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Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar

Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar. Great to have you here!

If you’re just starting to learn how to play jazz guitar, need a refresher on Jazz guitar fundamentals, or just want to fill any gaps in your fretboard knowledge or playing, then you’re in the right place.

The Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar will help you master the 3 fundamental skills you need to become a well-rounded Jazz guitarist.

The essential skills needed to play Jazz guitar are:

 

  • Soloing
  • Comping
  • Walking Basslines

 

Over the course of these 10 chapters, each of these 3 essential Jazz guitar fundamentals is broken down into easy to understand and apply practice routines.

 

These fun exercises will help you quickly apply these skills to the fretboard through various musical and audio examples.

 

By learning this material, you’ll develop a strong skill set that you can then build upon as you move forward when learning how to play Jazz guitar.

 

Download the complete Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar PDF, 84 pages, with an exclusive bonus chapter, “5 Essential ii V I Jazz Guitar Licks.”

 

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How to Use the Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar

 

First thing to get out of the way is, you don’t have to work each chapter in the Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar in order, from 1 to 10.

But.

The chapters have been written in that order to lead you smoothly from one concept to the next, if you do choose to follow them in order.

 

So, it’s advised that you start on chapter one and move forward from there, especially if this is your first exposure to learning to play Jazz guitar.

 

If you do want to skip around, I’d suggest starting on Chapter 1, Chapter 5 or Chapter 9, as those are the first chapters for Comping, Soloing and Basslines respectively.

From there, make sure to jam along to the backing tracks for every exercise that you work on, where available.

Taking Jazz guitar chords and soloing material to jam tracks will help you develop your Jazz soloing skills.

Along with your technical exercises, this will ensure that you have a well balanced guitar practice routine.

And, the most important thing about learning to play Jazz guitar, have fun!

Before you begin, please take a minute and read these important lessons that will help you organize your Jazz guitar practice routine.

 

 

 

Contents (Click to Skip Down)

 

 

 

Chapter 1 – Beginner Drop 3 Chords

 

In the first Chapter, you’ll be learning one of the most commonly used Chords in Jazz, the Drop 3 Chord.

By learning these introductory Drop 3 chords on the guitar, you’ll be able to comp common chord progressions and Jazz standards in the style of jazz guitar legends such as Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery.

So, grab your guitar, turn up your amp and get ready to learn how to play Drop 3 chords for guitar.

 

 

What Are Drop 3 Chords?

 

While you may have heard the term Drop 3 Chords before, and maybe even learned a few of these shapes on the fretboard, you may be asking yourself:

 

“Why are they called Drop 3 chords?”

 

To answer that question, here’s a quick formula for you to memorize in order to understand why they’re called Drop 3 chords.

 

  • Take a closed-position chord, 1-3-5-7, such as the Cmaj7 below
  • Take the 3rd note from the TOP of that chord and lower (drop) it by one octave
  • You now have a Drop 3 Chord in 1st inversion (3rd in the bass)

 

Here’s how that would look on the staff.

 

How to Play Drop 2 Chords For Jazz Guitar 1

 

There are also inversions for Drop 3 Chords, which you won’t learn right now, but that are good to explore for further study.

Here’s the interval structure for each inversion of any Drop 3 chord.

You can simply flatten or raise any given note to produce the chord quality you want to build, such as 7 or m7.

 

  • Root Position = R-7-3-5
  • 1st Inversion = 3-R-5-7
  • 2nd Inversion = 5-3-7-R
  • 3rd Inversion = 7-5-R-3

 

Now that you know how to build Drop 3 Chords, and the interval order for each inversion, you’re ready to take these chords onto the fretboard.

 

 

Maj7 Drop 3 Chords

 

Drop 3 Maj7 Chords are built by taking the Root-3rd-5th-7th of the major scale and stacking these notes on top of each other to form a chord.

As you saw earlier, to build a root-position Drop 3 Chord you need to rearrange those notes until they form the interval pattern, R-7-3-5.

Here are two different Cmaj7 root-position chords to practice applying to the fretboard.

 

Click to hear audio for these Drop 3 Maj7 Chords.

 

Drop 3 Maj7 Chords

 

Once you can play these two Drop 3 Chords from memory, practice playing root-position Maj7 Drop 3 shapes in all 12 keys.

 

 

7th Drop 3 Chords

 

As you  check out Drop 3 7th Chords on guitar, there are two different ways that you can think about these chord shapes.

The first is by using their interval structure, which is R-3-5-b7, or the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the Mixolydian Mode.

 

As you may have noticed, this chord is only one note different from the maj7 chord you just learned.

 

The second way to think about Drop 3 7th Chords is to take any maj7 chord shape you know and simply lower the 7th by one fret.

Here are two different Drop 3 7th Chords, all in root position, for you to learn and practice on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear audio for these Drop 3 7th Chords.

 

 

Drop 3 7th Chords

 

When you have these 7th-chord shapes under your fingers, practice moving between maj7 and 7th chords from the same root, playing Cmaj7-C7 for example.

 

 

m7 Drop 3 Chords

 

As was the case with Drop 3 7th chords, there are two ways that you can think about Drop 3 m7th Chords.

The first way to look at m7th Drop 3 Chords, is to look at the intervals used to build this chord.

 

The interval construction for any Drop 3 m7th Chord is R-b7-b3-5.

 

These notes are drawn from the Dorian Mode, as the m7th chord is built by stacking the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the Dorian Mode.

The second way to think about Drop 3 m7th Chords is to compare them to the 7th chord shapes you just learned.

You’ll notice that m7th and 7th chords are only one note different, the b3rd interval in the m7th chord is lowered.

This means that you can take any Drop 3 7th Chord you know, lower the 3rd by one fret, and you now have a Drop 3 m7th chord shape.

Here are two Cm7 root-position Drop 3 Chords for you to explore in your studies.

 

Click to hear audio for these Drop 3 m7 Chords.

 

 

Drop 3 m7 Chords

 

Once you can play these Drop 3 m7 Chords from memory, play the following three Drop 3 chords:

 

  • Dm7
  • G7
  • Cmaj7

 

By doing so, you’ve now built your first ii-V-I chord progression.

This is one of the most important chord progressions in jazz, and one that you will explore further in Chapter 3 of this Guide.

 

 

m7b5 Drop 3 Chords

 

There are also two different ways to think about building and playing Drop 3 m7b5 Chords on the guitar.

The first is the interval construction of these chords, which is R-b3-b5-b7.

These notes come from the Locrian Mode, the 7th mode of the major scale.

The second way to build Drop 3 m7b5 chords is to take any m7 chord shape and simply lower the 5th by one fret.

Here are two Cm7b5 Drop 3 root-position chords to get you started with these shapes on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear audio for these Drop 3 m7b5 Chords.

 

 

Drop 3 m7b5 Chords

 

Once you have these Drop 3 m7b5 chords under your fingers, practice moving between Cm7 and Cm7b5 in both positions on the neck from memory.

Then, take this exercise into all 12 keys as you begin to explore these two important chords further in the practice room.

 

 

Dim7 Drop 3 Chords

 

The last Drop 3 chords that you’ll learn in this Chapter are Dim7 chords.

To keep things simple, you’ll only look at one way to build and think about these chord shapes on the fretboard.

To build Dim7 Drop 3 Chords, you take any m7b5 chord and lower the 7th by one fret.

 

The interval structure for Dim7 Drop 3 Chords is R-b3-b5-bb7. 

 

The “double flat” 7 is also referred to as a Diminished 7th interval, hence the name of the chord.

Here are both root-position Drop 3 Dim7 chords to help you get started with these important chord shapes in the practice room.

 

Click to hear audio for these Drop 3 Dim7 Chords.

 

Drop 3 dim7 chords

 

As with any chord you learn, make sure to start in one key until you are comfortable playing these two shapes from memory, before exploring them in all 12 keys around the neck of the guitar.

 

 

Drop 3 Chords Exercise 1

 

To help get you started on working Beginner Drop 3 Chords in the practice room, here is an exercise you can do in order to memorize each of these shapes.

