Jazz Guitar Lessons
Disclosure:We are compensated for
Click here for
Playing great jazz could for the beginner seem an
insurmountable learning curve. Whilst it is true that the great jazz musicians have spent years perfecting their
craft, so did many of the greats of rock, blues and country guitarists. In fact, with just a few jazz guitar
lessons playing chords and scales any intermediate jazz guitar beginner can start burning!
Chord expansion is the best place to
start. Up to this point in your jazz guitar lessons you have probably gained a good knowledge of major, minor and
dominant chords. The next step in your jazz guitar instruction is to learn the upper extension chords – the major
and minor 7th chords. Most jazz standards do not use the basic major or minor chords, so getting command of these
upper extension chords is crucial. If you have a home study guitar course, whip out the chord sheet and study the
diagrams for these chords and start memorizing them in every key.
The ii-V-I Cadence. The ii-V-I chord
progression is the most basic and fundamental in jazz. It typically marks either a temporary key change or the end
of a phrase, known as a cadence, and appears in many jazz standards multiple times and in many different forms.
Start in the key of F major. This means that the ii chord is Gmin7, the V chord is C7 and the I chord is
Jazz Scales. Now that you are spending
time learning your chords, you can get started on scales. If you haven’t started learning and memorizing the major
scales, now’s the time. A typical roadblock for students taking jazz guitar lessons is that jazz is often in keys
that favour horns and the piano, which are typically flat keys. It is good therefore to start practicing the F, Bb,
E-flat and A-flat major scales. Next, memorize the chromatic scale. There are many different ways to practice this
scale and it isn’t difficult to memorize. Just make sure to practice it in different areas of the
Solo Jazz Guitar. Practicing solo jazz
guitar can really be a lot of fun. A good suggestion would be to whip out your metronome and practice your scales
as eighth notes with a swing feel. Set your metronome to quarter notes and play two notes but with a triplet feel:
1-e-a 2-e-a 3-e-a 4-e-a. Make sure you accent the downbeat and the “a”. This will help to develop your time feel as
well as give you added practice on your chords.
The next step is to add chromatic notes to your major scale. Most of what makes jazz
lines so great are those chromatic lines, which are outside the key, but when played with a swing feel, sound
Listen to the Greats. I know I have said
this before but just as with blues, jazz music is a highly aural art form. All your jazz guitar lessons and all the
practicing in the world will not better just putting your guitar down, putting on your headphones and listening.
Great jazz recordings lend themselves to multiple listening and each time you listen you will hear different
things. One time you may pay attention to what the pianist or the guitarist is playing behind the soloist. Another
time, you may hear the soloist and how he locks in with the time feel of the drummer’s high hat and cymbal. Each
time you listen, your understanding and feel for jazz will deepen.
Practice with other Jazzers! Now – the
most important step in gaining the best from your jazz guitar lessons is to put together a jazz band and jam!!
Don’t be surprised if you find it a humbling experience at first. Let’s face it, if you have spent the last few
months or maybe even years practicing alone and now you are suddenly playing with other people hearing you play, it
can be a bit daunting. But, you’ll soon get over it. Just stay with it and pay attention to what the other players
are doing. It is absolutely true that some of the best education for a jazz guitar beginner comes from
While great jazz has taken some of the legends their whole
lives to master, jazz is a journey of discovery for every jazz guitar player. The most important thing for us all
is to have fun along the way and just to enjoy playing guitar. With some practice you too can get started on your
personal journey to find your own voice with your guitar.