Easy Satin Doll Chord Melody for Guitar

Satin Doll is a classic jazz standard and often one of the first tunes we study as jazz guitarists. With many famous recordings, including one by Wes Montgomery that is a must-hear, Satin Doll has become a crowd favorite at jam sessions and gigs. Because of its level of popularity in the jazz world, learning how to play Satin Doll from a melody and comping standpoint is an essential skill for any developing jazz guitarist.

Learning how to play chord melody arrangements is one of the most sought-after skills by beginning and intermediate jazz guitarists, but it can seem out of reach for many players.

While it may be a tough challenge to play a Joe Pass style chord melody on guitar, you don’t have to wait to be a master player to get a nice-sounding chord melody under your fingers.

In this lesson, you will learn how to play the classic jazz standard Satin Doll, arranged in an easy chord melody style.

In the next section of this Satin Doll lesson, you will learn a chord study that brings out a variety of chord types and comping techniques.


Satin Doll – Easy Chord Melody Arrangement

To help you become introduced to chord melody, the A sections are all the same, and the tune uses mostly beginner-level chord shapes.

If you’re an intermediate level player, check out the practice tips as they will guide you on how to expand on this arrangement in your playing.


How to Practice This Satin Doll Chord Melody

When working on this chord melody arrangement of Satin Doll, you can begin by learning it note-for-note, as written.

From there, you will be able to alter the chord melody as you expand upon it in your studies. This is for more advanced players only, so if you’re new to jazz feel free to learn the CM as written.

Here are some ways you can learn this study and begin to alter it in your playing.

  • Learn the arrangement as written.
  • Alter the rhythms of the written chords.
  • Change the picking or strumming for each chord.
  • Add chord and single-note licks between phrases.
  • Move the arrangement to other strings or use different chord shapes.


Satin Doll Chord Melody Arrangement

Now that you know how to practice this arrangement, it’s time to get it under your fingers.

You can listen to the audio example and play along with that track first.

From there, work the chord melody up to a level where you can play it with the backing track on your own, with no guitar guide track.

As always when learning a study such as this, take your time, and work it in small sections (2, 3, or 4 bars) until it’s ready to be played together.


Backing Track

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Listen & Play Along

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Satin Doll Chord Melody

satin doll chord melody page 2

Satin Doll Chord Study

In this section, you will learn a chord study over Satin Doll that uses many common jazz guitar chord shapes, as well as taking inspiration from the rhythm of the tune itself.


What’s In This Chord Study

In order to understand the harmonic concepts used in this chord study, here is a brief outline of each chord type in the study, which you can see labeled in the etude itself below.

If you dig the sound of any of these chord types, feel free to explore those concepts further as you take these ideas deeper in your study of jazz harmony.


Rootless 379 – These chords are based on playing the 3rd and 7th of each change, and then added the 9th on top to create added color to the progression.

Rootless 3713 – In a similar vein to the previous shapes, you are stacking 3rds and 7ths with the 13th added to bring color to these dominant 7th chords.

Rootless 735 – Here, you play the 7th and 3rd, and use the 5th as the added note. When doing so, you are essentially playing the chord (1-3-5-7) and just removing the root so that it’s smaller and more compact on the fretboard.

Rhythms from the Melody – One of the most important elements of inspiration when comping is the rhythm from the melody line, which you can hear in this section as all the comping phrases are based on the rhythm of the Satin Doll melody.

3 to 9 – These chords are built by replacing the root with the 9th so that you have the intervals 3-5-7-9 for each chord.

Lydsub – The Lydian substitution is a classic sounding comping device where you play a maj7#11 (the Lydian chord) shape from the b7 of any 7th chord. Essentially you are playing the Lydian chord from the underlying key over the V7 chord in the progression.

4th These quartal chords are built by stacking 4th intervals as compared to the tradition 3rds that make up drop 2 voicings and other common jazz chords.

Drop 2 – These chords are built with the root-position interval layout 1-5-7-3 and creating the inversions from there.

Rootless 13th Here, you are playing a 3-b7-9-13 interval pattern as you create a rootless 13th sound over dominant 7th chords.


Now that you have a basic understanding of the various chords used in this study, you’re ready to dig into the full etude.