This exercise is great for starting to see the close relationships between each Drop 3 Chord.

The exercise is fairly straightforward.

You begin on a maj7 chord, then you move one note at a time until you reach the dim7 chord for that same root note.

Here is the order of chords in this exercise.

 

  • Maj7
  • 7
  • m7
  • m7b5
  • Dim7

 

Look familiar?

It’s the same order of the Beginner Drop 3 Chords that you learned in this Chapter.

Pretty cool right!

Here’s an example of this Drop 3 chord exercise written out from a C root on the 6th string.

 

Click to hear audio for the Drop 3 Chords Exercise 1

 

Beginner Drop 3 Chords Exercise 1

 

It’s a good idea to use a metronome when practicing these chords.

This’ll force you to move in time between each chord, helping you to develop a smooth shift between each chord type as you work them out in the woodshed.

 

 

Drop 3 Chords Exercise 2

 

Apart from working through Drop 3 chords in order from the 6th-string root, you can practice these chords from the 5th-string root.

The concept is the same, you are just using a different set of strings to play these Drop 3 Chords during this exercise.

Here’s an example of this exercise, but now applied to Drop 3 Chords with a 5th-string root.

 

Click to hear audio for the Drop 3 Chords Exercise 2

 

Beginner Drop 3 Chords Exercise 2

 

Once you have this exercise under your fingers, try mixing together both exercises, 6th and 5th-string root shapes, as you begin to combine different string sets for these Drop 3 Chords in the woodshed.

 

 

Drop 3 Chords Bonus Exercise

 

As well as getting these Beginner Drop 3 Chords under your left hand, you can use these chords to develop our right-hand technique as well.

Here’s a fun exercise that you can do in order to begin separating any chord into a bass note plus the rest of the chord.

By doing so, you’ll begin to develop your right-hand technique, which will come in handy later on when learning how to walk bass lines on the guitar.

This exercise also provides picking variety to your chords at the same time.

You can work this exercise in three ways:

 

 

Feel free to use whichever right-hand technique you are most comfortable with.

Here’s an example of breaking up Beginner Drop 3 Chords into bass note and the top-three notes of the chord as applied to the Drop 3 Chord Exercise 1 above.

 

Click to hear audio for the Drop 3 Chords Bonus Exercise

 

Beginner Drop 3 Chords Bonus Exercise

 

This right-hand exercise is not only good for Drop 3 Chords, but for any chord shapes or chord progression you’re working on.

So, bring this exercise into any chord or chord progression exercise you’re working on in your Jazz guitar practice routine.

 

 

Chapter 1 Checklist

 

After you’ve taken a look at the Drop 3 Chord examples and exercises above, you’ll be ready to dig deeper into these important Jazz chords in the woodshed.

Here’s a checklist of exercises that you can use to measure your progress when working on Drop 3 Chords in the practice room.

You don’t have to master all of these items before moving on to the next Chapter in this Guide.

But.

being able to play 2-3 of these items from memory with a metronome at a slow to medium tempo is a good test to see when you are ready to move on to the next Chapter.

 

  • Play Maj7, 7, m7, m7b5, and dim7 Drop 3 Chords from memory
  • Say the interval names for each shape as you play it
  • Drop 3 Chord Exercise 1 and 2 from memory
  • Drop 3 Chord Exercise 1 and 2 with the Bonus Exercise picking
  • For a bigger challenge, say the note names for each Drop 3 Chord in these exercises

 

 

Chapter 2 – Beginner Drop 2 Chords

 

When learning how to play Jazz guitar, one of the most important shapes to get under your fingers are Drop 2 chords.

These root-position shapes will allow you to cover a wider range of the neck as compared to Drop 3 chords.

This is because there are now three string sets to explore, as opposed to the two for Drop 3 shapes.

As well, Drop 2 chords tend to work very well when used in chord melody and chord soloing situations,

Because of this, they’re essential learning for any Jazz guitarist looking to play chords in the style of legendary players such as Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall and Ed Bickert.

In this lesson you’ll be looking at how build, play, practice and apply Drop 2 chords.

Check out these shapes, and most importantly, have fun with them.

 

 

What Are Drop 2 Chords?

 

While you may have heard the term Drop 2 chord before you may not have learned why these chords are called Drop 2.

To help you get a firm grasp on the theory behind these chords, here’s a quick formula for you to memorize the theory behind Drop 2 chord shapes.

 

  • Take a closed-position chord, 1-3-5-7
  • Take the 2nd note from the TOP of that chord and lower (drop) it by one octave
  • You now have a 2nd inversion Drop 2 Chord
  • To make things easier to play, take the top note of this new shape and lower it by one string, so that there are no string skips

 

Here’s how that would look on paper.

 

Beginner Drop 2 Chords For Guitar

 

There are also inversions for Drop 2 Chords, which you won’t look at right now, but which are good to know for further study.

Here’s the interval structure for each inversion of any Drop 2 chord.

To make other chords, such as 7 or m7, you simply flatten or raise the note needed to make that new chord.

 

  • Root Position = R-5-7-3
  • 1st Inversion = 3-7-R-5
  • 2nd Inversion = 5-R-3-7
  • 3rd Inversion = 7-3-5-R

 

Notice how the 3rd and 7th, as well as the Root and 5th, of any Drop 2 chord inversion are always next to each other.

This has always helped me when building Drop 2 chords.

Check it out, as it might help keep these notes organized in your playing as well.

Now that you’ve looked at how to build Drop 2 Chords, you can take these chords off the page and onto the fretboard.

 

 

Drop 2 Maj7 Chords

 

The first set of Drop 2 chords that you’ll look at are maj7 shapes.

Maj7 chords are built by taking the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the major scale and stacking them to form a chord shape.

As well, you can think of maj7 chords from an intervallic perspective.

In this case, maj7 chords contain the intervals Root-M3-P5-M7, allowing you to build maj7 chords from any root note.

Here are three Drop 2 maj7 chords to learn and memorize on the fretboard.

 

Click to hear audio for these Beginner Drop 2 Maj7 Chords

 

Drop 2 maj7 chords

 

Once you can play Drop 2 maj7 chords, play the Cmaj7 Drop 2 shapes followed by the Drop 3 maj7 chord shapes.

This will help you see the relationship between these two important chord grips on the guitar.

 

 

Drop 2 7th Chords

 

If you’re coming to Jazz from Rock or Blues, then you’re no doubt familiar with 7th chords.

These chords are built by stacking the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the Mixolydian Mode.

 

This produces the interval structure R-3-5-b7.

 

As well, you can think of a Drop 2 7th chord as being only one note apart from maj7 chords.

Take any Drop 2 maj7 chord you know, lower the 7th by one fret, and you now have a Drop 2 7th chord.

Here are three different Drop 2 7th root position chords to check out on the fretboard.

 

 

Click to hear audio for these Beginner Drop 2 7th Chords

 

Drop 2 7 Chords

 

If you have a background in Rock or Blues, take any song you know that has 7th chords in it, and play those songs using Drop 2 chords.

 

 

Drop 2 m7 Chords

 

The next set of Drop 2 Chords that you’ll learn are the m7 chord shapes.

You can build a m7 chord by taking the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the Dorian Scale.

This produces the interval structure 1-b3-5-b7.

You can also think of m7 chords as being one-note different from 7th chord shapes.

Take any Drop 2 7th chord, lower the 3rd by 1 fret, and you will now have a Drop 2 m7 chord.

Here are three root-position Drop 2 m7 chords that you can learn in your studies.

 

Click to hear audio for these Beginner Drop 2 m7 Chords

 

Drop 2 m7 chords

 

With the m7 Drop 2 Chords under your fingers, play Dm7-G7-Cmaj7  to form a ii-V-I Chord Progression.

This is a nice intro to these chords, which you’ll explore in full detail during subsequent chapters.

 

 

Drop 2 m7b5 Chords

 

There are two different ways that you can build and think about m7b5 chords.

The first is to think of the interval structure of the chord, which is 1-b3-b5-b7.

