A Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar Transcriptions

To understand and learn your instrument like a pro, you have to understand and actively use jazz guitar transcriptions. If you want to learn jazz guitar phrasing, tunes, and concepts, then transcriptions are the only way to go.

So what exactly are jazz guitar transcriptions, what do you need to know about them, and how can you use them to become a better guitar player?

What are Jazz Guitar Transcriptions?

As we mentioned, music is its own language. Musicians write down the physical representation of their melodies so that they may play them again and edit them as they like. Professionals often use transcriptions to share their music with the world. If it weren’t for musical transcriptions, we wouldn’t know what Beethoven or Mozart’s music sounded like.

Jazz guitar transcriptions are often a recreation of the best jazz musician’s music. You’ll find a variety of them available online for download so you can easily play them at will-as long as you understand how to read music. You may choose to play these songs note for note or alter them to fit your own style. That’s the beautiful thing about transcriptions.

What Should You Know About Them?

The first step towards transcribing is to figure out what you want to play. Typically jazz guitar transcriptions are for solos only, so if you have a band you’re playing with they won’t really provide the full scope of the song.

While you probably have countless favorite jazz songs, you’ll likely find they are very difficult to transcribe. Be careful about your selection, particularly if you are new to the world of transcribing. Choose a solo that is simple but offers you much in the way of tuning your inexperienced jazz music ear. Look for something that helps you grow but doesn’t burn you out.

Sometimes it’s best to find something you’re already familiar with. Start there and as you grow as a musician venture into the more complex solos. You’ll have plenty of time for that later.

Using Them to Improve

It’s easy to justify your own laziness by saying how some of your favorite musicians didn’t use transcriptions, but the reality is you’re only hurting yourself by doing that. You have the ability to enhance your skills by leaps and bounds by using jazz guitar transcriptions.

Whether you’re doing the transcribing yourself or simply downloading them to familiarize yourself with how they work, jazz guitar transcriptions can be your ticket to better guitar playing. Find one or two you’d like to learn and apply yourself. You never know how far they can take you until you explore their use in your practice.

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