Tag Archives: Jens Larsen

How To Learn Jazz Guitar – Suggestions To Begin Studying

This is a question I get very often. And that is in no way strange. Starting to learn Jazz guitar is the beginning of a long journey with a lot of interesting stops along the way.

In this video and post, I will try to give you some places where you can look for the things you feel you need to check out and of course also what you think is interesting.

Learning Jazz, or any other style of music is not a set path the fits everybody. We all take different routes and need to work on different things longer or shorter. That is also the reason that there is no set way to go through this and why I am calling it suggestions. You need to figure out for yourself where to go next. If I have a student learning Jazz it is common that I take a few lessons to figure out what to work on and how to work on it, so expect that when you start working as well.

That said, I will try to make this a little less complicated and stop the information overload a little because I don’t think that is really necessary.

To keep it a bit short I am going to focus on three main topics:

  • Technique and Scales
  • Chords
  • Improvisation and Songs

Technique and Scales

Keep it simple. Start with the Major scale. Don’t overdo technique practice.

Start with one position and one key. You can add positions and keys along the way, with basic exercises.

Start with these exercises:

  1. The Scale
  2. The Scale in 3rds
  3. The Diatonic 7th chords (Maybe Triads first, but many don’t have to)

For more information on what to do work on and how to use it:

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz – Basic Scale exercise and Scale in Diatonic 7th arpeggios

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it! – More thoughts on scale practice.

How to practice your scales and why – Positions – A bit of a deeper look into options with scale practice and suggestions for exercises

Jazz Chords – A solid set and learn some songs

It is practical to learn some jazz chords so that you can play chords on songs. As jazz guitarists, we spend more time comping than soloing. It is also a huge help to be able to hear the harmony that you are soloing over.

I have a study guide for Jazz Chords where the first two or three lessons will give you more than enough. How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

Especially I would start with a set of diatonic chords for the major scale which is exercise one or two of this lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

From that material you can gradually expand chord vocabulary, learn songs and progress into rootless voicings and more complex comping and harmonization ideas.

Improvisation and Songs

This is the most important part of how to learn jazz guitar because this is where we talk about playing music. So it is about using the material that is practiced in the scales.

If you want to play jazz you need to spend time playing the songs and improvising and you should start doing this from the very beginning. Even if you can’t really play solos that sounds like jazz, just by trying you are building repertoire and skills to use later.

A few things about improvising over changes:

How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

A practical example of improvising with arpeggios:

How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios

For more examples of songs, easy chord melody arrangements and similar then you should browse through this playlist of easy YouTube lessons:
How To Begin Jazz Guitar – Easy lessons to gain an overview

Jazz Standards to start with and how to learn them

When it comes to which songs to start with then I would suggest you start with one of these 10 songs:

The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

And some of the exercises and things to focus on when learning them are covered here:

Learning Jazz Standards – Important Exercises

Next level for Jazz Guitar

Maybe you already feel comfortable with the things I covered here, and you are looking for more challenges and explore the music further. Of course, you can browse the YouTube channel and my Website.

Another option is to join the 3000+ members of the Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook group and ask there, get inspired by the posts and comments of others:

Jazz Guitar Insiders

Or join me on Patreon where you can support and help shape the content on the channel in the future. Patreon is really what has made all these lessons and the channel possible.
Check it out here: Jens Larsen YouTube Lessons on Patreon

Rootless Jazz Chords – 15 Beautiful Examples You Need To Know

If you want to play really interesting comping then you need to work with rootless jazz guitar chords so that you have the freedom to play more interesting and interactive things behind a soloist.

A good starting point to explore some useful II V I voicings. Focus on connecting the chords with some great melodies, rhythms, and inner-voice movement.

Traditional and more modern sounds working with some reharmonizations of the II V I as well.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:23 Why You Use Rootless voicings

00:45 The Basic Position and II V I chord set

—- 3-note chords —-

0:54 #1 – A Strong Top-not melody is essential. You can always move from 7 to 6 on the I chord.

1:25 #2 – Let the Melody carry and drive the progression

1:53 #3 – You can have chromatic passing notes in the inner-voices as well. 6 to 5 on the I chord is another cool inner-voice

2:27 #4 – Incomplete altered dominant chords often work well (because the altered notes are clear enough)

2:58 #5 – busy chromatic melody  (but it is possible)

—- 4-note chords —-

3:27 #6 – You can also repeat a melody note

3:53 #7 – Make more layers by splitting the chord

4:20 #8 – A little more rhythm and a So-What voicing for the II Chord

4:49 #9 – Rich sounding 13b9 and Maj7(13) chords!

