Learning how to play jazz guitar involves memorizing a lot of chords. You need chords to accompany a singer or soloist, but also for playing jazz melodies and solos.

Our chord lessons start easy and gradually get more advanced, giving you all you need to master jazz guitar chords.

Download your free chord dictionary and learn 244 essential chord shapes:

The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

Easy Jazz Guitar Chords For Beginners

Here are four lessons to get you started playing jazz guitar chords. We start with 17 easy jazz guitar chords that every beginner should know. Then we move on to a very important type of chords called drop 2 chords. After you have these chords under your fingers, you are ready to move on and learn some common jazz guitar chord progressions. The last lesson in this beginner series will teach you chord theory, how jazz chords are built and how you can build your own.

  • 1
    When learning jazz guitar chords, it's hard to know where to start. The chords in this lesson are the most important chord shapes for beginners and will enable you to play the accompaniment of any jazz standard.
  • 2
    Drop 2 chords are very versatile and the chords you are going to use the most. In this lesson, you will learn what drop 2 chords are and how to use them in your comping and solos (printable chord chart included).
  • 3
    Chord progressions are the building blocks of jazz standards. By learning how to play the most common jazz chord progressions, you will be prepared for when they show up in a song you are playing.
  • 4
    Understanding the theory behind jazz guitar chords makes it a lot easier to memorize them. In this lesson you will learn how jazz chords are built and how you can use that knowledge to build your own chord shapes.

Chord Types & Chord CHarts

In this section, you will learn how to play different types of jazz guitar chords, such as drop 3 chords, shell chords, quartal chords, triads & inversions.

Shell Chords Guitar Chord Chart
Dirk Laukens

Shell Jazz Guitar Chords (For Beginners)

Shell jazz guitar chords are also known as guide tone chords and are the most basic type of chords used in jazz.

Shell chords are a good place to get started because they contain the most important notes of a chord and can be used to build more complex chords.

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Drop 3 chord chart preview
Dirk Laukens

Drop 3 Chords & Inversions

Drop 3 chords are usually one of the first chord types beginning jazz guitarists start to learn.

They are ideal to use in a solo or duo setting because the bass note of drop 3 voicings is always on the 5th or 6th string.

In this lesson, you will learn how drop 3 chords are built and how you can use them on guitar (chord chart included).

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C major 7 jazz guitar chords
Dirk Laukens

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 in the chord dictionary are essential knowledge for any jazz guitarist and will enable you to comp chords with confidence.

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D minor quartal chords on the guitar neck 1
Matt Warnock & Dirk Laukens

Quartal Guitar Chords, Harmony & Voicings

Quartal chords were made popular by McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans. They have a jazzy sound and work very well in modal music, but can be used on any jazz standard.

In this lesson, you will learn how to construct quartal chords, how to use them on guitar and you’ll also play through some comping and soloing examples.

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More Chord Types

Chord Families & Chord Charts

In the chord family section, you will find the theory and chord charts for all chord families, including major, minor, dominant, half-dominant, diminished chords, and more.

Diminished Chord Chart
Matt Warnock & Dirk Laukens

Diminished Chords

Although diminished chords are not used as often as major and minor chords, you should have a good understanding of these chords because they show up in many jazz standards.

Diminished chords are usually used as a passing chord or as a substitute for dominant chords. In this lesson, you will learn all the necessary diminished chord shapes and how to use them in your playing.

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Cm7 drop 3 inversions 2
Matt Warnock & Dirk Laukens

Minor Chords

In this lesson, you will learn how to play the many shapes and colors of minor chords.

You will start with the basic minor 7th chord, before moving on to more advanced minor chords such as m6, m9, m11, and mMaj7.

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C major 7 jazz guitar chords
Matt Warnock & Dirk Laukens

Major Chords

Major 7 chords are the most commonly used chords in jazz.

In this lesson, You will start with the basic major 7th chord, before moving on to more advanced major chords such as major 6, maj9, maj6/9, maj13, maj7#11, and maj7#5.

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Dominant chords
Dirk Laukens

Dominant Chords

In this lesson, you’ll learn how dominant 7th chords work, how they are formed and why dominant chords are called dominant.

We’ll also have a look at how they look on the guitar and how they are used in jazz and other genres of music.

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More Chord Families

Jazz Standard Chord Studies

There is no better way to learn how to play jazz guitar chords than practicing jazz standards. The following chord studies each focus on certain type(s) of chords as they are applied to jazz songs.

Summertime guitar chord study
Matt Warnock

Summertime Guitar Chord Study

Summertime is a classic jazz standard that is often played at gigs with a singer.

In this chord study, you will learn how to play Summertime’s chord changes with a variety of voicings such as drop 2 chords, 4th chords and 3 to 9 chords.

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Autumn Leaves Jazz Guitar Chords 1
Matt Warnock

Autumn Leaves Jazz Guitar Chords

Autumn Leaves is another classic jazz standard that every jazz guitarist should have under his belt.

Learn the fun and cool-sounding Autumn Leaves jazz guitar chords based on intervallic ideas and rootless chords.

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Take 5 Guitar Chords
Matt Warnock

How to Play Take 5 Chords on Guitar

Take 5 is probably one of the most recognized jazz standards of all time.

