There are a lot of options when learning jazz guitar chords, but you don’t have to learn every single shape before you can begin making jazz music...
By starting with just a few jazz chord shapes you can build your confidence in no time. This lesson will help you do just that, build your confidence, have fun learning jazz chords, and expand your jazz chord knowledge all at the same time.
Essential Jazz Chord Shapes
If Jazz harmony is new to you, you'll need to start your study of jazz chord shapes slowly. Practice getting a few of the basic 6th and 5th string root chord shapes under your fingers.
Each of these chord shapes uses four notes, they are the most essential notes. The chords in Jazz are generally 7th chords and to make them on the guitar you'll need to contort your fingers in ways that they have probably never twisted and curled around before.
Take a few minutes a day over the next few weeks to become familiar with these chords. When you develop all of them, you'll have a repertoire of the basic chord shapes that are required to perform dozens and dozens of Jazz Standards.
If you aren’t 100% comfortable with some of these shapes, practice them until you become more comfortable with each one over time. It may take awhile to get them down.
Study each pattern on its own and within chord progressions. The application of them in songs will allow these chords to feel better under your fingers over time.
When playing the chords in this lesson, you will only need to play the strings indicated by fingerings within the grids, ("X" means do not play). You can perform these chords either with a pick, through hybrid style or using finger-style.
Once these chord patterns have been practiced, put them to work. Learn a few common Jazz Standards. One of the best ones out there is a piece called "Autumn Leaves."
If you've never studied "Autumn Leaves," I'd highly suggest looking into it. Dig into it's harmony and learn how these chords operate. The chord changes in "Autumn Leaves," are going to include every chord quality listed above.
Through learning this classic jazz piece, you'll start developing the technique of applying each of the essential jazz chord shapes listed herein.
If you need some detailed instruction on developing this classic Jazz Standard, guitarist "Jamie Holroyd," over at his Jazz Guitar Solutions website, did an excellent breakdown of this tune.
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