5:16 #10 – A little more rhythm and counter-movement on the II chord

—- Changing the Chord Sounds —-

5:45 #11 – Line cliche with Dm, DmMaj7, Dm7

6:17 #12 – C# dim chord to lead to G7

6:46 #13 – Ab7 to lead to G

7:15 #14 – Building the chord with the melody

7:42 #15 – Quartal Voicins and Clusters

8:09 Check out the 15 minor II V I video!
8:16 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

What Makes This Sound So Good and How To Play Like That

One thing that we probably all love is the sound of great jazz phrasing in a solo. In this video, I am going to take a look at a great example from George Benson and talk about why these jazz phrases sound great. In that process, I will also go over some ways to turn the lick into exercises and use those to make your own licks that have great phrasing.

I also explain how jazz phrasing sometimes clashes with some of the other skills we teach for jazz improvisation and how to work around that.

The George Benson Solo Example

Here is a transcription of the phrases from the Benson solo that I am using

I am going to use the 2nd line as an example.

#1 Why does it sound great?

I have talked about what makes jazz phrasing great in other videos, and there are many things that come together to make a jazz solo great, but one thing that is a huge factor is how the line lets us give some notes an accent.

Let’s focus on the last part of the example and get a little scientific by slowing it down. You can hear that in the video.

When you listen to the slow version you can hear the accents on the high notes that are not on the beat:

I am sure you already have an idea about this, and one way to access this is to sing bop lines in terms of phrasing, that really helps you realize that you probably hear it and you just need to figure out how to get it on to your instrument.

But two of these examples are similar in a way and you can practice getting that into your lines quite easily.

#2 What Should You Practice

If we look at this fragment (D# to E in bar 2) then what happens here is Benson is playing a blues phrase, but the effect is really just a leading note resolving upwards and then a lower not.

If we apply this idea to an arpeggio then you would have an exercise like this:

And at the end of our example, Benson does something similar with this arpeggio, one way to look at that is as a way of playing a 1st inversion Cmaj7 arpeggio. If you take that through a scale then you have this:

#3 How Do We Play Licks that Sound Like That?

Usually when you start playing Jazz then you have a really hard time playing logical melodies that follow the changes. And one of the first things you learn, or at least should learn, is that if you play chord tones as target notes on the heavy beats of the bar then you connect with the phrase.

This might sound like this:

Where I am playing an F on beat one and an A on beat 3, but the line doesn’t really give us a nice flow with some accents. As my old teacher used to say: “It doesn’t make me want to dance”

But with the exercises, you can start putting together your own lines and in that way getting it into your playing.

Here I am using the exercise from EX2 on the Dm7 (play that) and leaving a little more space to go from G7 to C

Another one could be something like this:

Develop your phrasing

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Jazz Tone on Any Amp

Getting a good sound and finding the right jazz tone amp settings can be quite difficult. But you can get most amps to give you a pretty convincing jazz tone, as you will see in this video where I am joined by Joram Pinxteren at Legacy Studios where we test a wide array of amps and talk about the difference between the speaker and amp designs.

I would like to thank Joram and Legacy studios for being so kind in working with me on this video. It was a lot of fun checking out the amps and hanging out with Joram.

You should check out his work as a mixing engineer and producer which is pretty impressive!

Content:

0:00 Intro – Going To Legacy Studios

0:28 Say Hi To Joram 🙂

0:41 And The Amps

1:04 Vox AC30

1:38 The Reverb: Lexicon LXP-1

4:07 Marshal JCM800

6:40 An Epiphany: Marshall Low-input

7:46 Roland Cube 

8:15 Closed vs Open-back Speakers

9:53 Fender Princeton – reissue

11:27 Fender Tube Compression and Reverb?

12:30 Vintage Jazz Tones of Wes or Kenny Burrel

12:55 Fender overdrive

13:40 a 10″ speaker with a lot of bass.

14:37 Lab Series L5 – BB King, Holdsworth, and no Tubes!

18:12 The Multi-filter

18:38 The Compressor

19:25 Polytone 

19:41 Conservatory Polytone Anecdotes

Drop Voicings – How to Understand The Construction

Drop Voicings like Drop 2 and Drop 3 are very common in Jazz, and as a Jazz guitarist, you want to know and use them in your comping and chord melody arrangements. Especially Drop 2 voicings are very common in the playing of Wes Montgomery, George Benson and many others. In this video, I am going to break down how these terms work and how to construct drop voicings so that you have a better understanding of the voicing technique and can create your own drop voicings.

