Guest Post: 3 Easy Jazz Guitar Lessons for Beginners

The following is a guest post by Ellie McKinsey, staff writer for Know Your Instrument. 

As a beginner to jazz guitar, what should you be learning first? If you’re finding it tricky to get started with playing jazz music, read on. I’ve listed the top jazz guitar beginner lessons you can start on. Check them out, pick those that suit your current skill level and tailor your lessons according to your needs.

When playing jazz music, it’s ideal to have a made-for-jazz guitar in your hands. If you don’t have one yet, take a look at some of the best electric jazz guitars to give you an idea of the many options available to you.

So which jazz guitar lessons are recommended for beginners? Let’s take a look.

Beginner jazz guitar chords

If you are going to be playing jazz music then you need to know the chords that serve as the foundation of jazz guitar. Guitar chords that are associated with jazz music are also used in other genres such as rock, pop and classical but are slightly different. Jazz chords go beyond the three-note triad, using at least four notes in their construction. Jazz chords also include the 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th.

Along with knowing essential jazz chords by heart is practicing chord progressions. Once you’ve memorized the chord shapes and can execute them accurately, you will be able to play many jazz standards.

Easy jazz guitar songs

Even if you have not fully mastered jazz chords yet, you can already start playing easy or simplified jazz tunes with the chords you may already know. Being able to play a few jazz standards can motivate you to learn more.

Some of the easy jazz guitar songs you can start learning today are “Summertime” by George Gershwin, “Fly Me to the Moon” by Bart Howard (and popularized by Frank Sinatra), “Autumn Leaves” by Joseph Kosma and “So What” by Miles Davis.

Essential jazz guitar scales

Guitar scales can be tricky to learn but they’re part of what beginners need to know. There are seven scales that beginners to jazz guitar should start with. Knowing these will enable you to play over jazz standards quicker and more easily later on. These scales are the following:

  • Major Scale / Ionian Scale
  • Minor Scale / Aeolian Scale
  • Dorian Scale
  • Mixolydian Scale
  • Phrygian Dominant Scale
  • Major Blues Scale
  • Minor Blues Scale

Check out this informative guide on jazz guitar scales as well as exercises to help you practice and master them.

Final Word

As with anything that requires concentration, start slow. At the beginning, focus on getting things right instead of speed. Speed will come later, and by then you will not only be fast but accurate too.

Take your time to understand jazz guitar lessons, concepts and music theory. Take one or two steps back if you find something too overwhelming, then come back to take another stab at it. Keep learning and practicing, and soon you’ll be well on your way to becoming a good jazz guitarist and a better musician overall.

Ellie McKinsey is a staff writer at Know Your Instrument and frequently writes about playing and learning different instruments.

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