So Many Products, Where Do I Start?

Before you consider any teacher, take the time to review the credentials of that teacher.

By credentials, we don’t mean pieces of paper which only prove that someone sat in a classroom for 4 years.  That’s not going to cut it for playing jazz.  Jazz credentials are on the bandstand experience playing jazz guitar at a high level of skill for numerous years.  Robert Conti is the rare combination of pro player and teacher who has a knack for delivering information straight to your fingers.  Now, on to the products. . .

Can You Drive A Car Without Being A Mechanic?

Driving a car is a great analogy to learning to play jazz guitar. In much the same way that you are able to drive a car without knowing its internal mechanical functions under the hood, you are also able to play jazz guitar without knowing the “how and why” behind what you’re playing. The Conti learning products are designed to put you in the driver’s seat of that automobile to get you driving (playing jazz guitar) immediately.

Want More? Get Under The Hood

Alternately, in order to understand what actually makes your car operate, you would read a technical manual that goes into great detail about the various parts of your engine, electrical system, transmission, wheels, etc.  The technical manuals Robert Conti produced for jazz guitar are the Source Code DVD Series.  These are seven volumes of info-packed DVDs/Books that present the “how to, and nuts & bolts” driving the lines or chord melody you already have under your fingers. It is much easier to comprehend the underlying “why does this work so well?” of theory after you’re actually able to play the lines or chord melody.

Start By Determining Your Current Skill Level

Each day, scores of guitarists begin their journey to learn jazz guitar. Most guitarists quickly discover that playing jazz guitar requires a bit more technical dexterity to play new chord forms and single note lines – the staple of jazz guitar playing. Aspiring jazz guitar students will generally fall into two groups. This narrative will assist you to determine exactly where you should begin, to gain the most traction and enjoyment in your learning experience. Your first step is to determine if you are a Group 1 or Group 2 type student. Then, simply read the guidelines to select the product you will need to achieve your goals.

Group 1 (Generally Entry Level)

These are players who have acquired some basic chord playing skills over a year or two, and then discovered, the alluring sound of jazz guitar.

Technique – The Currency of Playing

If you’re already aware that you need to improve your Left/Right hand coordination and picking skills, start with The Precision Technique in the Source Code DVD series. While you can spend several months mastering the specialized data in this Book/DVD, it isn’t necessary. In fact, after you have mastered only one or two exercises, you will have acquired enough skill to begin working with the Ticket To Improv Entry Level DVD series. Note the emphasis on “mastered.” For another perspective to determine your skill level, watch the following videos to see students playing entry level material from the Ticket To Improv DVD series. After watching, if you feel that your current level of technical ability is at or near the same level as the skill they display, then you can skip The Precision Technique DVD, and begin with the Ticket To Improv DVD series.

Adam Hinchliffe, United Kingdom

Mario Ochoa, Florida, USA (note: solo begins at 31 seconds)

While you enjoy working with the data in the Ticket To Improv DVDs, you can, and should continue working through The Precision Technique DVD, although at a slower pace, as those studies, along with playing the lines in the Ticket To Improv series all serve to improve your technical skill. If technique is the currency of playing, if you don’t have it, you’re broke.

Based on the time you can allocate to practice, after mastering at least two of the Precision Technique studies (any two), the ideal study plan for entry level players should ideally include:
  1. The Ticket To Improv DVD Series
  2. The Chord Melody Assembly Line
  3. The Precision Technique DVD*After completing #1 & 2 above, you will have gained enough insight to select the appropriate DVD(s) for your continued course of study.
*Once you understand the quick and easily achievable Conti Fingering Protocol, you can then continue working with the other studies as a short routine daily primer.

Group 2 (Generally Advanced Level)

You have already played for several years in a variety of music genres, such as Blues, Country or Rock. You have already acquired greater levels of chord playing and single note skills. The additional level of acquired skills will make your transition to playing jazz guitar much easier. In general, these players are looking for Pro Level “take it to the gig tonight” lines and ideas that they can learn and apply immediately.

Although you are in this advanced group, if you still feel that you need to improve your Right & Left Hand coordination skills, you can also utilize the The Precision Technique to upgrade those skills very quickly. When a guitarist makes his/her transition to jazz after several years of prior experience playing other genres, they’re able to reach higher level skills “on the fly,” as a direct result of playing jazz.

Advanced Improvisation Examples

Lucas Costner, Tennessee, USA

Adam Hinchliffe, United Kingdom

If your playing goal is single note playing at an advanced level, select any of the following advanced improv DVDs:

  • The Smoking Lineman Improv Series – 5 Volumes (Bebop Tunes)
  • The Sound Of Rio Improv Series – 5 Volumes (Bossa Nova Tunes)
  • Big City Blues Improv Series – 5 Volumes (Blues Tunes)

Did you notice that Adam Hinchliffe appeared in both the Entry Level and Advanced Groups? That's the power of the Conti approach - short term, noticeable playing progress.

A Note On The Source Code Series

Each title in The Source Code DVD Series is tightly focused on a single facet of playing. The Source Code Series is the perfect solution for aspiring jazz guitarists and all other players who want to learn the devices that I employ to create what fans call “edge of your seat lines” and reharmonized chord melody arrangements. The Source Code DVDs are perfectly focused on the “Source” or the “the How To Nuts & Bolts” of my Chord Melody Arrangements, Technique, Solo Improv Lines, etc.  I have prepared overview videos for each volume in the series to provide a great understanding of the goal of each of those titles.

Ready to dig in and start achieving your goals?

Now that you have a general guideline and understanding of the Conti products, click the button at right to start your jazz guitar learning journey the old school way – by playing.