A lot of guitar players I’ve met feel a little intimidated when they see anything more than a normal set of Major, Minor or Seventh chords. What I’ve done in this article is create a simple exercise to help train the ear a little more for dealing with chords which have additional notes. The chords I have chosen to work with are ones which often turn up in a lot of jazz tunes. They are Em7b5, that’s an E minor 7th chord with a flattened (one note lower) 5th. An A7b9, an A7 chord with the 9th note of the A scale flattened one semi-tone. And a D minor. Any additional notes mentioned in the chord names are slight variations. I like Joe Pass’s , great jazz player, he always broke it down to the fundamentals, Minors, Majors and Sevenths. But really you’ve got to use the right things over the top, otherwise it sounds awful.
I’ve added a simple midi file to give you an idea of the sound. I’ve used a midi file because the file size is tiny. Midi files as you may know, use the sounds embedded in your sound card, it’s not real audio. Click to hear Em7b5-A7b9-Dm.mid
How To Improvise on Guitar
Printable version in Adobe PDF format – Click How To Improvise on Guitar
Practice slowly and then once your ear gets used to the sound, gradually speed up and then look at ways of working with the chords and notes, changing the the phrasing and order of the notes.
Guitar Players are always looking for scales with a difference. Here is a simple Japanese scale that I learnt about thirty five years ago from an Australian jazz guitar player called George Golla.
With these type of scales it’s what you leave out that counts. This scale has no third, that means it is neather major or minor. G Ab C D Eb G. If you play around with the notes and stack them up you’ll find some simple chords emerge. If you look closely you’ll see an Ab triad and also an Eb Maj Seventh with no 5th. There are lots of options if you take time with this and explore it.
Locrian Mode for guitar
This Mode / Scale is mode seven of the mode series. It’s used over a G minor Seventh Flat Five Chord in the key of A flat, (G-7b5, Gm7b5 and also called a half diminished scale). In truth it’s just an A Flat sclae starting on the G note. By learning it you’ll be able to solo over those G minor flat 5 chords and know to use the D flat instead of the D natural.
To download the free printable pdf version click locrian_mode_g
Here is a Harmonic Scale in G. You’ll notice the Harmonic Minor scales have a slight middle Eastern sound; two reasons, one because it has a minor third instead of a major and two because the gap between the sixth and seventh notes of the scale are one and a half tones apart. Whereas in most other scales the intervals are usually one or two tones.
The first version of the Harmonic Minor scale that I have written is moveable up the fretboard, the second one is sourt of sweet sounding because of using the open notes.
To download the printable version click the link harmonic_minor
Harmonic Minor Scale TAB and Music Notation
G Dorian Mode
Many guitar players like to use the modal system. A very sweet sound mode which Carlos Santana seems to use a lot is the Dorian Mode, Mode two of the Major Scales. The G Dorian mode is built off a F major scale, F G A Bb C D E F G, but it starts on the second note instead of the first e.g. G A Bb C D E F G.
It’s usable over a G Minor scale in the key of F. Try it against a Gm7, Gm6, Gm9, Gm11.
I have done two simple versions in my Guitar TAB and Music Notation, one is without open notes and the other with open strings. I love the sound of open strings on acoustic guitar.
To download the printable version click the link g_dorian
Are you confused by weird Greek Names for Guitar Scales?
Don’t worry all they are is weird Greek names for scales and there’s really nothing to it.
The mixolydian mode or scale has the same notes a a standard major scale but all you do is start the scale on a different note.
The example I have used is a G Mixolydian scale, this has the same notes as a C scale.
The notes are C D E F G A B C, but we run them G A B C D E F G.
This scale is used over a G7 chord, or it’s relatives such as G9, G13, G6, G11, Gsus4 and similar variants when they fall into the key of C or if they appear in a song that uses G7 and another chord from the key of C preceeding or following it.
Download PRINTABLE VERSION of mixolydian Scale fo Guitar in G