a bit with the Jazz guitar roadmap, but I’ll talk about that in the next section, and also discuss why in-person lessons are better than Zoom/Skype/facetime as well, but first, we need to talk about the biggest problem for beginner guitarists.

#2 Experienced Ears

The one thing that holds back any beginner in any genre is that they don’t know where to start or what they need to learn. Mainly because you need a lot of experience with the genre to understand what needs work, and that is the only thing you don’t have at that point. Think of it this way: If you don’t know how Blues is supposed to sound then learning the pentatonic scale will not really help you, and you can end up spending a lot of time wondering why you don’t sound right if you are just trying to invent your own blues vocabulary without checking out people like Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King or Eric Clapton. I think this sounds pretty obvious for a lot of us, but then think about how often people try to learn Jazz by only studying theory and NEVER listening to Jazz. I think it is pretty clear how that is a recipe for disaster.

I think this is one of the biggest benefits of having a teacher: feedback from experienced ears, and this is true for any genre,

Let me give you some examples from Jazz: As a beginner, you probably can’t hear what is wrong with your phrasing, whether you are ahead or behind, or how your swing-feel is. And those things are what make the difference between sounding like a Jazz solo or sounding like something random being played back by GuitarPro. Playing the notes is easy, playing the right melodies in the right way is very very difficult, and a teacher can help steer your playing in the right direction with stuff like this, and most likely you can’t tell yourself, you can maybe hear that it doesn’t really sound right, but not what to fix. No blog post or YouTube video will listen to you playing and tell you what is going on, and it will be a while before we have an AI tool that can do that well enough, it at least first needs to learn the chords for There Will Never Be Another You.

Getting Feedback will help you learn faster. You can save tons of time by having someone listen to your playing and give you feedback so that you know what to improve and can train your ears to hear the right phrasing and the right types of melodies or notice if you are doing something wrong in a solo all the time. Figuring that out on your own takes at least 10 times as long if not 100 times, so it is a colossal advantage to get feedback on your progress. But you do have to trust the one giving feedback as I will tell you about in a bit. I was actually aware of this when I made my course, and that is the reason that there is a community built into the Roadmap so that the students can get feedback on how they are doing and sometimes I can even help with things that are not in the course, but really holding back a student, but don’t underestimate how big a difference this can make for you learning Jazz. It is definitely worth taking some lessons just with this in mind.

As I mentioned, you can also find yourself with a teacher whom you don’t trust they are really helping you, similar to my student from the beginning, but that is pretty rare, I think mainly because teachers who don’t enjoy seeing their students get better won’t enjoy teaching at all and find something else to do. One teacher that I did study with for a very short time was in the first lesson insisting that I bought his books and then in the next lesson tried to impress me by playing something on the piano, calling it “advanced theory” he just didn’t realize that I played much better piano than him, and what he was playing was simple enough so I knew exactly what he was doing. To me, that came across as if he was trying to fake it and show off, and the combination of those two things made me stop having lessons with him right away, But one bad experience in having lessons for more than 25 years, is a pretty good statistic for guitar lessons!

The last advantage I didn’t find a good solution for in my course and it might seem subtle but I really think it makes a big difference it certainly did for me, and then I want to mention some of the reasons why many don’t do in-person lessons, most of which are certainly valid.

#3 Up Close And Personal

One of the most common ways to have in-person lessons is still online using Zoom/Skype or Facetime. Similar to all the YT lessons and blog posts this is great for a lot of reasons, especially because you can study with great musicians on the other side of the world, but again this is maybe less effective than actually being in the room with another person. It can be that this is more typical for guitar, but I do think it holds for all instruments. Being in the room with a musician or a teacher is just so much more powerful. Think of the impact it has to listen to an album on Spotify versus going to a concert and being in the front row.

But there is more to it than that, especially when it comes to Guitar. You learn so much from playing with someone who is better than you, and even if this is something that is maybe forgotten sometimes, then it is actually a big part of learning to play Jazz. Jazz is not a solo art form, it is about playing together with others, locking in with their time, and reacting to what they play both when you are soloing and when you are comping, and you learn so much by that. In fact, I think that most of what I learned during my study at the conservatory was from making music with the other students, not my main subject lessons, and that doesn’t mean that my main subject lessons were not any good. That is just because you learn to play music by playing music.

If you look at the studies about how corona has slowed down kids learning because everything was remote then I think that fits with what I am saying. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have great lessons through Zoom, but it is missing something, and if possible you also want to get trained in interacting and making music with others while you have lessons. It will also prepare you for bands, jam sessions, and hanging out with other people who play, all important parts of playing guitar and learning Jazz, and I think in fact the most fun part!

You Never Have To Take Lessons!

I am really curious about what you think about this, so please leave a comment to share your experience and your opinion, but, of course, having lessons in person on a regular basis is not possible for everyone, and that is perfectly fine.

You need to work with what is possible for you, and committing to regular lessons is difficult, You risk them not being effective if you space them out too much. Besides time, then you also need to have a teacher near enough for lessons to be practical, and you need to be able to work with that teacher, which can also be an issue. Not everyone’s taste or style of learning fits with all teachers, and in those situations things like online courses and online lessons can be the best option, especially if it is that or nothing else.

But if you have not tried having lessons then I can only recommend you try, I guess I do that more as a student than as a teacher, but as I already mentioned then I feel that I got here because I had lots of lessons with a lot of good teachers, and there are a lot of good teachers out there.

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This Guy Doesn’t Need a “REAL” Jazz Guitar To Sound Amazing!

Overlooked But Incredible Guitarist

Whenever the topic of “real jazz guitars” and “jazz tone” comes up, then I always have to think of this guy.

There is almost nobody I can think of who:

#1 Has a great tone using a bit unusual and sort of cheap equipment.

#2 Plays This Melodic, both with chord solos and single note lines.

#3 Gets Recommended By Jim Hall.

Of course, I am talking about Ed Bickert, who is certainly one of my favorite guitarists, and this solo demonstrates why in quite a few ways with him playing a lot of Blues on a standard, using amazing chord voicings in chord solos, and also being really creative with the melody in the solo. I don’t know if it is because he is from Canada that he is a little overlooked, but if you don’t know his playing then you are really missing out! I have REALLY been looking forward to making this video.

The fact that he is not using a large hollow body guitar is something we will return to later, but if you feel tempted to comment about Real Jazz guitars with natural resonance and vintage wood air, then you might want to wait until you have listened to Ed Bickerts playing!

The Song And The Blues

 

The Solo is on Just Squeeze me off the Paul Desmond Album “Pure Desmond” with Paul Desmond on sax, Ron Carter on bass and Connie Kay on drums, and of course, Ed Bickert on guitar.

There are 3 things that this solo illustrates very well about Ed Bickerts playing, but a part of what is genius about this specific solo is also that it is an incredibly simple song in a medium tempo.

They play the song in Eb and it is an AABA

with an A-part that mostly stays around the tonic, just moving up and down in diatonic chords. You’ll see Ed Bickert interpret the harmony very freely here.

The B-part is what is usually called an Ellington bridge, so a II V to IV and then V of V continuing to a II V back to I.

Something you’ll find in lots of songs like Honeysuckle Rose, So Danco Samba, Sunny Side Of The Street. It is a very common bridge progression, and therefore good to know.

