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Grant Green Guitar Licks

Grant Green was a master jazz guitarist of the highest level, and it is definitely a good idea to spend some time learning Grant Green Licks in your jazz guitar practice routine.






Known as a bluesy player, and later on a father of modern funk, Grant was also a talented bebop soloist who had a strong handle on bebop vocabulary and substitutions.

In this lesson, you’ll learn five different Grant Green licks for jazz guitar, but beyond the licks, you’ll learn the building blocks for each phrase so that you can learn how to create your own Grant Green sounding licks in your jazz guitar solos and phrases.


Recommended listening: Idle Moments

Find out which guitar, amp and strings were used by Grant Green: Grant Green's Guitar Gear

Grant Green Licks 1

This first lick uses two classic Grant Green approaches to minor key ii-V’s.

  • The Edim7 arpeggio in bar one, implying a C7b9 chord as Edim7 outlines the 3rd, 5th, b7 and b9 of C7, creating a rootless arpeggio in this instance.
  • The descending notes (C and Bb) over the pedal note G in the second half of bar one is another idiomatic Grant Green approach to building lines in this context.


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Grant Green Lick 1

Grant Green Licks 2

The next lick uses a melodic minor scale over the Gm7 in bar one, implying a GmMaj7 sound in this context. Applying a Melodic Minor Scale to the iim7 chord in a ii-V-I is a characteristic of Grant’s playing, and it can be heard further during his solo over So What, where he uses Melodic Minor over large portions of that tune.


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Grant Green Lick 2

Grant Green Licks 3

The next ii V I lick uses a few subs to create a focus on the iim7 chord, in this case by playing Gm7-D7b9-Gm7, rather than outlining the written changes in the first three bars of the progression.

This type of substitution, playing a V7b9/iim7 in the middle of a ii V I, in order to put more focus on the iim7 chord, is something Grant loved to do and it’s a great way to expand your ii V I vocabulary and bring a bit of Grant Green’s sound to your lines at the same time.


Listen & Play

Grant Green Lick 3

Grant Green Licks 4

This lick uses a quick turnaround sub over the last two bars of the phrase. Rather than just playing over the Fmaj7 chord that’s in the progression, Grant would like to use turnarounds to create more interest over a static chord. In this case, you can see the Imaj7-bIII-bVI-bII-Imaj7 turnaround being used, otherwise known as the “Ladybird” turnaround since it is the last two bars of the Tadd Dameron tune “Ladybird.”


Listen & Play

Grant Green Lick 5

Grant Green Licks 5

This is a pretty straight-forward Dom 7 lick in the style of Grant Green, but there are two items worth looking at further in your practicing.

  • The first is the use of the note C (the b3) to create a bluesy sound over the A7 chord in this lick.
  • The second is the last four notes, which is a common bebop phrase where you play one note, F#, then want to play the note below it, E, but you get there by playing the diatonic ascending triad to that note, in this case and A major triad.


Listen & Play

Grant Green Lick 4


If you are looking to get some classic blues licks under your fingers, expand your Bebop vocabulary and work on your swing all at the same time, than Grant Green is the man to study.



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