These intervals are taken from the Locrian Scale, the 7th mode of the Major Scale System.

The second way to think about m7b5 chords, is to take any Drop 2 m7 chord, and lower the 5th by a fret.

Either way of thinking about m7b5 Drop 2 Chords is legit, so try both out and see which one suits you best.

Here’s an example of three different Cm7b5 root-position Drop 2 chords on the guitar to check out.

 

Click to hear audio for these Beginner Drop 2 m7b5 Chords

 

Drop 2 m7b5 chords

 

Now that you have the Drop 2 m7b5 chords under your fingers, play these three shapes followed by the three Drop 3 m7b5 shapes from the same root.

Doing so will now give you 6 ways to play m7b5 chords on the fretboard.

This is enough to allow variety when comping, and allow you to cover the entire neck with m7b5 chords in any key.

 

 

Drop 2 Dim7 Chords

 

To finish your exploration of Beginner Drop 2 Chords, here are three shapes for the Dim7 root-position chord.

To make things easy, think about the Dim7 chord as being a variation of the m7b5 shapes that you just learned.

To do this, play any Drop 2 m7b5 chord shape on the guitar, then simply lower the 7th of any of those shapes.

This produces the interval collection, 1-b3-b5-bb7 for a Dim7 chord.

The bb7 (Double Flat 7) is also called the Diminished 7 interval, hence the name of the chord.

Here are three root-position Drop 2 Chords to begin learning in the woodshed.

 

Click to hear audio for these Beginner Drop 2 Dim7 Chords

 

 

Drop 2 dim7 chords

 

With each of the five basic Drop 2 Chord qualities under your fingers in root position, take a look at a few exercises that will help you further solidify these shapes into your playing.

 

 

Drop 2 Chords – Exercise 1

 

Now that you’ve worked on each individual Drop 2 root position chord, you can now work on bringing them together in your routine.

In this exercise, you’ll begin on the maj7 chord shape on the lowest four strings.

Then, moving one note at a time until you finish on the Dim7 chord on that same string set.

By working through Drop 2 chords this way, you’ll wind up with the order maj7-7-m7-m7b5-dim7, the same order that you learned these chords in this chapter.

This exercise will increase your dexterity and chord knowledge.

It will help you hear the differences and similarities between these chords on the fretboard.

Here’s an example of this exercise written out from the root note C.

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Chords Exercise 1

 

Beginner Drop 2 Chords - Exercise 1

 

Once you’ve learned this exercise from the root note C, try it in a few keys to see how it sits around the fretboard.

 

 

Drop 2 Chords – Exercise 2

 

The next exercise uses the same principal as the first, though now on the middle 4 strings.

These chords are great for comping, as they have a full sound, but don’t get too close to the higher range of the guitar.

This allows you to keep out of the sonic real estate of the soloist.

Here are those shapes from a C root note to explore in the woodshed.

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Chords Exercise 2

 

Beginner Drop 2 Chords - Exercise 2

 

A fun exercise to work on at this stage in the game, is to run the Drop 2 chords through each chord quality with a 5th-string root, followed by the same Drop 3 chords from that root.

This’ll allow you to see each of the options you have for both chord shapes from a root position chord grip on the 5th string.

And then on the 6th string if you take this exercise to that string set as well.

Check this out, fun way to begin moving between Drop 3 and Drop 2 chords in your Jazz guitar workout.

 

 

Drop 2 Chords – Exercise 3

 

The last exercise in this section focuses on running through each chord quality for Drop 2 chords on the top 4 strings.

With time, you’ll find that these will end up being the Drop 2 chords that you rely on the most when comping, soloing and arranging chord melodies.

Because of this, they’re worth spending a good amount of time on to get down comfortably in the woodshed.

Here’s the exercise written out from the root note C.

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Chords Exercise 3

 

Beginner Drop 2 Chords Exercise 3

 

Now that you’ve worked out all three string sets for this exercise, pick one root note, C for example, and play the maj7-7-m7-m7b5-dim7 chords on the 6th-string root, then the 5th-string root, and finally the 4th-string root all in a row.

This is a great way to test your knowledge, and work on shifting around the neck quickly and smoothly at the same time.

 

 

Drop 2 Chords – Bonus Exercise

 

As well as using Beginner Drop 2 Chords to work on left-hand dexterity and chordal knowledge, you can use these shapes to develop your picking hand.

One of the roadblocks that many beginner Jazz guitarists face is that they always see any chord shape from the bass note first.

While this may help you see the neck, is puts a constant emphasis on the lowest note of each chord shape that you play.

Because the highest note of each chord we play tends to stick out the most, here’s a beneficial exercise to train yourself to see the top note of each chord as the most important.

Here’s an example of this exercise as applied to the Drop 2 chord Exercise 1.

The crux of the exercise is that you pluck the top note of every chord first, and then play the rest of the notes from there.

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Chords Exercise 1

 

Beginner Drop 2 Chords Bonus Exercise

 

After you’ve worked on this exercise over Drop 2 chords, try bringing it to your Drop 3 chord practicing sessions as well.

It’s a fun exercise that can be applied to any chord shapes that you know in the woodshed.

 

 

Chapter 2 Checklist

 

After you’ve taken a look at the Drop 2 Chord examples and exercises above, you’re ready to dig deeper into these important Jazz harmonic devices.

Here’s a checklist of exercises you can use to measure your progress when working on Drop 2 chords in the practice room.

You don’t have to master all of these items before moving on to the next chapter in this Guide.

But, being able to play 3-5 of these items from memory is a good test to see when you are ready to move on to the next chapter.

 

  • All 3 Maj7, 7, m7, m7b5, and dim7 Drop 2 chords
  • Recite the intervals for each Drop 2 chord shape from memory.
  • Drop 2 Chord Exercise 1 and 2 from memory
  • Drop 2 Chord Exercise 1  and 2 with the bonus exercise picking
  • For an extra challenge, name the notes for each chord you play

 

 

Chapter 3 – Beginner ii V I Chords Part 1

 

In Chapter 3, you’ll take the knowledge that you learned in Chapter 1 and apply those ideas to the ii V I VI progression.

Found in many classic Jazz standards, the ii V I VI progression, is must know material for any aspiring Jazz guitarist.

The ii V I VI progression is also called a “turnaround,” as it turns the tune or section back to the tonic chord.

Having a good theoretical knowledge of these chords, as well as being able to play them on the guitar, will allow you to easily navigate your favorite Jazz standards.

So, dive in and learn how to play Drop 3 turnarounds on the guitar.

 

 

What Is a Jazz Turnaround?

 

The major key ii-V-I progression is essential knowledge for anyone learning to play jazz guitar.

The progression is called a ii-V-I because these three chords are built from the 2nd, 5th and 1st notes of the underlying major scale.

If you take the 2nd, 5th and 1st notes of the C major scale for example, you’ll produce the notes D G and C.

From there, you can build chords on top of those notes by stacking 3rds from the scale on each root.

When doing so, you end up with Dm7, G7 and Cmaj7.

These are the three chords in a ii-V-I chord progression in the key of C major.

Here’s how that process looks on paper.

Check it out and get a grasp of this concept from a theoretical level so that it’ll be easier to apply these chords to the guitar.

 

Beginner Drop 3 Turnaround Chords 1

 

Now that you have an understanding of the first three chords in a turnaround, you can take a look at the trickiest chord in this set, the VI7b9 Chord.

 

 

The VI7b9 Chord and Why You Play It

 

To finish off the turnaround progression, you need to add one more chord, the VI7b9 chord.

Don’t let this chord scare you off, it sounds tricky, but it’s not that bad to play on guitar.

First, take a look at why you use this chord during a turnaround, as it’s not totally in the key of C major.

Normally, you’d expect to see a vim7 chord in a major key, Am7 in C major for example, as that’s the relative minor chord.

But, in Jazz you want to add tension to your chord progressions.

And so you change that chord to become a VI7b9 instead of the more traditional vim7 chord.

The reason this chord works, is that the VI7b9 resolves to the iim7 chord, Dm7 in the key of C major.

