Introduction to Jazz Guitar

If Jazz is new to you, this is a good place to get acquainted with some of the fundamentals.

Jazz Chords to get some chords to use right away.
Jazz Scales to check out some of the different ways of arranging seven notes
Comping to learn how to apply some of these new chords
Reading, because no one will ever hand you TAB in a Jazz setting.

What are some of the differences between playing Jazz and Rock? Since many guitarists start out playing Rock and Blues, this is an important thing to know. There are a few things that come to mind immediately, with the assumption that there are many exceptions to any generalization:

1) In a Jazz group, everyone has a function to fulfill rather than a pre-determined part to play (most of the time). How the player takes care of that function is up to them, within stylistic parameters, such as walking bass lines, ride cymbal patterns, comping, etc.

2) There are chords used in Jazz that don’t show up very often in Rock and Blues. Typically, Jazz uses chords that all have at least the 7th degree added, rarely triads (exceptions being triads over different bass notes). On top of this, Dominant chords (7th chords) always have at least the 9th, and use the 13th and #11 often. When the Dominant chords are resolving up a fourth, G7 to C for instance, they often use flat 9, sharp 9 (the “Purple Haze” chord), #11, flat 13 and often combinations of these “altered” notes.

3) When soloing, the scales that correspond to the underlying harmony will change with said harmony. A different scale will be used to inform the the solo when playing on an altered G7 chord than that for a C Major7 chord. Contrast this with playing mostly blues scale or one-scale oriented improvisation.

4) A lot of good hook-oriented Rock songs use repetition as the means to get the point across and create an effective architecture. In this style, the process of building the song to the point of repeating the hook at the end is what makes a great tune (if the hook is itself great). In a Jazz solo, repetition is usually a sign that maybe it’s time to let someone else solo.

Jazz Chords