Jazz guitar articles constitute a vast amount of knowledge found on this website: over fifty pieces have been written on different aspects of jazz guitar. Articles can often provide more in-depth information on crucial jazz topics than regular lessons.
The article topics range from the basic “how-to’s” to advanced questions on jazz harmony …
… still covering everything in between: tune learning, effective practicing, instructional material suggestions, ear training, gear and sound, rhythms, proper technique, injuries, etc.
A lot of the articles found here were tailor-made answers to specific questions by visitors. My greatest inspiration for writing instructional articles comes from the opportunity to answer specific questions. Please ask your own questions here.
Lastly, you should use the information provided here to polish certain areas of your playing, along with the other straight-forward lessons on improvisation and comping found on this website. As you may know, you can read, think and talk all you want about it, but it’s nothing compared to putting your hands on the guitar and working it out. Learn from the lessons, read and reflect upon the articles and … practice, practice, practice!
Jazz Guitar Articles: Essential Reading
- Start Here: the how-to guides for all levels…The “Start Here” articles series will assess your current level and direct you towards relevant lessons and articles on this website. It’s always nice to have a sense of direction. (-:
- How to Practice The original article: the meat and potatoes. *Find what to practice and go do it! * Covers: getting organized and learning to maximize your musical improvement (with some planning and efficient practice sessions.)
- Five Ways to CREATE Practice Time Not enough time to practice? Do you wish you could spend *just a little more* daily time on your instrument? Then read on…
- Jazz Guitar Tips Learn about (and *share* your own) brilliant jazz guitar tips. You’ll find all the “I wish I had known that” tips all in one place! The list keeps growing with visitors’ input!
- Personal Development for Musicians Wonder what’s missing in your life to make quick progress? Read on about “How to Get it Together in Life and Music”… great inspirational articles!
- Jazz Jam Session Etiquette A survey of a few good habits to develop when attending a jam. Covers the “before, during and after” aspects encountered in virtually any straight-ahead jazz jam. You can also share your own jam session stories!
- A Short History of Harmony The development of classical (and then jazz) harmony systems discussed in a short, precise manner. (by Martin Antaya)
- Performance Jazz Ear Training An overview of ear training techniques for real-life playing. Outlining the differences between an ear training class and listening “under fire,” on a gig. Plus how jazz musicians “should” improve their hearing abilities. Not your usual interval recognition drills!
- Transcribing A “how-to” article on lifting your own transcriptions. Learn your favorite licks directly from jazz recordings.
- Dominants: Scales and Chords choice A series of articles explaining in detail the different dominant sounds. Includes mixolydian (the basic sound), and mixo b13 (5th mode mel. minor) (and more other altered sounds…)
Steve Raegele’s “Lucid Dreaming” Series:
- Giant Steps in Consistent Intervals Using consistent (systematic, NOT diatonic) intervals to create interesting lines and ideas on Giant Steps and other progressions …
- On the Subject of Repertoire in Jazz Education An epiphany Steve had while watching a college-level recital of Jazz AND Classical students. This is a great read for any serious beginning or intermediate jazz guitarist …
- On Phrasing, Rhythm, Randomness and “All the Right Notes” Here’s how to jam with jazz legends without being kicked off the bandstand.
- Not All Chords Are Created Equal … so don’t settle for any old chord!
More Jazz Guitar Articles: Visitors Q and A
Articles below are answers to actual questions by visitors. Note that all of these are open to discussion (simply use the comment form). Share your thoughts, voice your opinion or answer the questions in a different manner altogether. Be my guest! Please ask your own questions here.
- The Post Holdsworth Jazz Vocabulary […] I don’t understand how these players arrive at their melodic approach. What I am looking for is a means to capture the essence and flavour of these lines, rather than try to sound like any given player. It is difficult to know where to start…
- Synching Picking Strokes with Beats Are you synchronizing downstrokes with downbeats and upstrokes with upbeats when improvising? hmm… Maybe you should!
- Technique Level Required for Jazz Jazz legends playing at a very high level have exceptional technique (most of the time). Is there a standard, a minimum you should strive towards in your technique? How fast and precise is finally enough?
