A classic jazz standard, Satin Doll is often one of the first tunes that we study when learning how to comp and solo over jazz guitar progressions. With many famous recordings, including one by Wes Montgomery that is a must hear if you haven’t already, Satin Doll has become a crowd favourite at jam sessions, gigs and jazz festivals the world over.
Because of it’s level of popularity in the jazz world, with audiences and players alike, learning how to play Satin Doll from a comping standpoint is an essential skill for any developing jazz guitarist to have under their fingers.
In this lesson, you will learn a chord study over Satin Doll that uses many common jazz guitar chord shapes, as well as takes inspiration from the rhythm of the tune itself.
What’s In This Chord Study
In order to understand the harmonic concepts used in this Satin Doll Jazz Guitar Chord Study, here is a brief outline of each chord type in the study, which you can see labelled in the etude itself below.
If you dig the sound of any of these chord types, feel free to explore those concepts further as you take these ideas deeper in your study of jazz harmony in the woodshed.
Rootless 379 – These chords are based on playing the 3rd and 7th of each change, and then added the 9th on top to create added color to the progression.
Rootless 3713 – In a similar vein to the previous shapes, you are stacking 3rds and 7ths with the 13th added to bring color to these Dominant 7th chords.
Rootless 735 – Here, you play the 7th and 3rd, and use the 5th as the added note. When doing so, you are essentially playing the chord, 1-3-5-7, and just removing the root so that it’s smaller and more compact on the fretboard.
Rhythms From Melody – One of the most important elements of inspiration when comping is the rhythm from the melody line, which you can hear in this section as all the comping phrases are based on the rhythm of the Satin Doll melody.
3 to 9 – These chords are built by replacing the root with the 9th, so that you have the intervals 3-5-7-9 for each chord.
Lydsub – The Lydian Sub is a classic sounding comping device where you play a maj7#11 (the Lydian chord) shape from the b7 of any 7th chord. Essentially you are playing the Lydian chord from the underlying key over the V7 chord in the progression.
4th – These shapes are built by stacking 4th intervals as compared to the tradition 3rds that make up Drop 2’s and other common jazz chords.
Drop 2 – These chords are built with the root-position interval layout R-5-7-3 and creating the inversions from there.
Rootless 13th – Here, you are playing a 3-b7-9-13 interval pattern as you create a rootless 13th sound over Dominant 7th chords.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the various chords used in this study, you’re ready to dig into the full etude as you work on the song in your woodshedding.
Satin Doll Jazz Guitar Chord Study
With the background information explored in your studies, you can now dig into learning the etude as a whole.
Since the song is 32 bars long, feel free to break up your practice sessions into 8-bar phrases, which you can then bring together and create the study as a whole from there.
Also, go slow and use a metronome when first practicing this etude in order to ensure your rhythms are accurate and secure, as well as the chord shapes in this study.
Satin Doll Backing Track
To help you practice this study, and work on your own comping ideas over this tune, here is a Satin Doll backing track using only the bass and drums so that you can jam along with this track in the practice room.