Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


Click a subject below to see the submitted question and our answer:

Q1 - Arpeggios for jazz soloing, and diminished 7th substitutions
Q2 - Playing guitar along with modern jazz pianists
Q3 - Memorizing licks - by finger pattern or by sound?

Q4 - Using shell chords in a Blues
Q5 - More about shell chords
Q6 - Right hand fingerpicking styles
Q7 - Gypsy Jazz Guitar right hand position
Q8 - Dominant 7ths and diminished chords for soloing
Q9 - Mixing arpeggios and scales when soloing
Q10 - Improvising over Reinhardt's 'Daphne' - cycle of 4ths sequences
Q11 - Developing sight reading skills on the guitar
Q12 - Difference between major and minor scales

Many thanks to all of you who've written in with these excellent questions - please keep them coming! Follow this link to see the earlier questions and answers, or this one to see even more jazz guitar questions and answers

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Question 1

Here's a two part question about which arpeggios to learn for jazz soloing, and using diminished 7th arpeggios against dominant 7th chords. This was sent in by Sven from Germany. Sven writes:

Hello Tony,

Your website and the included lessons are really great. Working with your lessons is very inspiring, especially soloing with arpeggios gave so much new impulse to my guitar playing. Up to now I tried to play solo using aebersold-scales which was not very satisfying to me, because my soloing didn't sound "jazzy", if you know what I mean.

Your lessons, especially the stuff about diminished and m7b5-arpeggios changed my sound. Are there any further arpeggios, which are absolutely necessary for the real jazz-idiom?

I also have another guitar-question (I hope I'm not annoying): In Jazz Soloing Lesson 5 you propose to use an G#dim-Arp against an G7-Chord. I have found another source in the web saying: "These diminished runs are usually played over a 7th chord. If your 7th chord was say G7, then harmonicly you would want to play a F dimished over this (take my word for it). To keep things moving while improvising you start your diminished run on the G (3rd fret E string) then pick up the B (2nd Fret A string) on an F diminished run."

Is this statement a contradiction to your suggestions or just another possibility to use an arpeggio? I'm looking forward to your answer.

Are your records also available in good old germany? I wish you a nice weekend.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen


Tony Oreshko replies:

Hello again Sven,

Thanks very much for all your good wishes and kind comments...and I'm so pleased to hear that the lessons have given you some new ideas for your soloing.

...You asked whether there are further arpeggios to learn in order to get to grips with the jazz idiom. Well, there are lots of different arpeggios and arpeggio substitutions out there, just as there are lots and lots of different scales to explore. But what I'd advise is that it's far more useful to get to know a handful of the most important arpeggios really well than it is to learn lots and lots of new arpeggios.

The reason I say this is that most people don't even scratch the surface of what can be done with these most important arpeggios. Here are the ones that I think are most useful to get to know really well:

Some Arpeggios for Jazz Soloing

1. For dominant 7th chords (e.g. G7)
(a) use a m7b5 arpeggio starting on the third of the chord (i.e. Bm7b5 arp against G7) or
(b) use a dim7 arpeggio starting a semitone above the root of the chord (i.e. G#dim7 arp against G7)

2. For major chords (e.g. Cmaj)
(a) use a min7 arpeggio starting on the sixth of the chord (i.e. Am7 arp against C), or
(b) use a min7 arpeggio starting on the third of the chord (i.e. Em7 arp against C) , or
(c) use a tonic maj6/9 arpeggio (i.e. C6/9 arpeggio against C)
(d) use a tonic maj7 arpeggio (i.e. Cmaj7 arpeggio against C)

3. For minor chords (e.g. Am) use a m7b5 arpeggio starting on the sixth of the chord (i.e. F#m7b5 arp against Am)

4. For min7 chords (e.g. Am7)
(a) use a tonic m7 arpeggio (i.e. Am7 arp against Am7 chord), or
(b) use a maj7 arpeggio starting on the third of the chord (i.e. Cmaj7 arp against Am7)

5. For min7b5 chords (e.g. Bm7b5) use a tonic m7b5 arpeggio (i.e. Bm7b5 arp against Bm7b5 chord)

6. For dim7th chords (e.g. Gdim7) use a tonic dim7 arpeggio (i.e. Gdim7 arp against Gdim7 chord)

You'll see this gives you at least one arpeggio to play against pretty much all of the important chord types you'll come across in swing or gypsy jazz. And as I mentioned previously you can do this using only a small number of different arpeggio fingerings.

