How to go about learning GJ improv?

Feruza2134Feruza2134 The NetherlandsNew Phoenix D hole guitar
edited February 2019 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 86
I've been playing gypsy jazz style for 6/7 months now i think, but i just don't know where to start with learning to improvise.


  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Eastman DM2v, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 337
    Learn some solos by other players, that appeal to your ears. Even better if you can find transcriptions that have analysis
  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    edited September 2018 Posts: 705
    Here is a nice solo for All of Me, courtesy of Samy Daussat.
  • jeffmatzjeffmatz ChicagoNew
    Posts: 97
    Arpeggios, enclosures, and listen, listen listen! Hear something you like, try to learn to sing it, then find it on the guitar.

    There's a 1001 "licks videos" out there as well...keep in mind, the best players don't play ONLY licks, but everybody's got a bag of licks they like.

    Try to think of licks as something that can be tweaked on the fly rather than something set in stone that needs to be performed "as is." You'll get a lot more mileage that way.
  • edited September 2018 Posts: 1,231
    This is an open question that most of the folks here have grappled with. I say its open because you aren't stating what you want to do. I could direct you to courses that are around that are really good. Maybe you can start with picking one solo you like and working on one phrase that you really love in that solo. If you need help learning or mastering that phrase, come back here and ask. That, for me, is the best way to start.
    You can learn licks that other people tell you are good. There's nothing wrong with that. But it's probably more interesting to hear about what you think is good as a starting point.

  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    Posts: 125
    This is a wide open question that is probably impossible to answer in a forum post, but I know how you feel. I think we've all been there at some point.

    You will get a bunch of advice on here, youtube, books etc. Some will work, some may not.

    I believe the most important thing is find something that works for you and learn to teach yourself. Use youtube, books, teachers as guides to help figure things out.

    The thing is, we all learn differently. We visualise and conceptualise the fretboard differently. Our hands are unique. Some fingerings may work for you but not for others etc. Our experiences and influences are all different.

    This is why I feel you need to see what works for you.

    All that in consideration, here is what worked the best for me
    - learn by ear and figure out the fingerings that works for you. Don't base yourself only on tabs. You need to figure it out.
    - spend as much time you can listening and playing
    - absorb everything you can from youtube, books, online courses etc. Use them as a guide
    - Start learning something simple. Don't overwhelm yourself with entire solos, unless doing a whole solo is a motivator for you, then by all means.

    Considering you live in the Netherlands and there seems to be a good GJ community there, probably the best advice would be to find other people to play with.

  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 705
    TrueFire has a new Reinier Voet Gypsy Jazz Melodic Soloing Guidebook coming out soon. This is one of three by Reinier, and they are all pretty well done.
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
    Posts: 341
    Can’t tell you how to learn to be a great improviser, but I can tell where to start and how to have fun with it. Start with the melody of the tune, then start little variations of the melody. Listen to early improvisers like Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller. When they improvise, you can always hear the melody of the tune whispering behind the improv.

    Robin Nolan and Martin Taylor made a few videos about this very topic and it really freed my head. The rest of the stuff—arpeggios, enclosures, bends, diminished runs, etc—are there to be explored gradually. I wish I’d known this when I started out.
    vanmalmsteenRob MacKillopBucoJim KaznoskyBones
  • jeffmatzjeffmatz ChicagoNew
    Posts: 97
    Re: melody...think about how a good singer phrases a melody.

    And then, then about how Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey add all those runs and personally, I find it irritating to hear during the MELODY of the song, but for a solo, it can be a great jumping off point...
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