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How to Play Jazz Guitar

Your Questions on How to Play Jazz Guitar: Ask them here!

This page host questions and answers about various aspects of how to play jazz guitar, and jazz playing in general. I get asked a lot of questions by email, and I some point I thought, “Hey, Everyone could benefit from the answers! We just have to dedicate an entire webpage to this…” So rather than simply replying to emails for one person at a time, the Q&A’s are permanently here, on this page. Most questions, if relevant and thoroughly answered, make it to the jazz guitar articles page of this website.

And also, this page will make YOU, the visitor, contribute: along with asking, you can also answer and comment all previously posted questions. I’m sure you all have something to contribute. You can be surprised at what you know and your ability to share that knowledge. You can answer any (or all!) of the questions listed here by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page. All of you, jazz guitar experts, out there have now a great opportunity to share your wisdom with others. Be part of this community: help and be helped.

 

Have Jazz Guitar Question?

Do you have a question on any aspect of learning how to play jazz guitar?

FEBRUARY 2015 UPDATE: If you have a pertinent question on how to play jazz guitar, please ask it by email first at admin at jazzguitarlessons.net … the author (that’s me!) will take the time to create a new fresh lesson article and / or video if the question has not already been answered somewhere else. Feel free to browse questions that *have* been answered below. Thanks. 🙂

 

Jazz Guitar Questions by Other Visitors

Click below to see other visitors’ questions (and answers) to this page. Feel free to add comments and or answer the questions yourself.

William Leavitt Modern Method for Guitar / Reading / Positions
Hello, My question concerns above mentioned Method. The Leavitt books focus on how to get the student learn sight-reading. The chords are presented …

Adding Interest to Comping Using the Alan Kingstone Book : The Barry Harris Harmonic Method for Guitar
(View my review of this book here ) ___ Hi Marc-Andre, On your site you specifically say that your comping has radically improved/changed since you …

How do I get “THE” jazz sound ?
I just got a Ibanez AF75D hoping to finally find that jazz sound. I plugged the AF up to my Peavey Windsor Studio expecting a miracle I guess but all I …

Metronome: Guilty or Not?
Hi Marc! Can you give me an advice, please, what exercises will help me achieve an evenly rhythmic playing? I listened to the my own record and was …

Hollowbody VS Solidbody Guitar
Hello Marc, I play a solid-body guitar, but for a long time I’ve been wanting to get a hollow-body guitar to play jazz. I’ve watched dozens of videos …

Practicing
What would you suggest as a good daily practicing routine? Or, if you were looking at a typical week, how might you suggest one break down practicing …

How Do I Create & Use Suspended b9 Chords?
In your “Chords Construction – Addendum “Chord Extensions Finder” Technique” section, you write “we want to *avoid* having the interval of a b9 within …

All Blues – how to play sixteen notes in 6/8 time
1) How do you play the sixteen notes in the tune All Blues 6/8 time? 2) Can the sixteen notes in 6/8 have a swing and a straigt feel? Per Nielsen …

1-2-4 fingering: stretch
Hi, Why do you stress the 1-2-4 fingering rather than 1-3-4? I and I’m sure other guitarists find the stretch, particularly around the lower frets, pretty …

String dampeners on guitars?
Hi Mark, What do you think of using a string dampener to quiet down ambient ringing? I’ve noticed a lot of modern players use something like a hair …

Chord melody: when the melody’s range is very wide…
Hi! Trying to arrange Blues for Alice in the standard key of F, I’m having problems keeping the melody on top. What would you advise? Should I play …

Playing “Fast” – Should I Be Concerned?
Marc, Wonder how many others out there feel like I do. I am a country/delta blues finger picker venturing into jazz to expand my musical vocabulary. …

Altered Scale Choices – jazz blues progression
Can you use / do you use lydian dom/alt scale one the IV cord (bars 2, 5 and 6) in the jazz blues progression? Or is it just in the “turnaround” were …

Jazz Guitar: Memorization versus Sheet Music
Marc, How much importance do you place on memorization of tunes? Do you normally tell your students to commit songs to memory and put away the tab or …

Podcast 13: Pentatonic Scales
Hi Marc, Just a question about your ‘trick’ in Podcast 13 with the pentatonics. Dm7 with the F and C as 3rd and 7th the Am pentatonic scale will work, …

Jazz Guitar: Too Much Material to Learn – Help!
Marc, I’ll keep this simple and wonder how many others feel this way – completely overwhelmed with what feels like too much material to learn! …

