Jazz Guitar Licks
Here's a collection of transcribed jazz guitar licks, guitar riffs and patterns. The transcriptions are written in guitar tabs and standard notation.
- Guitar Licks are musical phrases, parts of a melody or an improvised solo.
- Riffs are short melodic phrases that are often repeated (in a solo or as accompaniment). The most well known guitar riff is probably Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water'.
- Patterns are even shorter musical phrases.
You can compare licks, riffs and patterns to paragraphs, sentences and words of a conversation. So be careful how you use the licks, you don't want to sound like someone else or talk nonsense. Just copying the licks is not the way to go because you'll sound unnatural. Use the material in a creative
way. Try to understand the thinking behind a lick and incorporate the concept in your improvisations rather then just copying the lick.
Play with the different aspects of a lick: try changing the rhythm, the tonality or the position. You'll learn more and it makes it easier for you to get a lick in your fingers.
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Al Di Meola is a fusion guitarist who mixes jazz with Latin and flamenco. He is known for his technical mastery and his extremely fast guitar solos. His picking technique is very staccato, he picks almost every note and only sporadically uses hammer ons of pull offs.
Baden Powell de Aquino is an acoustic guitar player from Brazil and one of the key figures of the bossa nova music. His playing style is a mix of a classical guitar technique with jazz harmonies and a Latin right hand technique.
Bill Frisell is a jazz guitar player with a unique sound and guitar technique. His music is a mix of jazz, country, folk and classical music. He uses guitar effects quiet a lot, especially delay, distortion and a volume pedal.
Biréli Lagrène is a guitarist from France who started as a manouche jazz guitar player (gypsy jazz) and sounded like a copy of Django Reinhardt. Later he explored other playing styles and ventured into jazz fusion with Jaco Pastorius.
Barney Kessel was a great bebop guitar player and one of the busiest session guitarists of the 1960s (you can hear him on hundreds of famous pop albums). His most popular works are in a trio setting, "The Poll Winners" being his most popular album.
Charlie Christian was the first electric guitarist. He started by playing in swing bands and became one of the key figures of the bebop and modern jazz. He had a lot of influence on jazz guitar players and other musicians (such as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie) as well.
Charlie Parker, aka Bird, was a saxophone player and composer and one of the greatest and most influential jazz musicians of all time. He is one of the founders of the bebop. His playing style is very interesting material for jazz guitarists.
Django Reinhardt was born in Belgium and already played professionally when he was 12. Loosing 2 fingers of his left hand didn't stop him from becoming the world's most famous gypsy jazz guitar player.
Emily Remler was one of the few female jazz guitar players around, but unfortunately died too soon at the age of 24. Her style of guitar playing was very much influenced by Wes Montgomery.
Frank Gambale is known for his speed. He is the master of shred guitar and sweep picking. His excellent technique enables him to produce very fast guitar solos.
Gabor Szabo is an Hungarian acoustic guitarist who's had a great influence on Carlos Santana. He played many styles of music, like pop, rock, manouche , jazz and Indian music.
George Benson is the master of smooth jazz guitar. Many people don't realize how good he plays the guitar, knowing him only as a soul singer. His chops and swing feel are amazing, as well as his musical ideas...
Herb Ellis is a bebop guitar player with a big influence from Charlie Christian. His fame started when he joined the Oscar Peterson Trio. Check out this great II V lick from the jazz standard "Look For The Silver Lining".
Jim Hall is a jazz guitarist with a very intimate tone. He is a big influence on many jazz players, including Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. Speed is not his thing, but beautiful melodies and advanced harmonies certainly are!
Joe Pass was the master of solo jazz guitar. He started playing professionally when he was 14, but unfortunately got on the wrong track and became an heroin addict. Luckily he recovered and became one of the most famous jazz guitar players.
John Coltrane was a saxophone player and one of the most important figures in jazz music. In his short career he played with people like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman.
John McLaughlin is an acoustic guitarist who blends jazz, rock and Indian music. He was the guitarist of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and also played with Miles Davis. John McLaughlin has a very impressive guitar technique.
John Scofield is arguably one of the big 3 of modern jazz guitarists. He played with big names like Chet Baker and Miles Davis. Scofield has a very personal style and sound and some interesting techniques...
Duke Ellington once called Kenny Burrell his favorite guitar player, so, what more is there to say? His style has blues, latin and bebop influences, a blend that makes him a master of smooth jazz guitar.
Larry Carlton is a very successful studio musician. He played on many famous albums from people and bands like Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Lee Ritenour and many more. He is influenced by Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and B.B. King.
Larry Coryell is a man with a very impressive guitar technique and a very eclectic style of music.
Lee Ritenour is a popular studio and session guitarist with an impressive solo career. He is the pioneer of the style called smooth jazz (a mixture of pop jazz and latin).
Lenny Breau was an outstanding fingerpicking guitarist. He was very good at simultaneously playing single note lines and chord accompaniment. He's big influence on many finger picking jazz guitarists.
Les Paul is a famous guitar builder and player, developer of the Gibson Les Paul guitar and the first 8-track recorder.
Mike Stern is another one of those guitarists that were discovered by Miles Davis. He's a versatile jazz/fusion player with a very personal sound.
Miles Davis was a trumpet player on top of almost every important innovation in jazz. Here's the theme of So What, a famous modal composition.
Pat Martino learned how to play superb jazz guitar twice. He forgot how to play guitar after brain surgery, but that didn't stop him from being an innovative jazz guitarist with an impressive technique.
Pat Metheny must be one of the most versatile musicians alive. His technique and timing are incredible and he seems to master every style. Here are 6 Pat Metheny licks for you...
Robben is a well known blues guitarist, but he has a jazzy side as well. He toured with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell and the Yellowjackets.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was an incredible blues guitar player, who was taken from us way too soon. This guitar lick shows the jazzy side of SRV.
Stochelo Rosenberg is a gypsy jazz guitar player and lead guitarist of the Rosenberg trio.
Tal Farlow was a bebop player who was as famous for his reluctance to perform as for his great guitar playing. Here are 2 II V I guitar licks for you...
Wes Montgomery is without any doubt the most influential jazz guitarist ever, and it is easy to hear why. Here are 8 guitar licks in the style of Wes Montgomery for you...
Here's a guitar lick that is a good exercise to learn common chromatic patterns in the Dorian scale.
Guitar Patterns are small melodic or rhythmic building blocks for your guitar solos. They are easy to memorize and very useable in your improvisations.
Here are a bunch of jazz guitar licks for various chord progressions and chords (with guitar tabs).