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Jazz Guitar chords for blues

Updated on November 8, 2011

Introduction

If you're new to guitar, there are other hubs on using basic chords:

Guitar Chords 101

Guitar Chords 101- Improving chords

This hub is a little more advanced and includes jazz chords.

My new hub Music theory basics may also be helpful in understanding the mechanics of chord construction.


Jazz 12- Bar

This lesson is about playing 12-Bar blues, but with a jazz influence. Before trying out this chord progression, you should be familiar with the basic 12-Bar blues chords. The I, IV and V chords for a basic 12-Bar would be A7, D7 and E7 in the key of A.

The key of A is guitar-friendly, like most of the sharp keys - but it's good to transpose the chords to Bb so as not to upset horn players, if you play with other musicians in a band context. It's as easy as moving everything up one fret.

12- Bar Blues, key of A

Chord diagram info

These chords are mainly three-note chords, which are very useful. Usually the note on string 5 is muted. Each of the chords is played for 4 beats, except bars 7 and 8, where the chords are 2 beats each. D7 could be replaced with D9 and the A7 could be replaced with A13, but these are just options.

  • A7 is a root 6 chord, the root note of the chord is on string 6
  • D7 and E7 are root 5 chords, where the root note is now on string 5
  • One advantage of using these chord shapes is that it minimizes movement around the neck
  • The three-note shapes are easy to slide around, and you can also add some vibrato easily
  • The chord forms are in the same position as the lead scale patterns, making it easy to integrate chords and melody line. When you've learned the chords, this could be a useful exercise.

Finally, there are some lead scale patterns. The first one is a standard blues scale, the second is a pattern with maj 3rd and 6th notes added. This is great for bringing out the qualities of the A7 chord, and should only be used with that chord.

For a more melodic or country sound, just shift the first pattern down three frets (so it starts in fret 2.)

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