What I would strongly suggest are the following tips when you are working with an arpeggio:

1. Learn to play the notes of the arpeggio in as many different combinations as you can, not just up and down by step. Learn how to start your phrases on different notes of the arpeggio. Learn how to jump between different notes of the arpeggio. Find unusual sequences of notes from within the arpeggio.

2. Experiment with different timings with the arpeggio notes. Play the same note twice, three times etc.

3. Fill in the gaps between arpeggio notes with passing notes. Approach arpeggio notes from a note below or above.

4. Use things like slides, bends, glissandos, trills and other musical ornaments on your arpeggio notes

5. When you've learnt a fingering pattern for an arpeggio really well, work out how to play that same arpeggio in all the other positions on the guitar that you can find. Learn how to play it an octave higher or lower in all the other positions.

If you do all of these things with your arpeggios I can guarantee you'll never run out of new ideas!

By the way, fingerings for all the arpeggio types mentioned above can be found either in the website lessons, or on the previous questions page, in the section entitled 'Substitute Arpeggios'.

Diminished 7ths

In your next question you asked whether something you read about dim7th arpeggios contradicted what I'd said about them in the website lessons. The answer is that it doesn't, and I'll try and explain why the two explanations are compatible.

Dim 7ths are unusual in that they can take the name of any of the notes that are contained within them. Every diminished 7th chord or arpeggio is made up of 4 different notes. A G#dim7 has the notes G#, B, D and F. So G#dim7 can also be called Bdim7, Ddim7 or Fdim7.

What this means is that you can play either a G#dim, Bdim, Ddim or Fdim arpeggio over a G7 chord, as they are all basically different names for the same thing!

I prefer to give a simple rule for playing a dim7th arpeggio over a dominant 7th chord like this:
over G7 use a G#dim7 arp
over A7 use a A#dim7 arp
over D7 use a D#dim7 arp, and so on.

It could also be presented like this:
over G7 use a Fdim7 arp
over A7 use a Gdim7 arp
over D7 use a Cdim7 arp, and so on.

This is because Fdim7 is the same as G#dim7; Gdim7 is the same as A#dim7 and Cdim7 is the same as D#dim7.

Personally I think my way of putting it (go up one fret from the root and play the dim7th arpeggio) is slightly easier to remember and to use than the other way, but either is valid. I hope this clarifies the issue a little.

Finally, you asked about obtaining recordings in Germany.

...We'll shortly be adding a new web page with a secure Paypal link so that CDs can be bought online with credit cards etc. and can be shipped to any part of the world. You don't need to have a Paypal account: Paypal just handles the secure credit card transaction. Naturally it will be possible to pay for the CD in euros.

I hope you find some of the information in here helpful, Sven, but feel free to get in touch anytime if you have more questions - I'll always try and help out if I can.

Best wishes (from rainy England!)

Tony Oreshko

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Question 2

Mario from Italy wrote in about problems in playing guitar along with jazz pianists who have a more contemporary style:

Dear Tony

I have a lot of trouble playing with "experienced" jazz piano players. They never play the chord on the beat, but rather anticipate or delay the chord. What's more they always seem 2 insert too may strange harmonies and distort the original progression which messes up my playing. I never know where the hell they are going or what they are trying to prove. Could u suggest anyway I can overcome this. I found one way: to play smal lines in between...but some how they manage to throw me off. Thanx

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hello again Mario,

...With regard to your question, I know exactly what you mean about some of these experienced jazz pianists. This used to frustrate me a lot, the way that they play off the beat and take the harmonies to all kinds of strange places. But this modern 'comping' style that pianists use is as much a standard way of playing a jazz accompaniment as is playing straight 4 to the bar on the guitar using fairly simple major, minor and 7th and 9th chords.

All of this basically depends on the style of jazz you're doing: if you're playing early swing or gypsy jazz then this more modern keyboard style is usually inappropriate; but if you're playing jazz with a modern feel - bebop onwards - then 4 in a bar would be equally out of place most of the time, and what the pianist is doing is correct for the style.

If I'm doing a swing or Hot Club style gig I'll usually work with a rhythm guitarist who plays 4 in a bar. But if I'm doing more modern standards with say a bass player and drummer and maybe a sax player, then the accompaniment style I'll use on the guitar will be along the lines of the keyboard players you describe.

The challenging situation can be when you get a pianist and guitarist together on the same gig, playing standards in this more modern style. The problem is that both musicians have a similar role - playing a chord accompaniment - and can really get in each others' way. You've mentioned one solution that you can adopt, which is to play some little lines in the background whilst the pianist does his or her stuff.

