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Jazz Guitar Licks : Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny's versatility is almost beyond compare to other musicians. It seems like he masters every style and succeeds in blending styles in a natural and elegant way.

His musical diversity shows if you have a look at some of the people he played with : from Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman to Jim Hall to David Bowie to Noa to Herbie Hancock to ...

Pat Metheny manages to combine virtuosity with accessibility, resulting in music that is pleasing for 2 kinds of audiences, hence his popularity.

Recommended listening: Question and Answer

Pat Metheny Licks 1

This typical Pat Metheny lick contains a number of 3rd intervals, both diatonic and chromatic.

Pat is a fan of playing chromatic thirds, both ascending and descending, which you can see at the end of the lick in this example.

If you are looking to get a Metheny vibe into your solos, try taking those last few chromatic 3rds out of this lick and apply them to other musical situations in your playing.


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Guitar Tablature : Pat Metheny : Lick 5


Pat Metheny Licks 2

One of the elements of Pat's playing that stands out is his fluid, legato playing, which you can see and hear in the next example.

Though many of us associate three-note-per-string scales with Rock and Metal, Pat translates these scale shapes to the jazz idiom as he uses to hammer-ons per string to build a highly fluid line over a Dm7 chord.

If you like this approach, go back and work on three-note-per-string scales and add as many slurs per string as you can in order to digest this side of Pat's soloing vocabulary.


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Guitar Tablature : Pat Metheny : Lick 2


Pat Metheny Licks 3

Here you are stepping outside and using non-diatonic triads to build tension over a maj7 chord, in this case Cmaj7.

Notice how there are some diatonic notes in each triad, and some tension-building notes, which eventually resolve to the note A, the 6th, on the last note of the line.

Experimenting with non-diatonic triads over maj7 chords is tricky to get right, but it's something you can work on in order to get that "tension-release" sound into your playing that makes Pat's soloing so interesting from a melodic standpoint.


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Guitar Tablature : Pat Metheny : Lick 3


Pat Metheny Licks 4

This phrase uses string crossing to build a semi-legato line that mixes hammers with plucked notes in a cool sounding and effective manner.

This technique can be a bit tricky to get under your fingers at first, so go slow, use a metronome and really nail that string crossing before raising the tempo and getting the whole phrase up to speed.


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Guitar Tablature : Pat Metheny : Lick 4


Pat Metheny Licks 5

The final lick is a minor ii-V-I in C that uses a G triad over G7alt, as well as the melodic minor scale over Cm7.

Sometimes something as simple as a root-triad is the best way to go in your soloing, so don't forget to check out these simple appraoches as well as the more complext concepts in your studies.


Listen & Play

Guitar Tablature : Pat Metheny : Lick 5



If you are a fan of Pat Metheny's playing style, then studying and applying these five classic Metheny phrases to your playing is a great way to dig into the thought process of one of the greatest improvisers in jazz history.


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