 

When doing so, the VI7b9 acts as a “secondary dominant,” a V7th chord that temporarily highlights a non-Imaj7 chord in the progression, in this case the iim7.

 

A7b9 is the V7b9 of Dm7, the iim7 in a ii-V-I in C major.

The A7b9 is helping to “turnaround” the progression back to the iim7 chord.

And it uses a V7-im7 movement to help solidify this sound further.

That’s why you use the VI7b9 chord in Jazz, most of the time, as opposed to the more traditional vim7 chord.

To make VI7b9 chords easier to play on the guitar, you can use a small chord substitution.

Instead of playing a full VI7b9 chord, you’re only going to play 4 out of those 5 notes, the 3rd, 5th, b7th and b9th.

This leaves the root out in this chord shape.

When doing so, you produce a #Idim7 chord, or C#dim7 in the key of C major.

Below you can see this chord transition in action, from the VI7b9 to the #Idim7 to the iim7 chord.

Notice how the Dim7 chord allows you to use previous knowledge to play this progression.

Also, hear how smoothly the bass line runs when applying this chord to a turnaround.

 

Beginner Drop 3 Turnaround Chords - VI7b9

 

For now, keep this knowledge handy as you begin to take the VI7b9 chord, played as #Idim7, onto the fretboard.

Once you begin to hear this chord in action, it’ll make more sense as the smooth movement between chords comes to light on the fretboard.

 

 

Drop 3 Chord Progressions Exercise 1

 

To begin, here’s an example of a turnaround using Drop 3 Chords, with the iim7 chord on the 6th-string root.

From that first chord, the other chords in the progression stay within a few frets in order to keep the chord movement smooth.

Here’s a backing track, bass and drums only, to work with in your studies of these chords.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Piano Backing

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 3 Turnaround Chords Exercise 1

 

Drop 3 2 5 1 chords 1

 

Go slow when you’re working with this exercise.

The goal is to play quickly between chords, so that your chord changes are smooth and seamless.

But, the tempo of the exercise can be slow and steady in order to allow yourself time to achieve this goal.

 

 

Drop 3 Chord Progressions Exercise 2

 

You can also play through a turnaround using Drop 3 chords that begin with a iim7 chord on the 5th-string.

The idea is the same as the previous exercise, only now you’re in a different position on the fingerboard.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Piano Backing

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 3 Turnaround Chords Exercise 2

 

drop 3 251 chords 2

 

Now that you’ve worked out both string using Drop 3 Chords on the guitar, mix these two groups of chords together in your routine.

 

 

Drop 3 Chord Progressions Bonus Exercise

 

When working these exercises, you can break things up by using various rhythms.

One of the most popular Jazz guitar rhythms is the Charleston Rhythm.

This rhythm is built by playing one chord on beat 1, followed by an attack on the & of the 2nd beat.

Here’s an example of how this rhythm would look and sound in the key of C.

When you’ve got it down, jam it along to the backing track below.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Piano Backing

 

Click to hear audio for the Charleston Rhythm Example.

 

Beginner Drop 3 Turnaround Chords 5

 

Though it’s a simple rhythm, it’s an essential rhythm to have down for any developing Jazz guitarist.

 

 

Chapter 3 Checklist

 

Before moving on to the next chapter, here are 5 exercises that you can do in order to explore the ideas in this chapter further.

You don’t have to be able to play all 5 of these before moving on to the next Chapter.

But, being able to play 2 or 3 from memory would be a good litmus test as for when you’ll be ready to move forward.

 

  • Play exercise 1 and 2 with the backing track
  • Repeat the 2 exercises using the Charleston rhythm for each chord
  • Repeat these exercises using the bonus exercises from Chapter 1
  • Sing the root, and then the melody note, of each chord along with your guitar
  • Write out the ii V I VI chord progression in C from memory

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Beginner ii V I Chords Part 2

 

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to apply Drop 2 chords to the ii-V-I-VI turnaround progression.

Though the progression is the same, notice the different sounds and timbres that Drop 2 chords produce.

It’s this difference that’ll allow you to chose the right moments to apply these chords in your comping and chord melody playing.

 

 

What Is a Jazz Turnaround Chord Progression?

 

Since you learned about the Jazz turnaround progression in the previous chapter, here’s a quick refresher.

The Jazz turnaround in a major key contains the chords iim7-V7-Imaj7-VI7b9.

Don’t forget, you’re substituting the VI7b9 with a #Idim7 chord.

This substitution will create smooth voice leading motion in the bass line.

Here’s an example of a Jazz turnaround in the key of C major.

 

What Are ii V I Chords JPG

 

Remember that the chords are pulled from the underlying major scale, in this case the C major scale.

To build a turnaround, you take the 2nd, 5th, 1st and 6th notes of that scale and then add chord qualities.

In this case, those chords are Dm7-G7-Cmaj7-A7b9.

Again, you then replace A7b9 with C#dim7 from there to complete the progression.

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Progressions Exercise 1

 

Now that you’ve reviewed what a turnaround is, you can apply Drop 2 chords to your practice routine.

This first exercise starts with the iim7 chord on the lowest four strings, then move to the closest V7, Imaj7 and VI7b9 chord shapes.

When practicing these chords, make the transitions between chords as smooth as possible, so that there’s no lag between chords.

Go as slow as you need, and focus on making quick, clean shifts between each chord in your comping.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Piano Backing

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Turnaround Chords Exercise 1

 

251 chords Drop 2 1

 

Remember to use the backing track with this chord exercise.

Learning how to hear these chords in the context of a band playing harmony is an essential part of the learning process.

So, whenever possible, use a backing track with these exercises.

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Progressions Exercise 2

 

The second turnaround exercise that you’ll learn is played on the middle four strings.

Starting with the iim7 chord, the rest of the chords move to their closest fingerings from there.

When doing so, the V7 chord falls on the top-4 strings and the other chords on the middle-4 strings.

Here’s how that progression looks in the key of C major.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Piano Backing

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Turnaround Chords Exercise 2

 

251 Chords Drop 2 2

 

With both Drop 3 and Drop 2 turnarounds under your fingers, play every group of chords you know for this progression..

This’ll help you to see the relationship between Drop 3 and Drop 2 chords as you combine them over this common chord progression.

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Progressions Exercise 3

 

To finish this series of exercises, here are the turnaround chords as applied to the top-four strings.

Again, work these shapes slowly in one key at first, focusing on making smooth transitions from each chord.

And, when comfortable, jam them over the backing track below.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Piano Backing

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Turnaround Chords Exercise 3

 

 

251 Chords Drop 2 3

 

Now that you’ve worked all three string sets for Drop 2 chords through a turnaround, mix them together.

Put on the backing track and comp through each string set in the key of C, back to back.

This’ll allow you to see and hear these chords across the entire fretboard.

Which in turns allows you to apply them quickly and easily to any tune you are practicing or jamming on in the woodshed.

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Progressions Bonus Exercise

 

After you’ve worked on the above three exercises, you will be asking yourself:

 

“Where can I take these ideas next in the woodshed?”

 

One of my favorite ways to expand on these chords is to approach each new chord in the progression by the same chord a half-step above.

This creates a tension and resolution sound in your chord lines, bringing to mind the classic comping of players such as Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Ed Bickert.

The idea is fairly simple.

But, it produces big results in your comping, chord soloing, and chord melody phrases.

Here’s an example of that technique as applied to a turnaround in the key of C major.

 

Click to hear audio for the Beginner Drop 2 Turnaround Chords Bonus Exercise

 

Beginner Drop 2 Turnaround Chords 4

 

As you can hear, this approach has a tense sound to it on beat 4, that is then released on beat 1 of the next bar.

Be sure to always resolve that outside chord properly, as it can sound great if you do, but sound like a mistake if you don’t.

 

 

Chapter 4 Checklist

 

Before moving on to chapter 5, here are 10 exercises that you can do in order to explore these Drop 2 exercises further.

You don’t have to master all 10 of these exercises before moving on to Chapter 5.

Being able to play 3 or 4 from memory would be a good goal to have before moving forward.

