playing outlines on jazz guitar pentatonic scales

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.

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

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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 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



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



Basic Chord Substitutions: Survival Guide



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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