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Les Paul

Les Paul (born as Lester Polfus on June 9, 1915, died on August 13, 2009) is famous as a guitar builder and player.







He combined his thorough knowledge of electronics with his musical qualities and invented some innovative products.

The first 8-track recorder was developed by Les Paul and he is one of the first one who built a solid-body electric guitar (Leo Fender developed one around the same time as Les Paul).

He is also the developer of 'Sound on Sound Recording', aka overdubbing.

Les Paul was half of the famous husband-wife duo called Les Paul and Mary Ford.

They scored 16 hits, including How High The Moon, Vaya Con Dios, Bye Bye Blues and Tenessee Waltz.

With the Gibson company, Les Paul developed one of the most recognized guitars, the Gibson Les Paul.

Together with the Fender Stratocaster, the Gibson Les Paul is one of the most popular guitars and its design didn't change for over 50 years.

In 1945 Les Paul had allready designed a solid-body guitar based on an Epiphone, but this design was rejected by Gibson.

In 1951, Gibson went back on that decision and a collaboration started between the Gibson Guitar Company and Les Paul.

Les Paul Guitar Licks 1

In this first lick, you will hear and see Les using an F triad at the start and end of the line.

Though it's a simple technique, applying triads to your soloing ideas, sometimes it is the simpliest concepts that produce the coolest results in an improvisational context.


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Les Paul Guitar Lick

Les Paul Guitar Licks 2

Here is another triad based maj7 lick, with the b3 (G#) added in to give the line a bluesy feel.

When playing over maj7 or 7th family chords, adding in the b3 to your lines will give your phrases a bluesy feel, which is something that Les loved to do in his playing, and is an essential sound for anyone studying jazz guitar improvisation to use.


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Les Paul Guitar Lick

Les Paul Guitar Licks 3

This last maj7 lick that you'll learn in this lesson uses the bluesy b3 as well as the bluesy b5 note to build a classic sounding Les Paul phrase over Fmaj7.

This line has been used by countless jazzers over the years, and is a phrase that is worth working in 12 keys as you expand upon this line in the woodshed.


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Les Paul Guitar Lick

Les Paul Guitar Licks 4

With this dominant 7th lick, you will see and hear how Les used the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale, otherwise known as the Phrygian Dominant Scale, to solo over a G7 chord.

As you can see below, this scale outlines the b9 and b13 over any 7th chord that you apply it to.

To help you get started with this scale, here is a sample fingering that you can work out in 12 keys around the fretboard in your studies.


Les Paul Guitar Lick


Here is the lick itself, which you cacn study and add to your dominant 7th soloing vocabulary when applied to an improvisational context.


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Les Paul Guitar Lick

Les Paul Guitar Licks 5

This final Les Paul lick uses the fourth mode of the melodic minor scale, also known as the Lydian Dominant Scale, so solo over an F7 chord.

When applied to a 7th chord, this scale outlines the #11 note that creates a bit of tension with your 7th chord soloing ideas.

To help you get this scale under your fingers and into your solos, here is a sample fingering for the Lydian Dominant scale to check out in the woodshed and work in all 12 keys around the fretboard.


Les Paul Guitar Lick


Here is the lick itself, which you can learn and practice applying to any dominant 7th chord in your jazz guitar soloing lines and phrases.


Listen & Play


Les Paul Guitar Lick



While Les Paul's playing may seem a bit old fashioned these days, his contribution as a player was immense, and his lines and phrases are a gold mine of vocabulary to study and add to your jazz solos.

Sometimes going back to the early days of jazz can open your playing up to new ideas, as well as give you an insight into how players such as Les Paul used sounds such as Lydian Dominant and Phrygian Dominant scales in their solos.



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