LJS 61: How to Use Scales In Your Jazz Solos the Right Way


Welcome to episode 61 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about how to use scales in your jazz solos the right way. You’ll learn what scales are good and bad for, how to think about scales as pitch collections, and examples of how to convert them into actual melodies. Listen in!

Listen to episode 61

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In this episode

What scales are bad for:

  • Learning jazz language.
  • Creating melodies.
  • Improving your ear.

What scales are good for:

  • Improving technique.
  • Learning your instrument.
  • Conceptualizing musical ideas.

Think about scales as pitch collections.

  • Imagine pitch collections as a “map” of a chord.

Cmaj7 lick using the major scale:

Dmin7 lick using the Dorian mode:

C7 lick using the Mixolydian mode:

Bmin7(b5) lick using the Locrian mode:

A minor pentatonic over a Bmaj7(#11):

Listen to episode 60: How to Develop Relative Pitch (feat Aimee Nolte)

Mentioned in the show

Zero to Improv eBook

Our flagship eBook, Zero to Improv, is a book that teaches you how to become a great jazz improviser from the ground up. No stone is left un-turned. This isn’t your ordinary music book. Zero to Improv calls you to action! Packed full of improv and jazz theory lessons, you’ll start from the beginning and build up all of the skills and knowledge you need. Audio examples are included for all music notation.

Versions are available for C, Bb, Eb and Bass Clef instruments. Designed for all skill levels.

Have anything to add to today’s show? Leave us a comment below.

30 Days to Better Jazz Playing


  1. I learned (and continue to learn) using Aebersold's material and he really pushed scales, so I think you're being a little disingenuous with this podcast. Of course you have to move beyond scales eventually; they're just a starting point, and if people are asking you what scales to play you shouldn't cringe, but rather realize that those particular players haven't moved beyond that phase of the long hard road of learning to improvise conceptually.