Modes are an important, and often confusing topic you are guaranteed to come across when learning jazz scales on guitar playing .
Sometimes, modes are treated as some kind of holy grail that will magically make your guitar playing better once you understand how they work and know their names.
Other times, mode scale patterns are brushed aside as almost unnecessary, and mostly ignored.
In this lesson we'll talk about modes of the major scale, and how you can use these jazz scales in your own guitar playing.
We'll talk about the common problems that come up when people start talking about modes in jazz, learn two simple approaches to thinking about modes, and find out how to use modes to play solos on jazz standards, and outline chord changes.
When it comes down to it, I really love playing jazz guitar. Playing jazz guitar is fun, challenging, and rewarding all at the same time.
Playing jazz gives you a way to express yourself musically, explore your creativity, and enhance your knowledge of music theory and the guitar fretboard.
I've been hooked on jazz guitar ever since I found out there was a band at school that I could play guitar in. I joined the jazz band and have been playing jazz ever since.
While at first learning jazz guitar was just a way to get to play guitar at school, it soon became a lifelong study of this amazing style of music.
When you're new to jazz, it can seem like there is a ton of learning that you need to do before you even start to play jazz guitar. (Let alone playing entire songs!)
This isn't necessarily true - Learning how to play jazz guitar requires the same basic guitar playing skills as any other style of music.
If you take it one step at a time, you can absolutely learn how to play jazz guitar - you just have to learn to apply your guitar playing skills to this great style of music.
Arpeggio patterns are a useful skill for any guitar player.
These patterns help you outline chords in your solos, improve your technical skills, and can help you master the guitar fretboard as you learn them.
Dominant 7th is the full name of a chord quality that you are probably already familiar with, whether you realize it or not.
A G dominant 7th chord symbol would be G7.
Most of us have learned these simply as "7th chords" - I'm going to be a little more specific in this lesson because there are different types of "7th chords" that you might learn later on.
With arpeggio patterns, you are playing the notes from a chord one at a time - almost like a scale pattern.
If you play a G7 arpeggio, you are playing a G7 chord in a way that you can use for playing melodies, riffs, or guitar solos.
These arpeggio patterns will challenge your fingers to move in new ways, adding a new layer to your technical skills and abilities.
By playing these arpeggio patterns from different starting notes on each string, you can play in any key, anywhere on the guitar fretboard.
Dominant 7th arpeggio patterns are found in many musical styles, including jazz, rock, blues, country, and other popular styles. No matter what kind of music you want to play, these arpeggio patterns will come in handy.
Major scales are important for all guitar players to learn.
These patterns form the foundation of our musical system - knowing your major scales will open up many more possibilities for what you are able to play and understand in music.
For guitar players, knowing how to play major scales can help you master the fretboard, play by ear, and develop your technique.
Most of our music theory works in relation to the major scale, so working with these patterns will give you the tools you need so you can understand music better, and communicate with other musicians.
These scales are important for every style, and if you want to learn to play jazz guitar, learning your major scales is an essential first step.
At some point in your jazz guitar playing career, someone is going to ask you to use something called "rootless voicings" for your chords.
This is especially true if you're playing in a jazz ensemble or small group at the high school or college level.
(If you're playing professionally, you probably already know what rootless voicings are, how to use them, and when to use them in your playing.)
The theory here is that if you're playing the root as a part of your chord, it's an unnecessary note because the bass player is playing the root as a part of their bass line.
While I don't 100% agree with this idea as a fundamental rule, it's still important for you to learn how to play these rootless chords.
You want to be able to do what your director/bandleader/etc asks you to do - it's your job as the guitar player, and they are likely hearing things out front that you are not hearing from your seat by the amplifier.
By dropping off the root from your basic jazz guitar chords you open up new possibilities for color, and free up your hands for simpler "grips" on your chords.
Even when you're not asked to, experiment with using these chords to see what they sound like in a playing situation.
Eventually, you want to be able to decide whether or not to include the root at the bottom of your chord based on the situation (song, style, band, soloist preferences).
Major 7th arpeggios are an important skill for any jazz guitar player to have.
Practicing these arpeggio patterns will help you improve your technique in both hands, develop ideas for improvisation, and learn the notes on the guitar neck.
You are also training your ears and fingers to find notes that are a part of the major 7th chord - so when you see one written on the page (or recognize the sound when you hear it), your fingers know what to do already.
Whether you're playing blues, rock, country, hip hop, or jazz - the minor pentatonic scale is going to be a helpful tool for you to have at your disposal.
This is a foundational pattern that appears in many styles of music from around the world, and opens the door for learning new techniques and improving your guitar playing skills.
In minor keys, the minor pentatonic scale is going to be your best bet for improvisation most of the time - at least as a starting point.
For many styles of music, these patterns make up 80-90% of the material you need for playing solos.
Once you have your pentatonic shapes down cold, they will also give you a framework you can use to easily learn your other minor scales on top of.
Adding an extra note on the 2nd string is a good way to add some color to your fundamental jazz guitar chords.
For our purposes, we are going to call these notes color tones
While the fundamental chords give you a really clean representation of the jazz chord, adding color tones gives you more control over the sound, more ability to play specific chords that pop up in your music, and make playing chords a lot more fun.
The major pentatonic scales are an important building block for playing melodies and improvising solos on the guitar.
These patterns are important for all styles of music, and especially helpful when you’re learning to play jazz guitar.
These scales can be a helpful go-to source for material when you are improvising on a major blues progression, or with other progressions that stick mostly to a major key.
To get the most out of this lesson, you’ll want to know the notes along each of the guitar strings. If you’re not comfortable with that yet, click here to get started.
If you’re in a hurry to get these scales under your fingers and playable, don’t worry! I’ll include a fretboard map here to show you what you need to know.
The pentatonic scales are helpful for a couple of reasons:
This is a helpful jazz guitar voicing for a G7#11 chord. This is a movable voicing with the root on the 6th string, meaning that you can change the letter name of this chord by moving it up or down the neck.
Note: The #11 can also be called a b5. You might see G7#11 or G7b5 on a chord chart, but this chord shape covers either name.
On the left is the G7#11 chord shown with the chord tones/intervals used, and on the right is the recommended finger pattern.
This chord can be used for any dominant 7th (G7, C7, etc) type chord you come across.
Whether it calls for G7, G9, or anything else with a 7 or higher in the chord symbol, this chord will work.