Ed starts out his solo with a chord and then immediately goes for some solid blues licks:

So really basic Eb major pentatonic and blues with a motif that is first stated,

and then developedÆ

Then he rounds off with another blues phrase and a really nice polyphonic turnaround:

And you can tell that he is really thinking of two independent layers in the turnaround: Having the sustained Eb in the melody and then the chords moving from C7 to F7 to Bb7, where the Eb is of course really clashing with the Bb7 chord.

The Melody But Now With Blues

There are two places where Ed Bickert references the melody in the solo, this first one is a really creative way to add a bit of Blues sound to the melody and then let that flow into another Jazz blues lick:

Two cameras

It is pretty simple, first harmonizing the melody with a 3rd above, but sliding into the G and then moving up and using a Db above the Bb to create more of a Bluesy Eb7 sound.

A nice detail is how he then keeps that idea in there by playing a single note line but still emphasizing the Db in the 2nd of the two bars which sort of works like an echo of the 3rd interval idea.

Later, there is also an example where he uses the melody of the song, but with some unusual but really beautiful open chord-voicings. They remind me a bit of Bill Evans, but first let’s look at a really nice line that isn’t Bebop and sort of reminds me of Jim Hall.

Did He Get This From Jim Hall?

This example is an 8th note line, but it is not a Bebop line, it is another logic behind the melody, and it continues into a really beautiful II V with an altered dominant and a lot of offbeats which is also quite typical for Ed Bickerts playing. After that, I’ll talk a bit about his guitar and amp.

You have probably heard me talk about Bebop lines and how they flow and move through the harmony and have a lot of direction and forward motion, and this line starts off like that with essentially another blues line, but then goes into a line with a Pedal G note and then moving from the #11 of the F7 down to the 3rd in half steps.

From there he goes into an Fm7 Bb7 line that is pretty much all off beats, first an Fm7 arpeggio and then an E major pentatonic lick, that really works well to get the Bb7alt across.

And this is a great example of creating rhythmic tension just before the end of a section of the song, so that you really feel when it goes back to the A-part.

The Telephant In The Room

What, I think, often is a topic with Ed Bickert, even to the point of it overshadowing his playing, is that he primarily played a Telecaster and was one of the earliest mainstream Jazz guitarists to have that as his main instrument. In interviews, he said that he got it because he needed it for studio work and kept using it because it was in tune and easier to travel with. Ironically, he also said in an interview with Guitar Player, that he found it difficult to get a useful tone out of it and that he disliked how it quickly became muddy comparing it to what he considered the ideal tone with players like Jim Hall or George Benson.

By now, with Bill Frisell, Ted Greene, and Julian Lage we are used to telecasters as Jazz guitars.

What is maybe a bit more surprising is his choice of amp. From what I have been able to find then he often used a Roland Cube 60 as an amp. These old orange amps are solid-state amps, and while they have a sound pretty similar to a polytone they do sound really good. I have an older video on amps where I tested one together with Joram Pinxteren if you want to hear one. They do sound great, they don’t weigh a lot and they are also not super directional which is actually very nice when you play live.

Fender amps are often very directional and throw a lot of low frequencies out of the open back of the amp which just gets in the way of the bass and drums, I love the sound of Fender tube amps, but that aspect of the design is really horrible to me. Let’s get t some chord soloing!

Beautiful But Unusual Voicings

These voicings are really beautiful, and I don’t think I have heard others do this in a chord solo, it is pretty unique and sounds amazing, and after this, I’ll show you how he uses dominant voicings from the diminished scale as a practical way to sound bluesy!  Ed Bickert is in this example again quoting the theme. This time quite high on the neck, probably an example of one of the advantages of a telecaster because it can stay in tune this high. But it is pretty amazing:

The voicings here are pretty open and very high register, my guitar is struggling to be in tune so far up the neck. The Gm/C bass note voicing is used over an Ebmaj7 and gives you an Ebmaj7(13) it just sounds so great. He is harmonizing the G in the melody and uses the same voicing for the Ab and then this voicing for the Bb. This is pretty practical and not too difficult to play while also sounding great and a lot more open compared to most chord solos which use Drop2 or triad-based chords most of the time. This somehow reminds me of Bill Evans but I can’t really give you a specific example of where I heard it. Let me know if you have any idea about who he checked out for this.

He also uses more standard chord voicings but then creates a different more bluesy sound.

Beautiful But Unusual Sounds

Notice how he  relies on the same 3-note quartal voicing and the same rhythm to tie this together while playing some pretty out-there sounds,

and still getting some Blues in there:

So the rhythm makes this a riff, and makes it all fit together.

He is sort of going Eb7 Bb7 most of the time going from this Eb7(#9) to this Bb7(13),

This is what creates the Blues sound and still sort of fits with the original chords that move up and down the scale in steps(play),

but then he is also adding notes on top and then shifting to other variations of the 3-note voicing to get a D7(13#9) that moves to a G7(13#9) and finally a C7#9 to Fm7. It is actually pretty easy to play, and if I remember correctly then Lorne Lofsky does something very similar in his solo on “It Could Happen To You”, I am guessing he got that from Ed.

A Personal Way Interpretation Of Harmony

I really love how Ed Bickert is working with the harmony and improvising by changing chords as well as the solo lines he is playing, and this is just a 2-chorus solo on a very medium swing jazz standard. Even if this is not what most beginners are working on then it is an important part of playing Jazz, and something that you want to explore. Another guitarist that has a beautiful and personal take on harmony is a guitarist who also plays a solid-body guitar, and has a beautiful version of Days of Wine and Roses with a lot of amazing sounds.

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I Wish I Had Checked Out This Guy! His Solos Are Jazz 101 On Guitar

This is one of the best people to check out if you want to develop pretty much everything you need to learn when starting out with Jazz: Phrasing, Vocabulary, Rhythm and most importantly these solos are pretty easy to figure out and play. I have given them to students to learn by ear many times, and they always learn a TON from it! Which makes me almost want to submit a complaint with my former teachers because nobody told me to check him out, but I’ll get back to that later.

The guitarist I am talking about here is Grant Green, someone who was a massive influence on a LOT of people, from Benson, to Pat Metheny, Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Super important figure in Jazz Guitar history!

3 Eras for Grant Green

To me, there are sort of 3 periods for Grant Green’s playing.

His early Bebop/Hardbop period, which is what I will focus on in this video. A lot of Organ trio stuff and also this guitar trio album simply called “Standards”.

then a true Hardbop era, with more modal Jazz and albums with Coltrane’s rhythm section, “Solid” is an amazing album from this period

and finally the Funk and Soul period where you have “Green Is Beautiful”

But the stuff that is so incredibly valuable for beginners learning Jazz is mostly the early stuff, and I think you will see why. And just to warn you: I will also talk about why I don’t like his tone that much on these albums, but you can of course start complaining about that already now in the comments.

Let’s get to the first example which is the pickup and the beginning of the solo, and it demonstrates 3 things that you definetely want to have in your playing, probably a more..

Bebop On Guitar, But Done Right

I should probably mention that the song is You Stepped Out Of A Dream, off the album called “Standards”. The whole album is a guitar trio, and Green doesn’t play any chords in this song at all, same goes for the other songs on the album, but it is an incredible album to check out, his playing is so solid and the lines are so strong.