Satin Doll Jazz Guitar Chord Study

Since Satin Doll is 32 bars long, feel free to break up your practice sessions into 8-bar phrases, which you can then bring together and create the study as a whole from there.

Also, go slow and use a metronome when first practicing this etude in order to ensure your rhythms are accurate and secure.


Backing Track

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Listen & Play Along

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Satin Doll Jazz Guitar Chord Study_0001-png


Satin Doll Jazz Guitar Chord Study_0001 (2)-p


The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords

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39 thoughts on “Easy Satin Doll Chord Melody for Guitar”

  1. Erwin

    Very nice lesson. Any ideas for an intro?

  2. Ralph

    Ha, of course. It’s just that when I see a Cm written in upper and lower case, I think ‘chord’ symbol! Thanks Matt.

  3. Ralph

    Getting started on this and I’m stumped by the first comment – “learn the Cm as written”. I read that as referring to a Cm chord and there ain’t any in the progression. What???

    Hasn’t stopped me from starting to work on the tune but just confused…

    1. Matt Warnock

      Hey, CM is short form for Chord Melody. So learn the Chord Melody as written. Cheers.

  4. matatavish

    Thanks for the lesson. I am trying to learn jazz guitar and the voicings you used sound very similar to what I hear on my jazz records.

  5. 3rdwaverider

    Matt – is there a simple way to print the sheet music?

    1. Matt Warnock

      Hey, yeah just click “print screen” in your browser.

      1. 3rdwaverider

        I was getting blank pages – turns out it was a firefox issue. I saved the images and printed those – worked great in two pages (expect that’s how you created them). This lesson is greatly appreciated and timely – I’m working on comping the tune within Aebersold’s V54. Your transcription sounds much like Kenny’s… again, thank you!

  6. Jean

    Thanks for this lesson.
    Jean from Martinique in the french west indies.
    Pardon my english,i speak french.

  7. mississippi

    Thanks for the lesson.
    Went ahead and order the 30 days to Better Jazz Guitar Playing. 🙂

  8. Andy

    “Easy” hehe. It was fun trying though 🙂

    1. Al Monte

      Hello Andy, This might help, if you already know this just delete.

      Dm7 Index Covers First Fret Strings One And Two
      Middle Finger Second Fret Third Stri
      G7 Index First Fret First String Middle Finger Second Fret Fifth String
      Ring Finger Third Fret Sixth String G9 works fine as well just change Ring finger to second fret Third String

      Am7 Easy Version Index First Fret Second String, Middle Finger Second Fret Fourth String A Little more tasty, Am7 Middle Finger Fifth Fret Sixth String, X fifth string not played, Ring Finger Fifth Fret strings four, three, two and one

      To Play Abm7 simply move all fingers to fret four, that is middle finger fourth fret, X fifth string not played, ring finger covers fourth fret strings four, three two and one

      CMaj7 easy version Ring Finger Third Fret Sixth String, Pinky Third Fret, Fifth String, Middle Finger Second Fret Fourth String Tastier Version, Index 8th fret Sixth String, X fifth fret not played, Middle Finger 8th fret Second String, Ring finger 9th fret fourth sting, Pinky 9th fret third string

      Db9 which is C#9 You can use Db7 which is C#7. Two ways C#7 is index second fret second string, Pinky fourth fret Third string, Middle Finger third fret fourth string, Ring finger fourth fret fifth string D7 move everything one fret up and you are playing D7
      The ninth chords are D9th Index Fourth Fret Fourth String, Middle Finger Fifth Fret Fifth String, Ring finger Fifth Fret strings three two and one.

      C9 is simply moving everything back two frets to where your middle finger is on the third fret. C#9 or Db9 middle finger is on the fourth fret.

      Gm7 Middle Finger Covers Third Fret Sixth String, X fifth string not played Ring finger covers third fret strings four, thee two and one

      FMa7 Two version Nice and open Index first fret second string
      Middle finger Second Fret Third String, Ring Finger Third Fret Fourth String

      FMaj7 Index First Fret Sixth String, X Fifth string not played, Middle Finger First Fret Second String, Ring Finger Second Fret Fourth String, Pinky Second Fret Third String That is FMaj7 is really Am, with an F Bass, I hope that helps. Also not that you know these chords you know a lot, because moving them up and down the fretboard changes the name and sound of the chord. This explanation represents a lot. Take this FMaj7 chord and by moving it to the second fret you are playing F#Maj7, third fret GMaj7, all the way down. Enjoy Al Johnny Mercer Wrote the lyrics, and Duke Ellington wrote the music.

