guide tones

We are going to discuss a couple different options for practicing with guide tones. I feel that this topic is extremely important and will allow guitarists to have a better understanding of the notes on the fretboard. Guide tones are the backbone of  Jazz music. So let’s get started with some guide tone drills!

Exercise 1: II min7, V7, I maj7

2-5-1 is the most common chord progression in Jazz. It consists of a minor 7th chord, dominant 7th chord and major 7th chord. Find a jam track on You Tube or you can make one. but, make sure that it is a 2-5-1 chord progression in the key that you choose. Listen to the jam track and play the guide tones of each chord. Remember that guide tones are the 3’s and 7’s of each chord. This exercise will tune your ears to the guide tones when they are played over the chords.. Play 2-5-1 guide tones in every single key until you have mastered them.

Here is a 2-5-1 chord progression that you can use:


guide tones are: Eb,Bb, A,Eb,D,A

Exercise 2: Create A Guide Tone Line(phrase)

Once you have mastered the guide tones you can start creating more melodic lines with the two notes. You can start with a Cmaj7 and create a melody over the chord. You can play the 3rd note(E) to start your jazz riff. Make sure you use both guide tones. You can use the 7th(B) within your jazz riff. Fill in the rest of the space with notes from the Major scale and its modes(aeolian,locrian,mixolydian etc.) Try to make a guide tone line in every single key with different chord progressions.

Guide tones will help you connect the dots between chord progressions and allow the melody to transition smoothly. You will also want to use arpeggios with your guide tones.

Excercise 3: Play Guide Tones Only

Playing just the guide tones over a chord will help you to get a birds eye view of the guide tones in each chord. You can use a Cmin7 chord for example and play ALL the guide tones across the fretboard. The notes within a Cmin7 are:

C Eb G Bb(1,3,5,7)

The Guide tone are Eb and Bb. Master these two notes across the fretboard. Remember you will only play these notes over a Cmin7 chord.

Good Luck!