The pick up is a long G7 line, even if I just write C6 since it is the end of themelody. It is a great example of how you can use trills in your playing to change up the flow a bit and make the whole thing come alive so it isn’t just 8th note lines all the time.

And it is really just a G7 out of C harmonic minor:

The first 4 bars of the solo shows some really useful examples of motivic development with 3 phrases that link in motifs:

First two phrases on the Cmaj7 are descending arpeggio melodies

and then the he connects the 2nd phrase of Cmaj7 with the phrase on Dbmaj7, using the same beginning notes over the chord.

Another thing that you want to notice is the large interval skip that Grant Green uses on the Dbmaj7 chord, inserting a low F between Db and C.

This is instant Bebop, and you will see 3 more variations of this later in the solo, and if that is all you learn from this solo then it is still worth the effort! As you will see, then this works on a lot of chords and is a great way to change things up so that your lines are not always running up and down scales or arpeggios but also surprising the listener a bit.

The II V I to Ab major that follows is also a great line, but later you also have a perfect II V I line! This one has what you could call a Dbmaj7(9) arpeggio,

Something you will see him play a few variations of as well in the solo. On The Eb7 there is another great interval skip that I always associate with Wes: You encircle the 3rd of the dominant and then skip up to the root, Wes does this a few time in 4 on 6.

Let’s take a look at that Perfect II V I

The Perfect II V I

Grant Green is a great example of how to be practical about taking Charlie Parker Bebop licks, that are often difficult to play on guitar,

and then make them into really playable and very solid Bebop material for Guitar. This, coupled with how he usually plays fairly relaxed tempos, makes these solos a lot easier to play and it is still really good music.

Check out this line and then I’ll talk about how it is a perfect example of a II V I bebop lick

You can hear that it has it all: syncopation, trills, interval skips and triplets. The funny thing about this is that you can see it as an embellishment of a very simple skeleton, like this:

Explainer: First you get the syncopation and the enclosure (From D to Bb) This is followed with the 2nd way to introduce interval skips:

 

The Pivot arpeggio that takes you to G on C7 (Pivot arp to G) We still have 2 variations of these in the solo though.

From here, he then adds a trill and an enclosure to resolve to the 3rd of F: A (C7 line to Fmaj7)

 

One thing you want to notice is that at the very beginning when he has the enclosure taking us to Bb then he is playing the enclosure in the opposite direction, so the melody moves down from D to Bb, but he plays the enclosure up from A to C. Again this is a much more interesting melody, also without the syncopation.

Everything moving down sounds like this

compared to the “flipped enclosure”

This is also a thing that Parker does really a lot, so he probably got it there. We still have two more variations of those large interval strategies so let’s get to the next example

Two Great Examples of Chromatic Notes

There is a really cool trick with enclosure at the end of this example, but let’s start with the phrase on the Dbmaj7, where he is really laying back in the time. Again he is adding a low F between Db and C, but this time he is adding a leading note to that lower note which is a great way to amplify the effect of the interval skip, because you are skipping down to a funny note that needs to resolve:

On the II V in Ab that follows he uses the Dbmaj7(9) arepggio that I talked about earlier, but adding a trill and going in to two enclosures next to each other that sound really great:

Here you have a melody which is first an enclosure of Bb and then on of G

This is very similar to how George Benson creates some great lines on Billie’s Bounce, no scales, just using triads and enclosures. Let me know if you want a link to the video where I talk about that.

How I discovered Grant Green

As I mentioned in the beginning then I was never told to check out Grant Green, which is probably just a coincidence. I had actually checked out some of his later stuff before getting into Jazz, but I did not think to look for more standard material by him. It wasn’t really until I started looking for material that I could use for teaching that I discovered him, mainly because his solos are not too long and not too fast plus that they are often on a 12-bar blues or on a common jazz standard, which makes them great for learning Jazz. This led me to checking out quite a few solos and using them really a lot in lessons and I really like a lot of his albums, especially Solid is a favorite of mine where Joe Henderson is also really amazing! B-roll: Joe Henderson Photo or VIdeo

The Tone And All That Reverb

Grant Green clearly doesn’t fit the typical myth about Jazz tone, with the tone rolled down and bass turned up on the amp, but of course that is also a myth. If you have watched any of my other videos on my guitars and how I think about tone, then you might be able to guess that I am not a massive fan of how Grant Green sounds on these early recordings where I think he is using an ES330 which is a completely hollow version of a 335 with p90 pickups. According to George Benson then Grant Green set up his amp by turning down treble ad bass and turning up the mids, which actually is not that different from how I set up my amp. When I talked about not liking the attack on my ES175 in the video on that guitar, then that is exactly what you hear in this recording of Grant Green. Of course, I think it is fine for him, but it is not what I want to sound like. I have similar thoughts on the spring reverb that is very present on this album, when I listen now I do wonder if it is not a studio spring reverb instead of the amp, but it is hard for me to tell. Remember that it is quite possible to like how somebody plays without wanting to have the same tone, and for the rest feel free to “open up emotionally” in the comment section.

No Chords, Just Fills

I want to add a short side-note on the harmony Grant Green uses on this song and how he doesn’t use any chords, which is not very common for jazz guitar trios, but I think it is clever how Grant Green uses fills to spell out the harmony next to the melody. This is especially clear on the maj7 chords in the beginning. where you have the 3rd in the melody and then Grant Green plays a riff spelling out movement from the 7th to the 6th which both gives you the chord and suggests some harmonic movement.

He probably got that from the trombone part on the Sonny Rollins version, EXAMPLE And I say that because he also plays the same reharmonization and also the same wrong note in the melody that Sonny plays. The next example is on top of that reharmonization.

Pivot Arpeggio 2.0

The reharmonization here is that you usually don’t go from Fmaj7 to Fm7, but instead it goes from Fmaj7 to Am7 D7, so V of V. Both sets of changes fit the melody which is just a C.

What I want to highlight here is the 4th variation of those Bebop interval skips, because here you have an Abmaj7 pivot arpeggio on top of the Fm7, but Grant Green adds two nice variations to it. You get a leading note to the low C, and there is a trill on the G when he gets back up

The other thing that I want to point out here is how he also uses the enclosure and interval skip on Bb7 to get that nice interval at the end of the line:

Which is similar to what he did on the Eb7 in the first example.

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Which One Is The REAL Jazz Guitar?

I did something terrible, and it was sort of by accident. Originally, I was not going to talk about this. It was meant more as a personal experiment, but I do think it is interesting and worth discussing, so I am going to do that anyway, hopefully it won’t offend anyone too much.

Weird comments

In especially YouTube comments, but also other places like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, I often get questions about my choice of guitar. A lot of that is positive, which is great, and of course, some people don’t like it, which is fine as well, but there is another category of people who seem to question or even criticize my choice of guitar since I play a semi-hollow 99% of the time.  Keep in mind that I have been on the internet for a long time, and this is not something that really bothers me, but that was always a very odd reaction to me and it made me curious. The comments would be asking why I am not using the Gibson ES175 as my main instrument, since that is a “real” jazz guitar or why I “settle” for a semi hollow guitar when I could also use an archtop. With those kind of questions it was often clear that my guitar was inferior to a “real” jazz guitar. And that is the reason why I ended up with this experiment. Which started with a YouTube Short and TikTok video that didn’t have anything to do with all of that.

