How to Solo Over Major ii V I Chords – Bebop Outlines

The most important jazz chord progression is the major ii-V-I. 

I know, not really going out on a limb with that statement, but it’s worth repeating and repeating and repeating, because it is the most important, by far. 

Because major ii-V-I’s are the most important, and commonly used, jazz chord progressions, when you get better at ii-V-I’s, you get better at many jazz tunes

If you can solo and comp over major ii-V-I chords with confidence and authentic vocabulary you can sound great on hundreds, if not thousands, of jazz standards. 

While you know that major ii-V-I’s are essential learning, it can be tough to know what to practice when studying these 3 chords. 

Let me tell you a quick story from my master’s degree. 

One day in improvisation class we were studying a tune that had a ton of fast-moving ii-V-I’s and it was giving people a lot of problems in their solos

But not me, I was killing it that day. 

At one point the teacher stopped the tune in frustration, the group really wasn’t on it that day, and asked everyone, “What are you soloing with over those ii-V-I’s?”

The answers ranged from a series of complicated modes to giant arpeggios with chromatic ornaments, all the way to looking for common tones and connecting them between chords. 

With each answer, the teacher was getting more and more frustrated as it because clear the students were making things way more complicated than needed in their lines. 

When he got to me, I had a totally different answer, I said, “I use bebop outlines from recordings to create lines over fast-moving chords like ii-V-I’s.”

Finally! That’s how you do it,” my teacher explained. I guess all those years in my undergrad getting my butt kicked in bebop boot camp really paid off.

I was the only person in the class soloing with outlines, and I was the only person who sounded good in their solos that day. 

Probably not a coincidence. 

After quickly showing the class a few of my favorite ii-V-I outlines they got it, and all of a sudden, their solos sounding much better than before. 

I want you to have this same positive experience in the practice room, and I want you to be the person who always kills it in your ii-V-I lines and solos. 

Because of this, I’ve put together 4 essential chord and 4 essential ii-V-I soloing outlines in this lesson. 

Watch the videos, learn the outlines, add them to your playing, and kick ass. 

Easy peasy right! 

Have fun as you learn how to play authentic, exciting, and essential major ii-V-I chord and soloing lines in this lesson.

Soloing Outlines

To begin, here are the soloing outlines for the major ii-V-Is, where you have iim7-V7-Imaj7 chords. 

Begin by learning one outline, memorizing it, and adding it to the backing track in this lesson. 

Play it as written, so recite the line over the track, and then begin to make it your own by changing rhythms, adding notes, taking notes away, etc. 

From there, add that outline to your solos over any jazz standard you know or are working on in the practice room.  

You won’t use every outline in your solos right away, or probably even over time. 

But, elements of every solid outline you learn will creep into your playing, elevating every line and solo you improvise on guitar. 

Because of this, singing along when running an outline with a metronome or soloing over a backing track is essential.

Have fun as you expand your major ii-V-I vocabulary with these outlines. 

Major ii V I Backing Track

Major ii V I Chord Outlines

Here are the comping outlines for the major ii-V-Is, where you have iim7-V7-Imaj7 chords. 

Begin by learning one outline, memorizing it, and adding it to the backing track in this lesson. 

Start by playing the chords as written, no rhythms, to get them down over the track. 

When comfortable change the rhythms, add picking patterns, add approach chords, etc. as you expand on these outlines in your studies

From there, add that outline to jazz standards you know or are working on, then return back to this lesson and repeat with outline number 2. 

You don’t have to keep every outline in your comping over time, some will stay, and some will slip from your memory. 

But, working on these outlines gets the chords, voice leading, and vocabulary into your ears and fingers, which will stick long term

Lastly, make sure to watch the video lesson for this lesson where I break down these outlines and show you how they’re built and why they work. 

Have fun as you expand your major ii-V-I chord vocabulary with these outlines.

Major ii V I Backing Track