How to Play Jazz Guitar – Quickstart Your Jazz Guitar Playing

Four Steps to Actually Learn to Play Jazz as a Self-Taught Jazz Guitarist

Welcome to! I’m honoured to have you on board, ready to learn how to play jazz guitar! This is a huge topic and don’t worry, you’re not alone! 🙂

I believe every guitarist has the potential to learn jazz guitar playing convincingly, and I’m here to help on the journey with some of the best guitar lessons you’ll find online.

This website’s mission is to make the above statement a reality through free online jazz guitar lessons. In essence, the entire website has one goal: to help you with free jazz instruction. You’ll get free training with lessons about chords, improvisation, guitar scales and songs. And the website may also help simply by broadening your listening horizons or changing the way your organize your practice time. has been at home on the web since 2009, so as you can imagine I’ve built up hundreds of lessons, articles, videos and podcasts on everything from jazz guitar standards to which jazz guitar players (legends) to listen to. You can read about the creator of these lessons here.

If it’s your first time, I know all of the information can be overwhelming, so I’ve created this page, with some of the very best jazz guitar resources, to get you started on how to play jazz guitar. Every journey starts with the first step!


Is This You? (the learning jazz guitarist)

Ok, before we get into the nitty gritty of how to play jazz guitar (it is a “Start Here” guide after all!), I just want to take a moment and get into your head. This website will definitely help you the most if …

  • You can already play the guitar well (chords, scales, songs, etc.)
  • You know anywhere from zero to a handful of jazz standards on the guitar
  • You easily get lost in the chord progression when soloing
  • When improvising, you wish you could outline chord changes better
  • You wish to use and understand more “complicated” altered chords when comping jazz
  • Your soloing tends to have very little chromaticism, and you’d like to add some
  • Chord melody seems unattainable, but you may have some arranging skills
  • Some of your heroes are: Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, George Benson, John Scofield and other great jazz guitarists.

Sounds familiar? Even if you only said yes to TWO of the above points, you’ve come to the right place. The lessons here will help you progress. 🙂

Wes Montgomery - a good jazz guitar transcriptions source!
Wes Montgomery


The Only Jazz Guitar Advice You’ll Ever Need

Now let’s get started with jazz guitar advice. If you can realize the following right away, you’ll quickly be on your way to learning how to play jazz guitar. So re-read the following sentence a few hundred times out loud:

Your ultimate goal is to play well on jazz tunes (aka standards).

This means executing the melody, accompanying (with chords), improvising (single-note solos) and perhaps add a touch of chord melody when possible on the jazz tune you’re working on.

So never mind when your teacher insists you practice scales and arpeggios hours each day. Guitar lessons can become useless at a certain point! And forget about memorizing chord shape after chord shape. Technique is only a means to an end. So let me put this differently:

All you have to remember is play on standards! Play jazz tunes and/or jazz blues you enjoy listening to. Learn the melody, learn the chords and learn to solo. That’s it!


How to Play Jazz Guitar … in 4 “Easy” Steps!

So, to become an accomplished jazz guitarist, what you need to do is fairly simple in the end:

  1. Increase Your Repertoire:
    Dedicate time to learning jazz tunes (standard songs) each day. Picks new songs often and learn the melody first, then the chords. Build yourself a solid list of 10 tunes.
  2. Get Good at Comping:
    First, learn basic chords to accompany on your repertoire. Then improve upon your comping bag of tricks constantly.
  3. Solo on Standard Progressions:
    Improvise with basic tools
     at first, then keep improving your jazz guitar soloing as your tastes, ears and skills evolve. You’ll have to solo lots and lots to finetune your ideas and discover your true musical voice.
  4. (Optional) Refine Your Harmonic Skills:
    As an intermediate or advanced player, look into chord melody guitar lessons to create better, more refined performances on standards.

Then rinse and repeat! That’s how all great jazzers learn how to play jazz guitar and improve your jazz guitar playing. Simple, Uh?! Seems almost too simple in a way.

The Best Jazz Guitar Resources

To get you started, do yourself a favor and check out the most frequently visited and shared free lessons  and learn jazz guitar on below. You’ll find plenty of ideas on exactly what to do with the four steps above.

Notice that the resources that can immediately be useful for beginners have a little asterisk sign (*like this).

Learning Standards:


Jazz Guitar Chords Lesson:


Jazz Guitar Soloing Lessons:


Chord Melody Lessons:


Getting Historical (and Not Hysterical) About Jazz Guitar:


Jazz Guitar Practice Tips:


And lastly, if you feel like you need to brush up on theory, see this section of the website.


Because it’s Better Together: Join over 18,000 Jazz Guitarists Worldwide

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11 thoughts on “How to Play Jazz Guitar – Quickstart Your Jazz Guitar Playing

  1. Hi there, bonjour là 🙂

    It’s nice to see that some people are spreading the news that Ed Bickert is a fantastic guitarist ! Here in Belgium, not so many guitarists knows him, although I’m trying to talk a lot about him in the conservatoire of Brussels where I teach jazz guitar. This guy creates such fine comping, nice melodic lines, and always with such a sense of listening, and letting the music flow !

    Definitely one of the most melodic guitarists I’ve heard !

  2. Thank you for the the clear well-written article. Your recommendations supported with your personal experience was eye opening. Thanks so much

  3. I have seen hundreds of vídeo-lessons about jazz playing but without a plan i went nowhere. Now i have a plannified idea of how to learn. Thank you , i will be with beginners lesson in a minute.

  4. Thanks for your very informative lessons thay are a greaty help to my musianship . I would like to from time to time take a lesson from you.If you can let me know your price and when you are available .

    • Hi David, as you can see, I love teaching! However, due to time constraints from running the website, I have very limited space for private students of my own. You can see my rates at the bottom of this page: You’ll notice that I’ve handed over most of the private coaching duties to my right-hand man, Nathan, and you have the option of studying with him – he and I have very similar teaching styles and philosophies and I’m sure you’ll love learning with him.

  5. OKey, now Marc, how do I get start?
    I do play guitar, but never played Jazz bevor.

    Thanks and best regards

  6. I am just starting to learn guitar. I figured that since everything that I do is HARD, why not learn something that is hard anyway, like jazz? Am I crazy, and should just go back to beginner learning, or can I start my education with simple jazz learning?

    • Jazz is a great place to start learning, but my suggestion to you would be to make sure that you actively listen to a lot of it. It can be difficult, but you can make it far easier on yourself by training your ears first, and while you learn guitar.

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