Sometimes, you need to learn something pretty quickly.
And when that's the case, you don't really need to understand all the little details at a deep level first, you need to get your hands dirty and try it out.
Jazz guitar is no different.
Well, a lot of people want to know all the details about how the chords work and how to place their rhythms when they're comping, and everything about playing jazz guitar before they get their hands dirty, so to speak.
What most people don’t understand is that the very best way to learn jazz guitar is to get some of the chords under your fingers and start learning how to use them in chord progressions and songs.
In my own playing and with many of my students I’ve found that when you get the physical part of playing down, the details and music theory just kind of falls into place.
That's exactly what I've done with the Jazz Guitar Survival Guide: Chords and Comping.
I really give you the “put your fingers here” explanation of jazz guitar chords so you can start playing right away.
You'll also learn the theory and other details as you go so you know what you’re doing.
Music theory is important. It just usually gets taught in the wrong order.
And I think you'll find that you understand everything better at the end of this program than you would if you tried to understand how all of the theory and little details worked first before ever putting your fingers on the fretboard.
In this article, we'll talk a little bit about:
Let's get started.
Jazz guitar chords get kind of a bad rap for being difficult to play. It's especially true for people who are new to jazz or even just looking at jazz guitar chords for the first time.
Some of this idea has to do with some kind of scary or complicated looking chord symbols.
(Or at least they're scary and complicated looking if most of what you've seen is open chords and your typical barre chords)
Also, some of this thought that jazz guitar chords are hard has to do with watching some of the great players use what looks like impossibly stretching chord shapes.
The truth is that jazz guitar chords aren't necessarily that hard to play, or at least they don't have to be.
It does take some work on your part, specially if you want to get good at jazz guitar.
But many of the jazz guitar finger patterns are actually pretty friendly, if you don't get too hung up on the ones that seem like they're impossible right away.
Over time, your hand is going to adapt and those stretchy seemingly impossible chords are not going to be so hard for you.
There are also ways to simplify or modify the chords that you see on the page to make them easier to play - for now, at least.
Sometimes it can be an even more permanent change to your chord shape if you find that you liked the modification better.
Changing the jazz guitar chords might mean simplifying the chord symbol so that it fits within the chords that you already know.
And it might mean altering the finger pattern in order to make the cord ess stretchy or more manageable for you in some way.
Today, we'll take a look at ways to make chords easier under your fingers.
We'll take a look specifically at simplifying chord symbols using shell voicings to simplify the chord shapes and we'll find ways to practice tricky chords so that you can actually use them in your playing.
Let’s get started.
The 251 is an essential chord progression for jazz guitar, or any instrument that wants to learn how to play jazz.
2 5 1 an essential turnaround that happens over and over through different jazz standards.
So if you're learning to play jazz guitar, there's simply no escaping the 251 progression.
Like many things on the guitar, there is a logical sequence of finger shapes you can use to play through 2 5 1 quickly and efficiently.
With a little practice these progressions will become simple to play and you won't even have to think about it.
251 progressions happen frequently throughout most jazz standards, and it's a good idea for you to have a couple of go to 251 patterns you can play anytime.
The more you practice these, the more you're going to get used to the way you move from chord to chord on the fretboard.
So as you're playing actual music, you'll be able to recognize a 251 when it happens, and your fingers will start to naturally go through some of these chord progressions.
You do want to make sure that at least a couple of patterns become second nature to you.
Because sometimes, depending on the speed of the song or how many beats each chord actually ends up getting, 2 5 1 progressions can happen so quickly that if you have to stop to think about where to put your fingers, you've probably already missed it.
In this lesson, we're gonna look at what a 2 5 1 progression is, a little bit about the theory behind the chords, and we'll give you a couple of solid 2 5 1 chord progression shapes for both major and minor keys.
With a little work, you'll be playing through 251 progressions without even having to think about it.
Let's get started.
Building your jazz guitar chord vocabulary is really important because chords are kind of your main job when you're playing jazz guitar.
It's fun to study soloing and scales and arpeggios - but no matter what you're doing - whether you're playing in a big band, a small group or by yourself, playing chords and comping is going to be the most important thing that you do.
And that's why it is so important to keep learning new jazz guitar chords.
Even if you've read all of our articles and followed all the other advice on this website, it's going to take you a little bit of work to learn new jazz guitar chords and get them under your fingers.
That being said, it's also not that complicated.
You just have to go through the right steps to get there and be consistent about practicing new jazz guitar chords.
In this lesson we're going to take a look at some ideas that will help you get started with learning new jazz guitar chords, and we'll provide links to articles that will give you some good chord shapes to start with.
Alright, let's get started.
Sometimes it seems like a skill you have from another style of music should work with jazz as well.
After all, a D7 chord is just a D7 chord, right? Unfortunately, that's not really always the case.
Then it can be kind of a rude awakening when you get told your chords aren't sounding right or are clashing with something else that's happening in the band.
And this is especially frustrating when you're sure you're playing the right stuff. You know, you're playing the chord that's called for on the page.
The problem isn't necessarily the chord that you're playing, but the structure of that chord on the fretboard - how the notes of the chord are stacked up.