Quartal Harmony – Part 2
Coucou Marc I so love your web-site, I’m a pianist and have recommended it to a guitarist friend. I’ve spent literally weeks mastering your great …

Jazz Guitar: Melodic Patterns AND Triads from Scales
Marc, Hello. A newbie to jazz and your site, which is absolutely great! I am a Delta Blues finger picker venturing into jazz. Been studying from a …

Jazz Guitar: Which Scales to Focus on
Hello, I am an intermediate guitar player but a novice at jazz. I would like to learn the basics of improv and theory. I am focusing on the major …

Holding the Pick
In your video “Pick versus Finger for Chords” I see you — like most guitarists — hold the pick between thumb and first finger with the first finger …

Swing vs Bebop
Hi Marc, First off, I like your amiable approach to teaching jazz guitar. I think you welcome a wide range of players interested in the style. It’s …

G7 to G9 chords?
In your “Learning 3 Basic Chord-Scales for Jazz Guitar” video and PDF, you show three chord voicings for Dm7, G7, and Cmaj7 chords. I’m confused. I understood …

“Holding The Guitar”
Bon Soir, Gilles! I’ve been having some fun browsing the site. Its been awhile, and I’m enjoying some of the ideas, questions, and suggestions I see …

VIDEO Answer : Solo Guitar – Improvisation?
Hello, I’ve watched many of your lessons.They are good tools for learning. I’m an advanced player.However my training and background is in classical …

Understanding chord melody arrangements
I’ve been trying to learn how to create c/m arr. for a few months now. I am a Jazz beginner, I handle chords fairly well as long as I can reach them with …

Beginning Improvisation, Learning Scales and Jazz Language
Hello, I realize that the answers to the questions I’m about to ask are scattered all throughout your site, but it would honestly help me to see every …

When I Improvis I quikly find myself lost in the chord progression
Hi, When I start to improvise, I am quickly lost in the chord progression, I mean I don’t know the chord I am playing over … I can’t keep track …

Different types of jazz playing
Hello, and before I say anything: Thank you for this site. I’m currently working on getting better at guitar and chose jazz as the path that I want …

Beginning transcriber, where do I start?
Hello Marc-Andre, I’ve been coming here for a while now and have truly improved my playing. I have a pretty good grounding in chords and starting to work …

Using Extensions
Hi Marc-Andre, In the lesson on this page: http://www.jazzguitarlessons.net/jazz-chord-progressions.html and first video… The first progression, …

Minor 3rd Chord Substitution
Hey,Marc! First of all thanx for Your amazing website! In progressions like the first 4 bars of “Just Friends”,in the key of G the 3rd bar is a cm7 …

Rhythm Changes – Bridge Comping?
Marc – I just watched your Oleo video. Nice. I love playing that melody. However I loved your comping over the bridge. I would love to know what …

About learning solos
I recently started to learn solos from Miles Davis’ album “Kind of Blue”, and i learn them all by ear and with few days of practising I can learn a solo …

Horn Style Comping
Hi, Marc! I’m in a band that contains piano, bass, drum, a singer, and me on guitar. I’d like to spice up my comping (which I do mostly with guide …

Hovering Finger Syndrome
I have lots of chord material, but even though I’ve been practicing for some time, I can’t get rid of my HFS, Hovering Finger Syndrome. I get the chords …

How to practice for glitch-free performance?
Hi Marc, What is your practice recommendation for cleaning up a passage that has glitch prone spots? Two examples that come to mind in my practicing …

ii-V resolving back to ii ?
Hello. Thank you for your great site! I am working with the Jazz Guitar Licks Video 1 , and the leading notes from the arpeggio in the ii-V-I you …

Using open strings in jazz?
Hi Mark, Is there any convention in jazz guitar to avoid open strings in playing melodies, lines, etc.? Sometimes open strings would allow easier …

BeBop Scales
Hello Marc, Some thoughts and question(s) regarding BeBop Scales: lately I’ve been revisiting them and have observed a thing or two: Take the Dorian …

Barry Harris Guitar Books : Kingstone -vs- Ben Hur
Hello Marc, Regarding The Barry Harris Harmonic Method for Guitar by Alan Kingstone; is it any different than the Roni Ben Hur book that also draws …

Your chord melodies are too complicated for beginners
Hi Marc: I am a long time subscriber and really appreciate your talent, passion, and dedication to playing and teaching jazz music and specifically …

Descending Diagonal Scales
I am pretty comfortable with ascending diagonal scales now, but what about descending? Seems a bit more awkward and easier to lose your way, any tips? …

