‘Upgrading’ Rhythms on Your Jazz Licks

by | May 22, 2018 | Jazz Guitar Lessons | 2 comments

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Recently I put together a complete lesson series on the classic jazz standard ‘Stella By Starlight. Today’s post is a sneak peek of one of the lessons. Find out how to get the full series of these lessons on improvising over Stella By Starlight by clicking here.



 In this free lesson, you’re going to learn:

  • A neat trick for creating flashy virtuosic phrases out of material you already know.

Something I get asked about all the time by my students is:

“I’m tired of playing eighth note lines all the time! Can you give us something faster and more flashy to play?”

Here’s the thing:

You don’t need to learn anything new to be able to play faster phrases. In fact, you have everything you need at your fingertips already.

Watch the above video where I’m going to show you a neat way to manipulate the rhythms and placement of your slower licks to turn them into virtuosic sounding triplet and double time lines.


Example Of ‘Upgrading’ The Rhythm of a Lick

Here’s the example lick I used in the above video:

Example Lick – See video at 01:22


To make this into a faster line, I could simply transform the rhythms into triplets.

However, that means you won’t have enough material to fill out this chord progression anymore – you’ll need more notes to fill out the line.

But here’s the trick: delay the entry of the new faster line a few beats or even a whole bar into the chord progression, like so:


 Voila! You now have a neat sounding triplet phrase to provide a bit more rhythmic variety in your soloing that still makes sense over the chord progression.

Enjoyed this post?
Get your Handy PDF Download: Click this link to get a print friendly version of all the exercises in this post for your practice.

So there you have it – the ‘Rhythm Upgrade’ trick – a simple way to get far more “bang for your buck” from the lines you spend your precious time learning.

That’s it for today’s lesson – let me know what you thought of this cool rhythm trick by leaving a comment below…


This concludes this free excerpt of my ‘Stella By Starlight Decoded’ lesson series. To get instant access to the rest of the lessons in this new series (as well as a large number of other lessons on a variety of classic jazz standards for guitar), they are all included in my revolutionary online program, the FretDojo Academy Membership. Find out more here…

Greg O’Rourke,

Founder, Fret Dojo

World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education


  1. Rudy Wuertz

    Hi , Greg
    very good idea? though the outcome may sound a bit funny when the “improvised” melody does no longer match the underlying chord.

    • Greg O'Rourke

      There are no wrong notes – only wrong resolutions. As long as you end up on a strong chord tone (e.g. the 3rd), you can take a lot of liberties before that point.The key is to have confident sounding lines which end up taking you to those strong chord tones, which you can then apply in various ways such as what’s outlined in this post.


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