The Definitive Jazz Guitar Chord Chart for Beginners

The Definitive Jazz Guitar Chord Chart for Beginners

Your First Steps into Jazz Chords for Guitarists

Welcome to this definitive jazz guitar chord chart for beginners. You’ll find every chord shape you need to get started with all the important jazz chords for guitar right here. 

This chart contains root position chords (meaning that the tonic / bass is the lowest note). The few dozen voicings here are also a great way to get started with chord melody.

Not all chords are created equal, and in this jazz guitar chord chart, we show one way of addressing a chord voicing, which is a great way to start. It just might be your favorite way. 

Use what sounds good and is practical to you. Have fun!

Jazz Chords Found on this Page:

  • Major (7th and 6th)
  • Minor (7th, 6th, 9th and 11th)
  • Dominant (7th, 9th and 13th)
  • Minor 7th (b5) (aka half-diminished)
  • Diminished 7th (seen with a “o7″ sign)
  • Altered dominants (7th chords with b9 or #9 or b5 or #5 or #11 or b13)

Want All Those Jazz Guitar Chord Charts in One Convenient Printable PDF? Download it here

jazz guitar chords - a handy reference - PDF - thumbnail

 

What About Symbols with 9th, 11th and 13th?

Yikes! Some jazz chord symbols can look like postal codes! It’s normal. The thing is, chords are always categorized according to their basic “7th” sound, so, If you see a “Dbmin9” symbol, you will find it in the minor section of this jazz guitar chord chart.

Why Are All these Chords in "C"?

All the jazz chords on this page are movable chord shapes. I have indicated the “C” (root of chord) in red color. As long as you know what the bass note is, you will be able to use any chord shape in all 12 keys!

For example, a basic C major 7th shape at the third fret becomes an Fmaj7 when played at the 8th fret.

jazz guitar chord chart

 

This is called transposition. It’s easy on the guitar when you know the notes on the biggest strings of the instrument. So, let’s go and learn jazz chords on the guitar now.

 

Major 7th and Major 6th Chords

How do you identify a major 7th or major 6th chord?

On chord charts or lead sheets, you might find them listed in any of the following ways:

  • “major6” “maj6” or often just plain “6”
  • “major7”
  • “maj7”
  • “M7” (notice the capital “M”)

You might also find them displayed like this:

chord-chart-2

Major 7th Chord Shapes

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On the top line, we have drop 2 voicings. The bottom line has drop 3 voicings (with string skip). Careful with the string skipping. Make sure to really mute that string!

Major 6th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-4
The most common versions are the lower-left and upper-right shapes listed above.
 
It's also important to note that the Cmaj6 - often written as simply C6 - contains the same notes as Am7: C E G A.

 

Minor 7th and Minor 6th Chords

What about minor 7th and minor 6th chords? How do you identify those?

These often appear on charts in the following ways:

  • “minor6” “min6” and sometimes “-6”
  • “minor7”
  • “min7”
  • “m7” (notice the lowercase “m”)
  • “-7” (notice the minus sign)

**Note** The 6th is the same note as the 13th. 

It is listed as a 6th when it's simply part of a minor 6th chord and as a 13th when it's an upper extension of any chord. 

Minor 7th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-5

Minor 6th (or 13th) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-6

Note that Cmin6 - often written simply as Cm6 or C-6 - contains the same notes as Am7(b5): C Eb G A

Minor 9th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-7

Minor 11th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-8

 

Dominant 7th Chords

How do you identify 7th chords?

These often appear on charts and lead sheets in the following ways:

  • 7
  • 7th
  • other numbers : 9, 13
  • dom7

Basically, you'll know a chord is dominant when it has the chord name and the number next to it without any sort of chord type. For example, C7, G7, A9, etc.

**Note** If your chord symbol has a number and a bracket or parenthesis with alterations such as b9 or b13, you should go the the Altered Dominant section of this chart.

Dominant 7th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-10

Dominant 9th Chord Shapes

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Learn to play the bottom right voicing higher on the fretboard (without the open string).

Dominant 13th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-11

 

Minor 7th (b5) or Half-Diminished Chords

How do you identify minor 7b5 (half-diminished) chords?

These often appear on charts in the following ways:

  • m7(b5)
  • min7(b5)
  • -7(b5)
  • minor7th (flat 5th)

You might also see it with this symbol:

chord-chart-12

The circle with a line through it means half-diminished or minor 7b5. 

Minor 7b5 or Half-Diminished Chord Shapes

 

chord-chart-14

Diminished 7th Chords

How do you identify fully diminished 7th chords?

These often appear on charts and lead sheets in the following ways:

  • dim7
  • diminished(b5)

You will most often see it with a circle next to it as displayed here:

chord-chart-13

This indicates that the chord is "fully" diminished.

Diminished 7th Chord Shapes

chord-chart-15

Diminished 7th chords are built by stacking minor 3rds and thus, they are symmetrical. What that means is that every note in the chord can be considered the root!

Cdim7 = Ebdim7 = Gbdim7 = Adim7

Altered Dominant Chords

Altered dominant chords are plain old 7th chords with one or more sharps or flats in parenthesis. These indicate altered extensions or 5ths. 

Here are a few examples:

Eb7 (#9) or F#9 (b5) or Bb9 (#11)

Often times, you'll find more than one alteration in parenthesis. 

D13(#5b9), C13(b5#9), etc.

Why alter dominants chords? Here’s a discussion on the role played by dominant chords in music as there is not quite enough space on this lesson! ;)

Dominant 7th (#11) and Dominant 7th (b5)

Please note that #11 and b5 are the same note, they are enharmonic equivalents.

In other words, they are the same note with different names. They exist this way for spelling purposes.

What is the #11 of the C7 ?
It’s F#

What is the b5 of C7 ?
It’s Gb

F# = Gb
Therefore #11 = b5

Dominant 7th (b5) or Dominant 7th (#11) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-16

Dominant 7th (#9) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-17

It’s more convenient to NOT play the root in the C7(#9) shape on the left. I indicated it with a red dot, but it’s optional. The bass player will usually take care of this.

Dominant 7th (#5) and Dominant 7th (b13)

Much like the #11 and b5, the #5 and the b13 are enharmonic equivalents.

What is the #5 of the C7 ?
It’s G#

What is the b13 of C7 ?
It’s Ab

G# = Ab
Therefore #5 = b13

Dominant 7th (#5) and Dominant 7th (b13) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-18

Dominant 7th (b9, b13) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-19

Dominant 7th (b9, b5) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-20

As with the root in the #9 chord earlier, it's easier to avoid the root altogether in the shape on the left. The bass player will usually take care of it, anyway!

Dominant 7th (b5, #9) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-21

Furthermore, it’s more convenient NOT to play the root in the C7(b5 #9) shape on the left. I indicated it anyways with a red dot, but it’s optional.

Dominant 7th (#5, b9) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-22

Again, it’s more convenient NOT to play the root in the C7(#5 b9) shape on the left. I indicated it with a red dot, but it’s optional.

Dominant 7th (#5, #9) Chord Shapes

chord-chart-23

So, it’s more convenient NOT to play the root in the C7(#5 #9) shape on the left. I indicated it with a red dot, but it’s optional.

Want All Those Jazz Guitar Chord Charts in a Convenient Printable PDF? Download it here

jazz guitar chords handy reference

Have a Question or Comment ?

Do you have a question or comment about anything discussed in this jazz guitar chord chart? Post it here! 

**Note from the editor** This post was updated on 12/29/2018