Having the ability to artfully add those "in-between" notes is a cornerstone of jazz guitar. Here’s how you do it.
• Understand the basic elements of the CAGED system.
• Learn the “rules” for adding outside notes.
• Expand your view of the fretboard in every key.
Have you ever asked yourself if you “know” all your scales? Well, one might answer that question with the chromatic scale. Simply put, the chromatic scale is all 12 notes. Chromaticism plays an important role in the construction of melodic lines in jazz, allowing dissonance to resolve into consonance. Jazz players are fond of a famous quote that basically states: No matter where you are on the neck, if you hit a “wrong” note you’re only a half-step away from a “right” one. This lesson will show how to integrate chromatics into major and minor CAGED scale forms, as well as provide examples of jazz lines. While this lesson centers around a major scale, this method of visualizing chromatic scales works with all scale types.
Let’s begin with a fingering for a chromatic scale. Ex. 1 shows an ascending and descending one-octave chromatic scale in open and first positions. We’re starting on C, so I used a Cmaj7 chord as the underlying harmony.
Let’s expand that idea in Ex. 2. Here we are starting on F and playing a chromatic scale up to the A on the 1st string before descending to where we started. Because we aren’t using any open strings, this fingering can easily be moved up and down the neck.
To clearly see how to integrate the chromatic scale into the major scale forms, I believe it’s best to start with one-octave major scale fingerings. Since we want these to be movable all over the fretboard, I’ve written them in 2nd position to avoid any open strings.
Ex. 3 is based on the “A” shape in the key of C.
Ex. 4 is based on the “E” shape in the key of G.
Ex. 5 is based on the “C” shape in the key of D.
Ex. 6 is based on the “G” shape in the key of A.
Finally, Ex. 7 is based on the “D” shape in the key of F.
Now that we have our scale forms, let’s add in the chromatics by filling the spaces between the diatonic major scale tones. There are two possible fingerings for the chromatic scales derived from these forms, due to the guitar’s tuning. The following group of examples illustrates these fingerings.
Ex. 8 is based on the “A” shape in the key of C.
Ex. 9 is based on the “E” shape in the key of G.
Ex. 10 is based on the “C” shape in the key of D.
Ex. 11 is based on the “G” shape in the key of A.
Finally, Ex. 12 is based on the “D” shape in the key of F.
Generally, melodic lines are constructed using a balance of scalar and arpeggiated movement. Think of chord tones (root, 3, 5, 7) and the extensions (9, #11, 13) as areas of resolution. Chromatic passing tones are initially inserted between whole-steps, allowing connections and resolutions to chord and scale tones.
In measure one of Ex. 13, Ab is inserted between A and G, allowing a descending chromatic passage. Also, note the Eb inserted between E and D. Most of this example makes use of this device.
In Ex. 14, I’m using mostly descending chromatic passing tones, but observe the ascending chromatics in measures one, two, and four. I briefly hit a C# in the first measure. Normally, I would resolve to D. Instead, I skip to E and then descend chromatically to D.
By now, these chromatic devices should start to sound familiar to your ear. In Ex. 15, I’m pretty much sticking to ascending and descending chromatic movement.
Ex. 16 balances the ascending and descending chromatic movement. Notice the four-note motivic sequence in measure two.
Ex. 17 starts off with a very cool way to skip between two chord tones. In this case, we move from the root (F) to the 7 (E) and then descend chromatically to D. From there we skip up to the root and then leap down to A before approaching the root chromatically from G. When you start to isolate and analyze the nuances of these lines, they become easier to integrate into your own playing.
Once you understand the basics of integrating chromatics into a one-octave major scale form, then you can apply those same principals to the full CAGED fingerings. Ex. 18 shows each fingering.
Ex. 19 illustrates how to expand the full “C” shape to include all the chromatic notes.
Ex. 20 expands on the “A” shape.
Ex. 21 expands on the “G” shape.
Ex. 22 expands on the “E” shape.
Ex. 23 expands on the “D” shape.
Ex. 24 expands on the “C” shape in closed position.
The following examples cover the full range of the scale forms. All of the examples are over a major 7 chord quality.
Ex. 25 makes a straight-ahead use of ascending and descending chromaticism. To avoid turning your line into a total chromatic passage with no whole-steps, it’s important to balance diatonic and chromatic movement. Of special interest in this line is measure four, which leaps from G to E to G and follows with an ascending chromatic approach to A.
In measure one of Ex. 26, notice the chromatic descent from A to G. This is followed with an ascending Gmaj7 arpeggio. The rest of the line is made up of various ascending and descending chromatic movements. A special moment occurs in measure four, where D skips to Ab and then moves down to F# before resolving on G. The G is therefore approached chromatically from both above and below, which is called a double-chromatic approach.
Ex. 27 kicks off with almost a boogie-woogie pattern. When it gets to A, a skip occurs from A to C# (root to 3) and then moves to a chromatic descent from B to A. Similarly, a skip in measure four moves from D to E before resolving chromatically to D.
There’s more sequential writing in the first measure of Ex. 28. The first two beats establish a bit of a chromatic motif that catches the ear. Measure three uses one of my favorite chromatic devices, where on beat 3 you skip up from a root to a 5 and then drop to the 7 and descend chromatically as little or as much as you want. In this case, I went chromatically from G# to F#.
Finally, we have Ex. 29. If you’ve made it this far you must really love chromatics! We kick off with a downward leap from the root to the 3 before ascending chromatically to the 5. Always try to keep chord tones on the strong beats, as this will help give your lines focus and direction.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.