I will go over this and also give some examples of how the different voicings sound on a II V I. In the end, it is more important how they sound. It is maybe also interesting in itself how different they sound with the same notes just different voicings.

Content:

0:00 Intro – What is a Drop2 or a Drop3 voicing

0:24 Understanding Drop Voicings and how they sound

0:37 The Difference in Sound

0:50 #1 Drop2 – Wes Montgomery and George Benson

1:23 How We Assign Numbers to Voices in a Chord

2:00 Drop2 voicings

2:09 II V I Example with Drop2

2:25 #2 Drop3 

2:57  II V I Example with Drop3

3:18 #3 Drop 4

4:00  II V I Example with Drop4

4:14 #4 Drop2&4 – Allan Holdsworth

4:57 II V I Example with Drop2&4

5:17 Drop2&3

6:05 II V I Example with Drop2&3

6:19 Different Voicing = Different Sound

6:53 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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How To Add Bebop Embellishments To Your Licks

Bebop is famous for having solos of long 8th note lines and bebop licks are often a lot of notes. But an important part of what makes the lines really beautiful and breaks up the constant flow of 8th notes.

In this video, I am going to go over some great lines from Bebop Masters like Dexter Gordon, Clifford Brown and Sonny Stitt. The way they use embellishments and construct lines is a great resource for learning and enhancing your own playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:00 Adding Variation to lines

0:50 Example #1 – Dexter Gordon – Confirmation

0:53 Triplet- Enclosures

2:10 Using Chromatic Triplet enclosures in Your own lines

2:30 Example Lick Using Gm7

2:37  Example Lick Using C7

2:43 16th Note Trills

3:24 Example Lick Using Gm7

3:32 Example #1 Slow

3:39 Example #2 – Clifford Brown

3:43 Joy Spring Solo

4:06 Melodic Enclosure (Peter Bernstein’s Favourite?)

4:37 Triplet Embellishment of an 8th-note line

5:15 Example #2 Slow

5:21 8th Note Triplets in Bebop

5:43 Example Charlie Parker – Using A Similar Idea

6:06 Example #3 Sonny Stitt

6:11 Sonny Stitt on Ornithology

6:40 16th note triplet Embellishment of an Arpeggio

7:03 Example Grant Green Using this rhythm

7:18 Stitt Altered Dominant line

7:50 Using this idea on other lines, like Wes

8:09 Example #3 Slow

8:14 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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

Why Reharmonization Is For You And How To Get Started

Reharmonization! I imagine the word itself sets off alarms for some people thinking: “Crazy Music Theory will follow” and there are going to be the weirdest examples of chord substitutions and bass-notes over triads with extensions.

But it isn’t that bad. Reharmonization is a great way to add variation to both your solos and your interpretation of a song, for example in a chord melody arrangement.

In this video I am going to give you some basic reharmonization ideas to use, it is pretty basic and stuff you might know already but not use like this or maybe have played examples off. The video is not going to make you the best arranger of our time but it will give you some things you can put to use in a lot of places and if you are only playing the basic changes all the time then starting to work on improvising with the chords could be just the thing you should do to get to a higher level.

Content

0:00 Intro

0:24 How Do We Use Reharmonization.

0:52 Playing with the Expectations of the Listener

1:25 #1 Major instead of Minor

2:17 Example on Stella By Starlight

2:37 Solo Example 

2:50 Hearing this in context – Timing and Placement in the form

3:25  #2 Tritone Substitutes – Using Complete II V’s

3:45 Example on There Will Never Be

4:30 The Effect

4:48 Solo example

5:06 #3 Parallel Minor Chords – Dim Chords

5:15 The Two Types of Minor chords

5:47 Example 1 – Dim to m7 – Someday My Prince Will Come

6:48 Recorded examples

7:18 Solo Example

7:28 #4 Parallel Minor Chords – Harmonized Bassline

7:33 The Progression that is reharmonized.

8:23 Example on Days of Wine and Roses

8:45 Using this in Melodies and Recorded examples in solos

9:20 Solo Example

9:27 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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How to Improve your vocabulary of Jazz Rhythms

We don’t often talk about is how rhythm is actually also a melody, and how to work on your vocabulary for jazz rhythm. But,of course, a very important part of playing jazz is interesting and great rhythms.