The 3 Guitars Video

A few weeks ago, at the very beginning of 2023 I posted this YouTube short ,  where I compare the sound of 3 of my guitars.

My original idea was to record Straight No Chaser, and a chorus of comping on each of the guitars and then just cut from one guitar to the next. While I was doing that then I realized how close they sounded, and I mean they sounded very very similar I’ll let you hear it in a bit. It was difficult for me to tell them apart.

That gave me the idea to try something else. I redid the recordings, and I decided to play the same comping chorus with all guitars so that I could switch around audio and video without anyone noticing.

For me, personally: If I didn’t know it was 3 different guitars then I would maybe not even notice and just think it was one guitar, I really think they sound that similar. Which was also what a lot of people said in the comments.

And keep in mind that the video and the audio on these still don’t match, so when you are seeing the 175 then you not hearing that guitar, I will tell you what is what later in the video, and also add some other guitars to the mix just to figure this out.

All Jazz Sounds The Same

Maybe it is a bit rude of me to trick you guys like this without a warning, and my original plan was of course to never tell you about it, I just wanted to know if anyone could tell. And it was a bit like the fairytale “of the Emperors new clothes”because nobody really could. But then I was watching some Glenn Fricker videos, a Canadian YouTuber who I find very entertaining and watch quite often, but keep in mind that he is a Metal recording engineer, so it may not be everybody’s cup of tea. He has been making a series of videos on guitars and pickups and how that doesn’t really matter. It is almost as if he is trying to prove that all metal sounds the same, though I am not sure that is the conclusion he is hoping to reach. However that did make me think that maybe I was also just proving that in terms of sound then it doesn’t matter that much what guitar you play, because they pretty much sound the same, it is much more about how the guitar responds to your playing and  how you react to that which is important and the sound is not really changing. But I will show compare 5 of my guitars later in this video so that you can make up your mind for yourself.

Going Against Expectations?

It is interesting how the mind works with this, when I posted the video I did say not to listen with your eyes, and I’ll return to that later. I guess it is a bit like eating blue food, even if it tastes the same then you don’t really want to eat it, because it looks strange. And in that way, we also listen with our eyes, and if all your heroes play big archtop guitars then that is also what you want to hear, or in this case see.

Which was also clearly the response in the comments, most people preferred the sound of #1 which was the video of the ES175, with a few people even getting into odd comments that go with that territory like “natural resonance”, “organic depth”,  or “warm complexity”. You can probably tell that I am bit skeptical with those ways of describing the sound, especially since they don’t really say anything about how it sounds. But it is of course nice that so many people love the sound of my Ibanez, which is also what I play in most videos, because that is the guitar playing when you see the ES175.

A side-note: Listening With Your Eyes

The term “Listening with your eyes” was something I learned on the fractal forum when I was still active over there and working on getting the sound I wanted out of my AxeFX. A very common problem was that people would set amps up in the way that they were used to, but not actually listening to how it sounded and reacting to that, so complaining that there was too much bass on the Fender Deluxe model, but still having the bass on 6 or 7 because it shouldn’t be necessary to turn it down, and the response was almost always “if there is too much bass then why don’t you just turn it down, that is what you are hearing and that is what the bass control is for” And that stuck with me: don’t limit yourself to what “is reasonable” or “to be expected” you just listen and dial.  It takes away the “emperor’s new clothes factor, which is practical.

Unexpected Guitar Choices

Before I get into comparing guitars, then I want to just talk a bit about how a certain sound is sometimes associated with a certain guitar, but that is not always how it actually works.

If you don’t know it then you most likely won’t realize that  Ed Bickert or Lorne Lofsky play solid body guitars, I guess I am talking a lot about Canadian guitarists today. And I was also really surprised that Wah Wah Watson plays what I think is an L5, but if I listen to him then my ears would be quicker to suggest that he played a Tele. I reacted the same to James Browns guitarists who often play semi-hollows and not fenders because that is what I thoguht it sounded like. At the same time, would Stevie Ray Vaughan sound THAT different if he played a tele or maybe a Les Paul? Ulf Wakenius is very often playing a Les Paul which I believe is a Japanese copy not a Gibson.

The Problem With Jazz-Tone on a Solid-body

Though the SG1000 pushes the amp a bit. In general, the problem I always found with getting a solid body to sound more like a hollowbody or a semihollow is that you can only cut frequencies not add them, and you very quickly run the risk of making the sound muddy with a solid-body because you take a way high-end with the tone knob when you actually want to boost the low end. Probably an EQ pedal would be a better solution but that is for another video.

 

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Why Chord Substitutions Are Holding You Back!

To me, this is one of those things that can really open up how you work with chords and help you create some beautiful-sounding progressions without having to rely on systems and rules.

It also touches on one of the things I don’t like about a modal approach to harmony, but I will try not to rant too much about that in this video. Instead, I am going to show you a way to think about the chords that will free you from just using substitutions and will help you create some beautiful harmony that really flows through the piece.

This is closely related to the type of thinking behind the Coleman Hawkins quote: “I don’t play chords, I play movements” which is often associated with Barry Harris even though that is also not the approach that I will focus on in this video.

Like most others then I was introduced to chord substitutions pretty early in my study. This was when I was still living in Copenhagen and spent most of my time playing Jazz standards in the street when I wasn’t in school trying to get better at guitar.

I was just beginning to figure out how to harmonize melodies and turn them into chord melody arrangements but still only relying on the basic harmony (B-roll – Looking in the real book, pointing, and then trying to play a difficult chord looking baffled)

For this, I am going to start with a few basic substitutions and then we are going to expand that into something much more powerful and creative.

Chord Substitutions 101 – Tritone Subs

The first chord substitution you learn is usually the tritone substitution, which I sometimes get the impression is taught because theory teachers don’t know what to talk about in the lessons.

A tritone substitution is exchanging a dominant for the dominant a tritone away because the two chords share the same core notes: 3rd and 7th.

So in a II V I in C major EXAMPLE  the G7 is replaced with Db7. To give you this nice progression:

And you can see how the same tritone is in the two dominant chords which is why it is possible to switch them.

The best way to understand stuff like this is usually to hear it used in a song.

The basic version:

 

and with a tritone sub:

 

And this demonstrates two things: Tritone substitution(or any other chord substitution) doesn’t really make any sense if you don’t understand how it works with the chords around it. You are making the substitution to get the progression to sound different,  and you need to hear it in the context to really get what is going on, otherwise, you are in this case, just playing an E7 (b-roll: E7!) and  E7 sounds differently in a Blues in E compared to A Jazz ballad in Eb

The other thing you want to notice is that Tritone substitution usually works better when the dominant resolves, so a tritone substitute of a backdoor dominant is probably not going to sound fantastic.

Chord Substitution 102 – Major and Minor + Tritone 2.0

There are probably 3 more chord substitutions that are very common and that you want to know when you are at the stage of just swapping out chords and not really trying to think in harmony as a movement, which we will get to later.

#1 Tritone Dom instead of a II V in minor.

The first one is if you have a minor II V I like for example What Is This Thing Called Love

and you then replace the m7b5 chord with a tritone substitute resolving to the V, so in this case, Db7 moving down to C7:

The next two are about messing with how the ear expects to hear either major or minor in a II V I and then you do the opposite.

