How To Convincingly FAKE Great Jazz GUITAR PLAYING

How To Convincingly FAKE Great Jazz GUITAR PLAYING

Tommaso Zillio

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fake jazz guitar

But sometimes, you might hear an excellent Jazz improviser and think to yourself, “wow, he must have studied for so many years to know so many chords, scales, and arpeggios and use them so fluently. I wish I could do that!”

Well, I’m here to tell you it might be easier than you think.

And mind you, I’m doing this at considerable personal risk. Because when some people see what I’m doing in the video below, I’ll be the target of a very angry Internet mob (**)

(I’m expecting an army of Jazz purists to pile all kinds of $#1t on that video, so watch it before they make me take it down…)

While truly expert-level Jazz playing takes a lifetime to master, most casual listeners won’t be able to distinguish between an expert and a very good Jazz ‘impersonator’, if you will.

What I want to do, is show you how to become a passable Jazz impersonator, someone who sounds like they have a lifetime of experience in Jazz, but in reality, couldn’t tell the difference between a 2-5-1 and a half-pound of roast beef. (***)

In the video below, I share some of these tips with a student, and because this interaction was recorded (ah, the magic of today’s technology), I can now also share these tips with you at the convenient click of a button.

Also, you get to hear him and me playing and the difference from the beginning to the end… so you can see that what I’m showing you works… and you can do it too :)

(*) If you had any kind of angry reaction to this… you may have forgotten to turn your sense of humor on today ;-) It’s a joke!

(**) If you were laughing at this… no, this time I’m not joking. Obviously. Does that look like some kind of laughing matter? What is wrong with you?

(***) Yes, this is a joke. It’s funny. Why do I have to explain everything today?

But… maybe you actually want to understand Jazz and go beyond the stage of “Jazz impersonator”?

A great place to start is having a complete understanding of chords and harmony all over your fretboard. Check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course to start (or continue) your journey in fully understanding chords on the fretboard.

Video Transcription

Hello Internet; so nice to see you! Every one of us guitar players is terrified of making mistakes on the instrument. Imagine you go on stage to a big crowd, you go up there, you start playing and you hit the wrong note.

That’s in everybody’s mind, but guys, making mistakes is normal when you play an instrument, making some mistakes, okay, I make mistakes all the time. And of course, I correct them with no problem. And of course, I try not to make them but it’s quite normal. I’m telling this to you, because I’ve seen people deathly terrified of making mistakes on their guitar so much that they cannot enjoy playing it. Okay. But there’s more.

Recently, I had a student asked me, how do you sound more “in a style”. And after I just listened to him, and you’re gonna see it in a minute, I’m going to show it to you, you could tell that what he was playing was a bit stiff, and why it was stiff, because he was afraid of making mistakes.

The whole, this whole fear of making mistakes was preventing him from sounding the way he wanted. And this is probably going to happen to you too, the moment you start being afraid of making mistakes, you lose a lot of expressiveness and emotion in your playing. So how do we beat that? How do we start to sound more expressive, but make less mistakes and not be too afraid?

Well, in a moment, I’m gonna show that to you. Okay. Before that, though, let me recommend one of my free offerings, I want to recommend to you this free book, about 18 tips to make your pentatonic solo sound professional, it’s free, completely free, if I can say so it’s quite good. I will suggest anybody, whatever your style to get it and put this in practice, read it, even I go through this very fast, okay, and every tip has the potential to completely change your playing for the better.

That’s the end of the infomercial. Let’s go and see how you lose your fear of mistakes, and how you learn to sound more in your style with the expression you want to the expressiveness you want to have. I recommend you guys pick up the guitar and follow along, listen to all the examples and you can totally see the difference from beginning to end with the student and how different he sounds from beginning to end. Let’s go. Let’s see.

“So, to use an analogy, I want to sound more like a native speaker rather than like a foreigner of jazz. Like I’m just playing notes of a scale. I want to be able to speak the language more.”

