How to Play Jazz Guitar – Quickstart Your Jazz Guitar Playing

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

  1. Increase Your Repertoire
  2. Get Good at Comping
  3. Solo on Standard Progressions 
  4. Refine Your Harmonic Skills 

Read on to discover how!

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

I believe all guitarists have the potential to play convincing jazz guitar, and I’m here to help them on their journey with some of the best guitar lessons found anywhere online.

Our Mission at JazzGuitarLessons.net

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, and much more. Furthermore, the website may also help simply by expanding what you listen to or changing the way you organize your practice time.

JazzGuitarLessons.net has been at home on the web since 2009. 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. 

If it’s your first time, I know all of the information can be overwhelming. For that reason, 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!

Quickstart Your Jazz Guitar Playing

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 any of the following applies to you:

  • 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 playing accompaniment
  • 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.

Does this sound like you? 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:

My 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.

Therefore, never mind when your teacher insists you practice scales and arpeggios for hours on end. Guitar lessons can become useless at a certain point! And forget about memorizing chord shape after chord shape. I like to think this is a more holistic approach. So, let me put this differently:

All you have to remember is play on standards! Play jazz tunes that you enjoy listening to. Learn the melody, learn the chords and learn to solo. That’s it! Maybe add some chord melody if you're feeling brave. ;-)

How to Play Jazz Guitar: 4 “Easy” Steps!

Now, to become an accomplished jazz guitarist, what you need to do is fairly simple in the end. It basically goes as follows:

  1. Increase Your Repertoire:
    Dedicate time to learning jazz tunes (standard songs) each day. Pick 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 play accompaniment on your favorite tunes. Then, add to your bag of comping tricks regularly.
  3. Solo on Standard Progressions:
    Improvise with basic tools
    at first, then keep improving your jazz guitar soloing as your tastes, ears and skills develop. 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, huh?! In a way, it's almost too simple. :shifty eyes:

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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 JazzGuitarLessons.net below. You’ll find plenty of ideas on exactly what to do with the four steps above. You can also use the right sidebar to navigate the most frequently visited lessons.

7 Steps You’re Probably Not Taking to Learning Jazz Standards

Learn Jazz Standards

The Dummies’ Guide to Jazz Standards

Dummies' Guide to Jazz Standards

The Ultimate Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords

ultimate guide for jazz guitar chords

Basic Chord Chart with Diagrams

definitive-jazz-guitar-chord-chart

Learning Easy 3-Note Chords (Shell Voicings)

Learning Easy 3-Note Chords (Shell Voicings)

How to Learn 96 Jazz Guitar Chords in 10 Minutes 

Jazz Guitar Chord Lessons

Jazz Guitar Chords: the Drop 2 Challenge

Jazz Guitar Drop 2 chords

The Jazz Guitar Comping Lesson of Your Dreams

jazz-guitar-comping-dreams

Basic Chord Substitutions: Survival Guide

chord-substitutions-jazz-guitar-feature

Beginner’s Guide to Soloing over II-V-I

jazz scales for guitarists - most common scales

Powerful Back to Basics: Bb Blues Soloing

Back to Basics - Jazz Guitar Blues

Making the Changes on All the Things You Are

Make the Changes on All the Things You Are

Pentatonics for Jazz Guitar (Blog + Video Series)

The Ultimate Guide to Pentatonics for Jazz Guitar

The Basic Chord Melody How-To Page

how to play chord melody for jazz guitar

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