I always kinda scoffed at jazz, but now after really listening to it, and realize some of my favorite guitar players (who are in metal bands) take some heavy influence from it, I've decided it's actually quite great, and I'm interested in working it into my own playing.

But I have NO idea where to start. Should I just study jazz chords/progressions, etc? I've also heard that jazz tends to break alot of rules when it comes to theory and such, and I don't really understand all of that.

I'm pretty much a nub at it overall, so the question where do I begin so I can understand and apply it in my own playing?
Read a bit about the history of jazz; so many people have a totally wrong idea of what jazz actually is, and it's always a good idea to clear up the basics before you start. Books are probably the best way to go as far as the theory side is concerned. Jazz doesn't break rules as such though. I think the best summary of jazz theory I've heard is 'yes, when you are adept enough, you can play any note over any chord in jazz, as long as you understand what you are doing, and know how to resolve it'. It's definitely not a case of anything goes, and you need to know the theory to bend the rules.
Find some books on Amazon or something about chord substitution, chord tone melody solos, or books like Jazzology, or anything by a jazz guitarist, such as Joe Pass. Then see if you can get a 'fake book' - a collection of jazz standards. Try to never use tabs for any song, unless it's for studying solos of jazz musicians. Even then actual sheet music will be so much more useful, because it shows the difference between an Abb and a G, for example. Then find some backing tracks on YouTube for some jazz standards, and see if you can play the head (the name for the main melody in a jazz piece), and maybe try a bit of comping (playing chords, usually using chord substitution to make things more interesting), and then move on to improvisational melodies and such like.
I think...
Definitely learn how to read learn plenty of repertoire. Like said before, finding a Real Book, which has transcriptions of a bunch of popular standards will help. Most importantly, learn the theory behind it all. Learn how harmony works and what composers did to make things sound how they are. It'll take awhile, but it'll help you begin to fully understand the basis of jazz. Also, listen to plenty of players from all different eras of jazz, and all kinds of instruments. Don't stop at Joe Pass or Miles. Listen to all the different instruments and how they interact with each other.
Alright, thank you guys! I'll be sure to grab some reading material asap.

Also, would you say there is a good way to go about applying it in the ways of metal-ish music? I don't want to simply copy the way that some of my favorite players do it, nor do I want to just throw in some kind of random jazz break in a song.
Learn how modal interchange works. A lot of the guys you may be thinking of get their sound by just changing the quality of chords. You can capture that sound by pretty much manipulating how the chords move.
Way more than modal interchange.^^^^^^^^^^^

The saying that "If you can play jazz you can probably play anything" is one that has a lot of reasoning and validity. Go solo to a chorus of "Satin Doll" and you'll see what I mean.

Pick any major scale you want and you'll still fail. Humbling right?

Use Modal Interchange, and do it...fail again, right? That's because there are 4 key changes before you ever exit the first verse. Look, pop music, rock music, metal, usually, one key occasionally 2, mostly one. You can carpetbomb it all day and night. What happens when you hit a song with 4 keys, switching on you faster than you can hear them, It's like a cat trying to catch one of those laser eye things.

Jazz soloing will force you to grow up musically, and discern the structure of the music, more so than anything else I know. Wanna sound like a dumb ox? start playing to Jazz without understanding the basics of the ii V I, or being able to play leads and know your scales to the Circle of 4ths/5ths.


Last edited by Sean0913 at Dec 29, 2011,
Learn some jazz standards, and get the jazz chords under your fingers.

It helps to get the physicality of playing the chord shapes out of the way, so you can fully focus on voice leading and altering tones in a chord when the time comes.

Also when you can play all the basic chords from jazz, you can jam and get real life experience and fun

I'd recommend starting with playing these chords, and also memorise each scale degree from the chord and where it is located in the chord in the form that you play it on your guitar.

Major 7th
Minor 7th
Dominant 7th
Diminished 7th

Those four chord types are the basic ones on which to build harmony and key centres.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Dec 29, 2011,
transcribe. transcribe comping. transcribe solos. transcribe melodies. figure out changes by ear. it'll be a struggle, but learning ten tunes completely by ear will get you further than learning fifty on paper.

learn the theory though. ii-V's. altered tones. etc.

ear training. learn to hear the ii-V sound. learn to hear a maj7#11. learn to hear a half-diminished vs a diminished. start simple and work up. any ear training will help. play a chord on piano/guitar and sing a given tone. start with simple triadic chord tones. work up to extensions and then altered tones.

listen, listen, listen. transcribe, transcribe, transcribe.