“Okay. I can teach you how to fake it convincingly. I’m not a native jazz speaker, but I make fairly convincing fake jazz. Okay, okay. But I mean, there are tricks, but the only way to really get a style is to listen to hours and hours and hours of that music until you feel it. Okay, but there are elements that we can put together. So, since I have no idea about your playing skills and accent, how about we play something?”

“I didn’t hear any chromatics.”

“It’s mostly just in the scale.”

“Okay. Is that a choice? Or is it because you didn’t know how to use chromatics?”

“Yeah, I feel like I don’t know what else to do.”

“Okay, let’s start with the simple stuff. First of all, swing as much as you can. Okay, timing is always the first thing you want to get right. Okay, so I want some kind of extreme swing here. Okay, now maybe the backing track I was playing was a bit too straight ahead. Okay, so I’m gonna go with something more lazy. Extreme swing”

“That mistake you make sounded more jazz than anything else you played. When you got the wrong note and slide to the right one. That was jazz. At least to me, if, whenever I say this people, some people are offended, but I don’t mean this in a negative way. Jazz is a style built on mistakes because it’s all improvised, mistakes happen.

You learn to recover and make them sound right. And all those things became part of the language. Okay? I mean this in the most positive possible way, okay? Because nobody else before was able to do that. Okay, so I think those people that develop this are absolute geniuses, okay? Which means you have to make more mistakes. So now, what is your thinking process right now?“ “When I’m playing?”

“Yes. Are you thinking scales, arpeggios, chord notes, what are you thinking?” “Usually just thinking about hitting the right notes, making sure I don’t make a mistake. Diatonic notes.”

“Okay. So try to do this. Occasionally, every other chord, don’t hit the chord note, hit the note one half-step below, and then the chord note. But give it some time meaning give it some actual time. It’s not an embellishment, it’s an actual note. See what I mean?”

“Like on the and of four?”

“Anywhere. Anywhere, even on the one. I mean it can be on the upbeat, it can be on the downbeat. The idea is to get comfortable with having some notes sounding strange at first. And you know that you’re gonna resolve them the note after. Okay, now you have my permission right now to make all possible mistakes. You have my permission to suck here my permission to sound horrible. But do push the boundaries, okay?”

“1, 2, 3, 4…”

Okay, that’s much better. To me at least. Now, here’s the thing, every now and then I hear you’re stopping and thinking, don’t. The idea is this. You’re on top of a mountain. And somebody pushes you.

“Oh, god!”

“Yes! And now you have to run until the mountain ends otherwise you fall. Okay, did you start with your momentum, and whenever you didn’t know what to do, just keep going hit some notes, hit chromatics, hit whatever you want. And furiously thinking of where you have to land, okay, but don’t stop the momentum. Try to put something and if you don’t know what just fake it, okay? Make sense?”


“1, 2, 3, 4…”

“Okay now, I’m not telling you what I’m playing. I’m not telling you what key I’m in. You close your eyes, so you don’t see what I’m doing. And you try to follow completely by ear. Okay, visualize.

1, 2, 3, 4…”

“I have no idea what I played. I just put random two five ones. You have no idea what you played. Did it sound okay? I mean, there were a couple of goofs up, mine or his. And that’s part of this kind of playing. But we didn’t need much planning, theory, etc. Even just following your ear. Right? And whenever the note was wrong, just be following and finding wherever you could go. Play an arpeggio, play another arpeggio, it works, right?

So, it is good on one side to go study the pages, study how those things fit together trying to hit the chord note, that’s good. But at the same time, you need to also let go and let your ear and the musicality dictate what you’re doing. And to hell with the rules. It’s good to have one foot here and one foot here, a balance, okay. Otherwise, it becomes too stiff. Yeah, the first thing you played was not bad at all. But he was stiff because you were too preoccupied in finding the right notes. Like I say not making mistakes. Okay. Make mistakes. Okay, who cares. Right?”


“Feeling better now?”

“Yeah, that was awesome.”

“Fantastic. Thank you, Patrick.”

“Thanks so much.”

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