Satin Doll Jazz Guitar Chord Study

The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords


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.






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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.





The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords

  1. bjhMay 12, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Wow, a lot of stuff in this lesson
    thank you Dirk

  2. barry baileyMay 12, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Very very very good lesson
    back to the woodshed for me

  3. Indro CorradiniMay 13, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Soundcloud is inactive on my pc,win7 64…need helps

    • Matt WarnockMay 13, 2014 at 12:19 am

      If you are using Internet Explorer you might have to try with Chrome or Firefox to make it work.

  4. note pluckerMay 13, 2014 at 2:58 am

    Great arrangement and tracks. Definitely sign-up for the Premium Lesson Deal!

    I did and there is an abundance of information.

    Thanks again.

  5. Randy KatzMay 13, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Wow! That was excellent, what I really needed today, thanks so much!

  6. T-Bone SteveMay 13, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Very insightful lesson: not only for the rich and colorful chordal movement, but also fot the uneven rhythmic displacement (for lack of a better word): the first eight bars are even more irregular than the subsequent eight! It might be further illuminating, too, to compare this version to the one (chordal, as well) by Barney Kessel on “The Pool Winners” (albeit in a different key). Dear Matt, thank you very much. As always, you hit the target.

  7. luayMay 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Great lesson !

  8. alandMay 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    this is just great! thanks a lot!

  9. srsMay 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Great information. Thanks for making it available. Is there a way to print out chord study and download the audio files?

  10. louMay 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    This is exactly the style I wish to learn and getting better in. Keep them coming!

  11. NenoMay 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I have same problem with soundcloud on XP

    • Dirk LaukensMay 13, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Hi Neno, is your browser up to date? Did you install the Flash plugin for your browser and is it up to date?

  12. barry cookMay 14, 2014 at 12:44 am

    great study dirk ….

  13. sergioMay 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Thank’s Dirk!!

  14. TKMay 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    As always – great stuff.
    Had a hard time grasping the LydianSub but think I get it
    The first usage is the beat after the Gm7..
    Assuming a IIm7,V7 in that measure the BbMaj7#11 would
    be the build on the b7 of C7 or Bb.
    The next measure is a C7 which is already dominant
    so b7 is Bb so again the same chord BbMaj7#11..
    Correct ?

    • Matt WarnockMay 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      That’s it, it’s just anticipating the C7 by a bar, a commonly used approach to iim7/V7/Imaj7, when you turn it into iim7 V7/iim7 V7/Imaj7 to add more movement to your comping.

      • TKMay 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        Thanks Matt! – Nice to have it reinforced 🙂

  15. BobMay 15, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Absolutely brilliant! – This is going to keep me busy! Many thanks for all the work that went into providing this.

  16. GeorgeMay 18, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Some of the lessons have been in pdf form, with the music downloadable, while others (like this one) are in html form with the sound files NOT downloadable. why the difference? For me, the pdf versions are much preferred. this would also seem to help those who have trouble with the soundcloud program.

  17. srsMay 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    The lack of an answer to my question and now also from George leads me to believe that you feel it does not warrant one. I still think it has value even a simple “No we don’t want to, or we are going to compile them later and sell them as an ebook” would give ample closure to the subject.

    • Matt WarnockMay 18, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Hey, you can print the page through your browser if you like, it’s a different shortcut for each browser, but usually something like ctl p or command p to print the article.

      The audio can’t be downloaded from SoundCloud, they have limits on the number of downloads per file and its’ very low, so the audio is only available online right now.

      We have been thinking about making some, or all, of this material available in an ebook form in future, with added material to provide extra value to the book, but there is no set date for that as of now.

      So if you want to print the material feel free, you just need to do it from your browser, or I’ve also had people post that they copy and paste the article into word and print that way as well if you want.

      Hope that helps.

  18. srsMay 18, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks for your response. That does clear up some questions I had.

  19. eddieMay 20, 2014 at 5:36 am

    i love this Satin Doll lesson…..after an hour i had it down….i love this stuff….not super hard but is very effective…what more do you have like this for us..?

  20. GarethJun 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    hello. great lesson! so much useful “devices” in one tune. I found bars 17&18 a little confusing but then saw your comment to TK re: 2/5 2/5 1. thanks

  21. steveJul 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    How do I get the sound to work on satin doll

  22. milkmannnvMar 10, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you Matt for all of your comping arrangements over the standards.They have kind of been like the glue to hold together all of the other pieces together.

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