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Jazz Blues Licks


Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar



Learning to play jazz guitar means learning how to tackle the jazz blues form, jazz blues phrases and bringing a bit of bluesy flavor to your improvisations over standard tunes as well.


While you may be familiar with how to apply the blues scale and get a blues sound in your rock and blues solos, bringing out the bluesy side of jazz might seem a bit tougher, as jazz guitarists often branch out beyond the minor blues scale in their jazz blues soloing ideas.

In this lesson, you’ll learn 5 different ways to bring out a bluesy sound playing over dominant 7th chords. Each of these techniques can then be worked further in the woodshed and applied to a variety of musical situations.



1) The first jazz blues lick in this lesson uses the A Minor Blues Scale to create an ascending and then descending line over an A7 chord. Used in rock and blues, the minor pentatonic scale is also a staple of the jazz guitar sound, we just use it with less bends and with a bit of jazz flavor added to it. This lick will give you a taste of how jazz guitarists use this common scale to create jazz blues licks and solos on guitar.


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Jazz Blues Guitar Lick 1



2) We also use the major blues scale to create bluesy phrases over jazz chord progressions. This lick uses the A major blues scale to create a line over an A7 chord, with the b7 (G) thrown in at the top for good measure. Notice the slides and slurs in this lick, which can be just as important when getting a jazz sound over the blues as the notes themselves.


Listen & Play

Jazz Blues Guitar Lick 2



3) Besides playing single-note soloing ideas in a jazz blues context, you can also expand your soloing by exploring double stops. This phrase is built from the A mixolydian mode, the mode most associated with the dominant 7th chord sound, and uses double stops on top of an A pedal. This technique, playing double stops on top of a root note, is common practice and so is worth exploring further.


Listen & Play

Jazz Blues Guitar Lick 3



4) If you are a fan of Wes Montgomery, George Benson or Kenny Burrell, then you are probably familiar with their legendary chord solos in the jazz blues style.

This jazz blues lick explores adding notes on top of the 3rd and 7th of each chord in order to build a smooth and funky sounding chord lick. The toughest part of this lick is to get the notes on top of the chords to ring over the lower notes for their full duration, so take your time and work each bar separately before bringing them all together.


Listen & Play

Jazz Blues Guitar Lick 4



5) Here's an example of a modern jazz approach to the jazz blues sound. Using a technique called side stepping.

this lick is built by playing the A minor pentatonic in bar one, the Bb minor pentatonic in bar two, before resolving back to the A minor pentatonic in bar three. Playing between two minor pentatonic scales over a 7th chord, a 1/2 step apart, is a fun and cool way to bring a modern vibe to your jazz blues solos. If you are a fan of modern jazz, you should take this approach further in your practicing as it is a key component to the modern jazz vocabulary.


Listen & Play

Jazz Blues Guitar Lick 5



Want to jazzify your blues playing?

Check out our best-selling ebook: Introduction to Jazz Blues Guitar v1


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