Basic Jazz Guitar Chords - Guide For Beginners
- By jazz-guitar-licks
- On 2020-02-15
- 0 comments
Jazz guitar chord voicings present a real challenge for beginners. Many guitarists think they need to know a lot of complicated chords with unpronounceable names to play jazz. But, the truth is that jazz guitar chords are based on easy shapes that you can move anywhere on the guitar neck.
These basic chords are divided into several distinct qualities (minor 7 , major 7 , dimininished 7 , half-diminished, dominant 7). They can be altered or enriched with extra tones as explains in this tutorial.
By studying the basic chord voicing shapes in this lesson you will understand how jazz chords are built, how to play them on guitar and how to apply them to any jazz standard or chord progression.
►HOW TO READ GUITAR CHORD DIAGRAMS
►HOW TO TRANSPOSE GUITAR CHORDS
►HOW TO FIND DIFFERENT POSITIONS FOR THE SAME CHORD
- Major Seventh Chords
- Minor Seventh Chords
- Dominant Seventh Chords
- Half-diminished Chords
- Diminished Seventh Chords
►ESSENTIAL EXTENDED GUITAR CHORD SHAPES
- Minor Ninth Chords
- Major Ninth Chords
- Dominant Ninth Chords
- Minor Eleventh Chords
- Dominant Eleventh Chords
- Minor Thirteenth Chords
- Major Thirteenth Chords
- Dominant Thirteenth Chords
►HOW TO PRACTICE BASIC JAZZ GUITAR CHORDS
- Exercise 1
- Exercise 2
- Exercise 3
- Exercise 4 - Comping Pattern - Major 2 5 1
- Exercise 5 - Comping Pattern - Major 2 5 1
- Exercise 6 - Comping Pattern - Major 2 5 1
- Exercise 7 - Comping Pattern - Minor 2 5 1
- Exercise 8 - Comping Pattern - Minor 2 5 1
- Exercise 9 - Comping Pattern - Minor 2 5 1
What Are Intervals In Music?
Intervals represent the distance between two notes, they are very important for understanding how chords are built. All music chords and scales can be considered a combination of intervals. Here is a quick list of interval names (simple and compound) :
- Second (minor or major).
- Third (minor or major).
- Fourth (perfect or augmented).
- Fifth (diminished, perfect or augmented).
- Sixth (minor or major).
- Seventh (minor or major).
- Ninth ( Compound interval, second + octave) can minor (b9), major (9) or augmented (#9).
- Eleventh (compound interval, fourth + octave). Can be augmented (#11).
- Thirteenth (compound interval, sixth + octave). Can be diminished (b13).
For more detailed information go read the lesson about intervals on guitar.
What Are Jazz Chords?
Basic jazz chords are generally composed of at least four tones that are : root (1 or R), third (minor or major), fifth (diminished or augmented) and seventh (minor, major or diminished). These types of chords are called "Four Note Chords", "Seventh Chords" or "Tetrads". They represent the backbone of jazz harmony.
The seventh of the previous voicings can be replaced by the sixth giving other types of chords named "Sixth Chords". There can be major sixth chords (maj6) built with 1 - 3 - 5 - 6 or minor sixth chords (m6) built with 1 - b3 - 5 and 6.
How To Read Guitar Chord Diagrams?
Guitar chord diagrams are very useful for those who don't know how to read notes on a stave. They give information on how to place your fingers on the fretboard and shows you what are the notes and the intervals which make up the chord. They can be presented horizontally or vertically however, it came about, the result is the same.
The three shapes below show three ways of presenting a chord diagram. Three important information are shown :
- The interval names (1, 3, 5, b7, etc).
- The fingers. (1 for index finger, 2 for middle finger, 3 for ring finger and 4 for pinky finger).
- The note names (A, B, C, D etc).
The orange note is the root note (R) which gives the name of the chord. This is the most important note it serves to transpose the chord in the key you want or find the name (tonality) of a chord. The black dots are the other notes of the chord.
- The dots of the figure one (the first from the left) show the intervals, the first line below show the note names and the second line the fingers.
- The dots of the second shape show the fingers to use. The first line below contains the name of the notes and the second line, the intervals.
- In the third diagram the dots correspond to the notes of the chord. The first line below is the fingering and the second line shows the intervals.