I've tried quite a few different approaches, depending on who the pianist is. On some gigs I've played hardly any rhythm guitar at all, and just left this side of things entirely to the pianist, and just played solos when it was my turn. Then there are some keyboard players whose style I've got to know quite well, and I've tried to mirror what they are doing, anticipating the beat in the same places. This can work really well, but you have to listen very carefully and try and predict what they will do, both rhythmically and harmonically.

I recently played one gig with a piano player for the first time, and we took it in turns to play rhythm. So the piano played the accompaniment for one chorus then dropped out and let the guitar do the accompaniment on the next one, and so on. That seemed very polite and considerate, but maybe a bit too contrived to do for a whole gig.

As a general rule I do try and play at the same time as the keyboard player, but I'll try and play in a way that occupies a different register so that we don't get in the way of each other. Some examples are playing small, high pitched sustained chords if the keyboard is playing in the low or middle register, or playing double notes such as octaves, 3rds and 6ths. These are less likely to clash than if I play big 6 string chords lower down on the guitar.

One trick I use a lot is to play what are called shell chords. These are just trimmed down versions of chords, using only the bare minimum of notes and which are therefore less likely to clash with what the keyboard is doing. Here's an example of a shell chord: instead of playing a G7 with 6 strings using a barre on the 3rd fret I'll just play two notes together: F on the 4th string 3rd fret and B on the 3rd string 4th fret. These two notes are all that is needed to make a G7 sound. And the good thing is that the keyboard player can be playing a complex chord like G13b5, G7b9#5 or G9#11, but my G7 shell chord will still work well against it.

I'll try and add some more information about shell chords to the website at some point. I recently answered a jazz question that someone sent in, and discussed using shell chords in a blues, so that may be a good one to add to the site.

Hope this information has been of some help, Mario. It's not an easy issue to deal with, and it takes some time to get used to working with musicians who play in this way, but it does get easier with practice and experience.

Write in any time if you want more help with this, or if ever you have any new questions.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 3

Lou from California asks about how to go about memorizing licks on the guitar.

Finding you lesson very helpfull. What do you find is the best way to practics licks.Do you try to learn the finger placments first by memory or try to remember the way sounds.


Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Lou,

Good to hear from you! Glad you're finding some of the stuff on the website useful.

Thanks for sending in that question - it's really got me thinking quite a bit about how I approach my practice and soloing.

To be honest, I don't really sit down and systematically try and learn a new lick to use in solos. What I try and do is improvise as much as possible when soloing, i.e. basically try and make up new licks on the spot. Whilst doing this I'm always trying to hear the sounds first in my mind, and then attempting to get them out on the guitar.

I'd say what I do is practice scales and arpeggios until all the fingering comes naturally. That's a hard enough job, but still that's the easy bit! The challenging part is to practice inventing lots of different lines or licks using notes from those scales and arpeggios in different combinations. It's definitely the case that I'm always trying to hear a new phrase whilst playing it, and I find that all the fingering generally sorts itself out if you've really practiced your scales and arpeggios thoroughly.

Because it's really, really hard to come up with an endless flow of completely new soloing ideas, even the best improvisers will have a few memorised licks that they can throw into solos, just so they have something to play when their inspiration dries up. What I find is that these favourite memorised licks start off as brand new ideas in previous improvised solos. If they work out especially well, then I end up playing them again in another solo (if I can remember them). So once again I'm always thinking first and foremost in terms of how the licks sound, and the fingering takes care of itself from getting to know your scales etc. inside out.

I hope this is of some help to you, Lou. It's a very challenging way of trying to play solos - trying to hear new lines or phrases in your mind all the time, and then attempting to find those sounds instantly on the guitar. But you'll find that it really is the way forward for developing your musicality, and is a far more satisfying way of trying to play than just learning to apply fingering patterns.

Let me know if you want any of this explaining in more detail, and I'll be happy to try and help. It'll be good to know if these ideas have been of any use to you.

Good luck with your playing!

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 4

Here's another question from Lou, this time asking about shell chords

Hi Tony.

...about the shell chords. I don't know if I understand that.

I'm playing chords [in a Blues] such as E A7 B7......A D7 E7......G C7 D7. When I play the chord E(first fret) sometimes I'll try a lick on the 12 fret It sounds ok if I get back to the first fret fast enough. Or I'll play little lick starting from the E note on the 5th string 7th fret. What do you think? Thanks again for you input. you made me feel like I may be on the right track. Hope to here from you again. Would like to know more about the shell chords your talking about...


Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi again Lou,

From what you've described about your playing it sounds like you are very much on the right track - keep up the great work! What I could encourage you to try and do is just invent as many different licks as possible from the scale patterns you know. As well as using different notes maybe try and play about with the timing of your phrases as well. You'll find that even with say a simple 6 note blues scale you can get thousands of different licks out of it if you're really inventive with the note order and the timing.

