Adding an extra note on the 2nd string is a good way to add some color to your fundamental jazz guitar chords.
For our purposes, we are going to call these notes color tones
While the fundamental chords give you a really clean representation of the jazz chord, adding color tones gives you more control over the sound, more ability to play specific chords that pop up in your music, and make playing chords a lot more fun.
The major pentatonic scales are an important building block for playing melodies and improvising solos on the guitar.
These patterns are important for all styles of music, and especially helpful when you’re learning to play jazz guitar.
These scales can be a helpful go-to source for material when you are improvising on a major blues progression, or with other progressions that stick mostly to a major key.
To get the most out of this lesson, you’ll want to know the notes along each of the guitar strings. If you’re not comfortable with that yet, click here to get started.
If you’re in a hurry to get these scales under your fingers and playable, don’t worry! I’ll include a fretboard map here to show you what you need to know.
The pentatonic scales are helpful for a couple of reasons:
Chords are an essential skill for jazz guitar, and they can be a lot of fun to work on.
If you’re playing in any kind of group (jazz band, combos, with another guitar player, etc) your main job will probably be playing chords, so it's a good idea to get familiar with them early on.
To get the most out of this lesson, you’ll need to know the note names on the 6th and 5th strings.
If you’re not familiar with the note names up and down each string, click here to get started.
Don’t worry - I’ll include fretboard maps in this lesson with the notes on the 6th and 5th strings if you’re in a hurry to get going.
Instead of trying to memorize a bunch of different chord shapes for every situation, I’m going to show you 2 fundamental chord shapes that you can modify to create the basic chords you need for almost any situation in jazz guitar.
This is a helpful jazz guitar voicing for a G7#11 chord. This is a movable voicing with the root on the 6th string, meaning that you can change the letter name of this chord by moving it up or down the neck.
Note: The #11 can also be called a b5. You might see G7#11 or G7b5 on a chord chart, but this chord shape covers either name.
On the left is the G7#11 chord shown with the chord tones/intervals used, and on the right is the recommended finger pattern.
This chord can be used for any dominant 7th (G7, C7, etc) type chord you come across.
Whether it calls for G7, G9, or anything else with a 7 or higher in the chord symbol, this chord will work.
This is an important scale pattern for improvising and playing melodies to jazz standards.
Many melodies use the major scale in some way shape or form as a foundation.
While melodies will likely have notes that don’t fit this pattern exactly, it can serve as a template to keep yourself organized when you play.
This is a helpful jazz guitar voicing for a Major 9th chord. This is a movable voicing with the root on the 5th string, meaning that you can change the letter name of this chord by moving it up or down the neck.
On the left is the Cmaj9 chord shown with the chord tones/intervals used, and on the right is the recommended finger pattern.
This chord can be used for any major 7th type chord you come across. Whether it calls for Cmaj7, Cmaj9, or anything else with a “maj” in the chord symbol, this chord will work.
Listening to great guitarists is an essential part of learning to play guitar. Hearing great players will give you ideas, inspiration, and help you develop your own unique sound.
Below you'll find a list of some of my favorite guitar players in a variety of styles, with links to recordings of their playing. This list will get updated regularly, so check back often.
If there's a guitarist that isn't on this list that you think should be or any of the links don't work for you, contact me and let me know!
When it comes to playing guitar, you are what you listen to. So keep listening to great guitar players of any style you like.
Keep checking back to see what's new on the list, and feel free to contact me to let me know what you're listening to!
Pentatonic scales are an essential skill for any guitar player.
They are almost always a good first bet when playing a guitar solo, and are an essential building block for becoming a complete guitar player.
This is the second part in a series of lessons on the major and minor pentatonic scales for guitar.
If you haven’t caught the lesson on 6th string pentatonic scales yet, click here.
Once you’re comfortable using your major and minor Pentatonic scales starting on the 6th string, it’s a good idea to learn a new scale pattern.
Learning the pentatonic scales on the 5th string will give you new options for playing in different keys, and because the finger pattern is different these new scale shapes will help you develop new musical ideas.
Jazz improvisation for guitar often becomes more complicated than it really needs to be.
For some students, even learning how to improvise along with a blues progression can be a difficult thing to do.
Both students and teachers dive deep into the theory aspect of soloing, and get stuck thinking about what they are going to play instead of using their ears and creating interesting melodies.
One reason for this is that traditional theory doesn’t apply to the blues in a literal way, so students have to learn the theory in traditional terms, and then learn all of the exceptions that apply to the blues.
This way, you end up having to learn, unlearn, and relearn your theory - just to play a blues solo on the blues. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this complicated.
Getting A Good Sound
Getting a good sound for jazz on guitar is a combination of your equipment, settings on your electronics, and you as the player.
If you want to sound good playing jazz, you need to listen to great jazz guitar players.
Spend some time figuring out what you can do to match the sound of guitarists like Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Jim Hall for starters.
Your equipment also plays a part in the sound you create with it.
Having the right strings and picks, the guitar and amplifier you use, and knowing how to adjust your tone and volume settings can all make a big difference.