Big Five: Jazz Guitar Chords Warmup

The Big 5  Jazz Guitar Chords Warmup

Here’s a simple jazz guitar chords warm up that I personally use almost everyday to get my fingers ready for the practice session. The PDF depicts five different ways of playing the same chords. They are the 7 diatonic 4-note 7th chords in the key of C major. (Learn how to derive diatonic chords here…)

… for a total of 35 chords!

I used five distinct closed voicings (as opposed to spread voicings) that are common on jazz guitar … and they all remain on the same string set. It makes it easier to “see” on the fretboard.

The voicings are as follow (line by line) :

  1. Drop-2 in root position on strings 5-4-3-2 (a classic!)
  2. Drop-2 in first inversion on strings 4-3-2-1
  3. Drop-3 root position on strings 5-3-2-1 (notice the skip)
  4. Drop-3 in second inversion on strings 6-4-3-2
  5. Drop-2 in second inversion on strings 6-5-4-3

Note: #4 and #2 are the same in a subtle way. The notes on the first string and sixth string are interchangeable (both “E” strings).


First inversion means :
Lowest note in the voicing is the 3rd of the chord.

Second inversion means :
Lowest note in the voicing is the 5th of the chord.

See the “inversions” topic in the No Nonsense Guides to jazz harmony.


So, here’s the complete jazz guitar chords PDF. Enjoy!

Click Here to Download the PDF “Big 5” Jazz Guitar Chords Warmup w/ TABS


Going Further: Some Suggestions

Too easy? Are maybe you already knew this exercise. Here’s some more stuff to consider:

  • Try in C melodic minor: change all the E’s to Eb’s
  • In C harmonic minor: all E’s and A’s become flat.
  • Keep the same voicings but play in other keys. For example : in F, the first line would give the chords : C7 Dm7 Em7(b5) Fmaj7 Gm7 Am7 Bbmaj7 … because all we did was make all the B’s flat.
  • String transference: try to play lines 2 and 3 on a different set of strings (or changing string sets along the way.) This is hard and worth it.
  • Even harder: using extensions! For each chord, replace the root for the ninth (whenever physically possible).
  • What else could you do with this exercise?


Never played jazz guitar? Learn these chords first … This eCourse is designed especially for absolute jazz guitar beginners or experienced guitarists without a jazz background. No theory: just guitar playing! Once you watch and play along the video a few times, you’ll possess a solid jazz guitar chords foundation : you’ll have “what it takes” to play most standard jazz songs! (watch video)


Already intermediate with jazz chords? Use what you know to develop more chords… If you’re already familiar with regular 7th chords, 12-bar blues, II-V-I progressions then this is what you’re looking for. It covers more blues, chord cycles, minor II-V’s, rootless voicings and more. After this, you’ll comp like a “real jazzman”. (watch video)

5 thoughts on “Big Five: Jazz Guitar Chords Warmup

    • Hi David,

      We are running into technical problems recently. I can mail you the PDF if you want or notify you when we will solve the issue.

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