Blues in F Chord Study – Lenny Breau Chords

Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar

 

Lenny Breau was one of the all-time great jazz guitarists. His ability to solo with single-notes and chords, play high-level chord melodies as well as adapt his playing to solo, duo, trio and larger group playing made Lenny a legend in the industry.

While there are many aspects of Lenny’s playing that you can break down and work on in the practice room, one of the most important is Lenny’s two-note comping technique.

Though it may seem obvious in hindsight, by breaking down any chord to the 3rd and 7th, and then adding color tones on top of those two notes, Lenny created a unique comping voice that is as easily recognizable today as it was back in the ‘60s when he first hit the scene and began turning heads in the jazz guitar world.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to play 3rd and 7th chords over an F blues on the guitar, as well as learn a full chorus of F blues that mixes these two-note chords with melody notes to bring a cool-sounding jazz blues into your vocabulary.

Once you have explored the 3rds and 7ths on the 3rd and 4th strings, as in the examples below, you can expand on this concept by taking these notes to the 4th and 5th strings as well, and then mixing these two string sets together as you move forward with this chordal approach in the practice room.

Lenny Breau Two Note Chords

Before we dive into the blues in F chord study, let’s take a look at the two-note 3rd and 7th chords, how they’re built and how they look on the fretboard, so that you can have an understanding of the building blocks of this lesson, which focusses on the 3rd and 4th string set.

The 3rd and 7th are the two most important notes of any chord you are playing in a jazz context. The 3rd tells you if the chord is major or minor, and from there the 7th tells you if the chord is a major 7th, 7th, m7th etc. when applied to a chord progression.

As well, these two notes are enough to outline the chord changes to any jazz tune, which leaves two to three fretting-hand fingers open to add other chord tones on top of those notes, or full melody lines as in the chord study in the example below.

When playing these two notes on the fretboard, you can use your fingers, or a pick and fingers for each two-note shape. If you use your fingers, play the lowest note with your thumb and highest note with your index finger. As well, if you use a pick, play the lowest note with your pick and the highest note with your middle finger.

To help you get the lower two notes, the 3rd and 7th of each change, under your fingers before you attempt the full chord study, here are those notes over an F blues without the melody line on top.

Work on these shapes until you can play them from memory with the audio track, then move on to the full blues in F chord study in the next section of this lesson.

 

 

jazz blues chord study

Blues in F Chord Study

Now that you have explored the background behind two-note chord voicings, and practiced a few of them on their own, you are now ready to work on the full Blues in F study in your woodshedding.

Keep the same picking technique that you used in the first example from this lesson. So, if you use your fingers, play the 3rd and 7th with your thumb and index finger and the upper notes with the other fingers in your picking hand.

If you use a pick, play the lowest two notes with your pick and middle finger, and then play the upper melody line with the other fingers in your picking hand.

Start by working one bar at a time, especially if you are new to this technique, and piece things together from there as you master each bar in the tune.

Once you have worked things one bar at a time and glued them all together, then you are ready to play the whole study from start to finish.

Even when you have the whole study under your fingers, keep things slow with a metronome and work up the tempo from there until you reach the tempo in the audio example in your practice routine.

 

 

blues in f chord study

Blues in F Backing Track

To help you practice this chord study, as well as come up with chord studies of your own, here is a Blues in F backing track with only bass and drums that you can use in your jazz guitar practice routine.

 

 

Do you have a question about this Blues in F Chord Study? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.




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  1. DaveApr 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    As an occasional student of Lenny’s when he was still with us, I can say you have covered his comping basics nicely. He had such a complete understanding and abiltiy as a guitarist and overall musician. One thing he had me work on was playing 7th arpeggios across and up the neck in 4ths (Ex Cmaj7, Fmaj7, B07, Em7). Replicating this pattern up the next in the same key adds a nice flavor to my improvising. He also had some classic lines/phrases that can be used liberally(ex. minors aloud head)and bop lines.

    Check out the book on his life, `One Long Tune,’ if you have not yet done so.
    In addition to his history, theer are some musical insights within.