Garzone Triads : The Triadic Chromatic Approach
Hi Marc, I’ve seen that you use to practice Garzone triads quite a lot. I would like to know more about this device. Seems that there is much mystery …

Synching Picking Strokes with Beats
Hi Mark! Your’e such a wonderful teacher, I learned a hell of a lot from your youtube clips. Just a lot more accessible than almost all of the other …

How to Maintain Transcribed Jazz Vocabulary
Hi Marc, Thank you so much for dedicating your time for others and help share your experience in studying jazz, cuz sometimes the learning curve does …

Playing Jazz using Chord Notes versus Scales
Hi Marc, I’ve conversed with a well known studio musician (late ’50s through early 70s) in Hollywood. He was on the very high list of studio bass players …

Choosing Altered Scales for Dominant 7th
Hello Marc from Erie, Pa. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I’ve been working on altered 7th scales. My question is while you are improvising …

Technique level?
Hello, I’m an advanced rock player interested in learning jazz. I notice a lot of people never bother much about technique, speed, etc. I find that …

Very Fast Tempos
Hi from France and thanks for sharing. I’ve been playing as a professional musician for 20 years now and it’s still very hard for me to play up tempos …

Blues Lines over Standards
Hi Marc, Just found your site. Very informative. Great video clips. My question is about your “blues” scales video when playing a straight blues. …

Position Shifting and Scale Shape Choices in Soloing
Hello Marc-Andre, Thank you for your jazz guitar educational web site effort and clear ideas presented. If you have a spare minute (or two!) can you …

Jazz Guitar : Guide-Tones in Forward Motion
Many thanks to Marc-Andre for creation of this website! 🙂 I have learned all of the basic scales – Major modes, Harmonic Minor, Diminished, etc and …

The Left Hand Pinky Finger
I have a problem with my left hand “pinky” finger. When I play single lines or chords on the top strings, I always have my “pinky” sticking up in the air. …

Learning Jazz Standards
First of all, thank you Marc-Andre, for this website. I am trying to learn a repertoire of standards, as I think it is essential part of being a jazz …

Diminished Scale : Using Whole-Half and Half-Whole Scales
What chords do the half whole and whole half scales work over. If I improvise using the major, minor, harmonic minor or melodic minor scale, it sounds …

Jazz Phrasing for Guitar
Hi, really getting a lot from your website, your a good teacher 🙂 One thing that i’m struggling to find on the net is lessons on jazz phrasing. …

Doing exercises in all keys
In your opinion, if running through exercises, it is really necessary to practice them in all keys? I understand that the standard educator response is …

Rookie Questions : Solos and Chords
Two Rookie Questions: 1. How (and when) do you change solo (type of scale) when a different chord comes up. 2. How do you find the right chords to …

Two “missing” scale positions?
Hi Marc! I’ve been working on your Learn the Fretboard course for couple of weeks and it’s great fun and seems to help me a lot. I’am really not a …

Chord Equivalents
Hello M-A, When I do “All of Me” with a walking bass the last section goes from F to Fm6. To get the bass note I walk it down to play the 6th(D) in …

Scales Outline for Blues in F
In going through your series on the page “Jazz Improvisation #1” I noticed that the first PDF notes a D7 chord in the 8th bar, but the notes don’t seem …

Jazz Guitar: Constraints for Improvisation
Hello, I would not consider myself an absolute beginner anymore, but there surely is a lot that I need to figure out and especially practice. You have …

Regarding Chord Melody & Chord Chart PDFs
Several questions regarding your PDFs on the Jazz Standards section of JazzGuitarLessons.net. Why do the chords differ slightly between the Chord …

Drop 2 – Jazz Guitar Elements
I knew little to nothing about jazz guitar, so I took your advice and purchased Michael Berard’s Jazz Guitar Elements . I’ve gotten up to the Drop 2 chords …

6 Fret Fingering
Hey Man! Just wondering if the 6 fret finger (index/pinky) stretch method needs a finger assigned to a specific fret i.e the index finger can only …

Jazz Blues-How to Apply the Modes?
Hello, I would like to know how to apply the Modes to Jazz Blues. I began playing guitar several years ago and concentrated exclusively on playing Blues. …

How do I figure out the correct key for a jazz tune?
Hello, I really enjoy your Jazz standards section and have been using your website to teach myself all that I can. One thing I’m having trouble with …

Playing Outlines: Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony
Hi Marc. What are you thinking when you play outlines from Bert Ligon’s book “Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony” ? Are you playing the chords …

