Basic Jazz Chords Forms

Various chord forms diagramed.

11
Welcome to this lesson. Now you may be thinking that this just a dull list of various chords that the author finds useful. True, but this is more than a list. This is a method of learning to navigate the fretboard using chords. This method is based on the CAGED system of finding your way around the fretboard heres how it works. In the caged system you learn to use 5 basic chord forms, scale forms, and arpeggio forms, however we shall only get into the chordal aspect in this lesson. Nows the part where you learn to read my chord diagrams. Lets use a c major for the example. x32010. The first one in line will be the deep sounding string, well call it the sixth string and the one under it the 5th and so on. The x means that you dont play this string so skip over it. Play the 5th string at the 3rd fret. The 4th string at the 2nd fret, the 0 at the 3rd string stands for open, unfretted. The 2nd string will be fingered at the 1st fret, and the 1st string will be open. Now that you can read my diagrams ill list the basic chords in this system.
c major - x32010. 
a major - x02220. 
g major - 320003
e major - 022100
d major - xx0232
You can play any of this chords anywhere on the neck by barring them. Barring simply means that instead of playing the open notes like you played them in the open position, putting your first finger down across the entire fret. Lets say your playing an e bar chord and that your barring the 5th fret. Then you concider the 6th fret the first fret, and the 7th fret the second fret etc. here ill diagram the e bar chord at the 5th fret e major barred at the 5th fret - 577655. Now well get into the caged aspect. lets say that you want to learn to play the c major chord all over the neck. You would play an open c maj in the open position. An a from bar chord at third fret, a g from bar chord at the 5th fret, an e form bar chord at the 7th fret, and a d from bar chord at the 10th fret. Then it all recycles itself at the 12 fret, c form bar chord, a form bar chord at the 15 fret etc... Keep in mind that these are all c chords. Its the same with any other chord that you want to play. Lets say you want to learn to play a g chord in various places. The pattern stayes the same, the only difference is that your starting with a g. GEDCA, instead of CAGED. This applies to all of them. Remember that you play the chords at in the open position, then at the 3rd fret, at the 5th fret, 7th fret, and 10th fret. Remember that if you would choose to go any farther the pattern would recycle itself at the 12th fret. Now its time the learn some interval theory. The distance one fret next to another, lets say 5th from 6th, is called a half step. The distance between 2 frets, lets say 5th and 7th, is called a whole step. Half steps are called #, or flatted notes. The 5th fret on the 6th string is an a note. The 7th fret is a b note. Inbetween them at the 6th note their is something called an accidental. accidentals have 2 names. The sixth string sixth fret can either be called an a#, an a sharp, or a Bb, b flat. This rule has 2 exceptions, between the e and f notes, and b and c notes. The distance between this two notes is a half step, becouse the major scale is built of w w h w w w h. so here is the c major scale. c d e f g a b c. Thats why their is no accidental between the b and c, and e and f. Lets say that you want to play an a sharp/b flat. You play an an a chord, doesnt matter which form you use, and move it up one fret. If you play an open a you have to bar ofcourse. This is also how you can play a b chord, and an f chord. Find an a chord, and move it up 2 frets for a b, and move an e chord up one fret for an f. OK, so now ill diagram the chords. I suggest that you practice moving the bar chords up and down the neck, and switching bar chords. I recommend that you learn the chords in the fallowing order, as in to soak it all in. It would be good to understand how to read a formula. Here is the c major scale. cdefgabc. The c is the 1, the d is the 2, the e is the 3 and so on.
Day 1:
major chords formula, 1 3 5

c major - x32010. 
a major - x02220. 
g major - 320003
e major - 022100
d major - xx0232

Day 2:
minor chords formula, 1 3b 5

c minor - x31010
a minor - x02210
g minor - 320000
e minor - 022000
d minor - xx0231

Day 3:
augmented chords formula 1 3 5#

c aug - x2100x
a aug - xx2110
g aug - 32100x
e aug - xx2110
d aug - xx2110

Day 4:
diminished chords formula 1 3b 5b

c dim - x42020
a dim - x0121x
g dim - 41010x
e dim - 0120xx
d dim - xx2020

Day 5:
major 7th chords formula 1 3 5 7

c maj 7 - x3200x
a maj 7 - 002120
g maj 7 - 5421xx
e maj 7 - 021100
d maj 7 - x00222

