If you aspire to become a skilled jazz musician, learning to improvise is essential. And when improving your improvisational skills, learning to build compelling melodic solos will go a long way.

In his course, Gypsy Jazz Melodic Soloing Guidebook, Reinier Voet helps you build upon this skill in a gypsy jazz setting. With these foundational building blocks, you’ll have what it takes to tell exciting stories with your jazz solos.

Here are 5 gypsy jazz soloing guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Reinier Voet’s Gypsy Jazz Melodic Soloing Guidebook on TrueFire!

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Lesson – Swinging Minor

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When you’re able to find and play the most common minor 6th arpeggios and their fingering, it will give you a lot of possibilities for soloing over minor progressions. As mentioned before, minor 6 arpeggios give you that “gypsy jazz guitar” sound. So, any place where a “normal” minor chord is played, use a minor 6 arpeggio in your solo.

Another interesting application of the minor sixth is as a substitute for a dominant 7th chord. For example, play a B6 arpeggio over an E7 chord, which results in a E7/9 sound. The similarity between the Bm6 chord and the E7/9 chord is quite clear. Just look at the chords!

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Lesson – Georgia in Town

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The use of the tritones gives you a sound which is distinctly “jazzy”. It’s an easy way to alter dominant 7 chords, making them sound hip and a bit dissonant. Have a look at the explanation about the tritone in the section about “Minor Swing”.

In this example, I apply the tritone concept in the same way. Of course it sounds different, because it’s another piece. But, the same principles are being used. Have a listen to my example.

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Lesson – This Thing!

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Next, I would like to explore the use of the diminished arpeggio. The beginning of the melody of “What Is This Thing Called Love” is already a minor third. The B part also starts with a minor third, which makes it a perfect candidate for the use of diminished arpeggios. These are repeating minor 3rd intervals.

I will also play diminished arpeggios over the dominant 7 chords, which resolve to their root chords. For example: From C7 to F minor, or G7 to C, or F7 to Bb, etc. But first: Have a look and a listen; I’ll explain everything later in the breakdown.

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Lesson – Clouds

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The melody of “Nuages” really invites us to use arpeggios to embellish it. This is because it’s nice to break up the constantly descending chromatic lines of the song. As an added benefit, you illustrate the harmonies by playing the notes of the chords. The word arpeggio means “broken chord”. Applying arpeggios in this way really anchors your solo to the chord progression. At the end of a melodic line, there is often space to embellish with arpeggios, especially in a slower ballad like “Nuages”.

I will play an example solo with some arpeggio lines executed just after the melody, where there is still time left in the bar. So, listen and count along. This way you will be aware of how many beats are left and when you can fill the space with some extra lines.

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Lesson – Sweet Atmosphere

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The bridge of “Douce Ambiance” is a challenging one, because it consists of only one chord for the first 4 bars! This gives us enough time to explore several licks. You will find some classic licks on my 50 Gypsy Jazz Licks You MUST Know course. In my Gypsy Jazz Guitar Guidebook course, I suggest to use this well known standard lick in “Douce Ambiance”. To avoid repetition, I will use another one this time. I also recommend to sort out some solo lines from other guitar players, and not only Django’s! You will probably find some nice things that YOU like, to use in places YOU would like to make them fit. I found Boulou Ferré, the son of Matelot Ferret, to have some nice, original minor tricks, which we can use to get through the bridge of “Douce Ambience”. Have a listen to these suggestions in my example solo!

Digging these free gypsy jazz soloing guitar lessons? Check out Reinier Voet’s Gypsy Jazz Melodic Soloing Guidebook.