Small Typo: Blue in Green Chord Diagram
Hi Mark, I’m really enjoying your Lessons and PDF etc I think the chord diagram in the 8th bar of your Blue in Green lead sheet should read 6th fret …

Suspended Chords with ninth
Hi there, i’ve read that one way to make a suspended chord is to play a major triad one step below the root, for example F/G makes Gsus. but when you do …

Beginning Improv Scales
I am trying to apply scales to Autumn Leaves. Bar 1(Cm7) & bar 2(F7) F mixolydian starting at F up & down Bar 3(BbMaj7) & bar 4 (EbMaj7) Bb major starting …

Jazz Heads vs. Solo Sections
Great lessons. My question is about the Solo improv section of Jazz tunes in relation to the Verse or ‘head’ of the tune. I’ll sometimes hear Jazz musicians …

Super Locrian over m7b5 chords?
Hi Mark, Do you ever use the super locrian scale over minor b5 chords? Since it contains the chord it would seem to work, however the major 3rd …

Learning to Solo by getting the “Pure Essentials” Down First
Bill Evans says in one of his videos that lots of new players just flounder around and try to play tons of stuff without being able to play the basics …

Question Regarding Position Playing
Marc-Andre, I am in the process of learning the first few (6/2 and 5/2) of the seven major scale positions on the guitar. Do you recommend a student …

Jazz Guitar: Accompanying a vocalist
I”ve “mastered” the theory behind “chord-melody” and have worked out many arrangements of standards and enjoy playing them but would really like to be …

Scales for Blues Improvisation
I just started on the Improv1 Scales and I noted the following things: 1) In bar 8 of the F Blues, starting on the tonic of the scale, you land on the …

Advanced Player starting new in Jazz with little theory knowledge
Greetings, I have been playing guitar for 17 years but have been entirely self-taught. As a result I cannot read notation nor do I have an understanding …

Jazz Guitar: Uninspiring Tone of your Guitar
Is it common to be thrown off by Uninspiring Tone? I find it very difficult to hear my lines in what I would call a basic Jazz tone. Is …

‘Seeing’ jazz chord progressions in a tune
Not having played guitar for many years, I’ve picked up my guitar again with the idea of learning some music and jazz theory this time around. I’m finding …

Fusion Style
Hi,I’m a beginner guitarist wanting to explore more into fusion style of playing-I think it offers more to guitar playing-so I get to use all the chords …

No question today, just an atta-boy
Marc-Andre, I’m so happy to see that you are collaborating with Matt Warnock. I’ve been following you both for a while now and love both your teaching …

Counting while improvising
I am learning improvising, and I have a difficult time to keep the time when I am supposed to sing whatever I am going to play, know exactly where I am …

Applying Guide Tones
Hi Marc, thanks for a great site, it truly helps us in every corner of this world… What is the best way to practice using guide tones? I am at a level …

Minor 7 Tritone Subs?
On the Chord Substitution page , you start with a chord progression, Em7-A7-Dm7-G7-Cmaj7, and you derive four other progressions via substitution. …

On Tritone Substitutions
In your example on tritone substituion you go from Em7 (III) to Bb7 i don’t understand hoe can you substitute it’s note functioning V chord??? — …

Meter Usage in Music
J. Lennon and Paul McCarthney wrote Baby’s in Black in 12/8 with a 6/8 turn around. Would the reason be based on the phrase length or is there a different …

Picking Technique
Do you have an article or video on picking technique, how to hold pick, what type of pick to use, how to alternate picking, arm,and wrist position, anchoring …

How to read?
Hi mark, I’m currently working on reading music. But i have trouble with reading comfortably in key signatures like Ab major and E major. I’m jumping …

The “real” truth about improvisation?
Well, the question is simple. What’s the real truth about improvisation? I’ve learned lots of scales, arpeggios, but I’ve noticed these things aren’t …

Make the most out of practice
Hello, Just found your site. Very well done. I can’t find your post on your blog site for “Make the most out of practice” that you mention in your …

Is my approach to jazz built for success?!
Hello Marc! Thank you multitudes for your personal effort you’ve put into this website and all of your independent study. I intend to come here …

Learn one tune very well
You say “Learn one tune very well”. But what constitutes “very well”? Should you know how to play the chords and melody in all positions before moving …

Rules For Re-Harms
Hello Sir, Wondering if you might be willing to write a paper on reharmonizing songs. Perhaps this would be best completed in parts starting with the …

Form for soloing? (and what scales to use)
Hi, I’ve been learning some of the jazz standards on the website and looking at some of the improvisation lessons but I am a bit confused. I’m a beginner …

