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Jazz Guitar Licks: Charlie Christian Lick #2

Updated on May 20, 2013

Charlie Christian

I personally enjoyed researching and transcribing the first Charlie Christian lick I featured, and I decided further study his style, and to move along and transcribe a few more of his licks.

The lick featured in this article is also a 2-5-1 in Ab. This is the first lick he plays in his solo. It is always a good idea to start a solo on a good, ear-catching idea, to really grab the listener's attention, to make them understand that what is coming will rock their socks, if they only pay attention.

I will describe the line and post tablatures below, but for now, here's the lick:

Jazz Guitar Lick: Charlie Christian Lick #2


What makes this lick sound good?

The first thing that I notice about this lick, is that although it is used over a 2-5-1 chord progression, it pretty much is a 1-chord lick over Ab. By that, I mean that if the chords played behind the solo had just been Ab the whole time (without Bb-7 or Eb7), it would have sounded great. The purpose of playing such a lick at the beginning of the solo might be to "ground" the listener's ears in the Ab key.

Specifically, the lick is solidly grounded in Ab major pentatonic, which is comprised of the notes Ab, Bb, C, Eb, F. I think of major pentatonic as a major triad arpeggio (Ab, C, Eb), to which you add the 2nd and 6th tone scales (Bb, F). In fact, the only two notes used in this lick that are not part of this scale are there to make it all sound "bluesy". These two notes are Gb, which acts as the minor 7th of Ab, and the B natural, used as a "lead-in" note to the third of the Ab chord, which is C. The use of the minor 7th makes it sound like a dominant chord, Ab7.

B natural is the sharp 9 of Ab7. Pay close attention to how the sharp 9 note is followed by the major 3rd of Ab. You will see the sharp 9 followed by the 3rd in countless situations, and the reason for that is that it sounds so good! Anytime you practice a major arpeggio, try to stick the sharp nine before the major 3rd. It will always be a half-step lower than the 3rd, thus, one fret lower. Try to do slide in's, hammer-on's, etc.

So, to recapitulate:

  • major pentatonic arpeggio of the 1-chord used over the 2-5-1 progression
  • Gb note (minor 7th of Ab) to make it sound like an Ab7
  • sharp 9 to major 3rd idea (B natural --> C note)

If anyone spots anything else, feel free to comment and let us know!

R. Seymour Cole


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    • RaunSeymourCole profile image

      RaunSeymourCole 4 years ago from Illinois, USA

      Thanks, prettynutjob

      I got a lot more coming!

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      Awesome, informative hub, voted up, more and shared.