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How To Play A Bb Jazz Blues Chord Solo For Guitar

When learning how to play jazz guitar, many of us are drawn to the jazz blues chord solos of great players such as Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Lenny Breau and others in order to expand our jazz guitar chords and chord soloing ideas.

While we may be excited to learn how to play chord solos in the style of these legendary jazz guitarists, it’s often difficult to know where to start in order to maximize time in the practice room, and begin to play a convincing jazz blues chord solo.

One of the best ways to learn how to build a jazz blues chord solo, is to learn a few jazz blues chord solo etudes in order to get an idea of how these choruses are built, how they are phrased, and how they fit under your fingers when you take them into your own playing.

In today’s lesson, we’ll be looking at a chorus of jazz blues chord soloing in the key of Bb that I’ve written out to help get you to the next level in your jazz guitar chord soloing development.

Check this solo out, first breaking it up into each phrase and then attacking the entire chorus at once. It features some classic riffs, and it will help get some chord soloing ideas into your ears and under your fingers as you explore the fun and exciting world of jazz guitar chord soloing.

Have a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the Bb Jazz Blues Chord Solo thread at the MWG Forum.


Click to download the PDF for today’s lesson.


Bb Jazz Blues Chord Solo – 1st Four Bars


Before digging into the entire chord solo, you might want to break it down into the three, 4-bar phrases from both a physical and theoretical standpoint.

Here are a few items to notice, and possibly take out of context and practice in 12 keys, apply to other tunes, or improvise within other contexts, from the first 4-bars of the chord solo.


  • The anticipation of each new chord in bars 1, 2 and 4, where the next chord change lands on the & of 4 of the previous bar. This is a common jazz rhythm, which is used a lot in single-note and chord soloing contexts.
  • The mixture of Drop 2 Chords and Closed-Position Chords in the run that lands on beats 3 and 4 of the second bar.
  • There is a tritone substitution in bar 4, where an E7 has been used in place of the written Bb7. This E7 then resolves down to the Eb7 in bar 5 of the chord solo.


Jazz Blues Chord Solo 1


Jazz Blues Chord Solo – Second Four Bars


Here are a few items to keep in mind, and extract for further practice, within the second, 4-bar phrase of this jazz guitar chord solo.


  • The use of a 4th-voicing chord on beat 4 of the first bar to help break up the use of Drop 2 Chords, which are predominantly used in this phrase.
  • The A7 on beat 4 of bar 2 that lead chromatically back to the Bb7 chord in the next bar, which has been anticipated to land on the & of 4 in bar 2.
  • There are a few chord subs being used in bars 3 and 4 of this phrase, which outline a very common variation of bars 7 and 8 of a jazz blues chord progression. These chords, in this key, are Bb7-Eb7-Dm7b5-G7b9.


Jazz Blues Chord Solo 2


Jazz Blues Chord Solo – Third Four Bars


To finish up, here are a few items to keep in mind when learning and studying the last, 4-bar phrase of this jazz guitar chord solo.



Jazz Blues Chord Solo 3



Bb Jazz Blues Chord Solo Study


Now that you have learned and studied each individual phrase of this jazz guitar chord solo, you’re ready to dig in and learn the entire chorus.

Take your time and use a metronome and/or backing track at a slow tempo when first learning how to play this chord study.

After you are comfortable playing it through at a slow tempo, maybe starting around 50 bpms, the slowly raise the tempo in order to take this solo to a more medium tempo.


Click to hear audio for the Bb Jazz Blues Chord Study


Bb Jazz Blues Chord Solo Full



How to Practice the Bb Jazz Blues Chord Solo Study


After you have learned this chord solo as written, at a slow or medium tempo, you will want to explore and expand it further in your practice routine in order to get the most out of each lick, phrase and rhythm in this etude.

Here are a few ways that you can break down and expand on this chord solo further in your jazz guitar practice routine.


  • Practice this chord solo at various tempos from 50 to 200 bpm’s if possible.
  • Extract one or more licks from each 4-bar phrase and practice them at various tempos and in all 12 keys if possible.
  • Sing the root note of each underlying chord while playing the above chord solo on the guitar.
  • Begin to improvise with this chord solo by adding in new notes and chords, changing the rhythms and taking notes out of the solo in order to take it off the page and begin to make this solo your own.
  • Write your own chord solo using licks and phrases from this, and other jazz guitar chord soloing phrases, in order to develop the skills needed to improvise in this style on the spot.


If you have a question or comment on this jazz guitar chord soloing study, head on over to the Matt Warnock Facebook Page and post a question on my wall.

I am glad to help out and answer any questions you may have on this, or any other, jazz guitar topic.

"Matt's site is an amazing resource when studying Jazz guitar. It's clear, effective, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week" - Joel

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  1. James Malone, March 19, 2013:

    Fantastic, useful article as always Matt!

    I am required to learn the blues in twelve keys for my RAM audition and I was trying to come up with the most effective way of doing this. Hopefully you can give me some pointers. Currently, my approach is to stick to a single key and practice improvising with it’s blues scale, mixolydian modes and arpeggios. This morning I thought that maybe it would make more sense if I learn to play in all twelve keys, simply using the blues scale, and then build up from there. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this if you have a free moment.


  2. Matthew Warnock, March 19, 2013:

    Hey James. Good luck with the audition! I would suggest starting with the minor blues scale in each key. Then, move on to arpeggios for each chord in each key, then the bebop scale.

    If you can get those working together it will give you a ton of options that will sound good over the chords and it’s only 3 things to learn.

    Also, I would focus on the main keys first, F, Bb, C, G, Eb. Then move on from there.

    Good luck!

  3. Jonas, June 30, 2015:

    Hi Matt, thank you very much for this superb, great, fantastic material!!

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