Bebop Jazz Guitar in 3 Easy Steps | A Beginner’s Guide

Welcome to your ultimate quick start guide on Bebop jazz guitar.

Since the 1940’s, Bebop has been a part of the everyday jazz vocabulary. Even if you aren’t playing bebop, as a jazz guitarist you can use the bebop language to create rhythmically and harmonically complex lines. Bebop lines are uniquely angular yet they have a magical flow about them.

bebop-jazz-guitar3 Easy Steps to Learning Bebop Guitar

1. Learn Bebop Heads

Your best approach to learning bebop is learning bebop heads. Charlie Parker was the king of bebop. Learn some of his bebop tunes to get started.

My three favorites are (in order of easiest to hardest):

  1. Scrapple From The Apple
  2. Moose The Mooche
  3. Donna Lee

Learning bebop heads is a great work out. It will challenge your right and left hand technique. Most importantly, it will build your rhythmic vocabulary. Remember to start slow nice and slow.

You can easily search on google for a leadsheets of these tunes and on youtube for a version (always check out the original Charlie Parker version first).

How to Play Bebop Heads Fast

  • Find the best position
  • Focus on your picking hand
  • Feel free to remove trills
  • Start slow
  • Speed will come (keep the same picking motion)

2. Learn Bebop Scales

Bebop Scales are normal major scale modes with an added chromatic note. Bebop scales were made by jazz musicians to create rhythmically smooth lines that emphasis the important chord tones of the scale.

Why Should I Use the Bebop Scales?

  • They add chromatic notes to your lines.
  • Your lines will sound fluid and more ‘jazzy.’
  • Most modern jazz guitarists use the bebop vocabulary is some way or another. Even if they aren’t PLAYING bebop, they USE bebop lines.
  • They just sound cool.

Check out my full lesson on Bebop Scales here.

3. Play Bebop

  • The best way to learn Bebop is to play Bebop.
  • Use a backing track (or create your own)
  • Practice your bebop heads
  • Practice your Bebop scales

My best piece of advice for you is to build a vocabulary of bebop cliches (licks). Practice isolated chord changes then piece changes together and work on smooth transitions.

Keep Learning

That concludes my 4 easy steps to learning bebop guitar. Remember to listen and transcribe – those are your two most powerful techniques for learning bebop. Listen to Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. Get a feel for Bebop. Use your ears!

Check out the following links for some more ideas:

5th mode of the Harmonic Minor – will give you an old school, bebop sound over minor ii V i’s.

Bebop Scales – learn your bebop scales now.

Thanks for checking out this lesson, please feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions you may have.

~ Sam Blakelock | pickupjazz.com

Comments

  1. Braydon says

    Hey Sam, I watched your video on Instagram of your new song Soft Lightning. I LOVE it and was wondering if there is any way you could email me a tab or let me know how I could learn it?? Thank you!

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