Jimmy Bruno is definitely a well known jazz guitarist, but in my opinion, is underrated as an absolutely awesome teacher. His video No Nonsense Jazz Guitar totally changed the game for me when I was first learning to play jazz. I still revisit it from time to time to brush up on some ideas, or just listen to the man talk (he has a great sense of humor). It is a great educational tool in the sense that it shows you some great methods, techniques and ideas, but I think it can also be used as a great reminder about how to think when we play music. These are always the most valuable lessons. Jimmy's philosophy is just to keep it as simple as you possibly can. This seems like a no brainer, but to people who are constantly studying and analyzing music, this can be extremely refreshing.
He starts out by talking about how he just breaks chords down into either Maj7, Min7, or Dominant. He doesn't think about all these fancy alterations that a lot of us (me included especially) get too involved in. The great Joe Pass also had this approach, and we'll be discussing it in a later blog. What I think is even more of a breath of fresh air though, is how he sees scales. He says that he always sees people practicing really complicated and sophisticated fingers and patterns, trying to master the different nuances of the guitar and see the fretboard as clearly as possible, and he finds that silly. He simply says "Why would I practice something I'm not going to use?"
What's great is that it's not like he can be shrugged off for having this opinion. He is no doubt a master of the fretboard himself. Last week, I posted about the Segovia Scales, which definitely fall under the "silly" category for Jimmy. I learned my whole life you need to learn these scales, and here is this awesome guitarist I admire and respect telling me they're useless.
To be honest, I use Jimmy's scale shapes more than I use Segovia's. I'm not convinced that Segovia's are useless though. Either way, I think it's important to take in all sides of musical education, so here are the scales Jimmy talks about in his video. There's only 6 of them, and apparently that's all Jimmy needs.
Jimmy uses a system of naming his shapes that seems scientific, but is pretty simple. This first shape is called 6V2. He calls it this because it starts on the 6th string, goes vertically across the fretboard (low string to high in one position) and the first finger you start with is your 2nd. We'll do all of these in C.
Here's 5V2. Same scale, but starting on a different string. Another thing Jimmy likes to stress is keeping your fingerings the same when switching shapes to differnet strings to help memorize it more easily. That's why he likes to a do that shift on the B string. This one also changes a bit to get to the root on the last octave.
Here's where the shapes change; you now start with your 4th finger:
5V4 ( You can also do this key in open position if you don't like going so high)
The last 2 shapes are 6H2 and 5H2. Notice that these are now what he calls horizontal shapes because they span more of the fretboard from left to right. I use these a lot to connect other patterns and shapes. Pay close attention to the fingerings of this one.
There is a lot of cool things that you can do with these scales. In other blogs, we'll talk about getting modes and arpeggio shapes out of them. For now, just try these ones out and see what they might inspire!
If you're liking this way of thinking, check out Jimmy Bruno's website here.
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Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner
Falls Music School