Rookie Questions: Solos and Chords

Question by Anonymous

Two Rookie Questions:

  1. How (and when) do you change solo (type of scale) when a different chord comes up.
  2. How do you find the right chords to a melody so you can play chord melody.

Thanks, I appreciate this website very much.

Gus Vanegdom Basstein

Hello Gus,

Thank you for asking, this has never been discussed on the website previously (to my surprise!)


1. Switching Scales in Soloing

Changing chord-scales in solos (improvisation) happens when the harmony dictates it.

Usually, when the chord changes, you have to think in terms of a new scale.

It also largely depends on the chord progressions and of course many, many, many types of progressions are common practice in jazz.

On some fairly “open” tunes, you can get as long as 16-bar (or more) with the same scale “working well” over the chords, while in harder and faster bebop tunes, you have two switch scales every two beats…

Blues progressions and easy jazz standards are great starting points for learning to change scales quickly.

Finally, improvisation over chord progressions (or “playing the changes” as jazzmen say) is a lifelong endeavor of patience, study and practice. Feel free to ask more specific questions (about scales or progression in particular) so I can better help you in achieving your goals.


2. Chords In Chord Melody

Once again, you have to know what the harmony says…

Study your instrument and learn new chord shapes (voicing) and melodies used as the top voice. Ted Greene books are great resources for that kind of playing.

I hope it helps, please ask more questions or leave comments on this page, below.

Thank you,
Marc-Andre Seguin


Old Comments for Rookie Questions : Solos and Chords

Jan 10, 2011
study your guitar
by: Gus Vanegdom Basstein

Thanks for answering my question.

By finding the right scale to the right chord, in my (limited) experience, it is essential for me to know the notes on the guitar. I once had a teacher who asked: why do you play a G there? I had to answer: so this is a G apparently.

I know there are some excellent lessons on your site for this “problem”, but I also think it should be an essential item in your answer (at least for beginners). I really do appreciate your answer and start loving this site more every day.


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