The general rule here is that Jazz is complex; many different types of chord and scale can be employed. Technique wise, avoid bending or vibrato, but use slides and legato (and that doesn’t mean in the ‘Satch’ way…).

The phrasing is more focused on arpeggios/chord tones than scales, and the guitar is ideally a hollow body on the neck pickup. Use flatwound strings and roll the tone control almost totally off. The amp needs to be clean and clear and can be a good transistor amp.

Important players are Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Jim Hall and Pat Metheny.


Ex 1: This first lick is in the style of the most important jazz guitarist ever; Wes Montgomery. Over the IIm7 it uses arpeggio notes and a chromatic line to land on the 3rd of the V7 chord. Then it plays the diminished arpeggio and augmented arpeggio to land on the 3rd of the Imaj7 chord. For authenticity, this example should be played using the thumb only; no pick allowed!

Ex 2: This lick is in the style of Joe Pass and shows his wonderful approach to chord melody. He plays the Dm7 and then a diminished chord (substitution for D7b9 which is a secondary dominant) to get to the V where he plays G13sus4 and G13b9. It seems very complicated but when you play it, everything makes perfect sense!

Ex 3: This is a lick in the style of another Jazz giant: George Benson. The lick demonstrates, again, the use of arpeggios but this time it’s combined with a very clever approach to the outside notes. Again it lands on the 3rd of the first chord.

Ex 4: This lick is in the style of Pat Martino. It’s a fast line that uses Dorian mode and upper extension over the G7 (b9, #9). A constant, strong picking technique is required to nail this.

Ex 5: This lick is in the style of one the most important contemporary players: Pat Metheny. The lick shows a ‘be-bop’ approach to the third (first 4 notes) and how he plays around the b9 and #9 of the G7. This is a trademark of Metheny: he uses the legato technique to add a natural 9 which creates a chromatic line.


GT132 – 50 Licks To Go
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