Why Some Guitarists Always Play Killer Jazz Solos


You grab your favorite guitar, turn up your amp, throw on a backing track, and start to jam over your favorite jazz tune. 


You’re nailing the scales and arpeggios for each chord, but something isn’t right. 


It sounds like you’re trying to play jazz, even playing over a jazz song, but you don’t sound like a jazz guitarist. 


Something is missing from your playing. 


Something that you can hear in solo by great players but just can’t figure out how to add into your own improvising. 


You turn off the track, switch off the amp, put your guitar back in the case and hope to do better tomorrow. 


But you know deep down that tomorrow will be more of the same. And the next day. And the next day…


Instead of spinning your wheels trying the same old scale and arpeggios to bring that jazz sound into your solos, you can try something new in your playing. 


A new concept that will make your solos instantly sound jazzier. 


That concept is the dominant bebop scale, also known simply as the bebop scale. 


The bebop scale comes with a built-in chromatic passing note, which is characteristic of jazz vocabulary. 


You can also combine that scale with an arpeggio to get the essential “arpeggio up-scale down” sound you hear in every great bebop solo. 


And for good measure, you can add in an essential piece of jazz vocabulary, the diversion, to top off your new trio of soloing devices. 


When you add these devices up, they combine to produce authentic jazz lines in your solos. 


Lines that you love to improvise building up to solos you’re proud to play. 


Now, doesn’t that sound better than trying the same old thing in your practice?


Start by watching this video lesson, then dive into the exercises below to take your jazz solos from meh to cookin’ today.

Bebop Scale Fingering


To begin, you get the bebop scale under your fingers from the 6th string root note by learning the shape below. 


Work on playing this scale from memory as written, starting from the root note C. 


From there, over tie, practice this scale in other keys as you move it around the fretboard. 


The main goal with this first lesson is to memorize this shape so you can add it to your solos quickly going forward. 


Sing along and/or say the intervals to help with memory. 


And, as always, use a metronome once you’ve got the shape under your fingers. 

Bebop Scale Soloing Workout 1


You’re now ready for a new soloing challenge where you apply all the material you’ve learned in this lesson to a full blues progression. 


Here are tips on how to work this challenge in your practice room. 


- Solo with the bebop scale only for each chord. 

- Add in the arpeggio for each chord when ready. 

- Add in the diversion for each chord when ready. 

- Close your eyes and see what comes out. 


Now that you know how to take this challenge, time to grab your guitar and go for it. 


Go for it, sing along, record yourself, and experiment as you solidify your bebop scale skills with this improvising workout.

Backing Track 1

Bebop Arpeggio Workout 1


The first workout in this lesson runs the arpeggio up and then the scale down. 


This means that you play the G7 arpeggio up and the G bebop scale down.


Start slow, use a metronome, sing along, and work only in G for 5 minutes to really nail this exercise. 


If you have extra time, or this exercise isn’t new for you, you can try it in a few keys to see how that goes. 


Over time you want to be able to play it in all 12 keys, but first make sure you memorize the shapes in G. 


If you can play it from memory in 1 key, the other 11 are much easier to learn. 


Have fun as you begin your exploration of combining the 6th string arpeggio and scale in your studies. 

Bebop Arpeggio Workout 2


In this next exercise, you reverse directions as you play the bebop scale down and related arpeggio up. 


Focus on the smooth transition between the scale and arpeggio as you shift directions on the fretboard. 


You can also speed up the learning process by singing along with this exercise and take this exercise to other keys in your studies if comfortable. 


Have fun as you prepare for the soloing challenge below. 

Bebop Scale Soloing Challenge 2


You’re now ready for a soloing challenge where you apply all the material you’ve learned in this lesson to a G7 chord. 


Here are tips on how to get the most from this challenge in your studies. 


- Solo with the G bebop scale only.

- Add in the G7 arpeggio when ready. 

- Close your eyes and see where your ears take you. 


Now that you know how to work this challenge, time to grab your guitar and get ‘er done. 


Have fun, sing-along, and experiment as you challenge your bebop soloing skills with this G7 workout.

Backing Track 2

Bebop Scale Diversion Exercise 1


The next workout in this lesson runs the arpeggio up and then the scale down. 


As you run down the scale you add in the diversion, G-Gb-F-D-E, which you learned about in the video. 


Start slow, always use a metronome, sing along, and work in one key for now to really nail this exercise in your studies. 


If you feel ready, and once it’s memorized, you can take it to 12 keys, but for now, work on 1 key until you can nail this pattern. 


If you can play it from memory in 1 key, the other 11 are much easier to learn. 


Have fun as you add the diversion to your technical workout, leading you to using it in your jazz guitar solos in no time. 

Bebop Scale Diversion Exercise 2


In this second exercise, you reverse directions as you play the bebop scale down and related arpeggio up. 


As well, the diversion is added into the scale down, so make sure to review that first and use a metronome to make the exercise smooth in your studies. 


Singing along will be helpful to get this new pattern into your ears and adds ear training to this workout. 


Have fun as you prepare for the soloing challenge below. 

Bebop Scale Soloing Challenge 3


You’re now ready for a new soloing challenge where you apply all the material you’ve learned in this lesson to a full blues progression. 


Here are tips on how to work this challenge in your practice room. 


- Solo with the bebop scale only for each chord. 

- Add in the arpeggio for each chord when ready. 

- Add in the diversion for each chord when ready. 

- Close your eyes and see what comes out. 


Now that you know how to take this challenge, time to grab your guitar and go for it. 


Have fun, sing-along, take chances, and experiment as you challenge your bebop scale skills with this soloing workout.

Backing Track 3