15 basic jazz guitar chords you must know
- By jazz-guitar-licks
- On 13/10/2016
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Here are the 15 most important jazz guitar chord positions that every beginning jazz guitar student must know. They are grouped into five families :
- Major seventh chords (Maj7)
- Minor seventh (m7)
- Dominant 7th (7)
- Half diminished / minor seventh flat fifth (m7b5)
- Diminished 7th (dim7)
How are built chords ?
Chords can be built with root (1), minor (b3) or major third (3), fifth, which can be perfect (5), diminished (b5) or augmented (#5) and seventh, which can be major (7), minor (b7) or diminished (bb7).
Generally speaking, chords are constructed by stacking thirds (minor and major). Here is a summary chart about the construction of the main types of chords.
|Minor seventh (m7)||1||b3||5||b7|
|Major seventh (M7)||1||3||5||7|
|Dominant seventh (7)||1||3||5||b7|
|Half diminished (m7b5)||1||b3||b5||b7|
|Diminished seventh (dim7)||1||b3||b5||bb7|
You will find below ten guitar fretboard diagrams and charts related to these chords. Three positions for each type of chord. One with the root on the sixth string, one with the root on the fifth and one with the root on the fourth string. Of course, there are many other important jazz chords, but the idea is to show only 15 basic chords no to destabilise the jazz beginner with too much chords. Please note that in this lesson augmented chords have been voluntarily omitted. However, for much information, you can visit the full lesson about the inverted jazz chords related to these basic positions.
Major seventh chords
Major seventh chords are built with a root (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and a major seventh (7).
|C major seventh chord||C||E||G||B|
Abbreviated chords symbols
There are several different ways of writing the same chord or scale sound. The most used symbols for major seventh chords (example in C) are CM7, C∆ and maj7.
Minor seventh chords
Minor seventh chords are made up of a root (1), minor third (b3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7).
|D minor seventh chord||D||F||A||C|
Abbreviated chords symbols
The main symbols for minor seventh chords (example in C) are Cm7, C-7, Cmin7, Cmi7.
Dominant 7th chords
Dominant 7th chords are made up of a root (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and a minor seventh (b7).
|G dominant 7th chord (G7)||G||B||D||F|
Abbreviated dominant 7th chord symbol
Basically, dominant are chords with just a number, without any “major” or “minor” definition but only a "7". For example, C dominant 7th will be written "C7".
Half diminished chords
Half diminished chords are built with a root (1), a minor third (b3), a diminished fifth (b5) and a minor seventh (b7). They can also be named "minor seventh flat five chords" (m7b5), because they are minor seventh chord with a fifth lowered by a 1/2 step.
Half diminished chord notation and symbols
Half diminished chords may be found written in several ways : Cm7(b5), Cm7b5, Cmin7b5 or CØ. The last one should not be confused with the diminished notation that is a circle without a bar through it.
Diminished seventh chords
Diminished seventh chords (dim7) are made up of a root (1), a minor third (b3), a diminished fifth (b5) and a diminished seventh (bb7). Therefore, they are built with a diminished triad (1-b3-b5) and a diminished seventh interval (bb7).
Diminsihed 7th chord notation
Diminished seventh chords can be written º7 or dim7.
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