In this video, I am going to go over some great examples of rhythms used in a jazz solo taken from Chet Baker, Kenny Burrel, and Jim Hall. I also discuss how you might want to work on improving this part of your own playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Adding New Rhythms To Your Solos

0:14 Getting Inspirations from Kenny Burrell Jim Hall and Chet Baker

0:32 Example #1

0:39 Kenny Burrell – Mastering Medium Swing

1:06 How To Use Simple (but great 8th Note Rhythms)

1:24 Example #1 Slow

1:34 How To Use The Material

1:57 Example Lick #1

2:14 Example Lick #2

2:22 Ideas with more of a concept

2:40 Example #2

2:46 Chet Baker – Strong Rhythm and Simple Notes

3:02 Analyzing the line

3:58 Example Lick #3

4:26 Example Lick #4

4:52 Example #3 

4:59 Jim Hall – Rhythmical Diversity and Strong Melodies

5:36 Motif and a Scale Sequence

5:59 Example #3 Slow

6:07 Getting More Out of the Pattern and understanding why it is great!

6:30 Example Lick #5

6:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Check out more lessons on Jim Hall

Here are a few more Lessons I did on Jim Hall and his fantastic playing that always contains a strong and interesting rhythmical concept as well as beautiful melodies.

Jim Hall – Ingredients Of The Best Solos

Jim Hall on Autumn Leaves – Can it get any better?

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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

3 Scale exercises You Need To Know And Use

Any scale exercise is a melody. When you practice scale exercises you are practicing playing a lot of similar melodies that you want to have in your ears and in your fingers so you can use them when you improvise Jazz Solos. In Jazz, Scale exercises are a part of building vocabulary.

This video covers some great melodic structures that you can practice as scale exercises and add to your vocabulary. I find that them extremely useful and you will also hear them being used in a lot of especially more modern jazz solos by people ranging from Michael Brecker via Peter Bernstein to Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:32 Practice the things you need when You solo

0:50 Modern Jazz that’s 60 years old.

1:03 #1 Sus4 Triads

1:25 The Sound Of Rosenwinkel, Brecker and Mark Turner

1:32 Example Lick with Sus4 triads

1:49 Exercises

2:41 String-set Practice

3:34 #2 Quartal Arpeggios – Modal Jazz Sounds

3:52 Chords with Quartal Structures

4:08 Kurt’s solo on I’ll Remember April

4:34 3-Part Quartal Voicings and Sus Triads

5:12 Exercises with Quartal Arpeggios

5:58 Example Lick with Quartal Arpeggios – Chromatic Shifting

6:25 #3 Shell-Voicings – Mike Moreno and Pat Metheny

7:21 Exercises for Shell-voicings

8:15 Applying Shell-voicings

8:37 Example with Shell-voicings

8:41 Bonus: From Shells to open upper-structure triads

9:18 Spreat Triad Example

9:21 Arpeggios = Melodies

9:52 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page 

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The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

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, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

How to Use the Blues in a Jazz Solo

There is something special about the Jazz Blues Guitar sound and that type of phrasing! The blues is a very important part of Jazz, but it can be difficult to get those bluesy phrases to work on a jazz song, the way Joe Pass or George Benson do.

In this video, I am going to show you how to do that, a common mistake we make and also talk the different ways great guitarists like George Benson, Joe Pass, and Emily Remler use blues phrases in jazz solos.

Other videos on Joe Pass, George Benson, and Emily Remler

George Benson – This is The Best Jazz Blues Solo I know

Emily Remler – How To Reinvent a Standard

Joe Pass – How to Keep Solos Interesting

Content

0:00 Intro

0:17 Blues Phrases from George Benson, Joe Pass, and Emily Remler

0:34 Example #1

0:47 Benson’s Major Blues Sound

1:38 Play Blues From The Key of the Piece

1:58 The Blues As Leading Notes

2:48 Altered Dominant? Blues!

3:21 Example #1 Slow

3:38 Benson’s Blues Approach

4:04 Pat Martino On Benson 

4:20 Example #2

4:29 Joe Pass – Watch What Happens

5:24 Joe Pass’ Minor Blues

6:43 Example #2 Slow

6:55 Blues In Major and in Minor songs

7:19 Example #3

7:32 Using Blues in a Minor Key

8:11  Emily Remler – Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

8:53 From Blues to Triplet Groupings

9:20 Example #3 Slow

9:36 The Things You Want to Do To Use Blues in Jazz Solos

10:22 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

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Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

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, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.