17 Jazz Guitar Endings For Standards

Endings are an important part of your jazz vocabulary because they are one of the most memorable parts for your listeners. The problem is that most jazz standards don’t have a fixed ending (aka coda), so it’s a good idea to have a couple of standard endings up your sleeve. In this lesson, you will learn seventeen ways to end a song. Use them as a starting point to develop your own jazz endings.

The endings below all start with a ii V to the tonic I because that is usually the last part of a jazz standard.

Most examples are in C major (examples 1 to 14) and C minor (examples 15 to 17), some are in G major.

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1 – The Major 6 Chord

Major 6 chords work great to end a song because they are more stable than major 7 chords.

That being said, major 6 chords can sound a bit plain to the modern ear. That’s why they are more prevalent in traditional jazz genres.

 

C6 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 1

 

Here are two other C6 chord voicings (check out our Guitar Chord Dictionary for more C6 voicings):

 

C6 chord                     C6 chord

 

2 – The maj7 Chord (Root on Top)

Major 7 chords generally don’t work very well as end-voicings.

The following C major voicing does however because the minor second interval between the 7 and 1 on top of the voicing creates a nice dissonance.

 

Cmaj7 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 2

 

3 – The Maj7(add6) Chord

Major 7 voicings with an added 6 are not used a lot for comping but work great as ending chords.

 

Gmaj7(add 6) chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 3

 

Here are two more Cmaj7(add6) voicings:

 

Cmaj7(add6) chord                            Cmaj7(add6) chord

 

4 – The 6/9 Chord

By adding the 9 to a major 6 chord, you get a major 6/9 chord. These kinds of chords are used often as an ending chord and are easy to finger on the guitar.

 

C6/9 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 4

 

Here are two more 6/9 voicings:

 

C6/9 chord                              C6/9 chord

 

5 – The 6/9(#11) Chord

#11 chords are the bread and butter of jazz endings, usually combined with a 6 and/or a 9.

In the following example, the V chord (G7) in the second bar is replaced with a Db9(#11). This is called tritone substitution.

 

C6/9#11 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 5

 

Here is a similar example but in the key of G major.

 

G6/9(#11) chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 5b

 

In the next example, I add chord inversions of G6/9 to extend the line.

 

Jazz guitar ending 5c

 

6 – The maj7#9#11 Chord

A major 7 with a #9 is not a very common chord, but it has a nice tension to it and is an interesting chord to end on.

This voicing is not a m/maj7 chord, the b3 acts as a tension (#9).

 

Cmaj7(#9#11) chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 6

 

7 – The Tag Ending

A tag is a series of chords that are repeated, usually at the end of a song.

There are several options of chords you can use in your tag ending.

In the following example, that starts with a regular ii V, I added a secondary ii V  (Em7 A7) that goes back to the ii (Dm7) of the tonic key.

The resulting chord progression is usually repeated and improvised over.

 

Jazz guitar ending 7

 

8- The Flat-Five Ending

The flat-five ending, named after the first chord (F#m7b5) of the progression, is another classic way to end a tune.

The progression starts with a bVm7b5 and descends chromatically to the I.

The key to this progression is to keep the root of the key (C) on top of the chord voicings.

 

Jazz guitar ending 8

 

9 – The Flat VI – Flat II Chord Progression

This is a nice one, instead of going to the I to end the song, first go to the bVImaj7, then to the bIImaj7, and then conclude with the I.

Note that the roots of the added major chords are the tritone substitutes of the ii V: Ab is the tritone sub of D, Db the tritone sub of G.

This end progression is usually played ad lib (without a fixed tempo) with improvised lines over it. Here, I play a mixture of arpeggios and scales.

 

Jazz guitar ending 9

 

The bIImaj7 chord can also be used as an ending chord, without resolving to the tonic chord (I).

 

10 – The Flat VII – Flat II Chord Progression

This is a variation of the previous chord progression, where the bVI is replaced by a bVII.

 

Jazz guitar ending 10

 

11 – Major 7 Chords Through The Circle of Fifths

The following ending features a progression of major 7 chords going through the circle of fifths, starting on the Imaj7 (Cmaj7), and ending on the bIImaj7 (Dbmaj7).

 

Jazz guitar ending 11

 

12 – The Count Basie Ending

Count Basie ending

The Count Basie ending is one of the most iconic endings in jazz and can be heard in Basie songs such as Broadway and Splanky.

This ending is derived from a classical ending composed by Italian guitarist and composer Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853).

This is how Basie plays this classic ending:

 

Jazz guitar ending 12

 

There are several other versions of this ending, such as this one for example:

 

Jazz guitar ending 12b

 

13 – The Take The “A” Train Ending

The Take The A Train ending

Another cliché ending is the Take The “A” Train ending, also known as the Duke Ellington ending, named after the composer of Take The “A” Train.

 

Jazz guitar ending 13

 

14 – The Joe Pass Ending

Joe Päss

Here is an ending that has been used by Joe Pass regularly, usually to end a blues.

 

Jazz guitar ending 14

 

15 – The Minor 6 Chord (For Minor Key Standards)

A minor 6 chord is an obvious choice to end a song in a minor key.

 

Cm6 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 15

 

Here is a similar example, this time in G minor.

 

Gm6 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 15b

 

A minor 6 ending chord with a natural 7 also works great and has a bit more bite to it.

 

Gm6/maj7 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 15c

 

16 – The Minor/Major 9 Chord (For Minor Key Standards)

Another good option to end minor-key standards is the minor/major 9 chord.

 

Cm/maj9 chord

 

Jazz guitar ending 16

 

Here is a similar example, but in the key of G minor.

 

Gm/maj9 chord

Jazz guitar ending 16b

 

17 – The Maj7(#11) Chord (For Minor Key Standards)

Lastly, you can use a major chord to end a minor-key song.

Playing a major chord where the listener expects a minor chord is a nice effect and really opens up the sound, especially on ballads.

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