jazz scales guitar

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Jazz is an advanced genre of music that requires more focus and a better understanding of music theory than other music genres. A good jazz guitar player understands the value of ear training, chord and scale theory, and how to improvise. These are all areas of study an aspiring jazz guitarist will pursue.

Jazz scales guitar lessons are the first place to begin. The scales used by jazz players are intrinsic to jazz guitar improvisation and the study of these scales, along with extended chords, is the first place to start when you want to play jazz.

In addition to the use of major, minor, and blues scales, jazz players add diminished scales and modes to their arsenal. The mixolydian mode is one of the most common. It’s step pattern is W-W-H-W-W-H-W. Think of this mode as a major scale with a lowered seventh degree. Another scale, the whole tone scale (comprised, as you might expect, of whole tones only) is used over V7 +5 chords.


Jazz scales guitar tonality also includes the use of several diminished scales. One of the most common is an 7 note scale built by alternating whole and half steps. In C this would give you the notes C-D-Eb-F-F#-G#-A-B-C.

The example shows how to use the diminished scale over a ii-V-1 progression.


Jazz scales guitar methods, even at their most basic, are more complex than other methods for playing guitar. The best way to approach the study of these scales, and the jazz form in general, is to get into the habit of practicing with the scales by improvising with them over as many jazz charts as you can. Listening to as much jazz as you can while studying the charts can help tune your ear to the sounds and odd time signatures that make up the elements of jazz improvisation.