One tip I suggest to students for trying to break open a scale is to make phrases that have some leaps in them. Instead of always moving up or down to the next note in the scale, try jumping to the next but one note in the scale, and so on. You'll find you'll start to get some different sounds coming out if you include some bigger jumps in your licks, rather than moving by step all the time.

Shell Chords

About shell chords, these are a real jazz piano player's approach to playing chords with the left hand when accompanying their soloing, and have been taken on board by jazz guitarists. We guitar players naturally tend to play those big 5 and 6 note chords, like the open position E major chord, and those big 6 string bar chords. However, if you listen closely to good a jazz guitarist playing in a small band, the chances are that they will be playing much smaller chords, sometimes only using two notes.These chords are much 'lighter' and more mobile, and can be used much more easily for fast and subtle chord changes.

The idea with shell chords is to take a big, fat chord like a G13 (officially it has 7 notes in it) and strip it down to just the bare essential notes so that it still makes a G13 sound, but say using only 3 notes. This stripped down chord is just a shell of the original, but still has all the most important notes in it. Our ear kind of fills in any of the missing sounds.

Let me describe how to play some shell chord versions of E7, A7 and B7 so you can try experimenting with them in a Blues in E. There's also a wonderful little trick that you can use with these shell chords to make chord changes incredibly easy! Here goes:

Instead of playing a big open position E7 chord using 6 strings, here's a version of E7 that only uses two notes! Honestly - this is how jazz guitarists would play it:

On your 4th string play the 6th fret with your first finger. Then on the 3rd string play the 7th fret with your second finger. And that's all it is!

Play just these two notes at the same time - no open strings or any other notes are needed - and this gives you a shell chord version of E7. It has all the notes you need to make an E7 sound, and your ear will fill in the rest. After you've played this chord a few times, play your old 6 string version of E7 and you'll hear how the shell chord is just a trimmed down version of it.

Now here's the clever bit. To play an A7 chord, just simply move your new E7 shell chord shape down fret. So on your 4th string you now play the 5th fret with your first finger, and on the 3rd string play the 6th fret with your second finger - and there's your A7. Don't worry at the moment about why this works.

Finally for B7 you just move your original E7 shell chord shape UP one fret this time So on your 4th string you now play the 7th fret with your first finger, and on the 3rd string play the 8th fret with your second finger - and there's your B7.

Once you've tried it out a few times you'll probably think it's all too simple to be true, but this is the way good jazz players will form a lot of their chords when adding them to fill out their solo lines. Let me know how you get on with it, and I'll be very happy to explain things in more detail if you're not sure what I'm getting at. It'll take you a while to get used to this more lightweight sound, but basically you just use the shell chords in place of your original big E7, A7 and B7 chord shapes.

...Have fun with those shell chords. Look forward to hearing back from you.


Tony Oreshko

Question 5

Here's Lou again, responding to the message about shell chords

Hi Tony.

It's Lou here again. Thank you for the shell chords. It opened up some new things for me to do. I hope I have this right. I tried different things. On the E7, I pinched out the two notes while I hit the low open E & on the A7, I use the open low A. Also tried some arpeggios using those three. Having some fun now. It is very nice of you to share your expertise. A friend of mine is interested in learning. So maybe I can carry that on by sharing the little I know to get him started. Let me know if I got this chords correct Picture to follow. Lou

Shell chord diagrams, E7, A7 and B7

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi again Lou,

Sounds like you're doing just great! Yes, the chord shapes and fret numbers you've sent are exactly right - glad you're enjoying playing around with them.

If you're interested here's one other trick - I hope it doesn't confuse you. Each of these 7th shell chord shapes also work if you play them 6 frets higher. Let me explain. In your diagram you've got E7 with the 4th string on the 6th fret and the 3rd string on the 7th fret. What I'm saying is that you can also get an E7 shell chord with the 4th string on the 12th fret and the 3rd string on the 13th fret. Your A7 shell chord can also be found 6 frets higher than in your diagram, with the 4th string on the 11th fret and the 3rd string on the 12th fret. The B7 shell chord can also be found with the 4th string on the 13th fret and the 3rd string on the 14th fret.

So basically just play the same sequence of chords 6 frets higher up the neck and you get exactly the same progression in the same key (they are just different 'inversions' of the same chords). Just let me know if you need me to explain in more detail.

Great that you can maybe help out your friend who's interested in learning. I think one of the great secrets about teaching is that you often learn more than the person you're trying to help! Best of luck with that.

