Hello everyone! Today I'll be showing you how to take jazz chords you already know and play them in every area of the neck.
This can be quickly achieved with a 3-step process called string transference. Not only will you have more chords at your disposal, but you'll also have a deeper knowledge of the fretboard as well as timbre.
Let's get into it!
Our first example is this drop 2 Fma7 chord - this is one of the first chords that a lot of jazz guitarists learn.
To really learn this chord thoroughly, we should know it in every possible area of the fretboard. In this case, there are two other places we can play it.
The 3 Steps of String Transference
- Move the chord five frets up.
- Move the note on the second string down one fret.
- Move the entire voicing up a string set (closer to the ceiling).
And the best part is, you follow the exact same steps to find the next voicing.
Move the voicing five frets up:
Move the note on the second string down by one fret:
Move the entire voicing up a string set:
These 3 steps will work for any chord quality, and any voicing type.
Timbre and Open Strings
Notice how the timbre of each voicing is quite different - each of the different string sets gives the chord a different feeling.
The chord on the thicker strings is much darker, while the one on the thinnest strings is brighter and would cut through more easily in a band setting. The middle string set is a sort of sweet spot between these two extreme.
There are advantages to using the thicker string sets though, because now you have more room up top.
In this case, we can actually play that third voicing with the open strings to give us a nice Fmaj7#11 chord.
Moving in the opposite direction
You may be thinking: what about chords that are already on the lower string sets? Say, for example, this common drop 3 Cmaj7 chord:
No problem - just follow the 3 Steps Of String Transference in the reverse order, with the reverse directions.
- Move the entire voicing down a string set (closer to the ground).
- Move the note on the second string up one fret.
- Move the chord five frets down.
Let's try this using our Cmaj7:
Move the entire voicing down a string set (closer to the ground):
Move the note on the second string up one fret:
Move the entire voicing down five frets:
Now you can play the voicing you already knew in a different position! This opens up new possibilities for voice leading, which is an essential tool when comping or playing chord melody.
Again, these 3 steps will work for any chord quality or voicing type. Try experimenting with all the chords you know, and see what you can add to the new positions you find.
Just be mindful about which set of steps to use, depending on whether you're going up or down. After you do this a few times it will become second nature, and you'll never have to look at the steps again!
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Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, mastermind and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.