Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

This jazz guitar chord dictionary is a reference to help you find great-sounding 7th-chord voicings to play and improvise over jazz standards. The 244 chord shapes on this page are essential knowledge for any jazz guitarist and will help you to comp chords with creativity, confidence, and variety.

Now, you don’t have to learn all of these chords at once. Instead, use this page as a resource that you come back to each time when you need to add a new chord to your vocabulary.

Have fun with these chords, get them under your fingers, and most importantly, apply them to jazz standards and chord progressions as soon as you can.

PS: If you are new to jazz guitar, check out these basic jazz guitar chords first.

The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

FREE eBOOK - THE JAZZ GUITAR CHORD DICTIONARY


Download now and learn 244 chord shapes!

CHORD TYPE LIST

  1. How To Read Chord Diagrams
  2. Basic Chords
  3. Shell Chords (aka Guide Tone Chords)
  4. Chords With Extensions
  5. Dominant Chords Altered Extensions
  6. Inversions
  7. Open Voicings
  8. Quartal Chords
  9. More Guitar Chord Lessons

 

How to Read Chord Diagrams

A red circle represents the root (aka 1) of the chord. Most chords in this dictionary have a C root.

The black circles are the other notes of the chord. The numbers inside the black circles indicate the chord tone.

The numbers (1, 2, 3, and 4) at the right side of each chord diagram indicate which fingers to use to fret the chord.

Chord fingering

The X symbol at the left side of the chord diagram indicates that those strings are not to be played. This means that most of the chords on this page cannot be strummed, but should be played fingerstyle, with your thumb and first 3 fingers of the right hand.

The O symbol at the left side of the chord diagram indicates that those strings are played open.

 

Movable Chords

Most of the chords on this page are of the movable type (not the open chords though). By moving the chord shapes up or down the guitar neck, you get other chords of the same chord type.

For example: move the chord shape of a Cmaj7 vocing 2 frets higher and it becomes a Dmaj7 voicing.

 

Movable chords

 

1. Basic Jazz Guitar Chords

The first group of jazz chords is called “basic”, but they should really be described as “essential”.

These shapes contain both drop 2 and drop 3 chords in root position, which is the best place to get started playing jazz guitar chords.

You will learn smaller shapes in the next section, which are easier to play, but these four-note shapes drill the sound of jazz into your ears better than the smaller shapes.

Start by learning one shape for each chord type then take those changes to a jazz tune you know or are working on.

Here are 10 great songs to practice and apply these chords to:

 

Major 7 Chords

C major 7 jazz guitar chord chart

 

Dominant 7 Chords

C Dominant 7 Chord Chart

 

Minor 7 Chords

C minor 7 chord chart

 

Minor 7b5 (Half-Diminished) Chords

C half-diminished 7 jazz guitar chord chart

 

Diminished 7 Chords

C diminished 7 jazz guitar chord chart

2. Shell Chords

Shell chords (aka guide tone chords) are often referred to as Freddie Green chords, as he used them to create his iconic rhythm sound with the Count Basie band.

These three-note chords contain the root, 3rd, 7th (or the 6th) of each chord.

Because of this, you hit the essential chord tones for each shape, and mostly on the lower string sets.

Since these shapes are lower on the neck than other chord shapes, you need to keep your tone in mind so you don’t clash with the bass player in your playing.

With a soft tone, these chords are highly effective when comping in a duo, trio, or larger ensembles.

 

1 3 7 Shell Chords (E-String Root)

Shell chord chart 1

 

1 7 3 Shell Chords (E-String Root)

Shell Chord Chart 2

 

1 3 7 Shell Chords (A-String Root)

Shell chord chart 3

 

1 7 3 Shell Chords (A-String Root)

Shell chord chart 4

3. Chords with Extensions

Extended chords use intervals outside of the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th in their construction.

Because of this, we often describe these chords as more “colorful compared to more basic jazz guitar chords.

Because we don’t have 10 fingers to play chords as a pianist would do, guitarists have to leave some notes out when adding extended notes to their chord shapes.

Keep that in mind, and notice which notes are replaced as you add these fun chord shapes to your harmonic vocabulary.

 

Major 6 chords and major 6(9) chords, the first two types of extended chords in this set, are different from the extended chords that follow because they don’t contain a 7.

All the other extended chords (such as maj9), contain the 7th in their construction.