Give me a shout anytime - always happy to try and help.

Tony Oreshko

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Question 6

This is a question sent in by Joe, asking about fingerpicking with the right hand instead of using a plectrum:

First off I would like to complement you on your very comprehensive website. I have learned many technical tips and have thus improved my own soloing style based on information from this website. I have a question pertaining to the right hand; I have just begun finger picking as opposed to the pick and I was wondering what the most effective way to go about this would be? I have heard of many effective styles of finger picking, but none seem to be comfortable enough for me.

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Joe,

Thanks a lot for getting in touch and sending in your question. Thanks also for the nice compliment about the website - I'm really glad that you've found it of some help with your playing!

You asked about fingerpicking, and you rightly said there are many different styles. I find that most jazz guitarists when playing fingerstyle rather than using a pick will be doing one of three different things at any one time:

1. playing block chords (playing all the notes of a chord at once, like a single strum with a pick)
2. playing single note lines
3. Playing broken chords (the notes in a chord shape played one after another)

I happily give you some suggestions for playing these different things with the right hand fingers.

1. For block chords I use mainly 4 note (i.e. 4 string) chords. For example, look at the G Altered Dominant chord shapes in my first lesson in the website, in the blue box about halfway down the page: You'll see all these chords use 4 notes (or 4 strings).

To play these chords fingerstyle I'd use my right hand thumb for the lowest note and my three right hand fingers (not the pinky/little finger) for playing the three higher notes. For a block chord sound you just pluck all four notes at the same time.

2. For single note lines (like scales, unaccompanied melodies etc.) I'd use two right hand fingers: first one then the other, alternating all the time (like walking, using one leg then the other). I'd never use just one right hand finger for plucking single notes, as this slows you down and doesn't sound as smooth.

I'd normally use the first finger - the one next to the thumb - and the second finger in alternation like this: 1 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 1 - 2 etc. (The third finger is your ring finger, the one next to the pinky).

3. For broken chords, i.e. playing one chord note after another rather than all at the same time, I'd use the same basic fingering as for block chords in 1. above but just play the notes successively rather than simultaneously. There are lots of different patterns you can use for this. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Pattern 1
a) Right hand thumb plucks the lowest note of the chord
b) Right hand 3rd finger plucks the highest note of the chord
c) Right hand 2rd finger plucks the second highest note of the chord
d) Right hand 1st finger plucks the third highest note of the chord
...then just keep repeating a) through to d)

Pattern 2 This is almost the same as pattern 1 in reverse:
a) Right hand thumb plucks the lowest note of the chord
b) Right hand 1st finger plucks the third highest note of the chord
c) Right hand 2rd finger plucks the second highest note of the chord
d) Right hand 3rd finger plucks the highest note of the chord
...then just keep repeating a) through to d)

I hope these suggestions are of some help to you, Joe. If I've not explained things clearly please get in touch again and I'll happily try and clarify things.

Let me know how you get on, and do tell me if you're looking for something different from these examples.

Best of luck!

Tony Oreshko

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Question 7

Here's a question from Neil about the distinctive right hand position adopted by many gypsy jazz guitarists

Dear Tony, great lessons! liked the tritone substitution topics. I would like to add a question concerning the right hand in gypsy jazz soloing (yes the right hand!). Many good gypsy players I have seen cup their right wrist (so there is an angle of about 100-120 degrees between the right forearm and the right hand) and also float their arm over the strings (not resting on strings or guitar) when soloing. Is the cupped wrist a conscious thing, have you noticed this? and do you know what the reason behind this is? should I be doing this? thanks N

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Neil,

Great to hear from you, and thanks very much for the nice compliment about the lessons - that's really appreciated!

That's a good question you're asking about the right hand position adopted by many gypsy jazz guitarists. The answer is that it is a deliberate thing, and is an ackowledged aspect of the gypsy jazz guitar technique. It's helpful for playing certain things that are characteristic of that style of music. In particular it's a good hand position for playing tremelo chords - a kind of fast 'scrubbing' with the plectrum on a chord shape. You'll hear this a lot in Django Reinhardt's playing, as well as in all the present day guitarists who copy his style.

Another consideration is that by minimising the right hand contact with the guitar you're allowing the instrument to resonate more fully. Some players will also hold the instrument slightly away from their body for the same reason. This is more important for guitarists who are playing purely acoustically, and need to squeeze every drop of sound out of the instrument.

The guitarist Fapy Lafertin, who I think is one of the greatest gypsy players alive today, described the right hand movement involved as 'like shaking out a lit match'. It's a nice, fluid movement centering on the wrist of the right hand.

