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Guitar Lesson, Jazz and Blues

Updated on January 6, 2022


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.

You could do this by using a capo in the first fret (A to B flat is one fret) but really you need to learn it without a capo, as it's essential to be able to play the Blues in several keys.

12- Bar Blues, key of A

Reading Chord Grids

The 6 vertical lines are the strings, the horizontal lines are the frets. The loop symbol denotes a barre, x means don't play this string.

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.)

The 3 - note chord approach works especially well in any band context, or when playing with piano. In fact, you can take this further and play 2-note chords that just use the 3rd and 7th of each chord. The master of this style is probably Freddie Green, of the Count Basie band. At time he would go down to one string, still very effective in the band context!


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