Blues in F: 3 to 9 Arpeggio Study

Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar


In today’s jazz guitar soloing lesson, we’ll be checking out a fun to play and cool sounding Jazz Blues study that uses a common jazz technique called “3 to 9 Arpeggios.”

If these arpeggios are new to you, take a moment and check out the background section below to get a quick refresher on this important jazz technique so that you can not only learn the arpeggio study written out below, but you can take 3 to 9 arpeggios and apply them to other areas of your playing as well.


3 to 9 Arpeggio Quick Guide

3 to 9 arpeggios are 4-note arpeggio shapes that don’t contain the root, they use the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th instead, hence the name, 3 to 9.

While they sound great and are easy to play once you get the hang of them, they can be tricky to learn at first as you aren’t playing the root of the chord that you’re on, which may be a totally new concept to you at this point depending on where you are in your development.

If this technique is new, take your time with it and go slow, it’ll be worth the time spent on it once you get it down and are putting these ideas into your solos in jams and on gigs.

The cool thing about 3 to 9 arpeggios is that if you know your basic 1357 shapes already, then you don’t have to learn anything new, you just take material you already know and think about it from a different perspective, and voila, you’ve got 3 to 9 arpeggios.

As an example, if you look at all the chords in the jazz blues study below, you can see that the 3 to 9 arpeggios are all common shapes that you might have learned already in your development as a jazz guitarist.

  • F7 = A C Eb G (Am7b5)
  • Bb7 = D F Ab C (Dm7b5)
  • D7b9 = F# A C Eb (F#dim7)
  • Gm7 = Bb D F A (Bbmaj7)
  • C7 = E G Bb D (Em7b5)

So you can see that all you have to do in order to play 3 to 9 arpeggios is find the 3rd of the chord you’re on, then play a common arpeggio shape that you might already know and you have yourself a 3 to 9 arp.

Here is a guide to playing 3 to 9 arpeggios for some of the most common jazz chords:

  • Maj7 = m7 from 3rd
  • 7th = m7b5 from 3rd
  • m7 = Maj7 from 3rd
  • m7b5 = m7 from 3rd

After you’ve learned the arpeggio study below, try and take the 3 to 9 concept to other tunes you are working on, using the above chart as a guide.

As well, you can begin by learning the written out study in this lesson, and the fingerings given as examples, but feel free to use other arpeggio fingerings, move these shapes to different octaves and areas of the neck, and change the rhythm to raise the level of engagement and productivity when working on this study in the woodshed.

Jazz Guitar Soloing Study F Blues 3 to 9 Arps

Click to download a printable PDF of this Jazz Guitar Soloing Study



Jazz Blues 3 to 9 Arpeggio Study GIF


Practice Tips For This Study

  • Start at a slow tempo and practice with a metronome as you increase the speed over time
  • Sing the root for each chord as you play through the progression
  • Memorize the study as soon as you can, taking the music off the page and into your ears
  • Practice running these arpeggios from the bottom up, as written, and from the top down, from the 9th to the 3rd to add variety to your woodshedding
  • Improvise over an F blues chord progression and use only the 3 to 9 arpeggio to solo over each chord in the tune

Learning to play 3 to 9 arpeggios can really open up your jazz guitar soloing and take your playing to the next level. While it may seem hard to get these rootless arpeggios under your fingers at first, by working on studies such as this one, you’ll be able to get these sounds in your ears and into your solos in no time.


Do you like to use 3 to 9 arpeggios in your jazz guitar soloing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  1. Toby DeGardMar 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Cool stuff.I play a lot of bass and find this type of thing really great when I play a solo.

  2. JoelMay 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    So is this in the key of F?
    There is no b flat in key signature.
    Then the progression would be I-IV-I-IV-I-VI-VII-V-I-VI-VII-V
    Obviously there are notes not in key of F such as Eb, Ab, F# which must give it the blues sound those being 3b, 7b, 9b of F. Still learning.

    • JeffMar 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      well I think the part you’re talking about is D7(b9) Gm7 C7 I assume i.e. the D7 having the F sharp. If that’s the case then what i think is happening is the person who wrote the progression wanted to do a 2-5-1 to the C7 rather than stay on the F7 to give it a jazz feel while still remaining in a blues progression. I think the thing to notice is that the blues is generally done differently in the Jazz context as oppose to the typical blues, I would love some input if any because I too am still learning and not filled with certainty as to why the (b9) is in the D7

      • Matt WarnockMar 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        Yes, in a jazz blues we often use a VI7b9 chord in bar 8, like the D7b9 chord in this progression. That chord is the V7b9 of the iim7, Gm7, which comes in the next bar. So it’s a way of connecting F7 to Gm7 via the D7b9 chord. Hope that helps!

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The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

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