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Twelve Essential Chords

Jazz Guitar Toolbox 2.1 - Twelve Essential Chords

jazz comping jazz fundamentals jazz guitar toolbox Apr 02, 2020

Welcome back to Jazz Guitar Toolbox, the series where we cover the absolute essential skills that every jazz guitarist should know.

Today we're covering what many jazz guitarists are known for: chords! There are thousands of jazz guitar chords - where do you start?

The answer is that you should learn the voicings that will allow you to play jazz standards as soon as possible.

With that in mind, here are the twelve chord voicings that will get you set up to play many of your favourite tunes 👍

This page is divided up into three sections: chords with a sixth string root, chords with a fifth string root, and practice tips.

Each group of chords has six different chord types:

  • major 7
  • dominant 7
  • 6
  • minor 7
  • minor 7 flat 5
  • diminished 7


They're all written in C, but these are moveable shapes - meaning that they'll work from any root, just like normal bar chords!

 

Download your "Jazz Guitar Toolbox 2.1 - Twelve Essential Chords" PDF

 


Sixth String Root


Major 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dominant 7 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






Minor 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








Minor 7 flat 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







Diminished 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






Fifth String Root


Major 7

 

 

 

 

 

 








Dominant 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minor 7

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






Minor 7 flat 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








Diminished 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Practice Tips


First things first, the absolute best way to practice this stuff is to put it into an actual tune. We've got plenty of free standards to try this on - I recommend Autumn Leaves as a good starting point.

However, if you gave that a try and you're not quite ready yet, I've put some short practice progressions in the PDF for this lesson.

These will help you work your way up to playing a real tune. For example:

 

I've intentionally put these extra examples in common jazz keys like F, Bb, and Eb.

 

Download your "Jazz Guitar Toolbox 2.1 - Twelve Essential Chords" PDF

 

Lastly... don't forget to use your ears! I recommend going through each chord and listening deeply to the sound.

Try to associate some kind of visual with the sound... some people think of major chords as being "brighter" and minor chords as being "darker" and so on.

I hope this was helpful and I'll see you in the next instalment of Jazz Guitar Toolbox! 🙂

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