Gibson ES-137: jazz guitar improvisation and jazz guitar licks Tritone Substitution Fast Tempos

Jazz Guitar Licks

Outlining Chord Changes

Here are a few of my favorite jazz guitar licks. What I like the most about them is they outline the harmony clearly. Study them carefully and they’ll find a way into your playing.

All licks on this page are based on the Outline No.1 in major, as explained in Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony (by Bert Ligon)

Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony

Enjoy (and don’t forget to practice your licks in all keys, through chord cycles!)


Generic II-V Jazz Guitar Licks

This first lick is a classic. It’s shown in different keys to cover other string sets. See the note below. It’s possible to move this one around and add the b9 to the V chord. You may have to change the fingerings if you add the b9 though.

Jazz Guitar Licks: on II-V


This next lick is very similar to the previous one. The triplet figure and ending are different though. Again, it’s taken in a few keys to demonstrate possible string transference. See the note below.

Jazz Guitar Licks: on II-V

A Note About Different String Sets

Did you notice that the two jazz guitar licks above are presented on several different string sets?

For all following licks, I highly recommend that you go through the same process on your own. Play the licks in different key to see how you can finger them on different string sets. It’s useful … as in VERY necessary. 🙂


More Jazz Guitar Licks

More licks, now from jazz recordings, based on the Outline No.1 in major, as explained in Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony (by Bert Ligon). You want to check out that book, it changed my life. Seriously!

Jazz Guitar Licks: on II-V


Notice how the circled notes form a descending version of F major scale (starting on Bb).

Jazz Guitar Licks: on II-VJazz Guitar Licks: on II-V


And one last one for the road. Can you identify what bebop piece it came from?

Jazz Guitar Licks: on II-V


Did you guess it? That’s right: Scrapple from the Apple is the tune in question

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