Day 6:
minor 7th chords formula 1 3b 5 7b 

c min 7 - x42100
a min 7 - 002010
g min 7 - 6431xx
e min 7 - 020000
d min 7 - xxo211

Day 7:
augmented 7 chords formula 1 3 5# 7b

c aug 7 - x5431x
a aug 7 - x03021
g aug 7 - 6541xx
e aug 7 - xx5441
d aug 7 - xx0312

Day 8:
diminished 7th chords formula 1 3b 5b 7bb

c dim 7 - x6421x
a dim 7 - 012020
g dim 7 - 7531xx
e dim 7 - 012020
d dim 7 - xx2323

Day 9:
dominant 7th chords
Note: these are the 7th chords that most people talk about when they say 7th chord.
chord formula 1 3 5 7b

c 7 - 032310
a 7 - 002020
g 7 - 32300x ( popular form 1)
g 7 - 320001( popular form 2, never barred)
e 7 - 020100
d 7 - x00212


Day 10:
minor 7th flat 5 chords formula 1 3b 5b 7b

c min 7 5b - 042000
a min 7 5b - x01010
g min 7 5b - 31302x
e min 7 5b - xx5321
d min 7 5b - xx0111

Day 11:
suspended 2nd chords formula 1(2or9) 5

c sus 2 - x3001x
a sus 2 - 002200 
g sus 2 - 3000xx
e sus 2 - no form, sorry
d sus 2 - x00230

Day 12:
suspended 4th chords formula 1 (4 of 11) 5

c sus 4 - x33010
a sus 4 - 002230
g sus 4 - 3300xx
e sus 4 - 022200
d sus 4 - x00233

Day 13:
suspended 7th/ dominant 7th with 9th

c sus 7 - x3331x
a sus 7 - 002030
g sus 7 - 3330xx
e sus 7 - 02020xx
d sus 7 - x00213

Day 14:
ninth chords formula 135 7b 9

c 9 - x32333
a 9 - 002000
g 9 - 3232xx
e 9 - 020102
d 9 - x00210
Thats all folks. Don't worry if you cant play some of the c a or e chords that span a fret range of 6 or 7 frets. They were just added to make the list more complete, their never played, except for as advanced exercises. Take all of the time that you need learning these chords.