In a major 6 chord, the 6 replaces the 7:

 

Cmaj7 chord to C6

 

When a 6 and a 7 are both present in a major chord, it becomes a major 13 chord. Major 13 chords contain both the 7 and the 6 (=13), as opposed to major 6 chords, where the 7 is omitted.

 

Major 6 Chords

C6 jazz guitar chord chart

 

Major 6(9) Chords

C6(9) chord chart

 

Major 9 Chords

C major 9 chord chart
C major 9 omit 3 chord chart

 

Major 13 Chords

C major 13 chord chart

 

Major 7#11 Chords

Cmaj7#11 chord chart

 

Major Augmented (Major #5) Chords

C major augmented chord chart

 

Dominant 9 Chords

C9 chord chart

 

Dominant 13 Chords

C dominant 13 chord chart

 

7 Sus 4 Chords

C7sus4 Chord Chart

 

9 Sus 4 Chords

C9sus4 chord chart

 

13 Sus 4 Chords

C13sus4 chord chart

 

Minor 6 Chords

Cm6 jazz guitar chord chart

 

Minor 9 Chords

C minor 9 chord chart

 

Minor 11 Chords

C minor 11 chord chart

 

Minor/Major 7 Chords

C minor/major 7 chord chart

 

Minor/Major 9 Chords

C minor/major 9 chord chart

4. Dominant Chords with Altered Extensions

Besides the normal extensions (9-11-13), dominant chords can handle altered extensions as well, such as b9, #9, #11, and b13.

In this section you look at dominant chords with altered extensions.

These chords can be used over any dominant 7th chord in your comping to create extra tension, but if you’re new to these sounds start with using them in minor keys.

For example, if you have a minor ii V I chord progression (Dm7b5-G7-Cm7), you can use altered extensions over the G7 chord.

These extensions are supposed to sound tense and create tension, so if they sound “weird” to you, not a problem.

Work with them, and over time those outside notes will start to sound normal and more natural to your ears.

 

A lot of people are confused about the difference between extensions #11 and b5. Both are the same note, an f# (=gb) in C7.

A C7 with a #11 usually contains a natural 9 (d) because this chord is derived from the Lydian dominant scale (4th mode of the melodic minor scale). A C9#11 often functions as a bVII7 going to Imaj7 (C7#11 to Dmaj7, for example):

 

C9#11 chord going to Dmaj7

 

A C7 with a b5 contains a b9 or #9 because this chord is derived from the altered scale (7th mode of the melodic minor scale). A C7(b5,b9) often functions as a V7alt going to Im7 or Imaj7 (C7b5b9 going to Fm7 or Fm9, for example):

 

C7b5 chord going to Fm9

 

Dominant 7b9

C7b9 chord chart

 

Dominant 7b9 Sus 4

C7sus4b9 chord chart

 

Dominant 13b9 / Dominant 13#9

C13b9 chord chart
C13#9 chord chart

 

Dominant 7#9

C7#9 chord chart

 

Dominant 7#11

C7#11 chord chart

 

Dominant 7b13

C7b13 chord chart

 

Altered – 7b5(b9)

C7 altered chord chart (C7b5b9)

 

Altered – 7b5(#9)

C7 altered chord chart (C7b5#9)

 

Altered – 7#5(b9)

C7 altered chord chart (C7#5b9)

 

Altered – 7#5(#9)

C7 altered chord chart (C7#5#9)

5. Chord Inversions

Chord inversions use other notes in the bass than the root note.

Notice that for each group of chords, the root is in the bass for the first chord shape, then the 3rd, 5th, and the 7th after that.

Each of these chord inversions can be applied to that chord in your comping. For example, if you see a Cmaj7 chord symbol you can play any inversion of Cmaj7.

Just know that each inversion will have a slightly different sound and some voicings will work better than others.

Though they use the same notes, putting the root or the 3rd in the bass causes the chord to have a slightly different flavor.

