Okay, like the title says, I've got two questions. Legitimate answers are appreciated!
1. I started really learning theory over the summer to join jazz band (which I got into), and recently I've been told to try to start playing chords without the root. My question is, how do you get over traditional chord voicing (like E and A bar chords), and start doing rootless chords?
2. What is a good way (eq x guitar vol/tone x pickup) to get a nice light jazz tone? Gear is in sig. Right now I'm using the Tech21 and the Washburn.

Like I said, any help would be vastly appreciated!

Edit: The Washburn is solid alder, with master volume and tone controls, H-S-S, 81-SA-SA.
'89 MIJ Fender Strat
Rivera S-120
'60s PEPCO Model 211 5w head
'60s Paul (Pepco) 1x12 tube amp
'60s Harmony H303a 1x10 tube amp
Well, I'm not a jazz expert but i also play in a school jazz band (I'm assuming the band's for school?) but i'll try to help.

1. Rootless chords. The easiest way to do this is to play your chord (such as a D13, for example) and simply omit the root note. This probably isn't the most professional way to do it... but it seems to work for me Also, it may behoove you to omit the 5th of the chord as well, seeing as it adds little value to the note played by the bass (the omitted root note of your chord)

2. I find that the tone that works best in a full jazz band setting is one that is nice and mellow. This keeps your trebles from interfering with other "trebly" instruments such as the trumpet. I usually keep the bass at about 6, the mids at 8 and the treble at 6.5-ish... and perhaps lower depending on your amp.

Hope this helps. If a more knowledgeable jazz musician comes along, please, correct me
Look up drop voicings (you're familiar with one: the A type 7 chord, minus the repeated 5th on the 1st string). Take one, either on strings 5432 or 4321, and eliminate the unnecessary inner voice (either a root or a fifth). BAM! great voicing for all-purpose comping. There are about 40 voicings to be had here, get memorizing.

Tone: Neck pickup, volume about 7 or so (probably less because of the EMGs; experiment to find the happy spot in between obnoxious and thin. Adjust your actual volume with your amp), roll off tone to taste. Try to blend with/complement the piano's sound.
No, it's not for composing.The problem I should adjust to using rootless chords as apposed to stand bar chord variations. I'm looking for tips to break the habit!
'89 MIJ Fender Strat
Rivera S-120
'60s PEPCO Model 211 5w head
'60s Paul (Pepco) 1x12 tube amp
'60s Harmony H303a 1x10 tube amp
The thing with rootless chords is that they're difficult to practice by yourself because they sound incomplete.

Try practicing your comp with a play-along: Aebersold is good, especially if you can figure out the channel on/off system, but I recommend picking up band in a box for its flexibility (even if it is a bit robotic sounding - although the new version has apparently been reworked with sampling and sounds WAY better)

The simplest and and coolest way to voice chords in a crowded big band setting is to simply play freddie green style and play ONLY the third and seventh of the chord (or sometimes even just one choice note) on the inner strings, leading smoothly from one to another. Where most guitarists fail at this is the rhythm: LOCK IT IN WITH THE BASSIST. You are imitating a walking line, only in a different range.

The next, and most interesting, is to substitute triads (on a dm7, play dm, em, f, g, am bdim or c triads etc) and walk them up and down, always leading through changes. This is really great on songs with slower changes; it's especially nice on modal tunes.

Remember: the pianist can do all the harmony; you need to not so much worry about that so much as the RHYTHM.

note on voice leading: One of the awful things about the barre chord addiction is jumping all over the neck to find voicings. Make it easy on yourself. Voice your chords so your notes change as little as possible; hold common tones when you can, move in steps otherwise. Most changes are very close and have a lot in common, and you won't likely be seeing Coltrane changes (which have almost no notes in common with each successive ii-V) in a school jazz band. Work out lots of ways to play ii-Vs without moving much; same goes for other common forms, blues, etc.
So (among other things) imitate bass. Oh, and along the lines of big band, we're f**king huge. 10 trumpets, 4 trombones, 12 assorted saxes (2 baritone, 5 tenor, 7 alto), 2 guitars, 2 bass, 1 set player, 1 other percussion for bongos or vibes, and 1 piano player. Do rootless chords apply to all jazz, or can you have roots in rock or funk songs? Example: 'The Chili Pepper That Got Away' (by George Shutack), a latin piece, or 'Brass Machine' (Mark Taylor), a rock piece? 'Brass Machine' is all major chords, except for a samba section. Should the same concept still apply to those?

EDIT: also, is it normal for jazz guitarists to use all down strokes? Unless it's straight sixteenth notes I usually just use down strokes.
'89 MIJ Fender Strat
Rivera S-120
'60s PEPCO Model 211 5w head
'60s Paul (Pepco) 1x12 tube amp
'60s Harmony H303a 1x10 tube amp
Last edited by theacousticpunk at Feb 27, 2008,
For four-on-the-floor (aka orchestral comp or Freddie Green style) all downstrokes, yes.


^The master shows you how it's done. Note that this style is completely inappropriate for music that doesn't swing ie. latin or rock.

Also: see if you can get your conductor to read this:

you're violating two that I know about (doubling parts, playing pop tunes).

Honestly, with that big a rhythm section, you don't want to be voicing more than three notes a chord, no roots no fifths, just 3rds and 7ths and maybe a colour tone.


^listen to how Jim Hall stays out of the way when he comps. Less is more. Leave space. Listen to the rest of the rhythm section and blend.
Read through that site, he actually doesn't break many of those. The only semi-"Pop" chart we've played is The Jetsons Theme (for this upcoming concert actually); I haven't heard of any of the others. He does play recordings for us. He works with improvisation, but not too much. We're actually playing 5 tunes, not just those ones, one being 'Satin Doll' (Count Basie/Duke Ellington). We're also sort of the "lower band". There is Jazz I, which is audition only for all instruments (Standard jazz ensemble size), then Jazz II, which is any sax, trumpet, or trombone who wants to play jazz. Rhythm section must audition, but everyone else can just join. Thats why we're so big. We're sort of the step off point to Jazz I.

EDIT: Also, what would a good Jazz guitar be? It must be relatively cheap though. I was looking at : http://www.rondomusic.com/gg7cusvs.html thoughts?
'89 MIJ Fender Strat
Rivera S-120
'60s PEPCO Model 211 5w head
'60s Paul (Pepco) 1x12 tube amp
'60s Harmony H303a 1x10 tube amp
Last edited by theacousticpunk at Feb 28, 2008,
If I was him I'd start a Jazz III because he has enough players.

Anyway I can't speak for it because I've never tried it but I'd have serious doubts about any archtop at that price point. Go to the All About Jazz forums and search around for guitar threads.

Ellington is promising, but I know of far too many educational big bands that have some distaste for swing and play irritating funk/rock/poppy charts all the time, especially with the less experienced players.

Anyway you've got to make the best of what you're in, and practice hard to get to Jazz I. For comping styles, let your ear be your guide: This means you'll have to develop it by listening to music in the style of what you're playing. You want to know what you're playing, but you've also got to hear it and feel it.
I got my Artcore used for 300 bucks and it sounds just as good as any archtop I've played (Except for a vintage Sheraton that I layed my hands on). I'm a blues player though so I don't know what is desirable in a jazz guitar.