#2 a m7 instead of a IIø

If the ear expects to hear a dark-sounding m7(b5) chord EXample and instead you play a much brighter sounding chord that is a m7 with a 9th and or an 11th then that is a really nice surprise. Example

A good example could be Beautiful love. The first few bars usually sound like this:

And you can get a much brighter sound by using an Em7(11) like this:

This is pretty common and also something you can use in a solo, and there are actually even a few spots where Parker does this.

#3 a m7(b5) instead of a m7 chord

The other way around is also really nice! If you have a II V I in a song

and then make it darker by playing:

Beyond Chord Substitution

Jazz Harmony space B-roll (chord symbols flying in space?)

I guess it is sort of ironic that I started out the video by teaching chord substitutions when I actually don’t want you to think like that, so let’s go beyond that, first a bit further and then into Uncharted Jazz Harmony Space  (B-roll)

When you can only think in terms of chord substitutions then you can switch one chord out for another chord, but it actually becomes a lot better if you start to learn to work with entire progressions and come up with other ways of harmonizing that section of the melody.

This was something I first started to get into when I was studying at the conservatory and had lessons with Peter Nieuwerf and Eric Gieben who showed me some exciting ways to work much more freely with harmony, and as you will see, some of these don’t make any sense if you think of them as of chord substitutions.

Let me show you an example, that sort of goes against one of the things that makes reharmonization most effective. I am going to assume that you know what Blue Moon sounds like so that you can hear how these chords are different, and then I am going to explain what is going on.

You can hear how this still works, and still has a flow but also how far away you can go on a very simple turnaround. And actually, you can approach it in a much more open way but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The first thing I changed was turning the Am7 chord into a C#dim.

That is just a secondary dim chord and not something special.  In Bar 3, there is a lot more happening, because here the long G in the melody was original on Cmaj7 Am7, but now it is harmonized with Abmaj7 and Dbmaj7 leading into the Dm7 G7,

and Abmaj7 and Dbmaj7 are not exactly substitutions of Cmaj7 Am7, you could at most call them suspensions but since they don’t resolve back to C then that is also not really a description of what is going on.

The best way to see it is probably just to see it as something that

A/ sounds good with the melody

B/ fits in the key and the chord progression

Here they work because they are both minor subdominant chords in C major and of course sound great under the G in the melody.

In Bar 5 The Cmaj7 Am7 is turned into Bb7(#11) A7.

Again Bb7 is not really a substitution for Cmaj7 or related to Cmaj7. Instead, it is an example of choosing harmony that focuses on a different aspect of the turnaround: The chord that was there: Cmaj7 is just a tonic chord and it is a resolution when you land there, but the song keeps on moving, and the Bb7 only makes sense here because it keeps on moving to A7 and in that way is both a bit surprising but makes sense as the music continues. So you can look at the turnaround and think:

A- It is a tonic chord and then it moves on

or

B- It is a progression that needs to resolve in 2 bars.

And here I am using Bb7 because that works with the melody and really helps push towards the resolution in bar 7. In this last turnaround, I also changed the Dm7 to a D7, but that is just because I think that sounds a little better than the m7 chord with the melody.

So the big difference here is that I am much more free to use whatever chords I can get to work with the melody and the chord progression, not just looking at a chord and then thinking what chord fits instead of this.

This can give you A LOT of freedom, but before I get into that then let’s look at a way to set up a reharmonization so that it really stands out.

The Easiest Way To Make It Work

Timing is incredibly important for reharmonization and chord substitution. When you are playing a song and changing the harmony then what you are really working with is a way to go against the listener’s expectation. That is also what you hear in the Blue Moon example where I first play a turnaround in C to establish the song and then I start to change the chords.

If you start with changing the chords then there is less of an expectation and nothing for the listener to be surprised by:

And of course, that is possible but it is not nearly as strong. If you start listening for how people use reharmonziations then this is more common than you think, try to listen to Gilad Hekselman’s recording I Should Care where the 2nd half of the ABAC form starts with an F#ø Fm6 Em7 A7 because that is a new way to color the melody when it repeats in the 2nd half of the form.  This is by the way a very common reharmonization used on a ton of songs, but let’s get into some more uncommon progressions and different sounds.

Everything Is Allowed!

Until now, I was just showing you some things that were changing a chord here and there and creating some beautiful sounds, but you can also just leave out most of the chords and completely re-imagine the chord progression, using “atonal” ideas and Giant Steps.

To have a place to start check out the first few bars of You Don’t Know What Love Is:

Let’s say that you played that as the first A and now you can change things up in the 2nd A:

Here I am starting with a different chord that is essentially the same Fm6 with a Bb in the Bas and then I sculpt the rest of the chord progression around an ascending bass line ending with Gbmaj7 instead of Db7, but this would really work well moving on to Gø that would follow it.

This next example is borrowing some ideas from Coltrane’s Giant Steps circle:

Giant Steps don’t really exist in minor, and actually, you don’t want to be tied down by some sort of system when doing this, so I am being very liberal with how I incorporate the chords, and I still want to play the song.

The idea I use is to start on Fm6 and then through E7alt go to Amaj7 which is pretty far away from Fm, and to move on to Db major and finally take another route to end on Bmaj7(#11) instead of Db7.

You can probably tell how this is really more about using the Coltrane cycle as a source of inspiration and not at all a system, but like this, the melody is still intact and you get something different.

A great place to put this to use is to work on chord melody:

How Chord Melody Will Help You Master Important Skills

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No Bending In Jazz, Please!

I guess this might be a hot take on the topic of bending in Jazz, but this is a really common question, and that was sort of surprising to me because I never really thought about it like that but I will try to explain that later.

I get a lot of comments about this ranging from “why is there no bending” or the more frustrated ones that are “Bending isn’t allowed” and of course my favorite which is to blame it on me. which is always fun.

But why isn’t bending a part of Jazz Guitar? And actually, I think there are quite a few reasons for this.

Is Bending Overrated?

Maybe sometimes string bending gets a bit overrated?  The main reason you would ask why Jazz doesn’t use string bending is usually that you come from playing genres where that is a common part of phrasing and playing. That would probably be Blues, Classic Rock, and Metal? In those genres bending has almost become synonymous with demonstrating good taste, emotion, and not over-playing in a solo. Usually, David Gilmour from Pink Floyd is the typical hero of this way of playing almost to the point of it almost becoming a joke.

Some of the comments I get on YouTube will explain to me that “bending is the BEST phrasing” and that is used to argue that Jazz is lacking emotion or expression, but maybe it is worthwhile to point out that there are a lot of genres of guitar music where bending is not a standard part of the phrasing. Unless you also want to write off Flamenco, Bluegrass, and Classical music as lacking emotion as well.

It is not that Jazz fans are really any better, you can easily find examples of Jazz used in the same way to dismiss chord progressions that don’t have extensions as boring which obviously is just as silly.

But, while you are learning Jazz then there is a reason why I often tell people to avoid to play in a way that makes it a lot less effective to play boomer bends as a way of phrasing.

There Are Jazz Players That Use Bending

Of course, there are Jazz Guitarists that DO use bends, let’s start with a modern example and then add some of the more classic guys!

