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Minor Guitar Licks

On this page you'll find guitar licks in the minor key (with guitar tablature). Try the licks in different keys and fretboard positions.






Minor Lick 1 - Chromatism

Here is a fun lick that uses chromatic passing notes:

  • between the 5th and 6th notes of the Am7 chord,
  • as well as between the root and 9th of the chord.

By adding chromatic notes into your lines, you can create a sense of tension and release over m7 chords, which is an important ingredient when learning how to bring a jazz sound to your improvised solos.


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Minor Jazz Guitar Lick 1


Minor Lick 2 - Pentatonic and Chromatic Mix

Another fun way to outline m7 chords is to play the Major Pentatonic Scale from the 3rd of that chord, such as the C Major Pentatonic Scale used over the Am7 chord in this example. Though the C major pent and A minor pentatonic scale contain the same notes, by starting on the note C and thinking of the scale from that root, you will focus on non-root notes for the underlying chord. This is a great way to use pentatonic scales in your solos without always starting and stopping on the root of the chord.


Listen & Play

Minor Jazz Guitar Lick 2


Minor Lick 3 - 3 to 9 Arpeggio

One of the most commonly used ways to outline a m7 chord in jazz context is to play the 3 to 9 arpeggio, the notes 3-5-7-9 of the underlying chord. By doing so, you are outlining the given m7 chord, but are replacing the more plain-sounding root with the more colorful 9th. When doing so, you will always play a maj7 arpeggio from the 3rd note of the m7 chord you are on, as you can see in this example where a Cmaj7 arpeggio is played over an Am7 chord.


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Minor Jazz Guitar Lick 3


Minor Lick 4 - Pat Martino Shape

Known for his “minor conversion” approach to soloing, where he sees every chord he plays as some sort of minor shape on the guitar, Pat Martino loves to start lines from the 2nd of any m7 chord, and run up the 3 to 9 and Root to 7 arpeggios from there. Here is an example of that approach over an Am7 chord. Try it out and see if you can bring a bit of a Martino vibe to your next jazz guitar solo.


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Minor Jazz Guitar Lick 4


Minor Lick 5 - Side Stepping

With this lick, which has a very modern sound to it, you will be switching between the A minor pentatonic scale and the Bb minor pentatonic scale. This technique is called “side-stepping” as you are using a pentatonic scale a half step away from the root of the chords to step outside, then back again, from the chord you are on. It can sound very cool when you get this approach down, but may sound a bit “weird” at first. So, take your time, work with a backing track when using this technique to hear it in context, and have fun exploring it in your lines and phrases.


Listen & Play

Minor Jazz Guitar Lick 5



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