Jazz Blues Soloing Concept – Min vs. Maj

Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar


When studying jazz blues soloing concepts, we know that in order to bring a more authentic jazz sound to our lines that we need to move beyond the minor blues scale shapes that we learned in our rock and blues studies. But what is the best approach to take when first exploring non pentatonic soloing ideas?

In this lesson, we’ll be looking at a simple, yet highly effective, jazz blues soloing concept involving arpeggios that you can use as a gateway into outlining each chord change in a jazz blues progression.

Check this arpeggio concept out and see how it fits into your jazz blues soloing approach as you explore this idea over a Bb blues, in the examples below, and other keys as you expand up this concept in the woodshed.

Maj6 Arpeggio

To begin, let’s look at a common fingering for the maj6 arpeggio, which you can then use to outline the I7 chord over any blues progression that you are soloing on.

Here is a Bbmaj6 arpeggio to memorize and begin to solo with, perhaps over a static Bb7 vamp to begin and then over a full blues progression once you have that under your fingers.


Min and Maj Jazz Blues Soloing Concept 4


Notice that the notes of this arpeggios, R-3-5-6, when played over a 7th chord highlight the root, 3rd, 5th and 13th of that chord, as the 6th when played over a dominant chord is written and heard as the 13th rather than the 6th. The 13th is just the 6th but raised an octave.

Once you have this shape under your fingers, you can try soloing over a Bb blues progression, using the Bbmaj6 arpeggio to solo over each Bb7 chord, and then to keep things simple, use the Bb minor blues scale over the rest of the changes.


Min6 Arpeggio

Now that you have the I7 arpeggio under your fingers, all you are going to do in order to address the IV7 chord in a jazz blues solo is change one note from that initial arpeggio.

By lowering the 3rd of the Bbmaj6 arpeggio, creating a Bbm6 arpeggio in the process, you can now apply this new shape to the Eb7 chord, IV7, when soloing over a jazz blues.

The notes of the Bbm6 arpeggio, when played over Eb7, produces the intervals 5-b7-9-3, giving you a rootless 9th arpeggio to use in your solos over the IV7 chord.

Here is how that fingering would look like if you took the exact shape from the previous example and just lowered the 3rd note.


Min and Maj Jazz Blues Soloing Concept 5


Now that you have both of these shapes under your fingers, try soloing over a Bb blues progression using the Bbmaj6 arpeggio for the Bb7 chord, and the Bbm6 arpeggio for the Eb7 chord.

If you are finding this a bit tricky at first, or just want to bring a more melodic focus to your lines right away, try playing a lick over Bb7, such as 1-3-5-3, then repeat that same lick but just lower the 3rd over the Eb7 chord, 1-b3-5-b3.

Doing so can allow you to get a lot of mileage out of a single idea as you can play the exact same thing over both chords, you just alter the 3rd to make it fit each change in the progression.

Maj6 and Min6 Blues Licks

With the maj6 and m6 arpeggios under your fingers, and a bit of experimentation under way, here are a few sample licks to try out, work in 12 keys, and bring into your jazz soloing lines as you move forward in your jazz blues soloing development.

With this first sample lick, you are playing phrase A over the Bb7 chord, then repeating this same phrase over the IV7 chord but with the m6 arpeggio added in, before returning to Phrase A with an ending added on to complete the lick.

When using the maj6 and m6 jazz blues soloing concept in your lines, you can use this organization to help keep things locked together and melody in your lines, Phrase A – Phrase A with b3 – Phrase A with ending lick.



Min and Maj Jazz Blues Soloing Concept 1


In this second lick, you will be adding in the m3rd note, considered one of the “blues” notes, over the I7 chord to bring a bit of a bluesy flavor to the line overall.

When using the maj6 and m6 jazz blues soloing concept in this way, you can add in notes from the surrounding blues scale in order to spice things up, and break up the arpeggiated nature of the exercise at the same time.



Min and Maj Jazz Blues Soloing Concept 2


After you have worked out these licks in your practice routine, and taken them to your jazz blues soloing ideas, try writing out 3 to 5 similar licks of your own in order to see and hear how this jazz blues soloing concept fits into your own voice and musical personality.