John Scofield was one of the first Jazz guitarists I listened to a lot, and in many ways, he is also one of the people to use bending in phrases that are not just Blues phrases. You can hear it in this example where he is using quite a few bends in the theme of the Gershwin ballad “Someone To Watch Over Me”.

Scofield always had this a part of his sound. It is certainly a part of his style, but you can actually find examples of most Jazz players using bends, it is just not as big a part of their vocabulary and not something that happens every other phrase.

As I mentioned earlier then you most commonly hear this in Blues phrases, like this example with Barney Kessel –  BARNEY EXAMPLE  or here with Kenny Burrell – BARNEY EXAMPLE

Both are soloing on a Blues and using blues vocabulary which of course is a part of Jazz.

So it is in there and it always was, but it is not something you use all the time. I think there are 3 possible reasons why bending is not so common in Jazz.

#1 Jazz Melodies Are Different!

You want to keep in mind that string bending is primarily used in blues phrases, and it is not a technique you would use for the Bebop lines, let me show you what I mean:

In the Blues, bends are used more on sustained notes or when notes are repeated.

But Bebop vocabulary is not about long notes or repeated notes so the effect of bending is not as powerful. The point is that you want to clearly hear that gradual move in pitch. Another thing is that for Jazz lines, connecting and locking in with the groove is more important where Blues melodies often will float more freely on top of a very clear groove.

Example of floating Blues Lick?

Try to listen to this short phrase where you can hear that the melody uses more notes, has more direction and tension, and is a lot lighter with a more syncopated rhythm.

It is a completely different type of melody, and playing syncopated rhythms more freely floating just means that you lose what is nice about them being syncopated.

I don’t know if I need to mention this, but the difference between Jazz and Blues is not really about one being better than the other, this is just that they are different and what makes Jazz Jazz and Blues Blues.

It Is Bending Too Slow For Bebop?

If you were to try to add bends to an 8th note line then it is fairly clear that bending is not a very efficient way to produce a note compared to legato, slides, and the other techniques used in a phrase, and for Bebop then speed and efficiency is certainly a factor.

Maybe you can see that from the opening phrase of Donna Lee. You could choose to play the trill in the beginning of the melody with a bend:

But it is a lot of extra motion for the left hand so it is not very efficient to get to work in a Bebop line compared to a normal legato trill.

Another thing that is also worth mentioning is the guitars and I am sure they were certainly also a factor.

#2 The Guitars and Pickups

Evolution of sound: Acoustic, Jazz Guitar + Amp – Solidbody with effects – Guitar into Laptop

If you think of how Jazz guitar sits in the history and development of Jazz then it was mainly used from Bebop and on, and the instruments that were used at that point were archtop guitars with fairly heavy strings and some sort of early single coil pickup like a p90 or a Charlie Christian pickup.

This type of guitar sounds great but, similar to an acoustic guitar, does not have a lot of sustain, which again fights a bit against a technique like bending that works better if the note keeps ringing and doesn’t fade out before you have hit the pitch you want.

I think you can also sort of hear this in how T-bone walker, who also played a hollow body guitar, often repeats notes when bending almost like he tries to find a way to compensate for that.

Again, it makes sense to compare Jazz to Bluegrass where the acoustic guitars have a similar sound without a lot of sustain. In Bluegrass, the soloing style is also relying on more dense and active melodies weaving through the changes and not long notes with vibrato. The gear really does often shape the style of music, by now modern styles of guitar music really incorporates recording and studio effects as much as real gear like amps and effects to shape the sound. In a way, it is an evolution from acoustic to adding more and more ways to shape the basic sound.

There was another thing that we don’t talk about that much, but it most likely also played a fairly big role besides the guitar though.

#3 You Don’t Want Feedback

You might be thinking that even with a single coil pickup you can get more sustain, which is certainly true for a tele or a les paul with p90s where you can turn up the amp to get more compression and therefore also more sustain, but If you have ever played a hollow body with a p90 like this one, then you also know how much trouble you can get with feedback which can get completely out of control. In the 40s and 50s when the basic Jazz guitar style was evolved then most amps just had a volume knob and some sort of simple EQ. This limits how loud you can go with an instrument like that and if you want to play the amp so loud that it starts compressing and gives you more sustain then you are most likely going to be at a volume where you are spending more time trying to mute the strings and keeping the guitar in a direction away from the amp so it doesn’t go crazy with feedback.

I am curious about which reason you think was more important, maybe it is something I didn’t mention at all? You can let me know in the comments.

It Is Not Jazz, It is You!

A completely different reason for why it feels like bends are not allowed in Jazz has nothing to do with Jazz, because it could also be that you show up to a Jazz Jam session and want to play the blues licks you have in your fingers over the standards, which I imagine will not go down too well.

Before I start explaining why the way I teach Jazz sort of leads away from string bending there is something else that is maybe also worth understanding, especially if you were one of the people asking the question.

Does AC/DC Need Synthbass?

The first few times that I had students or people on the internet asking me about this then I was pretty surprised by the question, simply because it wasn’t something I had ever thought about. I guess that also has to do with how you approach the music.

When I got into Jazz then the main thing that drove it all was that I liked the music that I heard, and I was very curious about how to sound like that. That also means that I was not really concerned with what they didn’t do, only in figuring out what they were doing so that I could do that as well. If there was no tapping, bending, or delays then that didn’t matter. What interested me was how to sound like the music I heard. I especially remember this from hearing El Hombre, Pat Martino’s debut album.

The reason I mention this is because I suspect you will get that reaction more often, and it feels a bit like asking why there is no synth in AC/DC or BB king tapping licks. The music is fine as it is, and we can’t go back in time and change it.

Beginning Jazz Phrasing

When it comes to Jazz phrasing, and especially Bebop phrasing, then the fact that the vocabulary is about rhythm and syncopation also means that you start by letting people play shorter notes. That is also what you hear if you go back to the phrasing of swing which is the origin of Bebop.

Pat Martino playing the Benny Goodman piece, Seven come eleven is also an example of this. Phrases end are ending on an off-beat and the last note is short to make it clear that it is syncopated. Often when you come from especially Blues then it is less important to stop the notes and you let every note in the melody ring out. When you start playing Jazz then you need to learn to take control of the length of the note and really choose when to play long notes. Bending is just not that effective if you play a lot of fast short notes.

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Is This Jazz Guitar Method Fantastic and Terrible At The Same Time

Jazz solos are not improvising every single note, we use building blocks to construct phrases, similar to how words are used to form sentences and you don’t spell each word in the sentence, you just put them together to make a statement, and that is also how you want to improvise.

When it comes to learning some really solid building blocks fro Bebop vocabulary, then one of the best books that I know is “Joe Pass guitar style“, and I am far from the only one to recommend it, both John Scofield and Mike Stern have mentioned studying it and when I was studying then most of my teachers gave me homework from that book.

Building Blocks

Jazz Lick:

But it does have a problem and maybe not the one that I hear people mention all the time, and that is what I want to talk about in this video.

The Method

The part of the book that I worked on and that I also use with my students is the 2nd half of the book that has some written-out solos that you can work on playing.

Playing these solos will give you some great examples of super-strong basic Bebop vocabulary and teach you a lot about improvising over chord changes, using chromatic phrases and Bebop melodies.

And, of course, it is also good for your reading, technique, and fretboard knowledge.