  9. Thanks!! I have been looking for a solid, but easier arrangement so as to learn the song and build on it as I master the initial melody. Great job as always, guys!

  10. Jay

    Thank you Dirk for this lesson! This is so valuable (y)

  11. Pablo Garcia

    Great lesson. !! good job!

  12. Eddie

    I am certainly glad that you put this wonderful free lesson up. I’ve made up my mind to expand my horizons and go for Jazz lessons via 30-Days To A … . I really appreciate this. Thank you very much. I know I can play this lesson, but are the lessons in the book structured? Easy to hard?

    1. Matt Warnock

      Thanks, yes it’s organized from easy to hard and very simple to follow along. Cheers.

  13. David Price

    Thank you for Satin Doll. However, in your preamble you state that beginner/junior chords are used but almost all chords in your arrangement have added 9ths, 11ths, 13ths etc. Whilst this is interesting, would it not be better for beginners to chord-melody, to show a straight G7 as G7 and not as G13 with E?

    1. Matt Warnock

      Hi David. Thanks for checking out the lesson. The term easy doesn’t necessarily refer to chord quality. There are many 7th shapes that are more difficult to play than 9ths, 13th, etc. So it’s the shapes that are easy level, for Jazz guitar anyway, not the chord qualities. Cheers.

  14. BREW

    Thanks for sharing so nice a concept and lesson of yours…
    I’m one of your HAPPY FOLLOWERS.
    Thanks so much again.
    Bruno from Paris

  15. milkmannnv

    Thank you Matt for all of your comping arrangements over the standards.They have kind of been like the glue to hold together all of the other pieces together.

  16. Gareth

    hello. great lesson! so much useful “devices” in one tune. I found bars 17&18 of the chord study a little confusing but then saw your comment to TK re: 2/5 2/5 1. thanks

  17. eddie

    i love this Satin Doll lesson…..after an hour i had it down….i love this stuff….not super hard but is very effective…what more do you have like this for us..?

  18. srs

    Thanks for your response. That does clear up some questions I had.

  19. Bob

    Absolutely brilliant! – This is going to keep me busy! Many thanks for all the work that went into providing this.

  20. As always – great stuff.
    Had a hard time grasping the LydianSub but think I get it
    The first usage is the beat after the Gm7..
    Assuming a IIm7,V7 in that measure the BbMaj7#11 would
    be the build on the b7 of C7 or Bb.
    The next measure is a C7 which is already dominant
    so b7 is Bb so again the same chord BbMaj7#11..
    Correct ?

    1. Matt Warnock

      That’s it, it’s just anticipating the C7 by a bar, a commonly used approach to iim7/V7/Imaj7, when you turn it into iim7 V7/iim7 V7/Imaj7 to add more movement to your comping.

      1. Thanks Matt! – Nice to have it reinforced 🙂

  21. lou

    This is exactly the style I wish to learn and getting better in. Keep them coming!

  22. srs

    Great information. Thanks for making it available!

  23. aland

    this is just F..ng great! thanks a lot!

  24. T-Bone Steve

    Very insightful lesson: not only for the rich and colorful chordal movement, but also fot the uneven rhythmic displacement (for lack of a better word): the first eight bars are even more irregular than the subsequent eight! It might be further illuminating, too, to compare this version to the one (chordal, as well) by Barney Kessel on “The Pool Winners” (albeit in a different key). Dear Matt, thank you very much. As always, you hit the target.

  25. Randy Katz

    Wow! That was excellent, what I really needed today, thanks so much!

  26. note plucker

    Great arrangement and tracks. Definitely sign-up for the Premium Lesson Deal!

    I did and there is an abundance of information.

    Thanks again.

  27. barry bailey

    Very very very good lesson
    back to the woodshed for me

  28. bjh

    Wow, a lot of stuff in this lesson
    thank you Dirk

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