 

  1. Play the Drop 3 exercises 1, 2 and 3 with the backing track
  2. Mixe all 3 positions for these chords together over a backing track
  3. Repeat the first 2 exercises using the Charleston rhythm
  4. Repeat the first two exercises using the half-step approach chords
  5. Repeat exercises 1-4 using the right hand bonus exercise from Chapter 1
  6. Repeat exercises 1-4 using the right hand bonus exercise from Chapter 2
  7. Play any of the above exercises and sing the root of each chord along with your guitar
  8. Play any of the above exercises and sing the top note of each chord along with your guitar
  9. Write out the ii V I VI chord progression in C from memory
  10. Sing the bass notes for a ii V I VI chord progression from memory away from your guitar

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Soloing Over m7 Chords

 

You’ll now learn how to solo over m7 chords in the practice room.

m7 chords are found in many of the Jazz Standards that make up the Great American Songbook.

As well, they’re one part of the most common chord progression in jazz, the ii-V-I.

Learning how to accurately and musically solo over m7 chords will allow you to blow with confidence over ii-V-I progressions.

It will also help you solo over Modal Jazz tunes such as So What and Milestones.

So, grab your guitar as it’s time to get started with learning how to solo over m7 chords!

 

Free Jazz Guitar eBook: Download the Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar PDF with a Bonus Chapter not found online, “5 Must Know ii V I Jazz Guitar Licks.”

 

 

How to Solo Over m7 Chords – m7 Arpeggio

 

To begin, you’ll look at the most direct way to outline any m7 chord, the m7 arpeggio.

The m7 arpeggio has all of the same notes as the m7 chord, R-b3-5-b7.

But, instead of strumming those notes, you pluck them separately.

This allows you to use these chord tones to build lines in your guitar solos.

Here you can see and hear the m7 chord and arpeggio in order to see how the two are related.

 

Click to hear audio of a Dm7 Arpeggio over a Dm7 Chord

 

How To Solo Over m7 Chords - Arpeggios

 

Now that you know how to build a m7 Arpeggio, here are four different fingerings to check out in your practice routine.

Start by learning one shape, from the 6th-string root, and working that shape with a metronome.

From there, put on the Dm7 backing track and solo over that chord using only the 6th-string arpeggio shape.

Then, move on to the other shapes when you’re ready.

Here are those four one-octave Dm7 shapes.

 

Dm7 Backing Track Dm7 Backing Track Slow

 

m7 guitar soloing 1

 

 

 

How to Solo Over m7 Chords – Dorian Scale

 

As well as using the m7 arpeggio, you can also build your m7 lines with the Dorian Scale.

Dorian can be thought of in two ways on the fretboard.

The first, is that it’s the second mode of the major scale.

 

This means that D Dorian is the same as C Major, except spelled from D to D instead of C to C.

 

You can see this on paper below.

As well, you can compare D dorian to D major.

If you take D Major, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 intervals, and lower the 3rd and 7th, 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7, you produce D Dorian.

Here are both options is to compare.

 

Click to hear audio for the Dorian Scale over a Dm7 Chord

 

m7 guitar soloing 2

 

To help you get started with the Dorian Scale on guitar, here are four different one-octave fingerings.

Start by learning one fingering from memory.

Then, practice soloing over the Dm7 backing track using that one fingering in your lines.

From there, repeat these same exercises for all of the other one-octave shapes.

 

Dm7 Backing Track Dm7 Backing Track Slow

 

m7 guitar soloing 3

 

Once you’ve worked each one-octave fingering on it’s own, you can combine these shapes to cover more area on the guitar in your solos.

 

 

How to Solo Over m7 Chords – Technical Exercises

 

Here’s a fun exercise that you can work on in the practice room with m7 soloing concepts.

Play the arpeggio descending, and then Dorian in that position ascending, as you combine the two ideas in your studies.

Often times, you’ll start lines on the root of any scale or arpeggio.

Especially when first learning how to solo over m7 chords.

But, by doing exercises such as these, you can, break out of that habit of always starting your lines on the root.

Here’s an example of how to apply this concept to 6th and 4th string sets for both the Dm7 arpeggio and D Dorian.

Run this exercise with a metronome, then begin to combine m7 arpeggios and Dorian in your solos over the backing track.

 

Dm7 Backing Track Dm7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear audio for the How to Solo Over m7 Chords Exercise 1

 

How To Solo Over m7 Chords - Exercise 1

 

As well, you can apply this exercise to the 5th and 3rd string sets for the m7 arpeggios and Dorian.

Here’s how this variation would look and sound over a Dm7 chord.

Again, go back to the jam track above when you’re ready to solo with these concepts.

 

Click to hear audio for the How to Solo Over m7 Chords Exercise 2

 

How To Solo Over m7 Chords - Exercise 2

 

It’s a small idea, but mixing arpeggios and scales in this manner can go a long way when learning how to solo over m7 chords.

 

 

How To Solo Over m7 Chords – Enclosed 5th

 

When learning how to solo over m7 chords, one of the first roadblocks you’ll face is playing correctly but not sounding like Jazz.

To help you get a Jazzy sound into your m7 phrases, here’s a short motive that you can use in your solos.

This idea is called an Enclosure, and below you’ll see an Enclosure applied to the 5th of D Dorian.

 

The Enclosure is built by targeting a note in the chord or scale that you’re soloing over, such as the 5th in this example.

 

You do this by playing 1 fret above, then 1 fret below, before landing on your target note.

There are other types of Enclosures, but for now this is a great place to start with this Bebop technique.

Learn the following Enclosure in D Dorian to begin in your studies.

As well, the key to learning any Bebop soloing technique is to apply it to your improvisations.

So, make sure to put on the backing track and solo over a Dm7 chord, integrating the Enclosed 5th into your lines.

 

Dm7 Backing Track Dm7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear audio for the How to Solo Over m7 Chords Bebop Exercise

 

How To Solo Over m7 Chords - Enclosure

 

It’s a simple idea, but the Enclosure can bring a much wanted Jazz sound to your improvised lines.

Enclosures create a sense of tension and release in your licks, encouraging you to practice more as you begin to sound like Jazz in your solos.

 

 

Chapter 5 Checklist

 

Here are 7 exercises and check points that you can use in order to expand on the ideas in this chapter.

You don’t have to be able to play all 7 before moving on to the next chapter.

But, having a secure understanding of 3-5 of these exercises is a good litmus test as to when you’re ready to move on from here.

 

  • Solo over the Dm7 backing track using only m7 arpeggios
  • Solo over the Dm7 backing track and use only D Dorian
  • Mix scales and arpeggios in your solos
  • Sing the root note D and play the Dm7 arpeggios above this note
  • Sing the root note D and play D Dorian on top of this note
  • Play a Dm7 chord on the guitar and sing the Dm7 arpeggio over that chord
  • Strum a Dm7 chord on the guitar and sing D Dorian over this chord

 

 

Chapter 6 – Soloing Over 7th Chords

 

In chapter 6 you’ll learn how to solo over 7th chords.

Since it’s the middle chord in a ii-V-I chord progression, the 7th chord will come up a lot when soloing over Jazz tunes.

As well, the 7th chord is found three times in a Jazz Blues chord progression, the I7, IV7 and V7 chords.

Because of this, it’s a chord that you will want to spend time with in the woodshed.

In this chapter you’ll learn how to solo over 7th chords by exploring arpeggios, scales, bebop vocabulary and essential exercises.

 

 

 

What is a 7th Arpeggio?

 

When learning how to solo over 7th chords, the most direct route to outlining those sounds is to use the 7th arpeggio.

This gives you the option to use only the chord tones of a 7th chord when soloing in a single line, outlining the chord exactly at the same time.

Here’s an example of a G7 chord and arpeggio side by side so you can see that relationship in tab and notation.

Try strumming a G7 chord that you know, then playing this G7 arpeggio to hear how they sound the same, but have a unique sound as well.

 

Click to hear a 7th Arpeggio played over a 7th chord harmony.

