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George Benson Licks

50 Jazz Guitar Licks eBook


One of the most successful, and sometimes controversial, jazz guitarists of all time is George Benson.

While he began his career as a pure jazz guitarist, taking up the lineage of Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, Benson later branched off into the pop world where he achieved worldwide success with albums such as Breezin’.

Though his pop work brought him fame, it did alienate some of his fans from the earlier, more bebop oriented recordings. Nevertheless, Benson has remained at the top of the jazz guitar world for over 4 decades now, and with a recent string of new releases, there’s no slowing down for this jazz guitar legend.

In this lesson, you will study, learn to play, and apply six different George Benson jazz guitar licks to a variety of chord progressions and musical situations.

Recommended listening: Beyond the Blue Horizon


V-I Jazz Guitar Licks

The first lick starts with a Cmaj7#5 arpeggio over E7b13 and continues in an A melodic minor scale. This arpeggios highlights the b13 of the E7 chord, and is a solid way of outlining altered chords without simply playing the Altered Scale in your lines.


Cmaj7#5 Arpeggio C E G# B
R 3 #5 7
Played over E7 b13 R 3 5


Listen & Play:

George Benson Lick 1



The first bar of the next lick uses a Dm7b5 arpeggio, which gives an altered type of sound over E7: b7, b9, 3 and b13.


Dm7b5 Arpeggio D F Ab C
R b3 b5 b7
Played over E7 b7 b9 3 b13


In the second bar George plays a Abmaj7 arpeggio: 3, b13, 7 and #9.

The use of a major 7 on a dominant chord is a bit unusual, but sounds ok here because it is part of a series of arpeggios that are used to build tension.


Abmaj7 Arpeggio Ab C Eb G
R 3 #5 7
Played over E7 3 b13 7 #9


After the Abmaj7 arpeggio follows an Ab#5 triad (3, b13 and 1), which then resolves to the 9 of Amin.


Listen & Play:

George Benson lick 2



II-V-I Jazz Guitar Licks

The Fm7 chord here is substituted by Abmaj7 with a bit of chromatism. When playing Abmaj7 over Fm7, you are outlining the b3-5-b7-9 of that chord, so it's like playing a rootless Fm9 chord.


Abmaj7 Arpeggio Ab C Eb G
R 3 5 7
Played over Fm7 b3 5 b7 9



Listen & Play:

George Benson lick 3



Another cool 251 lick in the key of C major:

Listen & Play:

George Benson lick 4


Minor II-V-I Jazz Guitar Lick

This lick uses the C minor pentatonic scale, which when applied to the ii V in the progression creates some nice color tones in your lines.


C Minor Pentatonic C Eb F G Bb
R b3 4 5 b7
Played over G7 11 b13 b7 R #9


As you can see, this minor pentatonic scale highlights the b13 and #9 of the G7 chord in this progression, which allows you to play altered sounds in your lines, without moving beyond the pentatonic scale shapes you already know.

For more info on this important scale, check out our Minor Pentatonic Scale for Jazz Guitar lesson.


Listen & Play:

George Benson lick 5


Minor Jazz Guitar Lick

This one uses the A minor blues scale, which is a common scale choice for George when soloing over m7 chords.

Though it is a simple choice, masters such as Benson, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and others were all experts at creating hip-sounding lines using this commonly studied and applied guitar scale.

For more info on this essential scale, check out our Minor Blues Scale for Jazz Guitar lesson.


Listen & Play:

George Benson lick 6




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