How to Play Take 5 Chords on Guitar

If you’re like most guitar players, especially when first beginning to study the instrument, you will have a moment where you think; “I really dig that tune Take 5 so I’ll learn it on guitar. How hard could it be?”

Then you try and play it, and turns out it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. While the chords aren’t too hard to work out on the fretboard, the time signature is a different story. It can be challenging to comp in 5/4, such as you do with Take 5.

But, by breaking down the rhythm into 3+2 quarter notes, working things slowly, and building up to the full tune, you’ll be jamming on this classic Dave Brubeck Quartet tune in no time.

Playing 5/4 Time – 3+2 Rhythm

While counting 5/4 time will be hard to navigate at first, you can break down the bar into two smaller sections to make it easier to count when comping over Take 5. When doing so, you will break down 5/4 time into 3/4+2/4.

This means that instead of counting 1-2-3-4-5, you now count: 1-2-3 1-2

Not only will this make it easier to count 5/4 time, it will also help you nail the Take 5 groove, as the tune is divided into the 3+2 rhythm in its construction.

Now that you know how to count Take 5, 3+2 beats, you can begin to apply this knowledge to the chords themselves, starting with the A section.


A Section

The first example will help you get used to the 3+2 rhythm, as you play 3 quarter notes over Ebm and 2 quarter notes over Bbm7.

Go slow with this exercise, work it away from a metronome and tap your foot at first, then bring in the metronome when you feel ready.


Listen & Play Along

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Take 5 Chords 1


The second exercise has you counting 123+12, but now you just pluck or strum each chord once in a bar. This puts the responsibility of the time on your counting, as the chords are more spread out in each bar.

Again, go slow, count, and work up to the metronome in your practicing.


Listen & Play Along

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Take 5 Chords 2


Now you’re ready for the full Take 5 groove.

Though you’ve probably heard this tune a thousand times, getting a smooth 5/4 groove on these changes isn’t as easy as it sounds. But, with time and a bit of practice, you’ll be nailing Take 5 in no time.


Listen & Play Along

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Take 5 Chords 3



As the bridge has more chord changes, it can prove an extra challenge to comp over on guitar.

To help make the bridge easier, you can extract it from the full tune, work it until it’s smooth, and then pop it back into the full tune again.

Here is the bridge rhythm, played as close to the original recording as possible on guitar.


Listen & Play Along

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Take 5 Chords 4


Take 5 Chords – Original Groove

Now that you have broken down the 5/4 time signature into 3+2 beats, and applied it to the individual sections of Take 5, here is the full tune to work out.

To keep things on one page, I’ve used “D.C. al fine” to repeat back to the beginning and repeat the first 8 bars.


Listen & Play Along

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Take 5 Chords – Syncopated Groove

After you’ve worked out the original groove study, you can move on to a more advanced comping study over Take 5.

This study uses syncopation, playing on the off beats, and will challenge your sense of time and form as you work it through the tune.

Adding syncopation to 5/4 time can be tricky at first, but once you get it, it will add a whole new level of interest to your comping.

And remember, if you get stuck, count!


Listen & Play Along

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Take 5 Chords 6


Related Lesson: Take Five Guitar Licks


The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords

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35 thoughts on “How to Play Take 5 Chords on Guitar”

  1. Richard

    Thank you for all these free resources. Absolutely fantastic.

  2. Rob

    Very good lesson that simplifies a complicated song

  3. Douglas J. Buege

    Great tune! And great lesson!

    I think that in the “Original Groove” notation, the E notes in the Abm7 chords need to be flatted as they are earlier in the lesson. OR else there’s something jazzy going on that I don’t understand.

      1. Dirk Laukens

        Hi guys, I’m not sure what you mean, the notes on the Abm7 chords read Ab Gb Cb Eb in the notation…

    1. Anonymous

      It’s an Eb, just read again, the E takes the flattenig of the E before in the same takt

  4. milkmannnv

    Oh yeah,there is also comping lessons on Killer Joe and On green dolphin street,I personally learned them note for note and am now coming up with rhythmic and chord inversion variations,lots of fun and info packed lessons,got to go to work,have fun with these cool lessons.

  5. Soapy

    Hey, Milkmannnv, which other chord comping studies are you referring to, on this site ?
    Links ?