 

How to Solo Over 7th Chords - Arpeggios

 

To help you set out with your exploration of 7th Arpeggios when learning how to solo over 7th chords, here are four, one-octave 7th arpeggios.

Start by working each shape separately with a metronome, then the backing track when you’re ready.

From there, move on to the other shapes in your practice routine.

 

G7 Backing Track G7 Backing Track Slow

 

solo over 7 chords guitar 1

 

 

 

What is the Mixolydian Scale?

 

When learning how to solo over 7th chords, one of the most commonly studied concepts is the Mixolydian Scale.

This scale works perfectly when soloing over 7th chords, and is used in many genres, such as Country, Jazz, Blues and Rock.

There are two ways that you can think about the Mixolydian scale.

The first being as the 5th mode of the major scale.

So, if you have a C major scale, and you spell that scale from G to G, you’ll produce a G Mixolydian scale.

As well, you can compare a Mixolydian scale to the same Major scale, as they are only one note different.

The major scale has the interval structure 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, while the Mixolydian scale has a b7, 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7.

Here are both of those examples in tab and notation so you can see them written down.

 

Click to hear a Mixolydian scale being played over a 7th chord.

 

solo over 7 chords guitar 2

 

Here are four, one-octave shapes to help you get started with learning the Mixolydian scale on the fretboard.

Again, learn one shape, memorize it, then jam with it on the backing track before moving on to the other shapes.

 

G7 Backing Track G7 Backing Track Slow

 

 

solo over 7 chord guitar 3

 

 

How to Solo Over 7th Chords – Exercises

 

With the 7th arpeggio and Mixolydian scale under your fingers, here are a few exercises that combine them in your practicing.

The concept for this exercise is that you play up an arpeggio and then down the scale in that position.

Here’s how that exercise looks when applied to the 6th and 4th-string roots for G7 arpeggios and Mixolydian.

Learn this shape from memory and then mix the 7th arpeggios and Mixolydian in your solos over the backing track.

 

G7 Backing Track G7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear audio for this how to play 7th chords exercise.

 

How to Solo Over 7th Chords - Exercise 1

 

Here’s that same exercise as applied to 7th arpeggios and Mixolydian starting on the 5th and 3rd string root notes.

 

Click to hear audio for this how to play 7th chords exercise.

 

How to Solo Over 7th Chords - Exercise 2

 

 

With both positions down, work them together in your solos over the backing track to expand upon these ideas on the fretboard.

 

How to Solo Over 7th Chords – Enclosed Roots

 

You’ll now apply an enclosure to your 7th-chord soloing, now over the root of the underlying chord.

In this case, you’ll add a half-step above, then a half-step below, followed by the root itself.

Here’s an example of an enclosure applied to the root of a G7 arpeggio and G Mixolydian.

Learn it and then jam it over the backing track when you feel ready.

 

G7 Backing Track G7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear audio for the how to play 7th chords enclosure example.

 

How to Solo Over 7th Chords - Enclosures

 

You might have to force it into your solos a bit at first to get the sound of the chromatic notes into your ears.

But, with time you’ll become more used to this “Jazzy” outside sound, and be able to use enclosures organically in your solos.

 

 

Chapter 6 Checklist

 

Here are 10 exercises that you can do in order to expand on the ideas about how to solo over 7th chords.

You don’t have to be able to play all of these items before you move on to the next chapter.

But having 3-5 of these exercises down securely is a good test as to when you’re ready to move on to the next material.

 

  • Solo over a backing track using only the 7th arpeggios
  • Solo over a backing track and use only G Mixolydian
  • Put on a backing track and solo using both the G7 arpeggios and G Mixolydian
  • Solo over a backing track and play single-lines for 2 bars, followed by G7 chords for 2 bars
  • Reverse this to comp for 2 bars then solo for 2 bars
  • Sing the root note G and play the G7 arpeggios above this note
  • Sing the root note G and play G Mixolydian on top of this note
  • Play a G7 chord on the guitar and sing the G7 arpeggio over that chord
  • Strum a G7 chord on the guitar and sing G Mixolydian over this chord
  • Put on a backing track and scat sing a solo over that chord

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – Soloing Over Maj7 Chords

 

When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the most common chords that you’ll encounter during your exploration of Jazz standards is the Maj7 chord.

As it’s the resolution point of the ii-V-I chord progression, the Maj7 chord will crop up time and again in your playing.

Therefore, it’s an essential chord to study when beginning to learn jazz guitar.

In this Chapter, you’ll learn how to solo over Maj7 chords using arpeggios, scales, Bebop vocabulary and must-know exercises.

 

 

What is the Maj7 Arpeggio?

 

When working out how to solo over Maj7 chords, the most direct way to outline these chords is to use the Maj7 arpeggio.

Maj7 arpeggios are built by stacking the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the Major Scale, producing the intervals pattern R-3-5-7.

Here’s how that process looks like on paper.

Strum a Cmaj7 chord and then play a Cmaj7 arpeggio right after to hear how they compare.

 

Click to hear audio of a Cmaj7 arpeggio played over a Cmaj7 chord.

 

How to solo over Maj7 Chords - Arpeggios 2

 

To get you started with learning how to play Maj7 arpeggios, here are four, one-octave Maj7 shapes.

 

Start by learning one shape, jam that shape on the backing track, then move on to the other shapes and repeat that approach from there.

 

Cmaj7 Backing Track Cmaj7 Backing Track Slow

 

solo over maj7 chords guitar 1

 

 

What is the Ionian Mode?

 

The next device that you’ll explore is the Ionian Mode, otherwise known as the major scale.

Containing all of the notes that make up the Maj7 chord, 1-3-5-7, as well as three color tones, 9-11-13, Ionian is great when soloing over Maj7 chords..

Here’s an example of a two-octave C Major Scale that you can memorize and use to jam over the Cmaj7 backing track.

 

Cmaj7 Backing Track Cmaj7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear an example of the C Major Scale played over a Cmaj7 Chord.

 

solo over maj7 chords guitar 2

 

Here are four examples of one-octave C Major Scale fingerings that you can work on in the practice room.

As was the case with the Maj7 arpeggios, start by working each one-octave shape separately with a metronome.

Then, when comfortable, jam them over the backing track below.

 

Cmaj7 Backing Track Cmaj7 Backing Track Slow

 

solo over maj7 chords guitar 3

 

 

 

How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords – Exercises

 

Now that you’ve checked out the Maj7 arpeggio and scale, here are two exercises that you can do in order to combine them on the guitar.

In the first exercise, you’ll play the C Major Scale ascending followed by the Cmaj7 arpeggio descending from two string sets.

After you can play this exercise, mix the arpeggios and scale in your solos over the jam track.

 

Cmaj7 Backing Track Cmaj7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear audio for the How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords Exercise 1.

 

How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords - Exercise 1

 

Here’s that same exercise as applied to 5th and 3rd-string shapes on the guitar.

 

Click to hear audio for the How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords Exercise 2.

 

How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords - Exercise 2

 

After you can play and solo with these exercises separately, combine them over a backing track in our soloing practice.

 

 

How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords – Enclosed 3rds

 

You’ll now be adding a Bebop technique, the Enclosure, to the 3rd of the Maj7 arpeggio and scale.

To do this, you play one fret above, then one fret below, before landing on your target note, in this case the third.

Here’s how that technique looks when applied to a Cmaj7 arpeggios and C Major Scale.

After playing it through, jam with it over the backing track.

 

Cmaj7 Backing Track Cmaj7 Backing Track Slow

 

Click to hear audio for the How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords – Enclosed 3rd Example.

 

How to Solo Over Maj7 Chords - Enclosed 3rd

 

 

Enclosures can sound a bit too tense or “outside” for some of us when first applying them to your solos.

But, with time and practice they can start to sound more “normal.”

This’ll allow you to use them more organically and less forced in your Jazz guitar lines.

 

 

Chapter 7 Checklist

 

Here are 10 exercises that you can do in order to expand on the ideas in this chapter.

You don’t have to be able to play all 10 of these items before you move on to the next chapter.