Maj6 and Min6 Blues Solo

To help you get started in applying this jazz guitar soloing concept to a tune, here is a sample solo using simple maj6 and min6 licks to outline the I7 and IV7 chord over a Bb jazz blues chord progression.

Start by learning this solo note for note, then begin to improvise over a Bb blues using these ideas as inspiration as you begin to transition from playing this blues solo study and into fully improvising with this concept in your playing.



Min and Maj Jazz Blues Soloing Concept 3


Do you have any questions or thoughts about this jazz blues soloing technique? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


To learn more about how to solo over a jazz blues, check out our latest ebook:

Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar v1


  1. Alberto RamosNov 21, 2013 at 1:40 am

    Great lesson indeed!Thanks a lot!

  2. Joseph BeggyNov 21, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I love the Cm7 to the F. I would love to be competent enough to play that style through all chords. Thanks for the instruction.

  3. diegoNov 21, 2013 at 2:29 am

    loved this lesson! so simple yet amazing! thanks!

  4. Pablo Garcia da CostaNov 21, 2013 at 3:47 am

    hi, I will try to use these exercises on the mandolin. Thank you.

  5. eyal korenNov 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

    thank you very much for all the beutiful stuff you send it helps me alot
    improve my p laying, again thanks (-:

  6. Filip PuchertNov 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Wow what a great lesson, thank you Dirk for another amazing bag full of ideas to get inspired 🙂

  7. MercyNov 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Loved it..! im on it..! im inspired..

  8. fjsimoespinto@sapo.ptNov 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Great sound! Very simple and very very effective. Keep sharing this great things. Thanks. Francisco.

  9. ALEXNov 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

    so simple and so melodic…well done

  10. NadavNov 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    The small things that make a big impact.
    Thanks for a cool concept!

  11. WalterNov 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    A little inspiration/education that goes a long way to nourishing the joy of music. Thanks!

  12. max davisonNov 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Simple but effective! Why do my lines not swing like this? Playing those swinging quavers is not intuitive for me.

  13. EricNov 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Very thoughtful, well written lesson. Sets a new standard for which to explain music to my students!

  14. DaveNov 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm


  15. DaveNov 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    very helpful

  16. CésarNov 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Very cool lesson and sound. Thanks a lot!

  17. AntoineNov 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I love your website and lessons, thanks so much!

  18. marceloNov 21, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    muito bom !

  19. ValentinNov 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I think you are doing a great job with this. Keep it going, I am checking the e-mail daily for new stuff.
    My playing has improved thanks to you. And I’ve been around for a while 🙂

  20. tonyNov 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    great lesson, fun to build on…

  21. LindaNov 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

    very nice lessons, please send us more

  22. JoachimNov 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Cool, thanks a lot

  23. bemNov 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Great!!!! Especially writing about hearing – actually – the notes, and then we can check if it’s that note, only an octave higher 🙂 Desolé, faut avoir un skill base de piano, no? bests krisz
    p.s. more lessons please! merci bdp!

    • nemdebárDec 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      I totally agree with what have been said here. Sometimes I even think, like, you know, that thing comes into your head, that this is the best way to kill time…. 🙂 thanks for the lessons Dirk! from budapest

  24. chicoNov 23, 2013 at 10:20 am

    nice and easy to understand

  25. ErwinNov 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Very very handy lesson. With my band we are playing jazzblues in Bb. However, I miss the G7, before the Cm

  26. Peter MurphyNov 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Really nice lesson with a sweet sound. Thank you so much.

  27. OverbloodNov 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Muy buena lección, me ha gustado mucho.

    Gracias. Tnkxs a LoT

  28. MichaelDec 6, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Great info Very helpful and easy to apply.

  29. TomDec 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Nice easy to follow. I do this without knowing what I am playing this helps me get better. Also really like the last line of the tab to tie it together.

  30. VinnieFeb 13, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Enjoy your methods ,easy to follow, Like “Listen and Learn” which makes it Fun to Learn
    not a Chore !

  31. Mark RhodesMar 2, 2014 at 1:33 am

    I really like this style of playing. Good feel, swinging, catchy, smart.

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