JAZZ GUITAR CHORDS

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.

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.​

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).​

​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.

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.

The 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.

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).

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.

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 will also play through some comping and soloing examples.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

6th Chords are an important variation of major chords. They are often used in bossa nova, as well as in regular jazz standards.

In this lesson, you will get to know all major 6 chord variations and how to use them in your music.

Minor major seventh chords are a mix between minor (b3) and major (7) chords.

Learn how to build, apply and practice mMaj7 chords for jazz guitar with tab, notation and practical, musical examples to work on at home.

Augmented major seventh chords are major chords with a sharp fifth.

Learn how to build, apply, comp and solo over tunes with augmented major seventh chords (maj7#5), including a Tune Up comping study.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jazz and blues 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 blues to more modern variations like the bebop blues changes.

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

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.

My Funny Valentine starts with a recognizable descending minor chord progression that you will find in many other jazz standards as well.

In this lesson, you will learn 10 ways to play the chords of this famous progression.

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. In this section, you will find lessons that teach you the basics of chord melody, and jazz guitar chord melody arrangements of standards.

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

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

Joe Pass was undoubtedly the master of chord melody jazz guitar.

Learn to play Joe Pass chords with these essential lines and concepts and study how Joe builds his classic chord sound on the guitar.

Satin Doll, written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, is a jazz standard with a great melody and some unusual chord changes.

In this lesson, you will learn an easy Satin Doll chord melody arrangement for guitar.

Autumn Leaves is a perfect entry-level jazz standard to practice chord melody on.

In this lesson, you will learn a chord/melody arrangement of Autumn Leaves. You will also learn how to solo over Autumn Leaves’ chord changes.

Ballads are ideal for chord melody arrangements because of their slow tempo.

In this lesson, you will learn a chord melody version of Misty, you will analyze the harmony, and learn how to improvise over the chord changes.

More Chord Melody Lessons

Jazz Guitar Chord Exercises & Music theory

Besides learning chord shapes, it’s also important to learn how you can apply these shapes to your music. In this section, you will learn some essential music theory and exercises that will bring your chord playing to the next level.

Besides learning chord shapes, it is 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.

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.

Besides learning chord shapes and playing jazz standards, it is also important to isolate and practice certain aspects of playing chords.

In this lesson, you will take your chord playing to the next level with 5 essential chord exercises. You will learn how to play chord scales, inversions, tune studies, and more.

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 to the guitar.

Bossa Nova Chords

Bossa nova and jazz are close relatives and both styles share musical elements, such as the chords and harmony. In this section, you will learn the typical chord techniques of Latin guitar and a couple of classic bossa nova tunes. 

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, and salsa.

Learn how to play one of the most popular bossa nova songs ever, Blue Bossa, an ideal tune for beginners to practice bossa nova rhythms and improvisation.

In this lesson, you will learn Blue Bossa’s melody, the chords, and how to solo over the changes.

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.

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 an easy chord accompaniment on acoustic guitar.

Other Chord Styles

In this section, you will learn how to play the chords of musical styles that are closely related to jazz, such as funk, gypsy jazz, and the traditional blues.

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. The first part of this lesson covers the rhythm guitar part, learning how to play funky guitar chords and chord progressions. In the second part you will learn how to play funk licks and fills.

This gypsy jazz guitar lesson is an introduction to “La Pompe”, the typical rhythm guitar strumming used in gypsy jazz, aka Manouche.

You will learn how to play chords and chord progressions in the style of Django Reinhardt.

One of the difficulties many beginning jazz guitarists have is transitioning from playing the minor pentatonic scale over the entire blues form to giving each chord its own sound and making the blues sound jazzy.

In this lesson, you will learn how to transition from playing a “bluesy” blues to a more “jazzy” blues as it is played today by Gypsy jazz guitarists.

In this lesson, you will learn how to play traditional blues rhythm guitar.

You will study an essential blues rhythm riff to add to your blues playing + chords that will help you move beyond open and bar chords.

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