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Guitar Lessons with Andreas Oberg: Jazz Comping

In this sample lesson from his online guitar school, Andreas Oberg breaks down jazz guitar comping. An abbreviated term for accompanying, comping refers to playing the rhythm part while someone plays the lead melody or solo. Although it's not the main focus of the music, it's not something to be taken lightly. Comping is an integral part of any group performance.

It is very important to find the right balance when it comes to jazz comping. This means taking some space for yourself, but not too much - the idea is to back up the soloist while playing just enough… without it being too much. Good comping will enhance the lead guitarist and help to build up intensity in the music. Bad comping however, will distract from the melody and derail the soloist.

Understanding syncopation and where to land your strumming is a crucial aspect of jazz guitar comping. Syncopation is an art unto itself, so it is very important to learn how to use it in your jazz comping. If you just land your notes on the same standard beats every time, like quarter notes for example, it will sound extremely boring to the listener.

So don't do that - it's painfully predictable. It's not a very interesting way to play and you'll soon grow tired of it yourself. Instead, try mixing up where you land your strokes - it will add an enhanced energy and excitement to your comping and keep the audience engaged.

jazz guitar comping - andreas oberg

One easy way to practice this is to count the bars like this:

1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 AND

Rather than playing on the numbers (downbeat), play on the AND (upbeat).

Mixing up your syncopations and the length between the chords is the key to successful jazz comping. Also don't be afraid to play on the numbers (the downbeat) every once in a while - it will take your rhythmic comping to the next level the more you can add variations.

As Andreas explains, jazz comping is more than just playing the right chords. Experimentation is key. Play around and try out different comp rhythms, playing on and off beat. Once you find some patterns you like, you can always add different variations and decorations to keep it interesting.

Another element that can add more excitement in your jazz comping is your level of intensity, how hard or soft your play. Andreas demonstrates this by playing along with a 2-5-1 backing track. Notice that as the music progresses, he starts to play with more intensity. Andreas is a master at jazz guitar comping so it's always inspiring to watch him play.

The more you practice these ideas on your own, the more you will be able to develop your own style.

Don't forget - Andreas was once a beginner guitar player himself. It was through relentless practicing that he developed new rhythmic patterns which took his comping to the level it is now. 

Watch Andreas' Free Guitar Lessons

So if you want to improve your jazz comping - play around, discover, and develop!

Fill out the form for more sample guitar lessons from Andreas Oberg and visit www.artistworks.com/andreas-oberg for more info about his online guitar school.

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