73 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    me_myself_and_i
    sorry casualty, it took me a long time to make and i didnt check for typo's, could you be more specific on which chords are wrong, chords are only wrong if they contain the wrong notes, if you just prefer a different inversion or fingering that doesnt make the chords wrong, but if some chords have wrong notes, id like to find out and see if i could fix it, thnx
    mrmoppel
    Firstly, many thanks to you and all the others who are prepared to take time out of their days to both write and post things like this. You dont need to impart your knowledge for free and for those of us like myself, its invaluable.So f*ck you Capnkangaroo/playonforever etc. When pricks like you slate people prepared to take the time to help others it makes them less likely to post, something which will affect us guitar newbies MUCH more than you two (who are clearly BOTH Mr. Van Halen).So think on. Secondly, and the main reason for this post is I also got a bit lost on the chords formulae, and the major scale/ whole/half step thing. Is it a case of learn it rather than necessarily needing to understand it?
    Spanner
    You all should not have to learn all this theory,it is for guitar loosers(sorry SD but its true), a true musician aka Hendrix, does not learn one thing about theory nor did Gary Moore, and they are two of my most favourite players, why? because they have musical souls, they dont need to know theory. No offence SD but in response to your above post, you seem to think of guitar playing as a task, rather than enjoyment, so what if these chords are "wrong", there is no such thing as wrong notes, so there is no such thing as wrong chords, play what you want, not what text books tell you, you should concentrate on getting enjoyment out of your instrument and not listening to the theory police, telling you to play what they like, because it is entirely up to you.
    mikeofthechimps
    seems 2 be a little confusion round here over the naming of chords: once u get on to chords with more than three notes there tends to be several perfectly acceptable and correct names for each. for instance, G6 and Em7 both contain the notes G,B,D,E. However, all of the chord diagrams produce authentically jazz sounding chords regardless of their names. And as for the theory debate - just shut up and use ur ears - thats all there is to music - what sounds nice and what doesn't and how the two interact. Hendrix understood that regardless of what theory he actually "knew" - theory is merely a way of understanding and explaining what you hear.
    groll01
    Spanner, i hate to say this, but ur a tosser, every thing hendrix played was based on theory, if he new it or not. that is why his guitar playing sounded so good, if they were just random notes, (as u seem to think) he would of sounded poo! SD pwns!
    Pigfeets Dupree
    Blind mississippi white boy Pigfeets Dupree &The Blasters As a true master of the piano and a relative newcomer to guitar,after several years of working Bourbon St. I must say that it's all good. all musicians from highschool to the big show need to know basic theory. Spanner your comment that Jimi didn't know theory is ludicrous. What I want to know is how did he learn to play the f#ckin thing upside down. I ain't never knowed a guitar teacher that dun dat. By the way are all you wannabe players out there aware that Jimi played for Little Ridhard and was on the chitlin curcuit for a long time with buddy miles. Also his Idol was Hubert Sumlin(the lead player for Howlin Wolf and Wolf demanded that all his players understood basic theory. I know some jazz snobs think the blues is easy but after 40 yrs in da bidnids i gotta sayBullfrog sittin on a holla stump. By the way if that was really Steve Cropper then I ain't ol Pigfeets Dupree. Get ovah yoselves. Basic lesson good. Theory can be confusing but it don mean a thing if yall gots a hole in your soul. Put that in my pipe and smoke it. Pinetop Perkins & the good Dr. John was nice enuff to lets me steal all their licks
    bergamot
    hi all, this CAGED-approach seems to be just what i am looking for, but look, i have a serious problem with the very basics: if i play the C-cord with open strings i get out a Cmaj-chord allright, but if i play a C-shape- chord with barre on the 3rd fret, i get a D# and not a A as you sugest.. also if i play a G-shape with barre on the 3rd i get A# insted of E.. i must have missunderstood something somewere.. please, please help me!
    frodo187
    Some of these chords are messed up. How could any c chord have a root of c#? Lesson was good up untill the chord part.
    Steve Cropper
    The one mistake that stuck out with me was the 7th. formula is a major 3rd, perfect 5th, and a major 7th if that makes sense.
    Notgood
    I find the chord learning schedule very clear and straight foreward. It Helps clear up all the confusion surrounding chord formations for beginners like myself. Excellent job!
    Black6
