The guitar is one of the most common instruments used in jazz songs. Because of this, you need to know jazz chords for guitar if you want to play in this musical style.
In this article, I’ll present the best known jazz chords for guitar.
1. Minor 7th chord
The minor 7th chord is a basic jazz guitar chord. It is used in several functions, both on minor and major keys.
See, for example, the Am7 chord:
Or, for another example, consider the Em7 chord:
2. Major 7th chord
Just like the minor 7th chord, this chord is very common. However, the context is completely different. Major 7th chords have a tonic function, and are used to emphasize the tonic.
They may also be used as a subdominant chord, especially in the 4th degree of the major key.
For a good example, consider the C maj7 chord:
3. Dominant 7th chord
This is another very useful chord, which is used not only in jazz but in most tonal music: classical, folk, rock, blues, and so many other styles.
Another example is the B7 guitar chord:
4. Half diminished chord
The half diminished chord occurs naturally in the major and minor keys. Thus, they can be used in several contexts.
This chords is more commonly found in a 2-5-1 sequence, when the chord 1 is minor. In that case, the half diminished chord sounds better than just a minor chord.
A nice example of half diminished chord is F#mb7:
5. The diminished 7th chord
The diminished 7th chord can be see as a dominant chord. It is formed as a sequence of minor thirds. Because each minor third represents three half notes, with four such minor thirds we can cover all 12 chromatic notes of the scale.
This means that diminished 7th chords repeat themselves, varying only the root note. For example:
Bdim = Ddim = Fdim = Abdim
That is, these dominate chords have the same notes (up to enharmonic changes).
Here is, for example, the Cdim chord:
6. The major 7/9 chord
A common chord extension used in jazz is the 7/9 chord. This chord has a major triad and has a minor 7th, which makes it a dominant function chord.
This chord also adds a 9th extension, which makes its sound very well in most situations.
Here is, for example, a D7/9 chord:
7. The major 6th chord
Here is a chord that can be used very well in a tonic function.
The major 6th chord just needs to add the 6th, which is a good sounding and consonant note to the major chord.
This type of chord is frequently used when we want to stay a little longer in a particular tonic or subdominant chord, and the major 6th is added for variation.
Here is, for example, the A6 chord:
8. The major 7 #11 chord
This is probably the most dissonant chord in this list.
If is created by adding the #11 note to a major chord. Notice that this is similar to an augmented 4th, but a octave above.
This chord is useful to create an impact on transitions, adding the #11 as an interesting option for improvisation.
Here, for example, is the G7#11 chord:
Learning More About the Guitar
If you want to learn more about chords, we provide a free guitar course that you can use to learn this and more.
We cover the following topics:
- Chords for the guitar
- Reading tabs
- Learning to solo on a guitar
- Using chord extensions
- And much more.
To get your free guitar course, click here and request your copy. You will receive the course (60 pages) in PDF on your email.