Beginner Jazz Guitar; In 4 Easy Steps

Welcome to your Quick Start Guide for learning beginner jazz guitar fast and effortlessly.

learn beginner guitar Use this guide to:

  • Learn the basics
  • Explore exotic scales and chords
  • Have fun while learning!

Step 1: Don’t Listen To ANYTHING I Say (Really)

Take any musical advice (including mine) with a grain of salt – YOU are your best guitar teacher.

The guitar is still relatively young compared to most instruments. For a long time the guitar was simply a tool for rhythmic accompaniment, it became a prominent soloing instrument much later than most other instruments in jazz. What this means for you is there isn’t a defined tradition of guitar technique and schooling that you need to follow rigidly. For sure, they are great methods and advice, but your best guitar teacher is YOU.

What this means for you, the beginner jazz guitarist:

  • There is still uncharted territory on guitar: Get excited! The guitar is still young, you could be the next pioneer.
  • There are no rules: Watch Wes Montgomery, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Kurt Rosenwinkle, and Mike Stern. They all hold their pick at a different angle. Their straps are at different heights. They use different positions, shapes, chords and fingerings. Crazy right?


Every guitarist is different. YOU are different. Take advice from whoever you can and create your OWN sound. All I do with pickupjazz is package what I have learnt in a neat little website. Think of pickupjazz as a springboard for defining your own style.

Use this site as fuel for igniting your inquisitive musical engine.

Step 2: LISTEN to Jazz

  • Listen to Justin Bieber all day and you might be able to write catchy pop songs
  • Listen to John Coltrane for five hours a day and you’ll be a killin’ jazz musician in no time

I recommend beginner guitarist start by listening to Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, Jim Hall and Kenny Burrell. Youtube them now. Step 2 is often forgotten but is SO important.

Make the Most of Your Time

I live in NYC so I spend far to many hours on the subway. Rather than thinking of my journeys as wasted time, I treat them as valuable hours of daily listening time. This week I have Bill Evans’ album ‘Alone’ on repeat while last week I listened to Charlie Parker solidly. Work out for yourself how to fit music into your daily schedule. SATURATE yourself in the music your want to create. Trust me, it works!

Step 3: Play Jazz with other Musicians

Before the Internet, jazz programs and Jamey Aebersold, jazz was passed down generations through mentorship and jamming.

  • Jam with other jazz fanatics
  • Go to jazz gigs
  • Swap ideas for practicing with friends
  • Don’t be another living room guitarist! (or another living room guitar teacher – there are far to many of them)

Step 4: Start Slow

You don’t want to overload yourself with new information. Start off slow and build speed. The following lessons are easy to follow and won’t overload you with information.

4 Easy Beginner Lessons

Keep Learning!

Thanks for stopping by pickupjazz and congratulations on making it through this tutorial. Make sure you keep learning and having fun. The stairway to guitar heaven is a never-ending journey. I discovered the hard way that it is more important to enjoy the process of learning than looking for an endpoint and ‘making it’. Take your time, start slow and you will be AMAZED at what you achieve. Return to jazz guitar lessons here.

Feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions you may have (or just say hi!).  

See you around soon,

~ Sam Blakelock |


  1. Alexandr says

    Hey Sam!
    Can’t download your Guitar Chord Chart you know. I’ve just filled the info here – and pressed submit then I’ve just got an email with subscription but nothing else. Such a good stuff and I cant download it actually! Can you help me with this downloading? Many thanks in advance! Big up man!

    • pickupjazzadmin says

      Hi Alexandr,

      Thank you for letting me know, I just sent you the ebook direct to your email.

      Apologies with this, let me know if you have any further issues.

  2. Richard says

    After 40 years playing blues/rock guitar I’ve suddenly decided to expand my horizons into jazz. After hours of searching online I eventually found your website. Thank God! Instead of presenting me with 500 chords to learn you boil it down to 10, to start with. (I haven’t learned new chords in decades, you don’t need to in blues.)
    Anyway, you make the thing look a whole lot more approachable than any other site I’ve come across.

    • pickupjazzadmin says

      Hey Richard, I’m glad this site can be useful to you! I’m about to launch a whole new site with a whole lot of new beginner lessons so look out for that.


  3. Jebin says

    Hi Sam,

    This has been such a refreshing take on learning jazz. I’ve only gotten up to understanding how to play a few shapes from youtube videos randomly but I never could infuse what I learn as isolated jazz chords or runs or licks or whatever they may be called into my playing when jamming with bands.

    I end up leaning heavily on the major-minote blues/pentatonic. I am looking forward all of that transforming thanks to this site. Good Job!


    PS: Also, props to how your website is laid – clean and intensely minimal – love it!

    • pickupjazzadmin says

      Hi Jebin,

      I appreciate your thoughts, thanks very much for stopping by! I try to keep the design as minimal as possible, I’m close to launching and even simpler site in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that.


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