 

Major 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – A-String Bass Note

C major 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Major 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – D-String Bass Note

C major 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Major 7 Inversions (Drop 3) – E-String Bass Note

C major 7 drop 3 chord chart

 

Major 7 Inversions (Drop 3) – A-String Bass Note

Cmaj7 drop 3 inversions 2

 

Dominant 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – A-String Bass Note

C dominant 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Dominant 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – D-String Bass Note

C dominant 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Dominant 7 Inversions (Drop 3) – E-String Bass Note

C dominant 7 drop 3 chord chart

 

Dominant 7 Inversions (Drop 3) – A-String Bass Note

C7 drop 3 inversions 2

 

Minor 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – A-String Bass Note

C minor 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Minor 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – D-String Bass Note

C minor 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Minor 7 Inversions (Drop 3) –  E-String Bass Note

C minor 7 drop 3 chord chart

 

Minor 7 Inversions (Drop 3) –  A-String Bass Note

Cm7 drop 3 inversions 2

 

Minor 7b5 Inversions (Drop 2) – A-String Bass Note

C half-diminished 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Minor 7b5 Inversions (Drop 2) – D-String Bass Note

C half-diminished 7 drop 2 chord chart

 

Minor 7b5 Inversions (Drop 3) –  E-String Bass Note

C half-diminished 7 drop 3 chord chart

 

Minor 7b5 Inversions (Drop 3) –  A-String Bass Note

Cm7b5 drop 3 inversions 2

6. Open Chords

Open chords use open strings in their construction.

Though they are limited to a few keys, these shapes add new flavor to your comping in particular key centers. Open chords have a specific sounds that is unique to the guitar.

Have fun with these open string chords and use them the next time you find yourself in one of these guitar-friendly keys.

 

Open Chords With E Root

Open chords with the root on the E String

 

Open Chords With A Root

Open chords with the root on the A string

 

Open Chords With D Root

Open chords with the root on the D string

 

Open Chords With B Root

Open chords with a B root

 

Open Chords With Bb Root

Open chords with a Bb root

 

Open Chords With C Root

Open chords with a C root

7. Quartal Chords

Quartal chords (aka 4th chords) are built by stacking 4th intervals above the lowest note of the chord.

These chords sound more open and modern compared to other chord types and can be used over any jazz standard in your comping and solos.

Give these chords a try and don’t worry if they sound a bit “too modern” in the beginning.

Over time they will become more natural to your ears and you will be able to apply these shapes to your playing more comfortably.

 

Quartal Chords Based on the C Dorian Scale (String Set 2-3-4-5)

Quartal chords 1

 

Quartal Chords Based on the C Dorian Scale (String Set 1-2-3-4)

Quartal chords 2

 

 
The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

FREE eBOOK - THE JAZZ GUITAR CHORD DICTIONARY

Download now and learn 244 chord shapes!

  • Larry6string says:

    Great Resource, Dirk. Mucho Gracias!

  • rick says:

    easier to try and remember all the inversions

  • tom63 says:

    This is by far the most useful and comprehensive chord dictionary I’ve ever seen, something I was really looking for.
    Great work, guys!
    Many thanks!

  • Pascal says:

    Very nice job !!! Thanks

  • Mariler says:

    Thanks for this lesson! I am new to jazz and guitar harmony and this is very clarifying and a great guide to explore the essentials

  • Simon says:

    Thanks, Dirk. I was building my own chord dictionary, off the net (from info on different sites). Now I’ve found them all here, concise, and in the one place. Very helpful, thanks again.

  • Allard says:

    Hallo Dirk,
    Lijkt mij erg leuk en interessant, deze download! (vind sowieso jullie info erg interessant; wanneer ik al niets nieuws leer, leer ik toch minstens dat dat wat ik weet klopte. Ook een vorm van leren en bevestiging 😉 )

    Groetsels, Allard

  • Bill Hill says:

    Great info. You guys are the best.

  • Rich says:

    This is an awesome resource! Thanks

  • Barry Walsh says:

    Fantastic lesson incredable information thank you so much.

  • Michael K. says:

    Thank you Dirk, really useful!

  • Vito (Vick) says:

    Molto interessante e completo questo piccolo manuale. Grazie Dirk, lo condivido nel mio gruppo FB !

  • Inland says:

    Awesome! Thanks, Dirk! Was hoping for something like this. I have the Jazz Guitar Chords PDF, but this is more concise when you just want the chords. FYI, I found the below errors. The following headers in the article should say “A String Root” and not “E String Root” Thanks again!

    Major 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – E String Root
    Dominant 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – E String Root
    Minor 7 Inversions (Drop 2) – E String Root
    Minor 7b5 Inversions (Drop 2) – E String Root

    • inland says:

      Also, shouldn’t all the inversion headers say “* String Bass Note” and not “root”?

      • Dirk Laukens says:

        Hey Inland, you’re totally right, I fixed the errors. Thanks for letting me know!

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