- The Pinky Finger Is your fretting hand’s little finger always flying up and down without control? Here’s how to solve this …
- Putting it all together Are you injured or limited physically? There’s always a way to make music and cope with the situation. Here’s an inspiring story…
Scales / Chords / Harmony
- All keys on the guitar? Since transposition is so easy on the guitar (fret by fret), is it necessary to learn our “stuff” in all keys like other instruments do? Isn’t there a shortcut?
- Bebop Scales on Various Modes Applying the “added note” concept on common scales for soloing. Let the strong notes fall on the strong beats and you’ll be set!
- Improvisation: using chord tones … or … using scales? “This teacher wants me to use only arpeggios (chord tones), and this other teacher swears by the scales system. What should I do?” This is a classic. I know the feeling. Here’s my best advice for you…
- Altered Scale Choices for Dominant 7ths A survey of the most common ways to alter dominant chords / scales. Choosing between numerous systems, from simple to complex (with practice suggestions).
- Leading Tones on “How Insensitive” How to create guide-tone lines (that voicelead perfectly) in non ii-V-i contexts. Since most material for practicing jazz deals with ii-V progressions, here’s a fresh approach…
- Diminished Scale: Using Whole-Half and Half-Whole Scales What chords do the diminished scales work over? This is a big “blur” for a lot of beginners and intermediates. Here’s a deep, yet concise introduction to this exotic sounding scale…
Books / Instructional Material
- Adding Interest to Comping Using the Alan Kingstone Book: The Barry Harris Harmonic Method for Guitar Elaborating on my review of this great book, as requested by a visitor. This article goes a bit deeper (technically) than my review and has PDFexamples and a video demonstration.
- William Leavitt Modern Method for Guitar / Reading / Positions Is the “Modern Method” outdated (and not-so-modern after all?) Could you benefit from a book written more than 50 years ago? My answer is YES! Here’s why …
- Guide-Tones in Foward Motion How to “land” with the guide-tones on beats 1 and 3 (the strong beats) when improvising? Using Hal Galper’s approach is a good answer. This short article contains four PDF exercises along with my practice suggestions.
- Garzone Triads: The Triadic Chromatic Approach Legendary saxophonist George Garzone put out a fantastic 2-DVD set instructional video recently. Here’s my “take” on the material after practicing it for a few months. If you’re wondering how to create”outside” lines that make sense, you have to check this out!
Learning Tunes and Solos
- Practicing for Glitch-Free Performance Ever learned something “inside and out” and still make mistakes? Do the same glitches keep happening *in the same place* within the solo or tune? Perfectly normal! Read this article …
- How to Maintain Transcribed Jazz Vocabulary If you think you keep “forgetting” what you learned from recordings, this is for you! Tips on how to get solos really, really, deeply internalized.
- Learning Jazz Standards This is the original article on learning tunes for life, once and for all. Valuable info for all levels and all instruments.
- Jazz Standards: Hearing/transcribing melody and chords from recordings Tips on learning your favorite tunes directly from recordings. Don’t noodle around; use a good method for achieving your goal!
Misc. (Rhythms, Sound, Phrasing, etc.)
- Very Fast Tempos “Oh no! This frustrated sax player called Cherokee at warp speed again!”— Read this and you’ll never worry about playing fast again (includes video demonstration).
- Blues Lines: Over Jazz Standards? Blues permeates the American tradition of improvisation (in jazz, folk, rock, funk … and blues music). Here are thoughts on invigorating your soloing on jazz standards with some spicy blues lines.
- How to get “THE” jazz sound? Not getting the sound you want out of your rig. Is is the guitar’s fault? Or maybe the amp’s fault? … I’ve always believed that the real sound comes from the player first!
- Rhythmn Patterns for duo/trio Adding another dimension to your comping: great rhythms make great accompaniments!
- Jazz Phrasing for Guitar Would you like to create the same kinds of inflections as saxophone players in your lines? Wonder how the bebop guys do it? Here’s a short article on how to “speak jazz” (with a proper accent).