Gypsy Jazz

Gypsy Jazz

This style can, confusingly, be both easy and complex at the same time! On the ‘easy’ side you’ll find simple triads and dominant 7 chords, whilst on the ‘hard’ side you’ll find all that complex jazz harmony in the scale choices.

This genre is played on an acoustic type (Meccaferri) guitar. One of the characteristics is very fast picking; sometimes alternate and sometimes economy.

Django Reinhardt, Bireli Lagrene, Gary Potter and the Rosemberg Trio are all important names.


Ex 1: This lick is in the style of the most important Gypsy Jazz player: Django Reinhardt. It is based on the arpeggio of the chord, and uses the semitones above and below each note as approach notes.

Ex 2: Another lick in the style of Django. This time it shows the use of a diminished 7 chord to create a A7(b9) chord. Over the Dm (I) he uses the major 6th and major 7th to create that typical Gypsy sound.

Ex 3: This lick is in the style of Bireli Lagrene. This incredible player is not only an amazing jazz and fusion guitarist, but he’s also one of the most important Gypsy players! This lick again shows the use of diminished arpeggio over the V (A7) and the use of major 6th over the I (Dm) to create a minor 6th sound.

Ex 4: This lick is in the style of Gary Potter and shows how important it is to work around the arpeggios of the chords. Again, note the heavy use of the semitones above and below.

Ex 5: This lick, in the style of the incredible Rosemberg Trio, is played using alternate picking. It’s actually very common to play economy picking in this genre. It shows how to combine diminished arpeggios, chromatic lines (over the V) and major 6th and 7th’s over the I. The last bar should be played sliding the finger from the 4th up to 10th fret while the right hand keeps picking in triplets.


GT132 – 50 Licks To Go
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