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Intermediate Exercises:

So now you know all your major and minor scales. Now what do you do with them? Well here's some scalar pattern exercises that have done wonders for my chops both physical and mental. The fingerings are up to you. You should really try to work out as many fingerings as you can without going nuts.
Try each of the exercises in a single position. Then all 12 possible single-position fingerings. Often playing horizontally across the finger-board rather than vertically (i.e. in position) will be the best solution.
For the triad based exercises, also try them using the same fingerings that you would if you were playing the triad as a chord, ie. each triad uses 3 strings. This will obviously mean several position shifts will be involved.
If possible, try the exercises on a single string or using groups of 2 or more strings, contiguous or non contiguous. The interval based exercises work especially well using groups of 2 strings across the fretboard.
Try them with fingerings that do use finger stretches and also with fingerings that specifically avoid the use of any finger stretches.
Try them picking every note with alternate picking or reverse alternate picking or some form of economy picking. If you finger the triad based exercises with 3 strings per chord it lends itself really well to sweep picking. Try the exercises without picking every note but using some hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides. Maybe even a bend here or there.
Try using only 3 fingers on your fretting hand. Try 2 fingers, Django did it. Try 1 finger just to see what happens.

Get the sound of these patterns in your head. You won't be able to play them with any dexterity until you can hear them. Sing them out loud while you're playing them. See if you can sing them without playing them.

The suggestions for further work are always:
• to play the patterns in several octaves and/or across several octaves eventually using the entire range of the guitar
• to transpose the patterns to all 12 keys
• to work the same shapes out with the jazz minor scale, the harmonic minor scale and the harmonic major scale (1 2 3 4 5 b6 7)

Some of these patterns may find their way into your improvised solos note for note, but that is not really what we are trying to do here. We are merely trying to develop your intervalic agility on the guitar. I expect you to encounter pretty much every little fingering snafu imaginable and I hope that you will have the perseverance to find your own elegant solutions to them. There are solutions. These things are all playable on guitar. I also expect you to be exposed to a large number of the possible intervalic sounds available in our Western 12 tone scale.

And if what you are trying to learn is how to play jazz on the guitar, remember that this stuff here should not be the primary focus of that goal. To play jazz well all you really need to know is how to play tunes. Learn to play some tunes first. Anything else you study should just have the purpose of allowing you to play tunes better. I think these exercises will help expand your chops both as physical exercises and as ear training, but if you don't actually know any tunes then you really don't know how to play anything and you likely won't find any uses for the sounds you're learning here.

Good luck.


Hopefully there will be more to come in the not-too-distant-future. 

NEW - January, 2012

[Home] [Jazz Guitar Music For Your Private Party] [Recordings] [Jazz Guitar Lessons in Toronto]
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© 1998 J. M. Goldstein