How To Transpose Guitar Chords
Any chord diagram can be played anywhere on the guitar neck, excepted the chords with open strings. The most easy way to transpose chords that doesn't use open strings is to keep the same position by moving it at the fret you want. Remember that the root (R) gives the tonality of the chord.
Tones And Semitones
This requires to know the placement of the tones (whole-steps) and semitones (half-steps) on the guitar. Remember that the notes of the diatonic scale are separated by a whole-step excepted E & F and B & C that are a semitone apart. On the guitar, one fret is equal to one semitone so, you need two fret to get a whole-step.
The first diagram below show the semitones (dots in orange) on the guitar neck. The second and third shapes show the flats (green dots) and sharps (blue dots) between each whole tone.
Exemple of chord transposition with C7: When moving the C7 shape down five frets you get a G7 chord. The root note is at the third fret on the sixth string.
How To Find Different Positions For The Same Chord?
A single chord can be played in various ways, in different locations on the guitar fretboard. Obviously, the fingering will be different according to the location. For this, you have to find the root by ear or visually, then the other intervals that make the chord.
The three diagrams below show three chord positions for CMaj7. The first two shapes are built with the same voicing (R - 7 - 3 - 5) however, the position of the second form is a little bit different because of the guitar strings setting. The notes of the third shape are organized differently giving the voicing R - 5 - 7 - 3.
How To Write Chords?
One of most difficult thing for the novice is to recognize and write jazz chords a jazz standard sheet. Indeed, the same jazz chords can be written in many ways using different symbols.
Jazz Chord Notation
Jazz players, authors and educators haven't agreed on a common nomenclature for writing chords. Here is a short list of the most common chord symbols used in jazz standards that will help you identify and write jazz chords :
- MAJOR : C, Cmaj, Cma, CM.
- MINOR : C-, Cmi, Cmin.
- AUGMENTED : CAug, C+
- DIMINISHED : CDim
- SUSPENDE 4 : Csus4, C4.
- MAJOR SEVENTH : CΔ, Cmaj7, Cma7, CM7.
- MINOR SEVENTH : C-7, Cm7, Cmin7.
- DOMINANT 7 : C7.
- HALF-DIMINISHED : Cm7b5, Cø.
- DIMINISHED SEVENTH : Cdim, Cdim7, Cº7.
- AUGMENTED SEVENTH : C7+, C7aug, C7#5.
- MINOR MAJOR SEVENTH : CminMaj7, Cmin(Maj7), CmiΔ, C-Δ.
- DOMINANT SEVENTH SUSPENDED FOURTH : C7sus4, C7sus.
Basic chords can be extended with extra notes as 9, 11, 13. Remember that : the seconds are the same as ninths, the fourths are the same as elevenths and the sixths are the same as thirteenths. Exemple in the key of C :
- D is the second and the ninth of C.
- F the fourth is the octave of the eleventh of C.
- A is the sixth and the eleventh of C.
Here is a short list of extensions applied to common jazz chords.
- MAJOR SEVENTH EXTENSIONS : 9, 11, 13. (Cmaj9, Cmaj11, Cmaj13).
- MINOR SEVENTH : 9, 11, 13 (Cm9, Cm11, Cm13).
- DOMINANT SEVENTH : 7, 11, 13. (Dom9, Dom11, Dom13).
The 5, 9, 11 and 13 of minor 7 , major 7 and dominant 7 chords can be altered with a flat (b) and a sharp (#) giving this kind of notation :
- 7#9, 7#11, 7b13, 7b9, 7b5, 7b9b13 for dominant chords.
- Maj7#11, Maj7#5 for major seventh chords.
Minor seventh chords are rarely altered.
- Δ (triangle) Means major seventh.
- A (7) means that the 7th of a maj7 chord is lowered with one semitone making a dominant 7 chord.
- A dash (-) means that the third and the seventh are lowered, giving a minor seventh chord.
- The crossed circel ( ø) means half-diminished.
- The circle (°) means diminished.
- The plus (+) means augmented. It can be placed after the 7 of a dominant chord meaning that the fifth is augmented with a half-step. e.g C7+.
- The sharp (#) is placed before the extension of a seventh chord. e.g : C7#9, C7#11, CMaj7#11. It means that the 9 or the 11 are raised with one semitone.
- The flat (b) is written befor the extension. e.g : C7b9, C7b13, C7b5b9. Meaning that the extra note is lowered with a half-step.
