What most jazz guitarists get wrong

by Apr 22, 2018Articles, General Updates0 comments

Many jazz guitar teachers mislead students when it comes to learning improvisation.

Too much emphasis is placed on scales, modes, arpeggios, and theory. ‘Use a Dorian mode for a iim7 chord’. “Use a Dmaj7 arpeggio to highlight chord tones”. “Apply a melodic minor scale for the Im7 chord of a minor ii – V – i…”. On and on it goes.

But this will never sound like jazz.

Why?

Because jazz is very much like a spoken language, e.g. like Spanish or French.

Scales, modes, and arpeggios? They are more like the “alphabet”.

Don’t get me wrong, the alphabet is good to know. But – do you ever use the alphabet to talk to people? Of course not.

So, to learn to ‘speak’ jazz on the guitar when you improvise, you need to learn the words of jazz. These are called ‘licks’ – short jazzy sounding phrases. Learn enough of these jazz ‘words’, and they will form jazz ‘sentences’ – and the right pathways will form in the neural networks of your mind.

The result?

You’ll start to internalize the “jazzy” sounds you need for becoming a great sounding jazz guitarist.

Combine that with a logical system for understanding the fretboard, and the whole “puzzle” of learning improvisation on guitar will start to solve itself.

Many jazz guitar teachers mislead students when it comes to learning improvisation.

Too much emphasis is placed on scales, modes, arpeggios, and theory. ‘Use a Dorian mode for a iim7 chord’. “Use a Dmaj7 arpeggio to highlight chord tones”. “Apply a melodic minor scale for the Im7 chord of a minor ii – V – i…”. On and on it goes.

But this will never sound like jazz.

Why?

Because jazz is very much like a spoken language, e.g. like Spanish or French.

Scales, modes, and arpeggios? They are more like the “alphabet”.

Don’t get me wrong, the alphabet is good to know. But – do you ever use the alphabet to talk to people? Of course not.

So, to learn to ‘speak’ jazz on the guitar when you improvise, you need to learn the words of jazz. These are called ‘licks’ – short jazzy sounding phrases. Learn enough of these jazz ‘words’, and they will form jazz ‘sentences’ – and the right pathways will form in the neural networks of your mind.

The result?

You’ll start to internalize the “jazzy” sounds you need for becoming a great sounding jazz guitarist.

Combine that with a logical system for understanding the fretboard, and the whole “puzzle” of learning improvisation on guitar will start to solve itself.

Now the exciting bit:

If you're keen to have a structured, step-by-step approach to learning jazz guitar, it might be worth checking out my online learning system, the FretDojo Jazz Guitar Academy.

Here's what you get when you join up:

  • Detailed step-by-step video lessons on new classic jazz tunes and essential jazz guitar skills added to the club website each month. Includes listening recommendations, demonstrations of the melody, analysis of the harmony, and detailed explanations on how to solo over the tune.
  • Key improvisation concepts and techniques for soloing, and classic licks and example solos that relate to each tune, so you can continue to expand your jazz vocabulary and have more options when it comes to soloing.
  • Detailed comping ideas to suit the style of each jazz standard covered
  • Lessons on how to make chord melody and solo jazz guitar versions of tunes featured - play a complete jazz standard completely on your own like Joe Pass!
  • Members only forum - A worldwide community of jazz guitarists from all around the globe.
  • Regular workshops, masterclasses, and Q & A Sessions - get direct answers from me on anything holding you back in the practice room. Replays of all sessions are available to access for all members even if you can’t make it live.
  • Massive searchable database of jazz licks and soloing concepts - the ultimate idea "grab bag" for your solos.
  • Optional monthly challenges where members participate to get feedback on their playing, reach new milestones and be eligible for cool prizes.

The best part:

You can access this all of this and more for just $1 by signing up to a 14 day trial. Go here for more info: https://www.fretdojo.com/signup-offer

Greg O’Rourke,

Founder, Fret Dojo

World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education

FREE Course:
The BIG Secrets of Jazz Guitar Improvisation

•  3 part video series - a step-by-step guide on building improvisation skills

• Learn the biggest mistakes made by aspiring jazz guitar improvisers and what you should be doing instead

• Instant access - completely FREE!

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