It's entirely possible to play the correct chord like a D7 when the sheet says D7, but it not sound good for the style you're trying to play.
This idea isn't necessarily just for jazz either, although that's our focus today.
Variations on your standard barre chords happen throughout rock country and other styles of popular music where playing your full barre chord is not going to sound right for the song.
In this lesson, we're going to take a look at some of the common problems with using barre chords in jazz and some solutions to those problems.
And finally, we're going to take a look at some examples of how you can turn the barre chords you already know into real jazz guitar chords.
We’ll take some common dominant seventh and minor seventh barre chord shapes you already know and turn them into a couple of different good options for jazz guitar chords.
Let’s get started.
Jazz guitar chords can be an overwhelming subject at first - especially if you're used to playing open chords and barre chords.
This is pretty normal if you're coming from any kind of style other than jazz (like most guitar players are - most of us start out with rock, blues, country, etc).
If you happen to be feeling overwhelmed by jazz guitar chords, I have some good news for you:
What can seem like an impossible number of chords for you to learn is really just a small number of chord shapes that you can move around the guitar neck.
This means we're using movable chord shapes to play the same chord type in multiple keys.
For example, you'd have the same finger pattern for D7 as you would for E7. You would end up playing the same movable chord shape at two different frets to play those two different chords.
Learning these basic jazz guitar shapes is going to help you get started playing jazz guitar quickly.
It will help you sound good and a jazz band scenario, and will build you a good foundation for learning new jazz guitar chords as you improve.
Learning movable jazz guitar chords is also going to help you learn the guitar neck because in order to play your chords in different keys you have to know what the notes are along the strings of the guitar (or at least the 6th and 5th strings).
Okay, let's get started.
Can you play guitar in a jazz band? You definitely can.
The guitar has been an important part of both traditional and modern jazz ensembles over the years.
Playing guitar in a jazz band can be a challenge to get right at first, especially if most of your experience is from other styles, like rock, blues, country, really anything other than jazz.
It can be very easy at first to get overwhelmed or discouraged, and it can seem like none of your other guitar skills transfer over.
There are going to be a lot of new chords that you feel like you've never seen before.
The strumming patterns that you bring with you from your other styles don't sound quite right.
Your guitar sound might stick out like a sore thumb when the band is playing.
In this lesson, we're going to take a look at how to play guitar in a jazz band from a technical standpoint.
We'll look at the equipment you may need to get, and how to use the equipment that you already have to get a good jazz sound.
We’ll look at the types of chords you need to use and give you links to good resources you can rely on.
We’ll look at the comping and strumming patterns you’ll need for playing jazz and again, provide links to good lessons you can use.
And we'll also talk about how listening is the most important thing for you to do to be successful playing guitar in a jazz band.
Let's get started.
Jazz guitar chords can seem complicated even if you've been playing guitar for a long time in other styles, right?
If you look up jazz guitar chords, you're gonna see all kinds of different shapes and it's gonna seem like you have to do tons and tons of work before you can even play anything close to an actual song.
Luckily, that's not really the case.
In this lesson we're going to look at how to build jazz guitar chords using some common chord shapes you probably already know.
You don't need to know a bunch of complicated music theory to do this. You just need to follow a couple of guidelines that I'll share with you throughout this lesson, and put the fingers in the right spots.
If you start adapting these kinds of shapes using what I show you here, you'll be on your way to creating your own jazz guitar chords.
You'll find that you don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to learning jazz guitar, and you don't have to memorize 1000s of chord shapes or buy a jazz guitar chord dictionary.
In this lesson, we're going to take a look at how common chords are made.
So we’ll be taking a look at a couple of your basic open chords and the corresponding barre chords.
And then we're going to look at how jazz guitar chords are made, and how to convert the barre chords you already know into some usable jazz guitar chords.
Let's get started.
Comping is an important jazz guitar skill that doesn't get talked about enough until there's a problem. And even then, the advice on what to do is pretty limited.
We've talked before about how when we’re playing jazz guitar, chords are our main job.
Whether you're playing by yourself, whether you're playing in a band, or you're playing a duo with another musician, our main job is how we play our chords in rhythm and in time. That’s where comping comes in.
Comping is also potentially confusing at first, especially if you come from another style of music (which you probably do).
If you've been playing rock or country or blues or anything other than jazz before, you probably have a lot of ideas on how to strum your chords, and good patterns that you can use - but none of them probably sound like jazz.
In this lesson, we're gonna take a look at what comping is, some strategies you can use to get started, and then finally, how to take your jazz comping to the next level so you can be creative with it.
All right, let's dive in.
Playing chords is going to be the most important part for playing jazz guitar for most of us.
Usually whether you're playing on your own or whether you're playing in some kind of band, you're going to be playing chords as your main job when you are a jazz guitar player.
Because of this, learning how to read jazz guitar chords is a really important skill for you to have.
Understanding the chord symbols (which is how composers write and make it so that we know what chord we're supposed to play), reading the chord diagrams, (which is how to put your fingers in the right spots to make the chords), and then also reading the chord charts (which is how our guitar music typically is written down).
Okay, so in this lesson we're going to talk about:
So let's dive in.