    I don't know how he didn't catch that all. Ya know, the first thing I saw on the whole page was that, GBDGBE (320000) is not Gmin nor even G6 in my book, xx0000 (DGBE) has always been G6 for me btw. After seeing that I was just too disgusted to go. And as for people who think music theory is for loosers..., Ya know Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Eddie James "Son" House, Nehemiah "Skip" James, B.B. King, W.C. Handy... etc. etc., the list goes on and on, are all quite literate when it comes to theory. Just in case you didn't know, all these guys defined American music. Not to say you have to study it in depth, but it can expand your playing above the pentatonic minor scale... which will bring me to another tantrum... One more thing, that I'm sure will upset many, but I must get off my chest somewhere, if you're musical vocabulary is dominated or begins and ends with the word pentatonic, it might do you some good to hit at least ONE more book than it took for you to learn that scale. Just imagine how good your jazz will be if you learn the Melodic minor scale or lydyian mode, both very useful tools in improvising jazz.
    Damage, Inc.
    Great work SD, saved me the time to correct the lesson I don't understand why the author of this lesson has named all the chord formulas correctly, yet he got heaps of the chord shapes horribly wrong... Wasn't much of a Jazz Chord lesson, but props for the effort dude!
    Spanner
    Well your talking through your hole arent you mate!! I probably know a lot more than a hell of a lot of show offs on this site(yourself). Hendrix was not taught any of the crap we are made learn today (which scale to play over what chord, what chords we play in what key, technical exercises) he was taught the proper way!!
    Guitar_musician
    Spanner...you shouldn't talk. You probably don't know anything about guitar if you're saying that people shouldn't have to learn theory. Hendrix is one in a billion and he had a great gift....of course he knew theory you moron!!!There's no way anyone could learn how to play like him without getting some help, from a person or a book it doesn't matter.
    Floyal
    Very good very nice for beginners but dude some chords like C minro ..i mean really out of pace .. you cant play it , frodo your right
    Kirk_Reborn08
    dude, what abouthe the jass chords Fmi7 adn all taht? including A6, A7 Ab and all that. oim in jazz band, and i dont know my chords. i just nkow tablature. thats all i really need help wiht chords i nee dhelp a.s.a.p. can u send me a link a sight or a picture. or just something. ty.
    tangled
    Very nice. I like many of these chords but im confused about somethings. Does the caged system work for F and B chords? If I want to play a C 7th chord at the 3rd fret do I have to play an A7th chord at the 3rd fret?
    L2112Lif
    Spanner wrote: You all should not have to learn all this theory,it is for guitar loosers(sorry SD but its true), a true musician aka Hendrix, does not learn one thing about theory nor did Gary Moore, and they are two of my most favourite players, why? because they have musical souls, they dont need to know theory. No offence SD but in response to your above post, you seem to think of guitar playing as a task, rather than enjoyment, so what if these chords are "wrong", there is no such thing as wrong notes, so there is no such thing as wrong chords, play what you want, not what text books tell you, you should concentrate on getting enjoyment out of your instrument and not listening to the theory police, telling you to play what they like, because it is entirely up to you.
    Cool story bro. Its only after you learn the rules that you can learn to break them. The two examples you gave, Hendrix and Moore, probably DID learn some theory (Accidentally learning theory is STILL learning...), and simply circumvented traditional conventions. Bach regularly used the second inversion chord with the third in the bass (Betting half you don't know what that is...), which is AGAINST conventional theory. And half the stuff accomplished in Jazz is about musical expression, tension and release. You need theory to learn how to pay jazz, otherwise its just gonna be a hot mess. TL;DR - Learn your Theory, Especially in Jazz.
    Good Ol' Ramos
    I like this. It's a new idea to structure my learning of chords that never thought of and adds to my repertoire, as these chords will surely be useful in many instances. Thanks for this.
    PavelD
    Article contains serious mistakes. Especially in that paragraph:
    Now well get into the caged aspect. lets say that you want to learn to play the c major chord all over the neck. You would play an open c maj in the open position. An a from bar chord at third fret, a g from bar chord at the 5th fret, an e form bar chord at the 7th fret, and a d from bar chord at the 10th fret. Then it all recycles itself at the 12 fret, c form bar chord, a form bar chord at the 15 fret etc... Keep in mind that these are all c chords. Its the same with any other chord that you want to play. Lets say you want to learn to play a g chord in various places. The pattern stayes the same, the only difference is that your starting with a g. GEDCA, instead of CAGED. This applies to all of them.
    . I understand how all of this stuff works, but I think that newbies just don't get anything. Damn, man! If you play the Cmajor pattern with the barre on 5 fret (chord on 5th fret and barre on 4th consequently), then it would no longer be up to a С major chord, dude! This would be a E major chord, if you not forget, obviously. Yeah, pattern and functionality are the same, but it's a different chord, not a C chord. In your lesson you tell, that it would be the same. You are muddled all the things there, even I get confused, then what to say about newbies? 5/10.