Slashed chords are chords with non-root note in the bass. They can be seen as inverted chords. Exemple with Am/C. This is an Am chord (A - C - E) with the third (C) in the bass. The root note is no longer the bass note. The first letter on the left the slash (A), indicates the tonality of the original chord. The second letter on the right of the slash (C) shows the bass note.
Basic Guitar Chord Shapes
The following provides the basic guitar diagrams and voicings of the most common types of chords found in jazz standards and progressions. Be sure to memorize them and try to play them in all twelve keys everywhere on the guitar neck.
Remember that all the chord shapes below are movable all along the guitar neck. Notice that these basic voicings do not have a strong jazz sound, they just represent a solid basis for jazz beginners.
Major Seventh Chords
Let's start with major seventh chords built with root (1) - third (3) - fifth (5) and seventh (7). They are related to the I and IV chord of the harmonized diatonic major scale.
- The first figure is drop 3 voiced (R 7 3 5).
- The two other shapes are drop 2 voicings (R 5 7 3). Notice that the fifth is doubled in the second diagram, you can choose to play only one fifth if you want.
Minor Seventh Chords
Minor seventh chords are built with Root (R) - minor third (b3) - fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). They are related to the degrees II, III and IV of the major diatonic scale. The voicings used in the following shapes are the same as the previous Maj7.
Dominant Seventh Chords
Dom7 chords are made of Root (R) - major third (3) - fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). They are related to the V degree of the major scale, the melodic minor scale and the harmonic minor scale. They are used in many jazz progressions, often extended and sometimes altered to bring a little bit of tension jazz lines and comping. Once again the voicings used are R b7 3 5 for the first shape and R 5 b7 3 for the two others.
Half-diminished chords are minor chords whith the fifth lowered thus giving the formula Root (R) - minor third (b3) - diminished fifht (b5) and minor seventh (b7). They are related to the VII degree of the major scale, but mostly associated with the degree II of the harmonic minor scale so, they are found in minor 2 5 1 chords progressions.
Diminished Seventh Chords
The interval pattern for diminished seventh chords is Root (R) - minor third (b3) - diminished fifht (b5) and diminished seventh (bb7). Dim7 chords are not very used in jazz harmony, but they can serve as substitutions for 7b9 chords in turnarounds or minor II V I sequences. Diminished 7 chords most striking feature is that they are symmetrical, you can play the same chord position every three frets (3 semitones apart).
Extended Jazz Guitar Chord Charts
Extended chords are chords embellished with one or several notes located above the octave of the root note. These extensions are the ninth (9), eleventh (11) and thirteenth (13). They can be applied to minor and major triads but also to minor seventh, major seventh and dominant seventh chords thus giving some of the following chord voicing shapes.
Minor Ninth Chords
Minor ninth chords are built with Root (R) - minor third (b3) - fifth (5), minor seventh (b7) and ninth (9). They can be seen as minor seventh chords with an added ninth. Due to the difficulty playing all the chords tones, in some cases the fifth can be removed, this way you'll play the most important notes of the chord that are 1 - b3 - b7 and 9.
Major Ninth Chords
The interval pattern for major ninth chords is Root (R) - third (3) - fifth (5), seventh (7) and ninth (9). They can replace any major seventh chord, depending on the musical context. Once again the fifth is omitted.
Dominant Ninth Chords
Dominant ninth chords are dom7 chords with an extra note, the ninth. Giving the theoretical formula Root (R) - major third (3) - fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7) and ninth (9). They can be used to enrich the V7 chord of any diatonic progression. Here are the most basic voicing shapes.
Minor Eleventh Chords
Minor Eleventh chord formula is Root (R) - minor third (b3) - fifth (5), minor seventh (b7) ninth (9) and eleventh (11). Here are the two main shapes to play them on guitar.
Dominant Eleventh Chords
Dominant 11 chords are spelled Root (R) - third (3) - fifth (5), minor seventh (b7), ninth (9) and eleventh. They should not be confused with 7sus4 chords that are built with 1 - 4 - 5 - b7. Here are three common guitar diagrams.
Minor Thirteenth Chords
Minor thirteenth chords are theoretically made of seven tones giving the formula Root (R) - minor third (b3) - fifth (5), minor seventh (b7), ninth (9), eleventh (11) and thirteenth (13). Once again it is physically difficult to play movable min13 chord shapes on guitar. So, only the important notes are kept in the following forms.
