Use Double-Stops Melodically

hands-on jazz guitar jazz guitar improvisation Jan 31, 2021

What's a double stop?

On guitar, the term "double stops" means two notes played simultaneously. Another way to think of them is as intervals: thirds, fourths, sixths, and so on.

Guitarists including Johnny Smith, Jim Hall and others used double stops to add some harmonic sparkle to their lines. ✨

The goal of this series is to actually put some licks under your fingers. After all, the best way to learn something is to apply it practically!



A great place to start with double stops is with 3rds and 6ths. Here, we will use those intervals in licks over common progressions such as:

  • ii-V-I
  • I - i (major to parallel minor switches)


Lydian scale with 3rds

This lick is taken from the March 2016 Tune of the Month Club for the tune, “Blue In Green”.

As you can see, this passage uses mostly 3rds. These are mostly derived from the Bb lydian scale. Try to fit it on Maj7 chords in other tunes you know!

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ii-V-I with 3rds

Here, we are taking a classic guide-tone line over a ii-V-I progression and harmonizing it in 3rds.


ii-V-I with 3rds and chromaticism

Here is another one over a ii-V-I using 3rds. This time, we’re making use of some sliding and chromaticism.


Major to Minor with 6ths

This one is a nod to our “Major to Minor” issue from a few weeks back. This time, we’re using 6ths and we’re repeating the same lick, except we’re changing it from major to minor.


Jump In

Now, you try! Go ahead and see if you can make this work in your chord melodies, comping, and improvisation.

Download ALL of the shapes here: "Use Double-Stops Melodically"
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Thanks for joining us for Hands-On Jazz Guitar, Volume 9. Hopefully, with some of the information provided here, you’ll be able to add subtle harmonic interest to some of your line playing.

Please, ask us questions and give us feedback. We’re here for you. And if you enjoyed this lesson, please subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can find many more like it!



For intermediate guitarists ready to "crack the code" in jazz


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