You're not absolutely obliged to play this way - it depends on how involved you want to get in this particular style of playing and how authentic you want to be - but most of the serious gypsy guitarists do adopt this technique.

Hope this is of some help, Neil? Feel free to write back anytime if you need more clarification, or if you have any other questions. Good luck with your playing!

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 8

This is a question from Mario in Italy about the relationship between diminished 7th and dominant 7th chords, and the answer explains how different dominant 7th arpeggios can be used to create more modern soloing sounds

dear Tony: I noticed that if I lower a G#dim chord one note at a time I get four dominant chords (G7,Bb7,Db7,E7). Therefore, I could use these arpegios over a G7 chord instead of the usual dim scale 1/2 above the original dominant chord. Am I right or am I wrong? Thx. mario.

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Mario,

Thanks for sending in your question - good to hear from you!

The simple answer is yes, you are perfectly right about that. You can indeed use the arpeggios G7, Bb7, Db7 and E7 over a G7 chord because these arpeggios are so closely related to G#dim.

As you probably know, G#dim in turn is closely related to G7 - it actually contains the notes of a G7b9 chord with the root note omitted.

The sound that you'll get from using these arpeggios is more 'modern' - you'll hear them used by guitarists such as Tal Farlow rather than Django Reinhardt, and you'll also hear these substitutions in John Coltrane's playing.

Here are the names of the sounds you get from using each of the arpeggios:

1. G7 arpeggio over G7 chord gives a plain G7 sound
2. Bb7 arpeggio over G7 chord gives a G7b9#9 sound (Bb=#9, D=5th, F=7th, Ab=b9 of a G7 chord)
3. Db7 arpeggio over G7 chord gives a G7b5b9 sound (Db=b5, F=7th, Ab=b9, Cb or B=3rd)
4. E7 arpeggio over G7 chord gives a G13b9 sound (E=13th, G#=b9, B=3rd, D=5th)

Here's one 'trick' I use with these substitutions that you may find interesting:

Imagine you're playing over a chord progression that goes through the cycle of 4ths:
G7 / / / | C7 / / / | F7 / / / etc

Here are the arpeggios you can use over these chords, by transposing the substitutes above:

(G7: use G7, Bb7, Db7 and E7 arpeggios as above)
C7: use C7, Eb7, Gb7 and A7 arpeggios
F7: use F7, Ab7, B7 and D7

Now notice how you can use these arpeggios chromatically over the cycle of 4ths chord sequence:
Over G7 use G7 arpeggio
Over C7 use Gb7 arpeggio
Over F7 use F7 arpeggio

Get the idea? The arpeggios just move down a semitone at a a time. Here's another possibility:
Over G7 use E7 arpeggio
Over C7 use Eb7 arpeggio
Over F7 use D7 arpeggio

Each of these arpeggios are moving down chromatically (G - Gb - F, or E - Eb - D) while the chords move across in 4ths. I'll leave it to you to work out the other two possibilities.

Hope this is of some help, Mario. Let me know how you get on, and feel free to email again if you have any further questions.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 9

Here's a question from Robin, about using arpeggios in a Blues and mixing these with scales:

Hello Tony,

first off thanks for the very useful website. My question concerns the use of m7b5 arp subs in Blues. As the arp does not contain the root note of the original chord would you recommend mixing the arp with other scale material or simply practice improv with the arps alone at first? If you advise mixing with other scale material which scale(s) would you recommend at first - blues scale, Mixo, - or something else? If you mix with the blues scale should you change the root note of the scale as the chords change or just use the key note scale throughout?

Many thanks and best wishes, Robin.

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Robin,

Thanks for the positive feedback on the website - always good to hear that it's been of some use!

Good questions you're asking. A quick answer is that you might find it helpful in the beginning to practice using the m7b5 arpeggios on their own, just to get to know them, but once you've done this you can freely mix them with whatever scales you want.

The notes of m7b5 arpeggio substitution can all be found within the Mixolydian scale, so mixing these two would be a good combination. I'll walk you through you an example of a blues in A, where the main chords are: A7, D7, E7:

Against the A7 use a C#m7b5 arpeggio and/or an A Mixolydian scale
Against the D7 use a F#m7b5 arpeggio and/or a D Mixolydian scale
Against the E7 use a G#m7b5 arpeggio and/or an E Mixolydian scale

Here you'll be playing a different arpeggio or Mixolydian scale every time the chord changes.