Major Thirteenth Chords
Major 13 chords are major 7 chords with three added notes above the root octave. The formula is Root (R) - major third (3) - fifth (5), seventh (7), ninth (9), eleventh and thirteenth. Due to the lack of the ninth and the eleventh in the first two shapes, the chords should be named Cmaj7add13. Prefix "add" means that only the 13 is added to the chord.
Dominant Tirteenth Chords
The interval pattern for Dom13 chords is Root (R) - major third (3) - fifth (5), minor seventh (b7), ninth (9), eleventh (11) and thirteenth (13). Here are the two most common chord shapes. They can embellish any diatonic V7 chord.
Altered Guitar Chord Shapes
Altered guitar chords are chords that have one or more notes altered (lowered or raised) by a semitone (a half-step). The notes altered are the fifth (b5), the ninth (b9 / #9), the eleventh (#11) and the thirteenth (b13). These altered tones are mostly applied to dominant chord giving some chords with long strange and strange names as 7#9, 7b9, 7b9b13, 7#11 and many others.
Altered chords can be a bit out and sound wrong for jazz beginners but they are very useful to add color / tension to jazz chord progressions. It sometimes takes a while to hear and tame them. Here are some shapes related to the most used altered chords in jazz music.
Jazz Guitar Chord Exercises
The first way of practicing jazz guitar chords when you want to make the difference between them is to play each chord type starting on the same root and on the same string. Here are three exercises :
Chord Practice - Exercise 1
As you see in the tabs below the five main types of chord are played one after the other in a logical way in order so that you have to change only one note at a time. The order of the chords is Maj7, Dom7, Min7, m7b5 and dim7. The root notes are on the sixth string.
Chord Practice - Exercise 2
In the following example the chords have roots on the fifth string.
Chord Practice - Exercise 3
Now the root notes are on the fourth string.
Exercise 4 - Major 2 - 5 - 1 - Jazz Guitar Comping
Here is a serie of three major II V I patterns including some previous basic chord shapes from this lesson. Once you have learned these chord changes, be sure to practice them in twelve keys by varying the rhythm.
The first example is a 2 5 1 chord progression in C major containing three chords :
- Dmin7 as the ii chord.
- G7 as the V chord.
- Cmaj7 as the I chord.
Exercise 5 - Major 2 - 5 - 1 Progression - Jazz Guitar Comping
This second 2 5 1 example is still in the key of C. Here we find the same chords but in other positions. Notice that the last chord is a C6/9 chord (pronounced C sixth / ninth). It's a great chord that sounds very well, it is very used in place of maj7 chords.
Exercise 6 - Major 2 - 5 - 1 Sequence - Jazz Guitar Rhythm
This third and last major II V I comping pattern is made of Dmin7 (root on the 4th string), G7 (root on the 5th string) and Cmaj7 (root on the 4th string).
Exercise 7 - Minor 2 - 5 - 1 Sequence - Jazz Guitar Comping
Here is a first exercise to start off a serie of three minor II V I comping exercises. In minor key the I chord is a half-diminished chord (m7b5), the V chord is dominant 7th chord that can be extended with a b9 or a b13 (as shown in the tab below). Theoretically, the minor I chord should be minMaj7, however it is generally replaced by a basic min7 chord.
Exercise 8 - Minor 2 - 5 - 1 Sequence - Jazz Guitar Comping
You can hear at the end of this minor 2 5 1 pattern how the min7 chord can be enriched with the ninth (9).
Exercise 9 - Minor 2 - 5 - 1 Sequence - Jazz Guitar Comping
Lastly, here is another minor II V I sequence using a Cmin6 chord alternating with Cmin7.
Jazz Guitar Comping - Chord Studies
Here we are at the most interesting part of the lesson. So it's time to apply some chord shapes previously seen to popular jazz chord changes and standards.
Jazz Blues Walking Bass Study
The first study is a jazz blues progression in A mixing basic chords and walking bass lines. Let's take a look at the chords used. The first five bars imply two dominant chords that are A7 and D9. In the sixth bar you hear a diminished passing chord (Ebdim7). This kind of chord is fairly common to make the link between the IV7 and I7 chord.
In measures 8, 9 and 10 there is a 6, 2, 5, 1 sequence (F#m7 - B9 - E7 - A7). The same sequence is repeated twice but with two chords per/measure. Notice that the last two chords (B7b13 - E7#9) are altered.
