I'm having trouble soloing and doing improv for my Jazz band and Jazz combo. All of my soloing and improv tends to sound more bluesy or blues-rock, which sounds good on some songs but not on some of the big band ones. Do you have any recommendations for kind of breaking out of the blues soloing (i mainly use the pentatonic and do a lot of bends and faster runs) and making it jazzier? I've been listening to Wes Montgomery and some other jazz guitarists and I want to solo more like them.
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Learn the basic modes first of all, and how they relate to the chords, then start to get into how to make your sound a little more "outside" and dissonant. Try putting on one chord and just picking a chord and get used to how certain scales sound over certain chords.
Work on mixing full scales (also, learn the various modes) along with the pentatonic scales..........practice playing through the changes........and most importantly phrasing.

Listen to the song "Open Heart" on my profile. It has a guitar solo near the end which incorporates those things.....that may be the sound you're looking for.
Last edited by Afterhours at Dec 8, 2009,
Like mdwallin said, focus on chord tones. It helps to be handy with a lot of arpeggios and to be able to link them as smoothly as possible. Start out by learning the arpeggio shapes for every chord in the tune, play them, then play them with notes added between, and you'll start to get the feel for it.
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Everytime I go into the guitar shop and ask for a G-String the shopkeeper always makes that TERRIBLE joke about it not being an underwear shop

So next time I go in I'm gonna ask for a thong
Quote by mdwallin
yeah man... get away from that pentatonic.

Concentrate on the chord tones and scales that work well over those chords.

I find that the phrygian mode is very nice either over chords that hang for a while, like in "Impressions," or over most m7 chords. The mixolydian mode works nicely over a I-bVIImaj progression. The bebop scale is an all-around nice one, too often use for jazz improvisation.
I would learn the Melodic Minor Scale and all it's modes.

Me and my friends who play jazz favor the Altered Dominant
If you're playing over rapidly changing chords, you can't stick to one mode and except it to sound like you are playing over changes. Learning chord scale relationship, ie dorian over minor 7ths, mixolydian over dominant 7ths, is a good starting point. This is only a small part of playing changes though. You need to consider the function of each chord and apply scales, arpeggios, color tones and so on. Also, if you are playing a swing tune, the chord aren't acting independently form each other, so you need to consider how to connect chords together with common tones, approach tones, and so on. A good way to get started on this is to learn some vocab or licks. The best way is to transcribe solos or licks from players you like and analyze how the approach certain chord changes. A good site for this is www.bopland.org. You'll see a lot of licks for ii-V-I's, which are common chord progression used in thousands of jazz standards. You should work on being able to recognize ii-V-I's instantly. This is a lot of material I just threw at you and you probably won't grasp it all, so get a teacher because you'll need one if you want to be a convincing jazz improviser.
12 fret fury
Quote by jsantos
I would learn the Melodic Minor Scale and all it's modes.

Me and my friends who play jazz favor the Altered Dominant

altered dominant works good over...altered dominants :P
Quote by jsantos
I would learn the Melodic Minor Scale and all it's modes.

Me and my friends who play jazz favor the Altered Dominant

This might be a little hard to get your head around. I have a bit of trouble with remembering the formulas.

A good thing, might be to look at the your modes and see how they need to be altered to fit over chords. Chances are a lot of these alterations result in a mode from harmonic/melodic minor.

But really, I wouldn't get too into those modes. It's pretty daunting IMO. Get the chords you want and figure out what major modes can work over that.

But, as I said before: concentrate first on chord tones, you can always fill in the gaps when you need to. It's important to know those chord tones inside out before you do anything.
Just practice alot, and try different notes over different chords to hear how things sound. Make mistakes, and use those mistakes to find new sounds. If you hit a wrong note, actually think about how it sounds over that chord, and don't act like you screwed up. Eventually you can develop your ear enough to play what you want to hear over the progression.

And you probably want to stay away from pentatonics.