Last Updated on May 12, 2019 by Klaus Crow
So why do you want to learn jazz chords? Well, jazz chords will spice up and enrich your playing. It doesn’t even matter if you want to play jazz or not, the chords are perfectly suited for/and regularly used in pop, blues, country, flamenco, and other styles of music.
It’s a good collection of chord types and flavors to add to your chord vocabulary, and expand your skill set. You will come across these chords one way or another in the songs you always wanted to learn. So, if you don’t have these chords under your belt yet, now is the time.
If you do want to step up your playing and learn jazz, these chords are a great start and a solid foundation. There are an endless amount of chords used in jazz, but you can already come a long way with just these 15 easy and popular beginner jazz chords.
In the chord diagrams below we got five rows of chord types:
Maj7 – min7 – dom7 – min7b5 and diminished 7th.
Every row contains three chord shapes with each chord starting the root note (red notes in the chord diagrams below) on a different string. The root note is usually the lowest sounding note in a chord, and determines the key and name of the chord.
The first chord shape starts with the root on the Low E string. The second chord shape starts with the root on the A-string, and the third chord shape starts with the root on the D-string.
Moveable Chord Shapes
All the chord shapes are a moveable chord shapes that can be played in every key just by moving the chord up or down the fretboard. As I already mentioned, the root note determines the name of the chord. For example: The root note of the Gmaj7 chord is a G note. If you move the entire chord (shape) up a half step (1 fret) on the neck the root note is G#, which means the chord name is G#maj7. This goes for all the chords. If you move the Cmaj7 chord down a half step the root note becomes “B”, which means the chord name is Bmaj7, and so on.
The numbers on the dots indicate the fingering for each chord. 1 = first finger, 2 = second finger, 3 = third finger, 4 = fourth finger (pinky), and the red note indicates the root note. An X means that string is muted usually with the help of one of the fingers you are using to press the notes.
Now let’s take a look at the chords:
A major 7th chord is a 4-note chord (often played with duplicate notes because of the six strings of the guitar). The chord sounds kind of dreamy and jazzy. The major 7th chord (Maj7) consists of the root (1), 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the major scale 1-3-5-7. So a major the 7th note of the major scale is added to the major chord. For further explanation on chord structure see How to use Chord formulas.
The min7 chord is also a 4-note chord and has a melancholy sound to it. The minor 7th chord (m7) consists of the root, minor 3rd, 5th and flatted (b) 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 5 b7).
The dominant 7th chord is a typical blues chord, but also regularly used in jazz. The dom7 consists of the root, 3rd, 5th and flatted (b) 7th notes of the major scale (1 3 5 b7).
Minor 7b5 Chords
The minor 7b5 chord (m7b5), also called “half diminished” consists of the root, minor 3rd, flatted (b) 5th and flatted (b) 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 b5 b7)
The diminished 7 chord (dim7) has a dissonant sound. It consists of the root, minor 3rd, flatted (b) 5th and double flatted (bb) 7th notes of the major scale (1 b3 b5 bb7). Which makes the double flatted 7th enharmonically the same as a major sixth. (bb7 = 6)
- Practice and memorize all the chords
- Learn all the notes on the E A and D string to identify the keys and names for each chord as you move them up and down the neck.
- Practice the chord shapes in different keys, each time speak out loud the root note and the name of the chord.
- Apply the chords to some of the following jazz songs and progressions:
- Top 20 Easy Popular Jazz Guitar Chord Songs
- 5 Beautiful Ways to Play a II-V-I Jazz Chord Progression
Have a great jazz practice!