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Old 03-19-2015, 04:38 PM   #1
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Starting Jazz Guitar

Hi guys, I've recently gotten into Jazz guitar (artists like Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel for example) and I would love to start learning how to play it.
But I literally have no idea where to start.
If you guys could point me in the right direction for a novice, and give me some songs to learn I'd be very appreciative.
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Old 03-19-2015, 05:59 PM   #2
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You don't say if you're wanting to learn jazz rhythm or lead. I took jazz lessons for a few years and am nowhere close to being an expert.

Start off with the old standards, such as Satin Doll, Misty, April Wine and Autumn Leaves. If you can learn the chords and get good at making the changes, that's half the battle. As for playing lead with jazz, you need to get good at identifying keys and playing the correct scales. The modal scales work well with jazz, too.

Check out Justin Guitar.

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Old 03-19-2015, 06:31 PM   #3
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Beginning Jazz Guitar by Jody Fisher. Great book, and there are 4 in the series, each one going up in the difficulty. I highly recommend getting the CD
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Old 03-19-2015, 06:32 PM   #4
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I don't know if you're familiar with basic theory yet, but you should master that first, completely.

If you really want to master jazz, I recommend taking at least a few lessons with a jazz teacher. There is a lot that of "reading between the lines" that you may miss from textbooks/videos, etc.

I'd say get yourself a Fake Book and learn some melodies and harmonies and try to improvise based on them.
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Last edited by one vision : 03-19-2015 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 03-19-2015, 06:41 PM   #5
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I'm not an expert when it comes to jazz (or jazz guitar), but I would suggest learning some jazz standards. Also, jam with other musicians. I think that's the best way to learn to play jazz because jazz is a lot about "musical connection" (listening and reacting to what other musicians play). And the only way to learn that is to play with other people.

You want to learn a lot of chord voicings to make your rhythm playing sound smooth.

Learn some theory. I would say keys and chord functions are the most important things. You may also want to look at CST (Chord Scale Theory) - but first learn about keys and chord functions.

Use your ears. Learn songs by ear. Ear is very important in jazz (well, it's of course important in all genres, but especially in jazz), because as I said, the "musical connection" is important - jazz has a lot of improvisation in it. If you are going to improvise, you need to use your ears.
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Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Old 03-19-2015, 10:36 PM   #6
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i second the justinguitar.com recommendation. i'm in the same situation as you, i listen to some jazz, and despite having played guitar for years, i've only started trying to learn to play jazz in the past few months. i started with learning the basic 7th chord major/minor/dominant/diminished shapes with the roots on the 5th and 6th strings, and that was enough to play a primitive version of most jazz tune progressions. after my fingers got comfortable with the shapes, i focused more on chord construction so that i knew what i was playing, and how i could play it in different and more interesting ways.

it's quite a different experience from playing stuff like rock/metal, where you tend to just look up a tab or figure out the song note by note to learn the one correct way of playing a song.
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Old 03-19-2015, 11:57 PM   #7
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I haven't posted here in a while...i mean YEARS! but anyways..

Let me tell you the biggest most important lesson of jazz you will ever hear.

What is jazz one might ask??

Jazz is freedom

Remember that. In jazz there are no ways to play correctly, is how you play it!

and 2nd most important lesson..

SWING! It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

With that being said. Arpgeggios will come more handy than scales but please, play free. It is what makes jazz JAZZ. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and play wrong notes, because there are none
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:44 AM   #8
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Not much to add. There is a very nice jazz guitar forum here:

And there's a pretty good jazz guitar section on Reddit... r/jazz guitar.

Jazz is a very big tent, with many different styles and lots of different ways to play. Everything from comping rhythm chords in a small group to wild jazz/rock fusion.
Quite a lot of solo guitar stuff as well....Mostly chord-melody work. (that's what I aspire to.}

I set up a Pandora channel for jazz guitarists and just keep listening. You should come to some idea what style and manner of playing suits you.
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Old 03-20-2015, 10:26 AM   #9
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I know very little about Jazz guitar but here goes. First don't be afraid to play "wrong notes" as some of my favorite Jazz virtuosos like John Coltrane and Art Tatum did that regularly and they were amazing. One of the most important things in Jazz is a mysterious thing called the swing. Once you get that under your fingers, you'll be able to play Jazz or at least fake it. Also learn your triads and 7th chords as those are important for both comping (playing chords under someone else's solo) and arpeggios for soloing. You'll need to identify chords and chord progressions too.

Learn some Jazz standards like "Autumn Leaves" and "Summertime". One of my favorite Jazz standards is "Fly Me to The Moon" (has a great yet somewhat dreamy melody and was the ending theme for Neon Genesis Envangelion). Just listen to the Rei Ayanami version and tell me it isn't a great one.

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