Triplets Can Make Your Jazz Solo Sound Amazing

You are always working on playing better solos, making your lines more interesting and finding the right arpeggios or scales. But Jazz is also about rhythm, and it is actually more important to work on playing more interesting rhythms in your solos. Using triplets is a great way to improve your vocabulary and not sounding like an 8th note robot with no dynamics or expression.

In this video, I am going to show you 4 ways that you can easily add 8th note triplets to your jazz lines and make them sound a lot more interesting.

Chromatic Triplets

Let’s get to it. The first place to use triplets is pretty easy to play because you can put it on one string most of the time. When you check out these examples you will also hear that these are really a core part of the Bebop Language

Chromatic enclosures add tension or dissonance that is then resolved quickly, and the combination of this with 8th note triplets is a very nice way to add some energy and momentum to a line. Here I am first using it on the Dm7 with one triplet and two 8th notes to target the F on beat 3. You can find this with Joe Pass and Charlie Parker (Pictures?)

A shorter variation is used on the Cmaj7.

This double triplet chromatic melody is one you will find often with Charlie Parker in his solos on Anthropology or Now’s the time. (Pictures?)

To practice phrases like this you could see the phrase as being a way to connect a minor 3rd with half steps, E to G.

You can then also make one for a major 3rd that starts with a whole step not a half step.

This way you can play the pattern through an Fmaj7 arpeggio like this:

The next thing to check out is how you can create some great sounding arpeggio lines with triplets

Bebop Arpeggios

Playing the Gm7 arpeggio as a triplet with a leading note is something you will find pretty much everywhere, and certainly, something that should be a part of your playing.

You could see the triplet as a way of giving emphasis to the top note, consider that a target note of the arpeggio.

Another way to use the triplets with arpeggios is what you will hear in this Wes Montgomery inspired line again the point is to target the first note after the triplet:

In this example, I also use Honeysuckle rose arpeggio played as a triplet on the Fmaj7.

The best way to practice the arpeggios like this and get them into your playing is to take them through the scale in an exercise like this:

Next I am going to show you a way to transform “normal” 8th note phrases to phrases with triplets

Triplet Transformations as 8th note variations

Here you could play this as “normal” 8th notes like this:

But you can easily hear how the first version is more exciting, and really this is just about mapping 4 8th notes on to a the rhythm with triplets


Another variation of this principle could be this:

Here the rhythm is this (ILLUSTRATION) and you could make other variations yourself.

Let’s look at how to use triplets for polyrhythms

Groupings and Polyrhythm

Usually, we feel triplets as groups of 3 notes like this:


But triplets can also be seen as the bar split into 12 notes and you can group them into 3 groups of 4 notes which sounds like this:

And this shifts on top of the quarter note pulse in a very nice way that you can also use in a solo like this:

Here you have 4-note groupings on the G7alt

Another way to use this on an entire II V I, but then playing a slightly less obvious rhythm would be this:

Here I am using a rhythm which is 3 notes and the last is a quarter note triplet.

Practicing Playing These Rhythms

When it comes to these triplet rhythms both the transformations and the polyrhythms then it can be really useful to work on playing these by working on soloing on Afro Cuban 12/8 grooves which are based on the triplets and will help you get comfortable playing them.

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