ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Jazz Guitar Tips

Updated on September 19, 2020

Jazz chords info

Although this hub is about jazz chords, you can apply these chord shapes to any style of music, and they should make a big difference both in terms of sound, and also playability. There is a video below featuring Joe Pass - thinks, must do some practice!

It's important to understand how barre chords work, but once you do finally conquer them, you may find they are pretty much redundant!

  • You can reduce chords to a 3- note version that sounds clearer and better in most situations. Learning these was probably the best single improvement I made to my playing, specifically as an accompanist.
  • Examples of these chords are given below, in the context of a jazz standard
  • Notice that the m7 (minor 7th) chord shape is identical to the shape for a 7th chord one string lower
  • This chord progression is one of the most common in all styles of music, and it's part of the ii-V or ii-V-I chord progression you will find in all styles of music.
  • These chord shapes are either root 6 (root note is on string 6) or root 5 (root note is on the 5th string)
  • For Dm7 - root is on string 5, and fret 5 is a D
  • For Em7 - root is on string 5, and fret 7 is E

Jazz chords for guitar

Playing 3- note chords

Here are some important things about 3- note chords:

  • Just the notes shown should be played.
  • By leaning your first finger a little, you can mute the middle string
  • Line 2 chords are Am7, D7, Abm7, Db7
  • These are movable shapes that can be played anywhere on the guitar neck
  • For instance, for Bm7 to E7 - just move the shapes up 2 frets.
  • For the 7th shape, only play the three notes shown - if you like these can be fingerpicked
  • One of the best things about these chords is that you can slide into them, and also apply vibrato if you want
  • You should be able to play for much longer periods without hurty fingers!

Scale patterns

I've shown a couple of scale patterns that will fit with the first 4 chords - Dm scale is D dorian, and fits the chords Dm7 to G7. Then the same pattern can be moved up 2 frets for the Em7 to A7 chords. Play the note outside the box pattern too. These scale patterns will work for any song that uses these chords, and if you use the 3 - note chords it is easier to integrate lead and rhythm playing, as the volume difference is less than if you were using 6 -string chord voicings.

Chord/melody playing, as exemplified by Joe Pass, should get a little easier.

Chord progressions

Many of the best jazz standards are based on the ii V I (two-five-one) chord progression. This tune is a good example.

In the key of C the chords are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bm7b5

From this sequence (based on the major scale, with each note harmonized) you can see that chords ii, V and I are Dm, G, C. The same principle applies to all the different keys.

You may have noticed that some jazz guitar chords have complex names - these are usually altered chords. In practice, most of the complicated chords are just variations on the V chord.

  • The V chord will have the following altered notes:
  • Sharp 5 or 9
  • Flat 5 or 9
  • Sometimes, these are mixed - so you can find a couple of these notes in the same chord
  • Looking at the table below, the V chord is given for many different keys
  • A common chord would be G7b9 or G7b5 in the key of C
  • Both of these chords are quite dissonant, so they want to resolve strongly to the I chord.

ii V I chord progressions (different keys)

F sharp m7

The final chord is the I chord, also the name of the key.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi John - try learning ii V I and minor ii V I chord progressions and harmonised scales. If you then have a look at the cycle of fifths diagram, that's a good 95% of useful theory on about two pages of A4! - it absolutely has to be fun, or we won't do it.

    • johnp61 profile image

      John O'Neill 

      7 years ago from Bristol, UK

      Hi Jon. Hmm . . . indeed! Though I've been playing guitar since I was a kid I've never really got to grips with theory apart from chord formulae etc. Redundancy has given me the time to devote to studying Jazz guitar. I'm patiently working my way through my Mickey Baker [it's been at the back of a cupboard for about 25 yrs!] Loads of stuff available on the internet which is great but difficult to filter what's important, useful etc and most of all fun! I've found your lessons refreshing in their clarity and usefulness. It's got to be enjoyable right?

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi John - you're welcome. Jazz and music theory are both way too complicated most of the time!

    • johnp61 profile image

      John O'Neill 

      7 years ago from Bristol, UK

      Clarity and simplicity . . . . thank you!

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      9 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      I think it was Barney Kessel who said that the only mode that he was interested in was Pie-a-La-Mode!

    • DFiduccia profile image


      9 years ago from Las Vegas

      Well done, Jon! Thanks for the video of Joe Pass. He was a master of unaccompanied performance with his guitar. The video led me to another with Barney Kessel, who was my favorite for jazz chord improvisation.

      …voted up —DF


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)