So lots of stuff to learn.

Joe Pass is obviously an expert when it comes to Bebop on guitar, and the solos are filled with great phrases that are clear and sound logical without being predictable or formulaic.

So what is the problem with the book?

As you can see, the solos are very dense:

They are mostly just streams of 8th notes. One of the two complaints I hear the most often is, of course, “There are no tabs” which is true. But even if you have to spend some time deciphering where to play these solos without tabs then they are actually worthwhile, and almost a reason to learn to read.

This book was just made before tabs were really something that was common.

When it comes to the dense 8th note lines then Joe Pass explains it with this:

“These solos are in straight 8th-notes. By eliminating rhythmic variety, you force the ear into building better melodies. 8th-note studies also tend to avoid the practice of playing memorized licks.

Chord symbols are for your analysis, not necessarily for accompaniment.”

My interpretation of this is that he is saying that playing continuous 8th-notes forces you to play the changes clearer with more logical melodies and that it is more difficult to rely on licks you already know. I think that makes sense. I don’t think that he means straight 8th notes as opposed to swing 8th notes, just that it is one long stream of 8th notes. It also sounds like he is suggesting that you actually practice improvising like this as much as you play his solos, which is not how I hear most people use this. But that can certainly be a great exercise to work on.

On a side note: the chord symbols are sometimes really off and not a very strong analysis in my opinion, but that is not so important for this video.

Playing these dense 8th note solos is technically more demanding and if you are performing then that is probably not how you want your solo to sound since it has no rests, no room to breathe.

And yet, almost any Jazz guitarist will tell you that this is great material to study and most certainly worth your time, so let’s look at how you can work with these phrases?

The Building Blocks

Besides playing the exercises and getting these types of melodies into your fingers and ears, which is already a great exercise in itself, then there is a lot more you can use this material for.

One thing that is worth noticing about the solos is that Joe Pass is constructing lines with building blocks that are mostly a few notes with a direction to a target note. This keeps the entire solo moving forward and since the target note is almost always a chord tone it also really helps with connecting the melody to the chord progression, so nailing the changes

These building blocks are what you want to get into your own playing and doing that is perhaps one of the best things you can take away from the book. Something that will really help you sound like Jazz when you improvise.

One way to do that is to take a single phrase and then start composing lines using that phrase and in that way get it to fit into your vocabulary.

So if you start with a phrase like this:

That can work on a Gm7 chord to create a solid bebop line like this:

 

And you can of course also put it to use on the C7, add a triplet and some octave displacement, and then you have a great line like this:

Is Building Blocks Cheating?

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes I get comments from people who insist that the ideal is that you improvise each note of a phrase and never study licks or how to use them, even going as far as dismissing arpeggios and triads as being clichés. I often wonder who they listen to? Because most people I have listened to use phrases that they clearly got from others and they all use arpeggios and triads. And, I never felt that it makes them sound bad, at least not to me anyway. Like Grant Green, who, like George Benson, uses a ton of Parker lines, and in another style, Stevie Ray Vaughan Playing like Albert King.

So using building blocks is a practical way to learn to play in a style, it is how the people you listen to learn, and it is a part of learning the language. But You want to be as flexible as possible with the material because that makes it easier to use in a solo. So in that respect, this book is full of useful information for you to internalize.

The fact that the lines are constructed from blocks actually also makes it easier to learn.

The Blocks Help You Learn The Solo

If you are trying to learn a new language then you don’t first try to memorize a whole story and then figure out what each word means. You use the words to help you learn the story, and that is also how you should be learning solos like this as well.

It may look like there are no individual phrases, but, as you have seen, there is a logical way to split it up in blocks, and if you do that you can think in smaller phrases each a few notes long. This will help you learn because what you are playing makes more sense and you will have an easier time learning how to play the whole thing without feeling like you are trying to memorize all the letters in a book!

The Problem

Until now, it was about all the great things you can learn from these solos, but of course, this is a specific exercise and there are things that it probably won’t teach you.

The other complaint that I get about this material, both in comments and from students, is that there is no rhythm in the solo, it is all 8th notes, and that is unrealistic. You don’t want to play like that if you are performing.

There is actually rhythm and syncopation in the solo. I’ll show you that in a bit, but for the rest it is true that if you listen to Joe Pass on recordings then he certainly does not play like this.

The emphasis in the solo and in practicing like this is on flow, forward motion, and strong melodies, so if you play these solos and improvise like this, as Joe Pass suggests, then that is something you will develop. You won’t develop more open phrasing focused on syncopated rhythms, or playing riff-like material similar to what you might find in a Lester Young or Charlie Christian solo. But then again that is also not really what you are trying to develop with this material, and you can work on that elsewhere. The idea that you should learn everything at once from one source is anyway a bit silly.

It is, however, good to be aware of that the lines will teach you to be clear and always play from one heavy beat (so beat 1 or beat 3) to the next heavy beat, and only phrasing like that can be a problem down the road.

Just like you have chord tones as target notes in these Joe Pass solos, then you probably also want to develop rhythmical target notes so that you can play strong melodies to 4& and 1& as well as just beat 1. A big part of Bebop phrasing is also about doing those types of syncopations which is what makes Bebop sound playful and light, not just a machine working its way from downbeat to downbeat.

Rhythmical Target Notes

But I also said that there actually is syncopation in the solo, even if it is just all 8th-notes. Let’s have a look at that.

There is Rhythm, You Just Don’t Recognize It

Dismissing the solos as not having any rhythm or syncopation is actually wrong. I understand why it might look like that, but if you play them and know just a little bit about Bebop phrasing then you can also see how there are some syncopated accents in there.

There are no really strict rules for accents, but some obvious places in this line would be something like this

So you can see how the accents add a layer of syncopation that you don’t immediately see when you just look at the long row of 8th notes, and that is something you don’t want to miss and a huge part of learning jazz phrasing

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3 Things that Ruin Your Jazz Practice And Stops Your Progress

We all want to play fantastic lines in our solos!

But one of the worst things you can do if you want to play better lines is to practice songs at full speed and then just hope that it becomes better.

#1 Too Fast = No Control!

It won’t make your lines better, but it might make you bitter, and that is how a lot of people go about it, I have certainly done that myself quite often.

When you do that it is a bit like trying to learn Chinese by watching a Chinese movie with Chinese subtitles. You will probably get there but it is going to take a few years.

Setting up a better method

So, you should slow things down and really work on playing stronger lines by having time to really listen to them, and figure out how to make them better before you are blasting away at full speed.

The best way to work on your lines is by composing lines, and I am going to show you how I do that and talk about how you benefit from that and what to pay attention to so that you get the most out of it because this is about a lot more than just practicing slowly!

In the example below you can see how I composed an 8th-note line using different building blocks.

It starts with a chromatic enclosure and continues with an Fmaj7 arpeggio before ending with a descending Dm triad melody that also involves a chromatic enclosure.

Refining The Arpeggio Melody (stealing from Benson & Bird)

The next thing to add to the mix is a bit more energy with the rhythm. You can do this by playing the arpeggio as a triplet as you can see in the example below:

This is almost identical to a line that both Charlie Parker and George Benson use very often.

A More Original Idea

Let’s try to create a line that is a little more original and a little less like a transcription. Here the example is combining the Fmaj7 arpeggio with a scale melody that continues into a descending melody in the 2nd bar. The descending melody is in fact a pentatonic phrase with an added chromatic enclosure.