    Thanks for your continued efforts

    Dave

    • daveMay 12, 2014 at 4:14 am

      Hey Rick; Was working this out on Lennie’s 1965 Epiphone Texan. Ran into him in 1966 when he was trying to get clean and traded a 1955 Chevy Bel Air 4 door hardtop, Robin Egg Blue for the guitar. He had no license, no insurance, said he’d write but never heard from him. Tragic, such a talent. A luthier friend of mine, first time he saw the guitar, said he’d played it at the Horseshoe Tavern one night.Had a scratch on the top he remembered. Said he gave Lennie shit for being so careless with his instruments. Said he’d pawn them, too, at the drop of a hat, if he got desperate. His tech Rufus Stewart refitted it with Grover Deluxes, a bone nut and a high density Rosewood saddle with bone bridge. I’ve turned down so many offers over the years. It’s a killer, sustain that goes on for days and a tone that would make an MMA fighter cry. Bend the blues right into the next world. A freak piece of wood. My now deceased pal said it sounds like Lennie had innoculated it with his hurtin’ soul…. cheers
      wow

  2. rickApr 24, 2014 at 2:30 am

    too bad he got murdered his music is a study that has rewards you memorize it.

  3. sergioApr 24, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Excelent class!!!

  4. Frank my Prince MaranzinoApr 24, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Very nice study and easier and fun to play. Makes a great addition to the standard blues sound

  5. downhill240Apr 24, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I definitely will start on this tomorrow. It looks deceptively simple but I sense a real challenge for a newbie!

  6. Roberto PagnottaApr 24, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Hi,

    very nice indeed!!
    Thanks,
    Roberto

  7. Nicolas RUBELApr 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Thanks Dirk,

    Very interesting and important. I like your blog very much. Congratulations. I did not know that Lenny Breau was the initiator of “guide tons”. Could Dave give the references of the book “One long Tune”?

  8. lucianoApr 24, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Thanks a lot…easier ,interesting
    luciano

  9. JulianApr 24, 2014 at 8:35 am

    People may also enjoy this website dedicated to Lenny Breau by the authors of a great book on his music called ‘Visions’, available via the site: http://www.angelfire.com/az2/jazzcorps/

  10. Paul GerardsApr 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Superb lesson yeah: that’s what’s all about!! For shure in a Big Band!!
    Lenny was/is one of the best,a true legend!! Thanks … more,more!!??

  11. ridgeApr 24, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Hi dirk

    Nice to make youre acquaintance

    You dont by chance cultivated or teach
    I m a guitarist and vocalist
    Looking to join a band of calibre of substance

    Thanks ridge

  12. zarkoApr 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

    very nice and useful ! thanks a lot …

  13. SilverfoxxApr 24, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Hi Dirk & Matt
    great stuff by Lenny Breau, more please !
    it’s a pity “the man in the street ” new little
    of this genius.

  14. BernardApr 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    This is another lesson to my level I Appreci much. Continue as ç and the way that we can do together will be more trainer.
    Thank you again.

  15. artApr 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    the book
    Long Tune, One Winnipeg Free Press (MB), May 28, 2006
    The Life and Music of Lenny Breau

  16. JoeyApr 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks, Matt. Nice lesson. Do you use barre throughout ?

    • Matt WarnockApr 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Hey, yes I use a lot of barres in this study.

  17. TEO SANTOSApr 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    The lessons are all great to study jazz guitar.
    The teachers are great!

  18. PierreApr 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Matt, Thanks again for your always valuable lessons and etudes.

    A quick question : what is your recommendation for left hand fingering ? F7 for example : A (1) and bE (2) or A (2) and bE (3) ?

    Thanks

    Pierre

    • Matt WarnockApr 25, 2014 at 3:12 am

      I use 1 and 2 but Lenny also used 2 and 3 so try both and see what fits best.

  19. PoupakApr 25, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    thanks so much , when I listen to the track and to the backing track it is very useful for my ear training , I need such lesson for Blues which has been always difficult for me to learn but now I am trying to and this lesson is helping me .

  20. FrankApr 26, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Great stuff

  21. learnApr 27, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of
    my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this.

    I will forward this information to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  22. Jorge LuisApr 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks its very good for practice

  23. Tom MApr 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I had learned a little bit of this from a Danny Gatton CD. He mentioned that Lenny Breau was an influence. This is a good expansion of it for me. When I first heard these two note type chords I thought there was more to it trying more complicated chords. The 3rd and 7th fill in so simply and yet give a real great Jazz feel to the progressions.
    Thanks

  24. SamApr 30, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Just started grinding into it. Can’t wait to get it good at it, guess I’ll just have to dive right in. Thanks a bunch!

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