Use Double-Stops Melodically

Use Double-Stops Melodically

First off, 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. ✨

Hands-On 9: Use Double-Stops Melodically

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!

Introduction

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”.

Hands-On 9: Use Double-Stops Melodically - Original Lick

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!

Download ALL of the shapes here: "Use Double-Stops Melodically" - PDF (includes TAB)

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.

Hands-On 9: Use Double-Stops Melodically - Example A

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.

Hands-On 9: Use Double-Stops Melodically - Example B

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.

Hands-On 9: Use Double-Stops Melodically - Example C

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" - PDF (includes TAB)

Once again, remember that if you need help with the basics of improv theory, our Improv 101 course has got you covered.

Jazz Improv 101 Course

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!

From the editor: This page was updated on 09/07/2019. Added definition, updated syntax, removed redundant sentences, updated tags.