Basic Lesson Plan (Or “What should I work on first?”)
Hello Marc- A few months back I wrote you a long “story of my life” Email and you supplied a wonderful answer. (Which I really must re-read.) You …

Melodic Minor Scale
Dear Marc-Andre, Congratulations to your website. It has been very useful and sparked my interest in playing jazz music. I have heard that the melodic …

Approaching Bert Ligon’s Connecting Chords w/ Linear Harmony Book
After struggling to get my bearings as an improviser for a few years, I bought Ligon’s Connecting Chords book. I’ve spent some time with the three basic …

What path should I take?
i just got a guitar, i’ m turning 50, willing to devote 20 to 30 hours per week. is jazz too much to attempt or should i just stick to learning familiar …

Change and Progress
Hey Marc, I appreciate so much the info I see you make available and congrats on living the benefits of hard work and commitment. Right now I’m facing …

Jazz Improvisation 2 Approaches
Hello Marc, First I would like to thank you for the newsletters, I was learning Jazz Guitar from a good teacher, but got laid off and can no longer afford …

Chord scale melody of tune relationship
Hi, I first want to say I really enjoy watching you videos, you are certainly a gifted teacher and performer. I appreciate all the insight. I graduated …

Minor key questions
Hello Marc-Andre, I’m working on harmonizing minor scales. In most of your lessons you use only the melodic minor. Should I also work on the harmonic minor …

Improvising intro’s and endings…
Hi Marc, my name is Antonio Loffredo, I’m a jazz guitarist from Salerno Italy. I’ve been playing the guitar for 22 years, I play jazz…..Well, I really …

All the Things You Are
Hey i’m playing through All the Things You Are and was wondering what do i play or what are my options over the C+7 on Bar 24. Also what are my options …

Moving Forward
I have a question: I am improvising diagonally and studying major, melodic minor and harmonic minor scales in three positions and have almost mastered …

Rythmn Patterns for duo/trio
Hi/bonjour Marc, First, thanks a lot for your amazing work and great help! This site is very informative and well made. I’ve been playing guitar …

Changing Chord Quality in Chord Melody
When playing chord melody, how much liberty can you take with the quality of the chord? For example, in the 3rd measure of “All the Things You Are,” …

Playing Patterns in Diagonal Scales
Hello, Marc_Andre! I’ve been studying diagonal scales for a couple of days and like the idea. 🙂 I actually can play up and down freely, but …

Diagonal playing: Fingerings for Dorian mode
Hi there! I am very thankful for you having done lessons on diagonal playing. I just have question: When I play G major I shift between F# …

Jazz Standards: Best way to Hear and Transcribe melody and chords from recordings
Hello, What is the best way to hear/transcribe a song (especially jazz standards) from the recorded version? I have a reasonably good ear but not …

Barry Harris Harmony
I don’t even know what questions to ask; but I have been studying jazz a while now and I never heard anyone say 2-5 was obsolete. As a matter of fact …

Stagnation
Dear Sir! I’ve been playing reggae music for over 30 years. I never studied the guitar. I pretty much learnt a few chords, a few words, formed a band …

Technique and Routine
Hi, I can’t find good technique exercises other than transcribing solos. What can you recommend? I also wanted to know if you have a practicing …

Leading Tones
Hello Mark, In your first lesson you explained that with II-VI-I’s you can take the 7th and 3rd of each chord and the 3rd will resolve to …

Minor Harmony Clarification
Hello Marc-André, In your (excellent) lesson on chord progressions, when getting to minor harmony , you write the following: …

Putting it all together
When I was in high school (over thirty years ago) I damaged my pinky and ring fingers playing football. Since the ’70’s these two fingers have acted …

2 thoughts on “How to Play Jazz Guitar

  1. Your website, videos, ebooks, etc. are truly beyond amazing. You have incredible knowledge and heart.

    I’ve been playing guitar for many years, but, not much jazz. Mostly, rock, blues, funk and “jazzy” (like pop jazz) stuff. So, while investigating learning more on the jazz side, I stumbled into the gold mine that is your website and youtube videos. I’ll be studying your offerings from now on.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to learn to play a song that I find incredibly intimidating: “Waters of March”. I wonder if you could throw out whatever tips you think might be helpful in taking on this fabulous song.

    • Hey thanks Aurelius. Glad you’re enjoying the lessons and the website in general.

      I don’t know the tune you’re wanting to learn. Best advice (usually) is: go slow, learn the melody and chords by memory. Then you’ll be comfortable. 🙂

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