    crazypeoples246
    but lo, jimi hendrix knows all about theory, as he was tought by billy gibbons!!! he just knows how to use it.
    Spanner wrote: You all should not have to learn all this theory,it is for guitar loosers(sorry SD but its true), a true musician aka Hendrix, does not learn one thing about theory nor did Gary Moore, and they are two of my most favourite players, why? because they have musical souls, they dont need to know theory. No offence SD but in response to your above post, you seem to think of guitar playing as a task, rather than enjoyment, so what if these chords are "wrong", there is no such thing as wrong notes, so there is no such thing as wrong chords, play what you want, not what text books tell you, you should concentrate on getting enjoyment out of your instrument and not listening to the theory police, telling you to play what they like, because it is entirely up to you.
    guitardude2012
    spanner, you are a FUCKING idiot. you do need theroy if you want to know what the **** you are doing. yes hendrix was great but you still need theroy. you also don't always have to follow theroy either
    fender f**kwit
    spanner, you're a spanner. it is untrue that hendrix knew no theory; the truth is that he could not read music, these are totally different things. i agree with your point on there being no such thing as a wrong note, however. great lesson
    gwitersnamps
    Great lesson. Just what I was looking for. And Spanner, how do you think 'Drix played the chords in Castles Made of Sand, Little Wing, etc.? Just lucky? And how about the Tritone intro to Purple Haze? Granted, it's simple theory, but it's theory. I seriously doubt that he never learned the blues scale.
    bear61
    You shouldn't give a lesson on how to construct chords and then construct them all wrong. There's already enough bad information on the internet.
    hmmmmmm
    i dont understand the formla bit any chance you could explain it a little further to me?
    ReiDSaN
    Also, Spanner, you talk bollocks. Gary Moore knows all about the circle of fifths at least cause I read an article by him on it.
    ReiDSaN
    Your chords are gash, mate. Your C Augmented doesn't even have a C in it.
    SilentDeftone
    They are incorrectly named. It's not a matter of opinion, it's blatant fact. I'm not saying don't play those chords, or any chord for that matter. I'm saying that those names don't fit the chords he's tabbed. -SD :dance:
    SilentDeftone
    Okay, my carrots cut off the rest of my above post. c minor - x31010 - this is C(#9) g minor - 320000 - this is G6 c aug - x2100x - this is B+ a aug - xx2110 - this is E+ d aug - xx2110 - E+ again c dim - x42020 - this is C#dim g dim - 41010x - this is Bb7b9/Ab d dim - xx2020 - this is Em7 g maj 7 - 5421xx - this is Amaj7 c min 7 - x42100 - this is C#m7 g min 7 - 6431xx - this is Bbm7 c aug 7 - x5431x - this is D7+ g aug 7 - 6541xx - this is Bb7+ e aug 7 - xx5441 - this is G7+ c dim 7 - x6421x - this is Eb7 a dim 7 - 012020 - this is E7 g dim 7 - 7531xx - this is C7 d dim 7 - xx2323 - this is E7 c min 7 5b - 042000 - this is Em6 a min 7 5b - x01010 - this is Am7#11 e min 7 5b - xx5321 - this is G e sus 2 - no form, sorry - try 024400 c sus 4 - x33010 - general practice is to omit the 3rd; I'd call that C(11) _sus7 chords don't exist. a 9 - 002000 - has no 3rd; better named as Em(11) d 9 - x00210 - again no 3rd, Am(11) I suggest learning chords before attempting to teach them, 1 star, please correct your lesson! -SD
    me_myself_and_i
    all you guys really need to do is learn the notes on the fretboard, and practice playing arpeggios up and down the neck, that way you learn alot of useful chord forms, and if you have jazz in your ear, youll be fine
    Angry youth
    Very sweet youve pretty much told me how to work out chords (i think) thanx alot. oh and jazz aint all fancy chords, wait till those crazy time signitures come ure way
    me_myself_and_i
    dude theirs tons of these chords, i tried to put the easier ones in, but you can just build chords man, just add the notes that you want in the chord, theirs so many options, i guarantee that everything their has the right notes and should sound right for its particular chord type, its odd when people just memorize chord forms, and think that their the only posibility out their
    me_myself_and_i
    you shouldnt have to memorize all of this pyro 128, but if your in jazz band you should seriously look into memorizing the notes on the fretboard, and learning chord formulas, pretty soon youll be building chords of of the top of your head
    me_myself_and_i
    in an effort to prevent the meaningless jabber found here in most lesson reviews ive decided to make a mini lesson on the sort of thing that you should say here if the lesson was really good a. you are an amazing genius, this is the best thing to happen to me, since my freind jerry found that burrito under my couch and decided to split it with me if it wasnt bad a. not bad b. pretty good c. something like the above if it was bad a. i didnt like it b. comment on how to improve it dont diss bands, or rap music or w/e, like that ug stranger guy, sorry ug, dont diss ug stranger in your review thingi