The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  1. #1

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    Hi everyone, I'm looking for books with scale and arpeggio exercises to practice thumb and index finger plucking for single note lines on my nylon string guitar. So far I have done Chtistopher Parkening's Volume 1 up to the point where there are pieces at the end of the book. I am not really into learning classical repertoire so I want to jump straight into learning jazz improv. I feel like I am comfortable sight reading some classical pieces but I really struggle when it comes to practicing scales with P-I on my right hand.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    William Bay's "Linear Etudes" comes to mind but you don't really need a book to practice scales...

    Strange as it may sound it could help to practice them with a pick too (if you don't come from flatpicking). At least I find that the technical differences force me to be more aware of left/right co-ordination and wth I'm doing in my right hand.

  4. #3

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    Here's a scale book I have. Gives 5 position for major, minors and the modes. Then just turn on the metronome and practice however you want, fingers, pick, thumb, the book doesn't care, the guitar doesn't care either. Or you could work through the Mickey Baker book and practice stuff that sounds like jazz.

  5. #4

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    Howard Morgen's instructional books are good introductions to fingerstyle jazz: Concepts might be a good place to start. Alan de Mause also had a fingerstyle jazz book with some decent exercises. I don't know why you would restrict yourself to P-I though: lots of players prefer I-M or I-M-A, while Lenny Breau used all four fingers plus thumb (with thumbpick). There is an interesting section on Lenny's scale playing in Paul Bourdeau's instructional dvd.

  6. #5

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    Search for Rob MacKillop on this site, he may have some good ideas.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    Search for Rob MacKillop on this site, he may have some good ideas.
    He's left the group. He no longer posts.
    On the topic of P-I alternation though, it's sometimes known as Lute Picking in classical circles. No books I know of but as a linear technique I would venture to say that with all things like this, coming up with your own techniques would be most beneficial for you. Jazz improvisation has a huge component of DIY when it comes to your own style and technique. Picking styles especially.
    Find out your own interpretation of accented and unaccented beats (that means combine listening and feeling swing through extensive immersion in horn players) and determine how the natural movements and accents of your thumb and index finger correspond to that feel. That will teach you SO much more than what you can get from a book.
    Listen to Kevin Eubanks. His hybrid technique evolved out of a P-I linear approach he used early on. The thumb, he uses almost in a Wes way, with the wrist behind it, and he's worked out the other fingers to complement that. It's a self made approach he came up with and it really works.
    Try using scale exercises of Segovia (he worked out great 2 and 3 octave scales with natural shifting points) and the Oliver Nelson improvisational exercises and work them out with your own thumb and index approach.
    Nothing works as well as the time you spend with your hands, your ears and the music.
    You can figure it out. You'll be better off for the effort.

    This shows how he uses the thumb/index and also his muse of thumb/middle finger combos to provide clear linear with harmonic support.

    It may not be what you're looking for but if you take away the notion that picking is personal, and it's a journey to finding and creating your own approach based on the musical needs of what you play, rather than any specific prescribed technique, you'll be learning something essential about jazz and improvisation.
    Take it or leave it. Good luck and have fun!

  8. #7

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    Thanks for all your suggestions guys! I will take a look at all those resources. Right now my practicing on P-I still feels pretty awkward for me. I'm open to exploring P-M and P-I-M as well. I tried RJVB's suggestion of practicing with a pick first to familiarize myself with the etudes then trying the same exercise with fingers. I'm doing the same with Leavitt's Volume 1 since I've gone over that book with a pick on electric guitar and with P-I on a classical guitar.

    I have just ordered pumping nylon so I'm really looking forward to improving my right hand technique.

    For the moment though, running scales with a jazz III ultex pick on my Cordoba GK studio Negra feels natural to me and I'm pretty happy with the sound that I'm getting. Is it common for people to who play on nylon strings to use a pick for solos and switch to fingers for comping? I saw Chico Pinheiro live and he seems to tuck his pick between his fingers when he comps.