When learning how to play guitar, many of us begin by exploring major and minor triads, often in the open position. As we advance, we might take these three-note chords up the neck and look at different inversions in our practice routine. But we tend to stop at closed-position triads when checking these shapes out in the woodshed.
One of the most common questions I get from jazz guitarists is, “How do I bring a more modern sound into my solos?” While there is no single answer, there are a few things we can do in order to inject a bit of modern jazz flavor into our lines. The first modern-jazz concept I like to explore with students is to think and play two chords at once over a single harmony.
When studying jazz guitar, we often begin by exploring the Dorian mode when soloing over m7 chords. But, while that is a great first-choice scale, we often stop there with our explorations of m7 chord vocabulary. One of the mostly widely used scales besides Dorian to solo over m7 chords is the melodic minor scale, which is built like a Dorian but with a natural rather than a b7 note.
One of the first scales many guitarists learn is the minor pentatonic scale. Though it is a staple of the rock and blues worlds, many guitarists tend to leave this scale behind when they begin to explore the jazzier side of the music world. While there are a number of scales and modes one needs to learn when studying jazz guitar, we don’t need to forget the material we’ve learned in our rock and blues playing when jumping the fence to the jazz world.
As people who study jazz guitar know, learning how to play various chord substitutions is an important part of understanding and applying the jazz language to your comping and soloing ideas. In order to learn how to bring some common subs into your playing this week, in today’s lesson we’ll be exploring five important and often-used ii V I chord subs that come from various famous tunes, and the playing of many great jazz guitarists over the years.
Many of us know it is important to use arpeggios to outline chords in our licks, phrases, melody lines and solos. While we know learning arpeggios is important, we can become bored with our playing if we stick to using root-position, R-3-5-7 arpeggios to build our licks and melodies.
Learning how to play jazz guitar means learning a number of ways to play maj7 chords and the related extensions, maj6, maj9 and maj7#11, associated with these chords. While these extended chords contain four, five and sometimes six notes, that doesn’t mean you have to learn big, hard-to-play fingerings that are difficult to grab and hard to insert into a playing situation.
As a guitar teacher, two of the most common questions I get from students are, “How do I break out of box patterns?” and “How can I learn the notes on the neck without just memorizing each fret?” Over the years, and after working with hundreds of students on these topics, I’ve come up with a few exercises that have proved to be very beneficial to players who find themselves asking these questions.
In today’s lesson, we’ll be looking at one fingering for the dim7 chord, arpeggio and related scale on the top-four strings of the guitar that you can use to move around the neck, creating four different positions for each of these harmonic and melodic devices in the process.