Jazz Scales For The Guitar

Jazz Modes

Many aspiring guitarists are somewhat uneasy when it comes to learning jazz and practicing jazz scales. Some are utterly terrified; others try to put it off as much as possible. There is no need for this. Learning jazz scales is fairly easy, once you get the knack of them. They can enrich your playing significantly, and lead you to uncharted waters where your style could be further developed. Without further ado, let’s delve into the subject.

What are jazz guitar scales?

If we refer to them technically, jazz scales for the guitar don’t exist; actually, “jazz scales” is not the best term to describe them, because there is no such thing as a separate part of music. What exists, however, are specific scales and guitar modes that are used for jazz playing, and that can be applied to jazz compositions. The term jazz scale is only used to simplify the nomenclature and facilitate referring to certain pieces of music.

What Approach To Take When Starting Out?

The most important thing when learning jazz scales is to realize that there is a big difference between jazz chords and jazz scales. This is especially important for jazz because in other musical genres you can somehow pass through as a fairly competent chord/scale player; in jazz, however, chords and scales are almost opposite poles of the spectrum. There are many players who are excellent chord players, but not so proficient when it comes to scales. Others excel at soloing through scales, but they are not so confident with chord-playing. That is why it’s very important to know from the start what it is that you plan to develop.

Arpeggios and scales

These are two different melodic approaches of jazz players. Some prefer to use only arpeggios, which are basically sequences of notes within one scale; other like to take on pure scale-playing, which means going up and down the fretboard, combining high and low octaves, achieving additional melodic effects.Arpeggios are usually combined with chords and are therefore mostly considered part of the chord-playing approach to jazz. Scale-playing is considered a somewhat purer form of playing, and these players are mostly focused on melody over chords. In the end, of course, it all comes down to personal preference.

Playing Major or Minor Scales?

Many people don’t know whether they can play both types of scales in jazz, and the answer is – yes. Both major and minor scales are acceptable in jazz playing, but what scale you’ll choose directly depends on the actual composition.
If a composition is positive, uplifting and energetic, you would usually use a major scale; if you’re dealing with a depressing, sad piece, then you’d be better off with a minor one. There are also many compositions that allow you to combine the two types of scales, but you should really know your craft before you dare to go in that direction.

The Myth Of Improvising In Jazz

There is a big aura around jazz that improvisation is everything, and that every great jazz player is the best at improvising. This, although grounded in reality, isn’t completely true. First of all, you have to realize that any type of improvisation comes from solid knowledge of scales, modes, and chords. You cannot improvise within a musical piece without knowing your chops.Therefore, before you are able to improvise and become very good at it, you have to learn as much as you can about the building block of jazz. After that, everything will fall into place.

How and where to start?

There are numerous resources, both online and offline ( I would recommend starting here–Click For More Info), for jazz scales and for learning to play jazz. The best advice you can get is – start small and don’t hurry. Unlike rock and pop, jazz is a more intricate genre of music, and you really need to be a master of your craft to be comfortable in it. Almost anyone can play a couple of pop songs on the guitar, but if you want to be a jazz player, then you’ll have to become well-versed in your instrument. By learning a couple of guitar chords and scales, you’ll be able to move on and develop you jazz scales playing.