A quick and practical overview of some of the most important jazz guitar tips.
Find out about the too often underrated aspects of learning how to play jazz guitar (and developing as a jazz musician)...
My top-5 jazz guitar tips go something like this : listening, learning tunes (repertoire), working on rhythms, guitar gear / equipment... and diligence!
1 - Use Your Ears
- Listening to great jazz recordings daily is crucial;
- Try to remember melodies by ear;
- (without opening that fakebook again)
- Use your ears to tune the guitar;
- Improvise without the aid of play-a-longs;
- (create your accompaniment, your rhythmic/time feel and make your improvisation outline the chord changes effectively)
Remember that listening is the key to hearing all of this:
- Time/rhythms, intonation, chords/progressions , song form, inflections, dynamics, improvisation, comping, phrasing, composition ... even hearing yourself comes from listening
- All good music comes from really listening all of the time.
2 - Learn Tunes Daily
- Make repertoire a priority. You can't play jazz if you don't know any songs from memory! Make a list of tunes you can play fairly well.
- At first, simply try to incorporate tunes into the "routine". For instance, instead of warming up on scales, arpeggios and chords you already know, spend the first 30-60 minutes of practicing learning a tune.
- It's often at the beginning of a practice session that your mind is the most alert; take advantage of that.
3 - Jazz is All About Rhythms
- Learn to use the metronome in practice;
- Develop your awareness of time;
- Think of rhythms, most of the time, when blowing/comping;
- Hang out and play with good drummers. It's worth it!
4 - Worrying About Gear
Gear is not the problem, don't worry too much about it. You don't need an archtop and a polytone to sound good. (See Frisell, Ed Bickert, Lenny Breau, Mike Stern, Ted Greene, etc.)
Let yourself play on "non conventional rigs" if you feel and sound better doing so. (I have nothing against overdrive and a stratocaster on a jazz cocktail gig; as long as the music sounds good...)
5 - Practice, Practice, Practice (the master of all Jazz Guitar Tips !)
- Take your axe and play; Repeat daily.
- Do this a lot. Simple but effective. Your abilities are directly proportional to the amount of time you spend playing. (You may re-read that 100 times.)
- Stop reading, blogging, talking, (bragging?) or thinking about it and... simply play!
- You may or may not organize your practice time. If you're like me, you'll end up organizing your stuff anyways... in the end, the time spent matters more than the materials you choose to practice
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