15 basic jazz guitar chords

15 Jazz Guitar Chords For Beginners

15 basic jazz guitar chordsHere are 15 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 Chords Are Built ?

Chords are built with a root (1), a minor (b3) or a major third (3), a fifth which can be perfect (5), diminished (b5) or augmented (#5) and a seventh, which can be major (7), minor (b7) or diminished (bb7). 

  minor major perfect diminished augmented
Root          
Third O O      
Fifth     O O O
Seventh O O   O  

 

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 15 guitar fretboard diagrams with formula 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. Keep in mind that all these chord positions are movable.

Major seventh chords

What Are Major 7 Chords?

Major seventh chords are built with root (1), major third (3), perfect fifth (5) and major seventh (7). 

Formula 1 3 5 7
C major seventh chord C E G B

 

Abbreviated Chord 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

What Are Minor 7th Chords?

Minor seventh chords are built with root (1), minor third (b3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). 

Formula 1 b3 5 b7
D minor seventh chord D F A C

 

Abbreviated Chord Symbols

The main symbols for minor seventh chords (example in C) are Cm7, C-7, Cmin7, Cmi7.

Dominant 7th chords

What Are Dominant 7 Chords?

Dominant 7th chords are made up of a root (1), a major  third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and a minor seventh (b7). 

Formula 1 3 5 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

What Are Half-Diminished Chords?

Half diminished chords are built with root (1), minor third (b3), diminished fifth (b5) and 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.

Formula 1 3 5 b7
Bm7b5 chord  B D G A

 

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

What Are Diminished 7th 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).

Formula 1 b3 b5 bb7
Bdim7 chord  B D F Ab


Diminished 7th chord notation 

Diminished seventh chords can be written º7 or dim7. 

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