The other possibility you mentioned is using the Blues scale. That would also work fine mixed in at any point with the arpeggios and Mixolydians above. You can use a different Blues scale against each chord (A Blues scale against A7, D Blues scale against D7 etc.) or you can simply use an A Blues scale over all three chords.

Quite a few possibilities! Just think of them as different flavours, and the sound that you prefer to use at any one point is entirely down to your own creative choice.

Just one final thing: there's a well-known trick you can use with the Blues scale (or the Minor Pentatonic scale). Normally you play an A Blues scale over a blues in A. For a softer, more country-rock type sound just keep the fingering the same but move the whole scale pattern down 3 frets on the guitar, i.e. play an F# Blues scale (or F# Minor Pentatonic) over an A Blues.

You can use this trick to follow the chords as they change - F# Blues scale over A7, B Blues Scale over D7 and C# Blues Scale over E7 - or you can just use the F# Blues Scale throughout the whole A Blues sequence.

Hope this has clarified things a bit, Robin, and given you a few different options to explore. If it's OK with you I may add your message and this reply to the website at some point, as I'm sure others will find your questions interesting. I'll refer to you simply as 'Robin' and won't show your email address.

Best wishes, and good luck with your playing,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 10

This is a question from Terry about soloing over sequences such as those found in Django's 'Daphne'

Hi Tony, thanks once again for such an informative and helpful site - just what the doctor ordered. A question if I may - what would you suggest for improvising over a typical cycle of fifths movement as per 'Daphne' (D-Bmin-Em-A7) etc? I think in one recording Django used D, G and Amin arpeggios in the opening solo passage and I'd like to know how this works and why! Is it something to do with the I-IV-V type progression? Best Regards, Terry

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Terry,

Thanks for that - always pleased to know the stuff has been of some help! Re: the Daphne question, see if this explanation is of any use to you:

Taking any major scale, you can build chords (triads, 7th chords etc) using each note of the scale in turn as a root note for the chord.

Here are the 7th chords built on the notes of a C major scale. These chords have been built using only the notes from the C scale (C D E F G A B):

Fig 1

Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bm7b5

Now here's exactly the same pattern in the key of D major. Similarly, these chords have been built using only the notes from the D scale (D E F# G A B C#):

Fig 2

Dmaj7 Em7 F#m7 Gmaj7 A7 Bm7 C#m7b5

Notice how the 7 chords built on the different scale steps always follow the same pattern, no matter what key we're in, i.e.

chords 1 and 4 are maj7
chords 2, 3 and 6 are m7
chord 5 is always a dominant 7th
chord 7 is a m7b5

If we now take a chord progression like this:

Fig 3

Dmaj7 / / / | Bm7 / / / | Em7 / / / | A7 / / / etc. (as in Daphne)

you can see these chords all appear in Fig 2 above, i.e. they have been built using only the notes of a D major scale.

What this means is:

1) The chords in Fig 3 are built from a D major scale, so it makes sense to use a D major scale for soloing over those chords. The notes will generally 'fit'. Moreover...

2) Chords can also be played as arpeggios. Because the chords in Fig 2 are made up only of notes from a D major scale, it means that we can use the notes of any of the chords in Fig 2 played as arpeggios for soloing over any of the chords in D major.

So, playing arpeggios of chords in the key of D major for soloing involves using exactly the same notes as when soloing using a D major scale. The only difference is that arpeggios will give you note combinations that you wouldn't find so easily if you were using a D major scale pattern as the basis of your soloing.

You'll find that some combinations of arpeggios against chords from the same key sound better than others:

E.g. in key D major:
an Em7 or a Bm7 arpeggio can sound good played against a Gmaj7 chord
an Em7, F#m7, Gmaj7 or a C#m7b5 arpeggio can sound good against an A7 chord

But a Dmaj7 arpeggio played over an A7 chord will sound a bit 'off-centre'

The best way is to just play around with the different arpeggios against the different chords and decide whether or not you think they work well together.

The main thing to remember is that all of the chords in Fig 2, and those same chords played as arpeggios use only the notes from a D major scale. As a general rule they should sound OK when played against each other.

Hope this is of some help! Let me know if you're confused by anything above and I'll happily try and explain some more.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 11

David writes in to ask about developing sight reading skills on the guitar:

HI Tony,

First thanks for the wonderful lessons, this has helped me getting my jazz playing to a whole new level. My question is ' How important is sight reading for you or has been and what is the best way of achieving this skill? '

greetings David from Belgium

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi David,

Great to hear from you, and thanks so much for your positive feedback on the website lessons - I'm really pleased to hear that you found them of some help.

You asked about sight reading: personally I think this is a great tool which can help you advance much more quickly as a guitarist.

