You need to know a lot of jazz guitar chords. You might be overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Welcome to our Quick Start Guide; the Top 10 beginner jazz guitar chords you need to learn.
What Should I Know Already?
I recommend you have a basic understanding of bar chords before attempting these chords. A bar chord usually consists of no open strings and involves barring multiple strings with one finger. Bar chords are great because unlike open chords, they are easily moved around. Bar chords = powerful chord shapes to play in all keys.
How Do I Practice Beginner Jazz Guitar Chords?
Good question, follow these 5 easy steps to learn a new chord:
- Make sure each note of the chord is clean and clear.
- Take it slow; get comfortable with the new shape.
- Move the chord up and down the fret board.
- Swap between different chords. Build speed changing chords.
First, A Short Video
Check this out to view all of the chords below in context.
All right, let’s get to the chords!
I will start with the easiest chords and work my way down to some trickier (and more colorful) jazz guitar chord voicings. A white circle is the chord’s root note (bass note). Easily move this shape up or down the fretboard, just center the white circle on your root note. Numbers indicate what finger to use.
These two chords are very, very useful. The first has its root on your lowest string and the second on the 5th string. Try them out!
A minor 7 chord is used very often in jazz (and all types of music). These two shapes are your go-to minor 7 chords.
Adding a 9th to a minor 7 chord creates a min9 chord which is WAY cooler. There is a colorful half-step clash between the b3 and 9. Mmmm. This chord has its root on the 5th string.
Can you see how this chord is vey similar to the minor9 one? This is a much hipper version of your standard dom7 chord. Very cool and funky shape to learn.
This shape fits really easily under the fingers. m7b5 or half diminished chords are most often used as a II chord in a minor key e.g Cmin7 Dm7b5 G7 (as in Blue Bossa).
This is a fantastic altered dominant chord. Rather than a normal 5 it has a #5 which gives it a lot of tension. Works great leading to minor chords as well as major chords.
This is a very handy chord to have in your toolbox. The cool thing about diminished harmony is you can move chords up and down minor thirds (3 frets).
Here are recordings of each chord with a C root note. I enabled downloading so feel free to keep this audio as a reference to make sure all your chords are correct.