All of Me - Jazz Guitar Chords
All of me is a very famous jazz standard written by Simon & Marks in 1931, one of the most played in gigs. It's an AB form where each section contains 16 bars. All of Me structure can also be seen as an AA' form where the second A (prime) is actually a variation of the first A. The melody and the chords are quite easy to play, that's the reason why many jazz guitar beginners appreciate this tune.
Here is an easy chord arrangement containing some of the easy shapes provided in this lesson. Many types of chords are represented as Maj7, Maj6, Dom7, 7b9, 7b5, min7, slashed chords, min6, min9, min11, min6, Maj7add13, dom13, 7b13, 6 and dim7. The rhythm has been intentionally simplified to work better as a tutorial, so don't hesitate to improve it.
Guitar Scale DictionaryThis E-book is a printable PDF method including over 700 scale diagrams and formula charts for guitarists.
Guitar Chord DictionaryThis PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on the guitar neck.
172 Arpeggio Shapes For GuitarThis printable PDF is a method dedicated to guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios.
126 Triad Chord ShapesThis handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
30 Minor Arpeggio LicksThis package provides a printable PDF method containing 30 exercises (tab / audio files) for practicing minor arpeggios on guitar.
II V I Bundle - 170 ExercisesThis bundle contains 4 PDF methods for a total of 170 exercises with tabs & audio files for practicing scales, licks & chords over the famous 2-5-1 progression.
Diatonic Licks BundleThis package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
30 Smooth Jazz Guitar LicksIn this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files related to 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
40 II V I Jazz Guitar LicksThis pdf method for guitar contains fourteen 2 5 1 jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
50 II-V-I voicingsThis printable PDF guitar method provides 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab & standard notation for practicing chords over the major 2-5-1 progression.
40 Minor 2 5 1 Chord VoicingsThis PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
40 Minor II V I LicksThis guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor 2 5 1 jazz patterns.
40 Mixolydian Jazz Guitar LickPDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
40 Minor Jazz Guitar LicksThis printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
40 Major Jazz Guitar LicksPrintable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
Guitar Walking Bass LinesThis jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
101 Dominant Arpeggio PatternsThis printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
49 Essential Jazz LinesThis printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
11 Jazz Blues StudiesThis PDF method contains 11 jazz blues chord studies with tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files for jazz guitar players.
10 Easy Fingerstyle BluesThis PDF with Tabs and audio files provides 10 easy acoustic fingerstyle blues guitar studies for kids and beginners.
25 Altered Jazz Guitar LinesThis PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
40 Blues Dominant PatternsThis printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
Mastering Pentatonic ScalesThis jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
25 Soul Jazz Guitar LicksYou will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
25 Diminished PatternsThis eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
6 Tritone substitution licksThis Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.
10 Minor 7 Arpeggio PatternsThis printable PDF eBook offers 10 easy minor 7 arpeggio patterns with its related YouTube video for beginner guitarists.
Guitar Arpeggios PosterThis giant guitar poster for any guitar player, student or instructor contains colorful arpeggio diagrams. Giant size 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90 cm).
Guitar Scales Poster 24*36Guitar posters and wall art with eighteen neck diagrams representing the most used scales in music.
Jazz Guitar Chords PosterThis printed color posters contains 63 guitar chord diagrams for jazz players, students, teachers and schools.
Guitar Modes PosterGuitar reference posters and wall art about modes of the major scale for guitar teachers, students and music schools.
Melodic Minor Modes PosterEducative and decorative giant guitar poster with neck diagrams, interval names about the seven modes of the melodic minor scale.
Pentatonic Scale Guitar PosterThis guitar reference poster shows the positions and intervals of the major pentatonic scale.
Guitar Notes PosterThis is a giant poster showing the notes on the guitar fret board and their positions on a musical staff.
Triads Guitar PosterThis reference poster show the positions and intervals of the main triads used on guitar. This is a useful tool for guitarists, teacher and students.
Four Archtop Guitars PosterThis is a decorative poster with four archtop jazz guitars. Several size and colors in landscape format available on Teespring and redbubble.
Intervals On Guitar - PosterThis giant poster for guitar provides neck diagrams with interval positions.
guitar chords chord shapes jazz voicings guitar comping jazz guitar chords for dummies jazz guitar chords for beginners guitar chord diagrams chord construction
Add a comment