For example, as someone who reads music quite well I can simply pick up some music and almost immediately stumble through solos by Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Django, Joe Pass, or maybe Charlie Parker or John Coltrane.

If I didn't read music I'd have to spend hours and hours listening to a recording working it out note for note. While this is a very valuable exercise, it demands a lot of energy and patience, and is far slower and more taxing than being able to read a solo from the music.

As for the best way to go about improving your sight reading I can suggest a few ideas which I've found helpful for my students:

1) Concentrate on learning to reading rhythms.

Most people can fairly easily work out all the notes (pitches) on the guitar - it's easy to look them up using a fingerboard chart. Their stumbling block is usually playing the rhythm, as this is something you can't simply look up in the same way.

I recommend writing the count underneath rhythms, and clapping them out, or even playing the rhythm to a tune using just one note. Spend lots of time playing or clapping rhythms using minims and crotchets, then add quavers, then dotted notes, tied notes, rests, semiquavers etc. building up in complexity a step at a time. Practice lots and lots!

2) Learning notes

I said you can look up the notes with a fingerboard chart, but eventually you need to memorize them in order to read fluently. As with rhythms, I suggest you build up your knowledge of notes one step at a time.

For a complete beginner I'd start them off with three notes, maybe G, A and B in the open position, and get them to play these notes over and over in different combinations until they can play them immediately at sight, without thinking about the name of the note.

This is all about building up an immediate stimulus - response relationship, rather than working out the name of the note then working out how to find it. What you're aiming for is to see the note and for your fingers to go straight to it without any thinking.

After three notes, I'd then add two more, maybe C and D, then do lots of exercises until all five notes can be found immediately. After learning 5 notes by heart, just keep on building up a step at a time: 6 then 7 notes, then a full octave. Next, learning a full octave in different keys, and so on.

The most important thing is to build up that stimulus - response pattern, gradually adding to the number of notes your fingers can find immediately.

3) Finding the right music

One of the most important things is to find music at the right level for what you're trying to learn at any one time. If you're just trying to learn 3 notes by heart, then it may be best to write out your own exercises using those 3 notes, and then try playing them on the guitar. It might not be very melodic, but it will help you learn.

By the time you can play 7 or 8 notes it will be easier to find real tunes that use just these notes. The main thing is to find (or write your own) music that uses just the notes or rhythms that you're trying to learn.

Sight reading is such a big subject, but I hope these few little tips will point you in the right direction. Email again anytime if you have any specific questions, David, and I'll be glad to help if I can.

Best of luck! And thanks again for the nice comments.

Regards from (windy & rainy) England,

Tony Oreshko

David responded to this answer:

Thanks for the inspiring reply! I'll do my best. take care, David

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Question 12

Daniel asks about the difference between major and minor scales on the guitar:

well im a real gypsy out in orlando..and im having a hard time getting the fast part.ive been playing for 7 years but i started jazz for a week do i change a minor scale into a major or vise vers..(in am) '

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Daniel,

Good to hear from you in Orlando!

There are actually a few different minor scales, but I'll try and explain a couple of the most common ones for you.

If you start out with any major scale, but play the third note of that scale one fret lower than normal then you'll get what's called the Melodic Minor Scale. So if you play an A major scale and lower the 3rd note by one fret that gives you an A melodic minor scale. You keep all the other notes exactly the same as in the major scale - it's just that third note that's different.

If you play these scales by going up on the 5th string on the guitar these are the frets you'll use:

A major scale:
open - 2nd - 4th - 5th - 7th - 9th - 11th - 12th

A minor melodic scale:
open - 2nd - 3rd - 5th - 7th - 9th - 11th - 12th

It's easier to see how these scales work if you start by playing them by going up on one string on the guitar. But once you get familiar with them you can find the same notes by playing them across the fingerboard.

The other common minor scale is the Harmonic Minor, and is probably more characteristic of gypsy jazz. This time you start with a major scale and lower the 3rd note by one fret as with the Melodic Minor, then also lower the 6th note of the major scale by one fret.

Here are the frets you'll use to play this scale going up the 5th string:

A minor harmonic scale:
open - 2nd - 3rd - 5th - 7th - 8th - 11th - 12th

To turn these scales back from minor to major you just reverse the changes you made, i.e. play the 4th fret instead of the 3rd, and (with the harmonic minor) play the 9th fret instead of the 8th.

It's easier to show someone than it is to explain in an email, but I hope that's been of some help to you. Great to hear that you're a real gypsy interested in playing this kind of music - let me know if I can be of any more help.

Best of luck with your playing,

Tony Oreshko

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