1 Easy Bossa Nova Guitar Hack

In this beginner Bossa Nova Jazz Guitar lesson you will learn a simple approach to genuine Bossa Nova Guitar and Girl From Ipanema. Keep it light and remember to relax – Bossa Nova is a lot of fun to play.

First Step: Listen to Bossa Nova Guitar.

Seems obvious, right? But this step is often missed. Don’t listen to just any Bossa Nova (or Youtube approximation), go directly to THE guy: Antonio Carlos Jobim. I’m not Brazilian or an expert in this style but I have studied recordings and video of Jobim and developed an understanding of this style. Also, In my study I have discovered that are many, in my opinion, misdirected instructional videos on how to play this style. So let’s break down a few common myths.

Bossa Nova Guitar Myths

  • The Bass doesn’t go Root – Fifth, more often than not it stays on the root.
  • There is no set, magical Bossa nova guitar rhythm.

If you check out the great Bossa Nova album ‘Elis and Tom’, every song has a different guitar pattern. BUT, there are trends which we shall look at now.

Your Bossa Nova ‘Hack’

Check out the video to see how I demonstrate a really simple hand movement that will work for any chord. 


Bossa Nova Trends

  • Stay Relaxed. Bossa Nova is mellow music, stay relaxed, groove out, keep it even.
  • Use a nylon string acoustic guitar (If you have one, I didn’t when I made this video).
  • Use your fingers – (not pick)
  • Bass: feel it in two
  • Play lightly
  • Don’t ONLY play Root- 5th in bass. You can sometimes :)
  • Vary the rhythm according to the tempo of the tune. Also consider the melody.

Bossa Nova Chord Shapes

The following chords sound really great with the Hack. They also happen to be the chords to Girl From Ipanema.

This is the chord progression to the A section:

Fmaj7 | Fmaj7 | G9 | G9 |
Gm9 | C7b13 |Fmaj7 | Fmaj7 |


Use these chords with a F root note to create a F Maj7.

major chord voicing


Use this with a G root note (Place the white circle on a G note) to create a G9.
beginner jazz chord

Minor 9

Use this with a G root note to create a Gmin9. Notice how it is just one note different to the above dom9.
easy-minor-9 copy


beginner jazz chord


Feel it, stay relaxed and remember if you want to learn how to dance watch a Michael Jackson video, to learn Bossa Nova go check out Tom Jobim!


  1. Mark says

    I couldn’t agree more, Sam. Learning on a nylon-string classical is the best way to go! I currently practice on my Cordoba nylon-string Spanish classical guitar and it helps greatly. Keep it cool, keep it loose, is also another good piece of advice. Thanks for the website. I like what I see so far.

    • pickupjazzadmin says

      Cheers for stopping by Mark. Keep an eye out for the new site I’m about to launch in the coming few weeks.


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