how to play jazz guitar: start here survival guide - learn jazz guitar

How to Play Jazz Guitar in 4 Steps – Start Here!

Welcome to! I’m honoured to have you on board, ready to learn how to play jazz guitar. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! 🙂

I believe every guitarist has the potential to learn how to play jazz guitar convincingly, and I’m here to help on the journey.

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. You’ll get free training with lessons about chords, improvisation 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 for more than 7 years, 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 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 standards.

This means executing the melody, accompanying (with chords), improvising (single-note solos) and perhaps add a touch of chord melody when possible.

So never mind when your teacher insists you practice scales and arpeggios hours each day. 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! 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 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 to create better, more refined performances on standards.

Then rinse and repeat! That’s how all great jazzers learn how to play jazz guitar. 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 lessons 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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7 thoughts on “How to Play Jazz Guitar in 4 Steps – Start Here!

  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 vĂ­deo-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.

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