Basic Jazz Chords Forms

Various chord forms diagramed.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
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.
    me_myself_and_i
    i tried to keep all of the chords playable in the open or first position, for the g minor move into the second position play on forever, same goes for the c, sorry about the open e, it took me 2 and a half hours to write this lesson, theirs probably a few typos
    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
    Your chords are gash, mate. Your C Augmented doesn't even have a C in it.
    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.
    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
    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?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    Spanner
    Good stuff man, also put fourths, are very common in Jazz (fourth movements in the chord arrangement - Emaj-Amaj) Or the very common 2-5-1 or 6-2-5-1 arrangements Good stuff though.
    me_myself_and_i
    sorry spanner, i forgot....although i highly doubt that anyone serious enough about the subject to care about my lack of placing 4ths, should be able to build them, i plan on including a lesson on building chord forms in the future, and you probably know more on the subject than i do anyway
    Pyro128
    This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I play in the Jazz Band in High School and they failed to provide a chord chart for a song we're learning. This gave me everything I needed to know. I owe you one.
    Spanner
    I seriously doubt that man, you seem to know your jazz, I was just repeating a bit of knowledge I obtained from the legends Martin Taylor (bought his book and read it once, but did not play one example) and Pete Callard (An ACM instructor), I learnt all the theory , pity about the practical side of things ,oh well. Spanner
    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
    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
    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
    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
    SilentDeftone
    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?
    http://ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/chord... Also post in Musician Talk if you are lost. -SD :dance:
    me_myself_and_i
    play on forever can kiss my fretless fender, you dont see one thing that you would like and the lesson is wack?
    Spanner
    I agree dude, are you getting payed for this? if not they should be glad that you devote your time their guitar prowess
    Sonar
    i have a problem with the 'a' chord, i don't now how to take the three notes at once, or with one finger, or with 1 finger for every snare who can help me? hans
    me_myself_and_i
    you can bar the a chord, or use any finger combination that you like, it doesnt really matter, which ever way you get the cleanest sound