Try This Tonight if You Can't Jam with Other Musicians

Some people say that your ability to jam out solos within a group setting is all determined by your scale knowledge. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Being good at scale shapes can certainly influence your soloing, but that is only the half of it... 

Good guitar solos are often created out of building upon the backing harmony and one of the best melody building exercises is the study and the application of using 2-note chords.

The strength of any melodic idea is always going to be determined by a musicians ability to harmonize a direct link back into the underlying chord changes. In this video, I will demonstrate how to construct diatonic 2-note harmonies within a key to achieve that.

Practicing harmonized 2-note chord ideas will not only help you better connect to the underlying chords, but it will also help you create strong melodic lines that operate in a very smooth way musically.


I want to help you start playing better (more melodic) guitar solos when you get together and jam with your friends, at your place of worship, or within any other group of musicians.

And, to do this, I’m going to introduce you to an excellent diatonic harmony approach that will create quick and highly melodic ideas for use over any major or minor jam-riff that you would need to cover during a get together with other musicians.

For a lot of guitar players the act of getting together and jamming with other musicians is the most fun thing to do, but it can also be quite frustrating because the scale that guitar players know the best tends to be the 5-note pentatonic scale.

The thing is, that since the pentatonic scale only has 5 notes it will often tend to make you feel like you just don’t have enough notes to create a well appointed melody line.

Don't get me wrong, the Pentatonic is a fantastic scale, however in terms of playing smooth well appointed melodic ideas the 5-note Pentatonic scales might leave you with a few gaps in your lead playing.

The problem that we often deal with is that when most guitar players try experimenting with the full 7-tone scales, they’ll often feel like there’s "too many" notes.

Organizing the notes well enough to be able to find that “perfect balance,” between playing melodic ideas and getting lost in all the scale tone options can sometimes be difficult.

What we’re going to do in this lesson, is work toward solving this problem by learning a string of diatonic intervals, (all organized laterally on the neck).

We’ll also learn to understand those intervals in a way that they can produce some really nice melody lines over pretty much any diatonic major or minor chord progression.

Once practiced, the next time you get together and jam with a few people, you’ll have a solid approach – an easy method - for inventing all kinds of nice melodic ideas.

Let’s begin by learning how to organize the practice of these 2-note harmonized ideas based upon both 4th and 3rd guitar strings.

Our first patterns for this study will be built off of the fourth guitar string. These patterns will follow diatonic harmony along the neck, using just two shapes that are grouped differently as we travel across the fingerboard.

These 2-note shapes (dyads) will remain within diatonic harmony, and their layouts will be set upon the neck as follows....

4th String - Major Shape: The Major dyad shape, (based off of the 4th guitar string), will have the two notes sitting a, “Half-Step” apart between the 4th string to the 3rd  string.

4th String - Minor Shape: The Minor shape, (based off of the 4th guitar string), will have the notes spaced a, “Whole-Step,” apart across two strings, (the 4th string to the 3rd).

When we establish these patterns into a diatonic harmony (based off of the 4th guitar string) they flow in sequence one after another like this…

Key of "A Minor" (4th and 3rd guitar strings)

 Click the above image to enlarge full-screen

Now that you’ve learned a 2-note diatonic harmony based off of the 4th guitar string, let’s learn another layout of a harmony using patterns based off of the 3rd guitar string.

3rd String - Major Shape: The Major shape, (based off of the 3rd guitar string), will have the two notes vertically aligned between the 3rd string to the 2nd.

3rd String - Minor Shape:   The Minor shape, (when based off of the 3rd guitar string), will have the notes spaced a, “Half-Step,” apart across two strings, (the 3rd string to the 2nd).

When we establish these patterns into a diatonic harmony (based off of the 3rd guitar string) they flow in sequence one after another played like this.

Key of "A Minor" (3rd and 2nd guitar strings)

Click the above image to enlarge full-screen

Now, that you’ve learned a 2-note diatonic harmony based off of the 4th guitar string, and off of the 3rd string, let’s take these linear harmonized 2-note ideas into a typical chord progression so that you can begin practicing them.

The easiest way to get yourself ready to play some nice melodic ideas at your next jam session with your friends is to first do some preparation work at home.

This type of preparatory work is best done using jam-tracks. A jam-track will do wonders to help you learn how to phrase good lines and develop continuity across your playing.

This is why I've developed a jam-track for this lesson plan. The chord progression that I have for you is in the key of “A Minor” (the same key as both of our examples that we were just learning).

I’m going to start things off by playing this jam-track for you and then I’ll give you a few example passes across the progression to help you start using these highly effective 2-string diatonic harmony lines.

JAM-TRACK: (Key of "A Minor")

Working with Jam-Track's:

Step 1). Study the chord changes and learn the fingering
Step 2). Develop the rhythmic feel for the chord pattern
Step 3). Record the chord changes using a metronome
Step 4). Practice singing melodic sounds for the progression
Step 5). Compose an idea and embellish it
Step 6). Branch out from your original concept

If you consistently practice playing over jam-tracks over time you'll slowly develop a better and better sense and feel for  melodic phrasing.

After many hours of practice, you'll have a much easier ability to melodically jam on anything that is offered up for soloing at your next band rehearsal. 

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