One of the biggest hurdles many jazz guitarists face early in their development is being able to connect chords, scales and arpeggios in their playing without having to jump all over the fretboard between shapes. When I was first learning how to play jazz, one of the best lessons I ever learned came from a comment I read from Joe Pass.
Most of us begin with the Ionian mode then move on to Dorian and progress up the fretboard in this way until we’ve learned all seven positions of the major scale. While this can be an effective way of learning modes, in this lesson you will learn a shortcut that will allow you to quickly and easily learn all seven modes by starting with Lydian and simply lowering one note at a time until you can play all seven modes on the fretboard.
In this lesson, I’ve laid out three classic B.B. King lines that Jazz guitarists can study, break down and apply to their playing in order to translate the vocabulary of this legendary guitarist into their jazz soloing lines and phrases.
You don’t need to go very far to find a cool-sounding scale that can jazz up your blues solos in no time. We’ll be looking into the mixed blues scale, which combines the notes from the minor and major blues scales to outline the underlying blues chord changes, while retaining a healthy dose of the blues at the same time.
In this lesson, you will learn how to play and apply 4th chords to the I7, IV7 and V7 chords of a blues progression in order to bring a modern vibe to your comping ideas, as well as learn a study that you can use to hear these shapes in a musical situation.
ii-Vs are some of the most commonly used and important chords in the jazz repertoire. It’s a progression you’ll see often as a jazz guitarist, so being able to confidently solo over these chords is an essential skill. When first learning to blow over these chords, we often start with the Dorian and Mixolydian modes over each chord, respectively.
Improvising with arpeggios is a great way to dig into chord changes, bringing out the exact sound of each chord in your lines. While scales and modes are great for outlining keys and creating modal colors, when you want to sound each chord in a progression, arpeggios are the way to go. While they are great for outlining chord changes, arpeggios can often become boring or predictable when you overuse them in a solo.
One of the most common alterations you will come across as a beginning and intermediate jazz guitarist is the 7#11 chord. Built by taking a normal dominant 7 chord, R 3 5 b7, and lowering the 5th by a 1/2 step, R 3 #11(b5) b7, these chord symbols come up time and again in big band charts and standard tunes.
In this first lesson, you’ll learn how to use 7th and 7#11 arpeggios to outline the tritone sub in a ii V I chord progression, allowing you to take your soloing chops up a notch and begin to create lines in the same vibe as your favorite jazz guitarists at the same time.
One of the most common questions I get from students and readers alike is, “I've learned tons of jazz chords, but how do I make them sound like music?” Alongside your study of chord voicings on their own, one of the best ways to learn how to apply those chords to your comping and chord soloing is to learn sample chord studies based on the changes to popular jazz tunes.