    1. milkmannnv

      Hello,Some of them are,There will never be another you,Stella by Starlight,both older lessons with video demo’s.The newer ones are Misty,Summertime,Georgia,Besame mucho,Satin doll,Autumn leaves,Blue bossa,Jazz blues in G,Take the A train,and a few others,all have sound files so you can hear how they go,they are described as chord studies, chord melody or comping lessons.

      Some are listed at the top right side of this page and others can be found as links once you click on the ones listed on this page.They are all here on this great site and very informative,you just have to take some time and look for them,I almost forget, I commented on a lot of them,so you can type in milkmannnv and that should lead you to most of the lessons I’m referring to,hope that helps you locate them.

  6. milkmannnv

    I downloaded this lesson 3 or 4 months ago and tried to learn it and gave up because it seemed too difficult for me at the time, but after learning your other chord comping studies on the standards,I breezed right through this lesson!

    I find it really strange that this lesson gave me so much trouble before and now I got it memorized in less than an hour.I’m now ready for the Take Five licks lesson you recently posted.Thank you so much for these awesome lessons and keep up the good work.

  7. Les Montanjees

    It’s a wonderful lesson but hell on earth on a nylon string classical guitar! Perhaps this is my excuse to go get yet another axe? Oh, the wife will be thrilled!

  8. seun

    how can I download this lesson on my system so I can practice offline? … thanks

    1. Matt Warnock

      Hey just click print screen and it’ll print for you. Some browsers will also let you save as PDF from print screen as well.

  9. hpzuefle

    I’ve played this tune on (?)piano when I was a kid, on guitar as a teenie and now I spend time playing a 5/4 rhythm on the drums. I’ve heard Dave Brubeck the last time he was in Stuttgart/Germany – an old man until he sat down in front of the piano.

    Paul Desmond covers it all: a real hook melody, rhythm and feel. This is jazz – not noodling.

    Dirk – you’re great.

  10. George

    Dirk you’re the man!!!! For people like me who’s intrigued by jazz music I gotta give to you!! Fantastic job!! You’re a jazz guitarist’s lifesaver!!! Keep the jazz guitar going!!!!

  11. sandford

    Thanks for breaking this down. I don’t plan on doing the syncopated version anytime soon.
    I still haven’t figured out how to start the lead lines (count 4 & 5 first..? or ?)

    Thanks for your very persistent and use-able email lessons,
    S E

  12. EpiJazz

    Now all you need to do is figure out “Blue Rondo a la Turk”… 😛

  13. Daniel

    Hi, only to say thanks … is great your job… and thanks for sharing it… I think the majority of us need improvisation tips… perhaps Ebm melodic minor or pentatonics sacles… arpegios… etc… well thanks again… –

  14. Olumix

    Pls i need help in soloing …combining major pentatonic with blues.can someone help?pls

    1. EpiJazz

      Try the forums on this website.

  15. Lewis

    This was excellent…thanks!

  16. Paolo

    Fantastic tutoria.. What I am looking for.. Tks

  17. jerry

    thank you very much. Wonderful.

  18. Antonio Carvalho

    Amazing Lesson thanks

  19. Silverfoxx

    Thanks for this 5/4 piece Matt & Dirk , it’s probably the most troublesome tune i have encountered, along with Straight No Chaser !
    I will study this great example I take my hat off to the players who can render this with ease.

  20. Shahin

    Very good tutorial. Thanks!

  21. kelly

    Or forget Chet Atkins awesome solo arrangement on his “Alone” album

  22. erwin van dijke

    Let’s not forget Joe Morello’s immaculate drumpart

  23. Stefano Perfetti

    Take Five was a hit of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1959 LP Time Out. Although the piano groove in 5/4 may well be the offspring of Dave Brubeck’s mind, the tune was actually written by the alto-saxophonist and member of group Paul Desmond.

  24. Erwin van Dijke

    I’ve Paul Desmond’s solo written out! George Benson also did a version, but that’s an interpretation.

    1. Andy Clarke

      Hi Erwin,
      I would be interested to hear and/or play your transcription. Where do we go from here ?



      1. Erwin

        andy, just returned from a holiday. I saw your reply. I will try to make a pdf of my transcription, which is handwritten, but you’ll see the fingerings!

      2. Erwin

        It’s handwritten, but I can make a pdf of it. By the way, my excuses for the late reply.
        Let me know if you’re still interested!

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