Five Exercises to Develop Jazz Soloing on 12-Bar Blues Form (for jazz guitar – all levels)
Jazz guitar blues improvisation is one of the basic skills you need to develop as a jazz guitarist. It’s pretty close to taking a solo on your good ol’ 12-bar blues … but with a few tiny tweaks. In this video/PDF lesson, we’ll focus on the jazz side of blues improv. We’ll play using a mix of pentatonics, modes, arpeggios and more …
Learn these 5 basic exercises to practice jazz guitar blues improvisation! In this video, you’ll learn how to use different scales to fit the blues progression (in Bb) for soloing purposes. We start slowly, and then get to 5, 7 and 9-note scales in eighth and sixteenth-notes:
“Regular” Blues Scale – Minor
In this first step, we’ll use the typical minor blues scale. This is the basic blues/rock sound we’re all used to hear. Yes, you’ve already learned talk … shuffle blues in the key of A, align your hand at the 5th fret for soloing, right? 😉
The Major Blues Scale
In the second step, you’ll find out about the so-called major blues scale. It has some sort of a country/southern flavor to it. 🙂
Please watch the video to fully comprehend this. Basically, to play the Bb major pentatonic / blues scale, you simply need to think of G minor pentatonic blues. Easy breezy.
Jazz Guitar Arpeggios for Blues
In steps 3 and 4, we’ll examine the basic arpeggios on each of the chords of the blues form (1-3-5-7). Also note that guide-tones (just the 3rd and 7th) are crucial in the process of creating nice jazz guitar blues lines. Some neat soloing ideas come from simply ornamenting around the guide-tones.
Scales for Jazz Blues
And finally, in steps 5 A, B and C, we’ll use diatonic (7-note) scales for the purpose of soloing. Those are great exercises to build your rhythmic confidence in playing 8th-notes while soloing.
Be patient, this takes a while to build your technique, sound and time to perform the scales properly. But when you master them, you’ll be glad to have spent the time!
Further Practicing: Jazz Blues Improv
Remember, this is just “practicing” your jazz guitar blues soloing. You would never actually play like this at a jam session! You have to prepare/exercise in the practice room, and then improvise, be creative and “let go” when soloing on the bandstand! This video deals with the former.
Also see the blues “master index” for all blues related pages on this website.
Check out this (more recent) video on how to alternate between the major and minor pentatonic blues scale. In fact, this following video is like a hands on how-to for Steps 1 and 2 above.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.