But having 3-5 of these exercises down securely is a good test as to when you’re ready to move on.

 

  • Solo over a backing track using only the Maj7th arpeggios
  • Solo over a backing track and use only the C major scale
  • Put on a backing track and solo using both the Cmaj7 arpeggios and C scale
  • Solo over a backing track and play single-lines for 2 bars, followed by Cmaj7 chords for 2 bars
  • Reverse this exercise by comping for 2 bars then soloing for 2 bars
  • Sing the root note C and play the Cmaj7 arpeggios above this note
  • Sing the root note C and play the C scale on top of this note
  • Play a Cmaj7 chord on the guitar and sing the arpeggio
  • Strum a Cmaj7 chord on the guitar and sing the C scale
  • Put on a Cmaj7 backing track and scat sing a solo

 

 

 

Chapter 8 – ii V I Soloing Part 1

 

You’re now ready to learn how to apply arpeggios, scales and famous Jazz licks to your ii V I soloign ideas.

Though you have already studied these three chords separately, it can be a difficult task to bring them together.

Because of this, take more time on this chapter, as it’ll probably take a bit longer for you to get this material under your fingers.

 

 

How to Solo Over ii V I Chords – Arpeggios

 

To begin, you’ll take the arpeggio shapes that you learned in a previous chapter and apply them to ii V I’s.

You’ll be looking at arpeggios that begin with the iim7 shape on the 6th-string root.

Then, you’ll move to the closest arpeggios for the V7 and Imaj7 chords from that starting point.

In this first exercise, you’ll play each arpeggio ascending from the root as you work them over the chord progression.

Make sure to use the backing track when running these shapes in your soloing practice.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I arpeggio exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 1

 

You can now reverse the first exercise as you play each arpeggio from the top down.

Start slowly with this exercise as it can be difficult at first to begin any arpeggio from the highest note.

Practice this exercise without any time or tempo to begin if needed.

Then, once you have the fingerings down jam them along to the backing track.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I arpeggio exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 2

 

You’ll now look at alternating each arpeggio in your ii V I soloing practice.

Making the jump from one shape to the next in a ii V I arpeggio exercise is never easy at first.

so, make sure you focus on those transition points, and work between each shape slowly with a metronome to conquer them in your studies.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I arpeggio exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 3

 

The last variation has the first arpeggio descending and the second arpeggio ascending.

Again, it’s tricky to start any arpeggio from the top note and work down.

So, go slow with this exercise and take your time with it before moving on to the next section in this chapter.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I arpeggio exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 4

 

With all four ii V I arpeggio exercises under your fingers, combine these patterns in your solos over the backing track.

 

 

How to Solo Over ii V I Chords – Scales

 

You’re now going to apply scale shapes to a ii V I chord progression in your guitar solos.

To start off, you’ll be looking at the D Dorian scale that begins on the 6th-string root.

Then, you’ll play the each scale in close proximity to that starting point.

The first exercise finds you playing each scale ascending for the ii V I progression,

You’ll play one-octave shapes for the iim7 and V7 chords, and a two-octave shape for the Imaj7 chord, as you have twice as much time to explore that chord.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I scale exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Scales 1

 

In the second exercise, you’ll now descend each scale in the ii V I chord progression.

While you’re just playing the first exercise backwards, it can be difficult to begin a scale from the top note.

So, take your time with these exercise, work with a metronome, and make sure that your transitions smooth.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I scale exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Scales 2

 

With this variation, you’ll now play the first scale ascending, followed by the next scale descending..

This is a small alteration to the first exercise, but it’s a tricky one, so go slow and take your time when practicing.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I scale exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Scales 3

 

The last ii V I scale exercise you’ll look at is the reverse of the last approach, as you’re now descending the first scale and ascending the second.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I scale exercise.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Scales 4

 

With all four exercises under your fingers, playing them back to back to hear how these approaches sound different, yet similar, when applying to ii V I’s.

 

 

How to Solo Over ii V I Chords – Licks

 

As you learn how to solo over ii V I chords, you’ll need to build your Jazz vocabulary.

This means that you need to build your Jazz lick repertoire by bringing chromaticism, tension and release, and other Jazz language into your solos.

To help you get started, here are two, ii V I licks that you can learn and apply to your soloing ideas.

While learning these licks will get the ideas under your fingers, that’s only the first step when learning any new lick.

To take these licks further, use the following exercises on the fretboard.

 

  • Put on the ii V I backing track and play the lick along to the chords
  • Alter the rhythms by playing some notes shorter, other notes longer and placing the notes in different parts of the bar
  • Add notes from scales and arpeggios, as well as enclosures
  • Take notes out of the lick
  • Repeat any/all of the above exercises but sing the lick and play the chords on the guitar

 

Now that you know how to practice these licks, take a look at the first ii V I lick.

This first lick uses four important elements that are worth dissecting further in order to understand why the lick sounds works.

The first item is the rhythm for the arpeggio in bar one.

An 8th note followed by an 8th-note triplet is a very common Jazz arpeggio rhythm.

The next two items are the chromatic licks in bar two.

Here, you have the notes C-A-A#-B, which targets the 3rd of the G7 chord, and the enclosure on the root of that same chord, Ab-F#-G.

Both of these items are good examples of how to integrate chromaticism into your jazz guitar lines.

The last item to look at is the resolution from the b7 of G7, F, to the 3rd of Cmaj7, E, on the downbeat of the last bar.

This “guide tone” resolution is something you’ll find in the playing of many legendary jazz guitarists.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Jazz Guitar Lick.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Licks 1

 

The second lick in this chapter uses two enclosures.

One on the root of the Dm7 chord and the 3rd of the G7 chord.

The second uses the  same guide-tone resolution between the b7, F, of G7 and the 3rd, E, of the Cmaj7 chord.

Notice that the enclosure over the 3rd of G7 is anticipated by a half beat, it starts on the & of 4 in the first bar and resolves on the 2nd beat of the 2nd bar.

This type of rhythmic anticipation is a fun way to create tension in your lines.

ss long as you then resolve that tension properly as is the case in this lick.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Jazz Guitar Lick.

 

How to solo over ii V I Chords - Licks 2

 

 

Chapter 8 Checklist

 

Here are 10 exercises that you can do in order to develop your ability to solo over ii V I chords further in the woodshed.

You don’t have to be able to master all of these 10 exercises before moving on to the next chapter.

If you have 3 to 4 of these items down, then you should be ready to move on and explore the next material.

 

  • Put on the ii V I backing track and solo using only arpeggios
  • Using the ii V I backing track, solo over these chords using only scales
  • Solo over the ii V I backing track using both the arpeggios and scales
  • Blow over the ii V I backing track, using one of the above licks as the basis for your lines.
  • Solo over the Miles Davis song “Tune Up,” using only arpeggios
  • Improvise over “Tune Up,” using scales
  • Blow over “Tune Up” using both the arpeggios and scales
  • Using the licks from this chapter, solo over “Tune Up”
  • Sing the root notes for a ii V I in C and play the arpeggios
  • Play the ii V I scales on the guitar and sing the roots for each chord

 

 

 

Chapter 9 – ii V I Soloing Part 2

 

In this chapter, you’ll use the same arpeggio and scale exercises as you learned in Chapter 8, now from a different string set.

When working on larger topics such as soloing over ii V I chords, it’s always a good idea to break these concepts down into smaller chunks of material that you can work on slowly and thoroughly in the woodshed.

After you’ve worked through the material in this chapter, combine it with the material from chapter 8 in your studies.

 

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords – Arpeggios

 

Here’s an arpeggio exercise that begins on the Dm7 5th-string arpeggio shape, and continues to each new arpeggio in the progression in close proximity from there.

As well, these exercises can be tricky, so use a metronome and go slowly as you work on playing each idea smoothly and accurately on the guitar.

The first exercise presents each arpeggio ascending as you work these shapes through a ii V I chord progression.

