Tag Archives: scale exercises guitar

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

You probably already practice arpeggios, but chances are you can do it as a better Scale exercise than what you are doing now, and that is what I want to talk about in this video. Jazz Scale Exercises should be about giving you the material you can use in your solos and help you know and play the different arpeggios and melodies found in the scale.

When you improvise in Jazz then the lines or melodies that you play are related to the chords you are playing over and the solo follows the chord progression it is played over. One easy way to do this is to use the arpeggios of each chord.

You can use the arpeggio of the chord you are playing over, but in fact, there are more options than this and the exercise in this lesson will help you tie all of that together in one exercise.

Practicing Arpeggios in the Scale

The reason why it makes a lot of sense to practice diatonic arpeggios in a scale position is quite simple.

When you improvise a solo you are not only playing scales and then only arpeggios. The jazz lines you are making are a mix of the two. Therefore it is essential to have the arpeggios placed in a scale as notes that are important, and the rest are available.

Here is a C major scale in the 8th position

Playing the diatonic one-octave arpeggios through this scale position would give you this exercise:

Know the Scale!

Often when you learn Guitar in the beginning you rely mostly on the visual aspect of the instrument. Scales, Chords and Arpeggios are shapes that you can see on the fretboard.

This works really well for learning and remembering, but make sure that you also know what notes you are playing and what notes are in those chords and arpeggios. It will become very useful along the way.

For the exercises here above, it is a very good idea if you also play them while saying the notes or saying the names of the chord that you are arpeggiating. This will teach you the fretboard and the music theory on another level and also really attach it to what you play.

Using the arpeggios in your solos

It is not enough to just practice the scale exercise and then hope that your solos will suddenly magically include the arpeggios.

To show you how you can make some basic licks mixing scales and arpeggios here are a few ideas using a Cmaj7 arpeggio and chord.

The first one starts with the Cmaj arpeggio and then continues with a scale melody.

In the second example You can see how it is possible to mix scale notes into the arpeggio and also add a little chromaticism to more of a bebop sound.

Bebop Arpeggios!

This is a great variation on the exercise that also is really setting you up to play some bebop lines. Here you play the arpeggio as a triplet and insert a chromatic leading note in front of the root. This creates some energy and motion that then really brings out the target note that is the 7th of the arpeggio.

This exercise for the scale looks like this:

Make some Bebop Licks!

Using this way of playing arpeggios can be used in licks like this.

The first lick is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio in the lower octave and combining it with an intervallic melody in the2nd half of the bar.

The 2nd example is using the higher octave and adding a chromatic run between D and C before ending on G.

The Arpeggio from the 3rd

Until now I have only been talking about what how to use the basic Cmaj7 arpeggio over a Cmaj7 chord, but you can use more arpeggios.

The way to understand this is quite simple. You can use other arpeggios that contain notes that work well on the chord. The Arpeggio from the 3rd of a chord is usually a great option:

Cmaj7: C E G B – Em7: E G B D

So the two arpeggios share E G B and the Em7 is only adding the D on top of the Cmaj7 which is the 9th and a good note to add in there.

A few ways of playing an Em7 arpeggio in this position is shown here below:

Jazz Licks with an Em7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord

You can use the Em7 arpeggio like this.

The first example is a basic “bebop Em7 arpeggio” that continues with a more modern sounding Quartal arpeggio from B.

The 2nd example is again focusing more on adding some chromatic ideas. Here the first half of the bar is a chromatic enclosure that is leading us to the first note of the Em7 arpeggio.

Putting all of this into a II V I lick

To give you and idea about how easy this is to generalize to a progression I have added this final example.

Take a look at the lick and see how I am using Fmaj7 on Dm7. Both Bø and G7 on the G7 and also both Em7 and Cmaj7 arpeggios on the Cmaj7.

It is easier than you think!

Use this approach in a Song!

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise

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

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

Technique and Scale Exercises are for sound

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

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

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

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

Basic Scale Exercise and a few options

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

In the video I play it with alternate picking:

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

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

 Technique priorities – what to choose

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

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

So it doesn’t have to sound the same!

Actually you make choices on this already with the exercises.

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

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

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


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

Adding Economy picking to the mix

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

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

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

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise – PDF

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