jazz guitar licks minor licks

Jazz Guitar Licks

Soloing on the Minor II-V – aka Minor 251 Licks

Here are a few of my favorite jazz guitar licks to play in minor. What I like the most about them is they’re clearly outlining the harmony. Study them carefully and they’ll find a way into your playing. If you are struggling with improvising on such progression as Dm7(b5) to G7(b9) to C minor, you’ll find these licks very helpful! 🙂

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

Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony

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


Generic Minor II-V Jazz Guitar Licks

This first jazz lick is simply the descending harmonic minor scale (starting on the fourth degree which is also the third of the II chord). Notice how it outlines the chord changes. We have the 3rd of each chord on strong beats, that’s how it works.

It’s shown in different keys to cover other string sets. See the note below.

Jazz Guitar Licks: on Minor II-V


This next jazz lick is very similar to the previous one; but instead of running the scale, it runs arpeggios. Again, it’s taken in a few keys to demonstrate possible string transference. See the note below.

minor 251 licks


Note About String Sets

Did you notice that the licks above are in several keys, played on different string sets?

For the 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.

Note About the Scales

Did you notice, the above jazz licks are making use of the harmonic minor scale of the destination chord. So, when playing Dm7b5-G7b9 to Cm, use the C harmonic minor scale exclusively. This is sometimes called HMD (harmonic minor of destination).

However, there are other solutions to minor 251 licks, including the use of the melodic minor scale. I recommend you check out this practical guide for the minor II-V-I …


More Minor II-V (251) 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 Minor II-V
Notice how the previous line is only a slight development of the one before.


Jazz Guitar Licks: on Minor II-V
Notice the octave displacement on the C7.


Jazz Guitar Licks: on Minor II-V
Interesting rhythms in the first bar.


Jazz Guitar Licks: on Minor II-V
The master of “cool” jazz lays down that beautiful lick.
I like the ending very much, it’s a classic.

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