As always, get them under your fingers then solo with them over the jam track below.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Arpeggio outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 1

 

This exercise reverses the previous approach as you’re now descending each arpeggio in the ii V I chord progression.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Arpeggio outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 2

 

In the next exercise, you’ll ascend the first arpeggio, followed by a descending arpeggio.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Arpeggio outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 3

 

You can also play these exercise with the first arpeggio descending and the second arpeggio ascending.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Arpeggio outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Arpeggios 4

 

When these shapes are comfortable separately, combine them in your practicing.

This will open up your neck, expanding your fretboard knowledge as you are expanding your jazz guitar soloing vocabulary.

 

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords – Scales

 

You can also apply scales to your ii V I practice routine.

These exercises use a 5th-string Dm7 scale, with the rest of the scales sticking closely to that position.

Make sure to practice these patterns with a metronome.

Here’s an example of how you can apply those scales to a ii V I chord progression with each scale ascending.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Scale outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Scales 1

 

The second exercise uses descending scales to outline each of the three chords in a ii V I progression.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Scale outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Scales 2

 

You can also mix these two approaches, as in the following example where you ascend the first scale, descend the second scale.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Scale outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Scales 3

 

Here you’re reversing the previous exercise, as you’re now beginning with a descending scale followed by an ascending scale.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Scale outline.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Scales 4

 

Make sure to work these patterns separately, then combine them over the fretboard in your studies.

You’ll cover a large part of the fretboard when soloing, providing a sense of freedom as you’re never lost when soloing over ii V I’s.

 

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords – Licks

 

To finish off, here are two licks that you can learn, analyze, and expand upon in your practice routine.

Learning the lick is just the starting point when absorbing these ideas into your soloing chops.

To help you fully digest these licks, here are five exercises that you can use in the woodshed.

 

  • Put on the ii V I backing track and play one of these licks
  • Change the rhythms of any lick
  • Add notes from the related scales and arpeggios
  • Remove notes from the lick
  • Sing the lick and play the chords on guitar

 

Now that you know how to practice these ideas, take a look at how these two licks are built.

The first lick uses a number of interesting ideas that you explore further on the guitar.

The first is the use of the #7, C#, to approach the root of the Dm7 chord in bar one of the lick.

Starting on the #7 is a common Bebop technique that’s used to add tension and release to your arpeggios.

As well, the 1235 pattern in bar one is a classic John Coltrane technique.

You can also see and hear enclosures being used over the root in the second bar, Ab-F#-G, and the 3rd in the last measure, F-D#-E.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Guitar Lick.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Licks 1

 

The second lick also features enclosures on the 5th of Dm7, Bb-G#-A, and the root of G7, Ab-F#-G.

Here, there’s a different rhythmic grouping than you’ve seen before.

As well, there’s an ascending, three-note scale pattern in the last two measures.

Though it’s a simple pattern, using three-note groupings with two-note rhythms, 8th notes, creates syncopation in your Jazz lines.

 

ii V I Backing Track 251 C Backing Track

 

Click to hear audio for this ii V I Guitar Lick.

 

Soloing Over ii V I Chords - Licks 2

 

 

Chapter 9 Checklist

 

Here are 5 extra ways that you can practice soloing over ii V I chords.

Since the material in both chapters 8 and 9 is very similar, you can also take these 5 ideas and apply them material from the previous chapter.

If you have 2 to 3 of these items under your fingers, then you should be ready to move on to the final chapter.

 

  • Play a ii V I chord progression on the guitar in C and sing the arpeggios
  • Comp a ii V I chord progression on the guitar in C and sing the scales
  • Play a ii V I chord progression in C and scat sing a solo over those chords
  • Sing the root notes of a ii V I chord progression in C and improvise on guitar
  • Sing the root notes of a C major ii V I progression and solo using licks on guitar

 

 

 

Chapter 10 – Walking Bass Lines for Guitar

 

Learning how to comp through tunes on guitar means exploring Drop 2 and Drop 3 chords.

But.

It also means learning how to add bass lines to these chords so that you can function musically and fully in a solo, and bassless duo, situation.

Here are five exercises that will teach you to walk a full bass line and add chords beneath that bass line comping.

 

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar – Exercise 1

 

To begin, you’ll be placing the root note of each chord on the first beat of the bar.

By adding the root on the first beat, you’re solidifying the sound of the chord you’re on, and telling the listener exactly where you are in the bar.

Though it’s a simple exercise, this is the most important step from which you build up towards a full bass line.

So, go slow and take your time with this exercise in the woodshed.

When working on any exercise in this chapter, apply them to the backing track (piano and drums only) in your studies.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Bass Backing

 

Click to hear this walking bass line on guitar audio example.

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar 1 JPG

 

To help get this approach down further, play the chords for a ii V I chord progression, and sing the root notes of each chord.

This way you’ll get your ears involved with the bass line, as well as your fingers on the guitar.

 

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar – Exercise 2

 

Once you have the root note secure on the downbeat of each bar, you’ll  add a chromatic approach note on beat 4.

You can choose to approach the next root above or below, either is fine.

So it’s a good idea to practice both, and then let your ears decide which approach is right for any musical situation.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Bass Backing

 

Click to hear this walking bass line on guitar audio example.

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar 2

 

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar – Exercise 3

 

The next step that you’ll take adds a second chromatic approach note on beat 3 of the measure.

You’ll have four options when approaching the root note that you’re resolving to in the next bar:

 

  • Two notes above
  • Two notes below
  • One above one below
  • One below and one above

 

Try a few options when learning how to apply two chromatic notes to your walking bass lines.

Though there are only four possibilities, when you factor in the chords, and the number of bars in any given Jazz tune, these four options are enough to get you through any performance.

Here’s an example of a bass line that uses this approach.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Bass Backing

 

Click to hear this walking bass line on guitar audio example.

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar 3

 

You’ll notice that sometimes your second chromatic note is a diatonic note for the chord you are on, such as the A on the 3rd beat of bar 1 in this example.

Though these second chromatic notes will sometimes be a chord or scale tone for the chord you are on, think of them as “leading” toward the next chord.

One thing that’s helped me with walking bass lines on guitar, is to think about beats 1 and 2 of a bar as sounding the chord you’re on, while beats 3 and 4 lead the listener towards the next chord.

Doing so will help organize your lines, and give them a sense of direction in a musical situation.

 

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar – Exercise 4

 

To finish up your walking bass line, you’ll add a  diatonic note to the second beat of each bar.

While chord tones can be a more secure option, sometimes they aren’t always a good option from a fingering perspective.

So a scale note can be used effectively here as well.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Bass Backing

 

Click to hear this walking bass line on guitar audio example.

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar 4

 

 

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar – Chords

 

With a walking bass line under your fingers, you can add chords to your bass notes.

There are many ways you can put chord shapes on top of bass notes, but I find that adding them on the & of beat one is a great place to start.

Because you’re playing the root note on beat one, you can easily add a root-position chord shape that you know above this note.

Here’s an example of a walking bass line over a ii V I progression, where you’re adding chord shapes on the & of 1 in each bar.

 

Turnaround Backing Track C Turnaround No Bass Backing

 

Click to hear this walking bass line on guitar audio example.

 

Walking Bass Lines on Guitar 5

 

Go slow with this example, work it with a metronome, then take it to the backing track when you’re ready.

 

 

Chapter 10 Checklist

.

As this is the final chapter in the Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar, you can take your time with these exercises.

Work on getting each one down securely in the practice room, as there are no more chapters to move on to.

Be sure to work any and all examples here with a metronome.

This ensures you work on developing a solid time feel when walking bass lines.

 

  • Work on exercise 1 from memory
  • Add one note at a time until you’ve built a walking bass line
  • Apply the walking bass line rules to a blues progression
  • Apply the walking bass line rules to a Jazz Standard
  • Add chords to all of these bass line exercises

 

 

Congratulations You Made It!

 

Congrats, you’ve made it through all 10 Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar lessons.

Well done you.

Feel free to go back and review any material from these lessons that you need more time with in the practice room.

Or, if you’re ready for your next Jazz guitar challenge, check out these lessons that will get you to the next stage in your playing.

 

 



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