In the video, I talk a bit more about how important melodic direction can be for this.

What Are You Really Practicing

It is important to remember that in the end it is not really about composing the perfect lick, what you are working on is practicing to put things together so that you get better at doing that when you are soloing.

#2 It is NOT just the notes!

You need to focus on more than just playing the right notes. You can get a robot to play the right notes, but it won’t make it a great solo.

You want to develop your skills when it comes to taking those notes and turning them into a SOLID MELODY.

In the example below I am adding a note to the arpeggio because that is a great way to explore and find some good melodies.

The Power Of Pivot Arpeggios

Using Pivot Arpeggios and Octave Displacement is another way to get some more interesting melodies. In the example below I am doing that with the Fmaj7 arpeggio at the beginning of the line.

#3 Fix Your Phrasing!

Now that you are slowing down you practice then you can also start working on adding better phrasing to the lines.

The first thing to work with here is to get used to ending lines on the off beat. In the example below it is on the 4-and:

Another thing to work with is to add accents to the line. When you play a stream of 8th notes then what makes it rhythmically interesting is how you add accents to get the syncopation in there.

What you are looking for is a note that is on the off-beat and that is higher than the following note. In the example below the Eb is a great candidate, also because it is a chromatic leading note so it has some tension and therefore more energy:

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10 Patterns That Sound Great On A C7 Dominant – Beautiful Sounds

Some of the things that I really like to play in my solos are not just an arpeggio or just a scale run, but more a combination of things or a certain way of playing something that makes it more interesting.

In this lesson, I am going to show you 10 different patterns that I like to use for C7 chords. Most of them are longer runs for just a single chord, but you can, of course, use them in many ways.

Let’s just start with some of the basic arpeggios because there is a lot to be said for being creative with the things you already know and you can always get more out of them. Then gradually it is going to get more complicated and even outside.

#1 Know Your Arpeggios (even better)

This is coming out of a basic C7 arpeggio like this one:

But playing the pattern that I am using here makes it sound much more interesting because the pattern creates groups of 3 notes that move around on top of the meter in a very nice way.

A lot of what you want to explore with material like this is finding a combination of what makes the notes, arpeggio or scale or something else, sounds good and also practical and easy to play.

Before I am going to get into the less common structures then the next logical candidate is the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, Eø which becomes a great intervallic melody like this:

#2 It Doesn’t Really Sound Like An Arpeggio

This example is just a way of playing this basic arpeggio shape:

Here I am using legato-technique to make the line easier to play, by giving your right hand a bit more time to move, so the pull-off is giving you time to change to the next string.

This pattern is something you can apply to a lot of different arpeggios to get melodies that move around more instead of running up and down arpeggios or scales all the time.

Let’s check out some less obvious examples that sound really solid.

#3 Is It A Pentatonic Scale Or An Arpeggio?

This example is using a group of 5-notes, and I am playing it so that it repeats in octaves, something you will see quite often in this video, again really just because that is practical on the guitar.

The 5 notes are G A Bb D E which sort of spells out a Gm6/9 or you could consider it a type of Gm6 pentatonic scale. Against the C it is C7(9,13) so it is pretty spot-on for the sound of the chord.

The way I am using it here, it is turned into a melody that is a group of 6 notes. If you just play the pattern then you get 5 note groupings, and while groups of 5 notes might seem hipper, then the melody with the 6 notes is a bit more interesting and it is also easy to play.

If you want to practice the 5 notes you could turn that into this exercise:

The next example is a more distinct or dissonant sound on the chord but still works great.

#4 Digging The Wrong Note!

This pattern is a way to really emphasize a wrong note on the C7.

The basic group of notes is a Bb major triad with an added #11, which you could practice like this:

 

The note F is, sort of, a wrong note on the C7, and this pattern is really playing with that sound to get it to stand out.

I often convert melodies to chords to have an idea about how it sounds, and in this case, that would be this:

And the melody I am using here is designed to really make the E and the F come out on top of the chord to get that dissonance because that is the interesting effect here.

That is also why it is great to have it as a repeating pattern

Let’s have a look at some triad options that sound incredible!

#5 The Only Thing Better Than One Triad

I think that the only thing that is better than a triad is two triads, or rather a triad pair.

Here I am using Gm and Am triads, and the way I am improvising with them is pretty free, but I am using one triad at a time to create shifting colors on top of the chord.

If you want to improvise with triad pairs, then spend time learning triads in inversions, as diatonic triads in scales, positions and inversions, and string sets. That way it will get a lot easier to put them together in lines and create great sounds like this.

You can check out this video on practicing triads if you want some more strategies and exercises:

Now it’s time to add some interesting notes to the mix before I’ll show you some structures that are not really arpeggios like the ones I have used until now.

#6 Using Fancy Arpeggios

This arpeggio is from the C Lydian b7 or G melodic minor scale and it is not really a diatonic arpeggio:

Diatonic Arpeggios of G melodic minor:

GmMaj7 Am7 Bbmaj7(#5) C7 D7 Eø F#ø

But you can still construct it:

F# G A Bb C D E F# G

F# G A Bb C D E F# G – F# Bb D E

and it sounds great on the C7 chord as a C7(9,#11)

#7 Modern Structures And Great Melodies

 You can view this as one large quartal arpeggio or two 3-note quartal arpeggios, and you can use it either way. I like this way of playing it because it creates a melody that is less one-directional.

You probably know the sound as chords like this:

But all of these you can also explore as arpeggios and they sound great because they are so different from the regular stacked 3rds that you use all the time.

Let’s check out a more exotic-sounding triad pair before it’s time to get into some outside stuff!

#8 Inside and Outside

Once you start to also use the Lydian dominant sound on the C7 you can actually get some really interesting sounds by finding the right way to emphasize that sound.

As you know the Lydian b7 and the basic C7 scale are identical except for the F# and F

C D E F G A Bb C

C D E F# G A Bb C

Using triad pairs can be a great way to create some beautiful sounding melodies that really get the sound across in an interesting way:

Here I am using the Bb augmented and the C major triads which together actually form a C7(9,#11)

C E G Bb D F#

1 3 5 b7 9 #11

I love how these shift on top of the chords and you should explore these for all sorts of melodic minor modes like altered dominants or Lydian dominants.

Now we can take it a bit outside!

#9 Wrong Triads Are Great As Well

This is Close to the sound of the Lydian b7, but it is more dissonant and more out.

I am using triads a tritone apart from the diminished scale.

The dim scale that goes with C7 is:

C Db Eb E F# G A Bb C:

and in there you have C, Eb, Gb, and A major triads.

This example uses the A and the Eb together:

This pattern gives you a lot of tension on top of the C7 but it is also not completely far away.

The next example is pretty out there and atonal so it should sound a lot more outside and dissonant than it actually does

#10 This Should Sound A Lot Weirder Than It Does

The Augmented scale is a weird-sounding scale because it is symmetrical and atonal but that is also why it can be such a nice effect on the chord. In this case, I am using the Bb augmented scale:

There are three major triads in there: Bb, D, and F#

If you think about the material in the scale it should sound pretty weird, but it actually sounds really cool and not that far out because of the strong symmetrical melodies.

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