I’ll keep it simple. There are so many jazz chords that you can learn. But, if you’ve never played jazz and wanna get into it, here are the 10 jazz guitar chord shapes you must know.
These do not include chords with tensions like 9, b9, #9, b13 etc. but are what jazzers call “7th chords” or more precisely “4-part chords”. What that means is that these chords have 4 different notes in them.
You should learn these because with these shapes you can start playing jazz standards like Misty, Fly Me To The Moon, Autumn Leaves, Blue Bossa, All The Things You Are and many more that you might have heard before. The key is to learn them as shapes with the roots on the 5th string and 6th string. Then, you practice them in different keys and through different chord progressions.
Here they are:Download a PDF of this handout:
[PDF] 10 Jazz Guitar Chords You Must Know
[UPDATED] And here’s a video of me showing you these shapes:
Now, I want you to be able to actually have some kind of strategy to learn this. It’s one thing to bookmark or share this page but to really learn these, you need a plan. Here are my suggested action steps:
Path 1: One chord shape at a time in all 12 keys
- Pick one chord shape.
- Play it and memorize the physical shape.
- Play it and be able to name the note function of each note you’re playing. This means that you know where the root is, where the 3rd is and so on.
- Listen to the sound of the chord.
- Now play the same shape but go through all 12 keys. I suggest a Cycle-4 progression:
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G C
- Repeat steps 1-5 with another chord shape.
Path 2: Five chord shapes at a time, same root, on the same string
- Pick either CMaj7 (root on the 5th string) or GMaj7(root on the 6th string) to begin.
- Go through the 5 chord qualities keeping to the same root. So, it’s either:
- CMaj7, C7, Cmin7, Cmin7b5, Cdim7 OR
- GMaj7, G7, Gmin7, Gmin7b5, Gdim7
- As you change from chord to chord, pay attention to what notes are moving, what notes make the chord quality change.
- Remember the exact sequence of chords so that you have a system.
- Play this sequence through all 12 keys. I suggest a Cycle-4 progression:
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G C
- Repeat steps 1-5 with the other chord shape.
When you do this, you’ll start getting comfortable with jazz chords! The next step would be to pick a jazz standard and use these chord shapes to play the song. =)
Ready? Now go practice. =)
Hope you found this blog post helpful. Please share this post if you think others might enjoy it!
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
Have you ever tried learning jazz chords?
Do you have another cool strategy or practice method?
Leave your answer in the comments below. Remember to share as much detail as possible so that we can all learn from one another. Your insight may help another guitarist someone from across the world.
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