As the title of the song suggests, Take 5 is in the 5/4 time signature. You will learn how to play Take 5 chords on guitar with both the original groove and a more advanced, syncopated chord study.

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Fly me to The Moon chords
Terence Wright

Fly Me to the Moon Chords

Learn how to play the correct chords of Fly Me To The Moon, a very fun to play jazz standard. The chords of this song follow the cycle of fifths.

You will learn some cool-sounding chords and rhythms that you can use for other songs as well.

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More Chord Studies

Jazz Chord Progressions

In the next set of lessons you will learn how to play various types of chord progressions, such as a jazz blues progression, the minor blues progression, 2-5-1 chord progressions, and more.

Minor blues chord progressions
Matt Warnock

Minor Blues Chord Progressions

In this jazz guitar lesson, you will learn 11 variations of the minor blues chord progression and 2 guitar chord studies over the minor blues.

Comping over a minor blues tune is an essential skill for any jazz guitarist, as minor blues tunes are some of the most commonly called songs on jam sessions.

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Jazz Blues Chord Progressions
Matt Warnock & Dirk Laukens

Jazz Blues Chord Progressions

Blues is a predecessor of jazz, and both genres have always been heavily intertwined. The type of blues played by jazz musicians is more complex than traditional blues, but both have the same characteristics.

In this lesson, you will learn 6 variations of the jazz blues progression going from the basic original blues to more modern variations like the bebop blues changes.

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A7b9 chord diagram
Matt Warnock

20 Ways To Play ii V I VI Chord Progressions

The ii V I chord progression is the most common progression used in jazz, that’s why it is important to master this progression.

In this jazz lesson, you will learn 20 ways to play through 2 5 1 chord progressions, in both major and minor keys.

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Chord Melody Guitar

Chord-melody guitar is the art of playing the melody of a jazz standard simultaneously with its chords. This skill is very useful when you play without a piano player or if you play solo. Here you’ll find lessons that teach you the basics of chord melody, and jazz guitar chord melody arrangements of standards.

Chord melody jazz guitar
Chris Standring

Playing Chord Melody Jazz Guitar

Playing chord melody guitar is playing melody, chords, and bass at the same time (a must-have skill when they ask you to “play something”).

This introduction to chord melody jazz guitar will teach you the basics you need to master this art.

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Matt Warnock

Easy Satin Doll Chord Melody for Guitar

Satin Doll is a classic jazz standard composed by Duke Ellington.

In this lesson, you will learn an easy Satin Doll chord melody arrangement for guitar. This chord melody is suitable for beginner Jazz guitarists up to intermediate level.

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Chord melody jazz guitar
Greg O'Rourke

Chord Melody Made Easy

In this lesson, you will learn 4 easy tips to create a chord melody arrangement of your favorite jazz standard.

Joe Pass, Lenny Breau, and George Benson concepts are covered.

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More Chord Melody Lessons

Jazz Guitar Chord Exercises & Music theory

Tritone solo
Matt Warnock & Dirk Laukens

Tritone Substitution

Tritone substitution is one of the most popular chord substitutions in jazz. The tritone concept is very versatile and can be used for soloing, comping and composition.

In this lesson, you will learn what tritone substitution is and how you can apply it on the guitar.

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Matt Warnock

How to Read Jazz Chords and Lead Sheets

In this lesson, you will learn how to read jazz chords on lead sheets the way they appear in fake books such as the Real Book.

You will learn how to color your chords, use chord tensions and substitutions while making sure your chords don’t clash with the melody.

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Freddie Green
Matt Warnock

10 Essential Jazz Guitar Chord Rhythms

Besides learning chord shapes, it’s also important that you develop your right-hand technique. Rhythm is an important aspect of playing chords because it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!

In this lesson you will learn 10 essential jazz guitar chord rhythms that every jazz guitarist should know.

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Bossa Nova Chords

Besame Mucho
Dirk Laukens

Besame Mucho Chords

Besame Mucho is a popular Bolero song played by Elvis Presley, Andrea Bocelli, and The Beatles, among many others. The most famous jazz version of Besame Mucho has been recorded by Wes Montgomery on his album Boss Guitar.

In this lesson, you will learn a chord accompaniment on acoustic guitar.

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The Girl From Ipanema
Dirk Laukens

The Girl From Ipanema Chords

The Girl From Ipanema, written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, is probably the most famous bossa nova song ever.

In this lesson, you will learn the original chords and rhythm as recorded by Jobim.

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Bossa Nova
Matt Warnock

Latin Jazz Guitar Rhythms

Songs like Wave, Dindi, Blue Bossa, and Corcovada have long been part of the jazz repertoire.

In this lesson, you will learn to play Brazilian jazz guitar with these 10 Latin guitar rhythms from Brazilian and Cuban music traditions. Rhythms patterns include bossa nova, samba & salsa.

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Blue Bossa
Dirk Laukens

Blue Bossa

Learn how to play one of the most popular bossa nova songs ever, Blue Bossa.

In this lesson, you will learn the melody, the chords and how to improvise.

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Other Chord Styles

Jazz funk guitar
Simon Pratt

Jazz Funk Guitar

Learn how to play jazz-funk guitar, combining smooth jazz chords with the rhythmic fills of funk.

This lesson covers the basics of funk guitar, including chord rhythms and soloing.

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