Play Jazz Guitar in 10 Minutes...

When it comes to performing jazz ideas, most guitar players who have their playing background in Folk , Rock, or Pop, will tend to get fairly intimidated when it comes to playing Jazz... 

Feeling intimidated about playing jazz doesn't have to be the case. And, learning to simply produce a jazzy sound in your guitar playing, isn't overly complex, and it won't take a thousand hours of practice to be able to establish either. 

In this episode of the Guitar Blog Insider, I'm going to cover a few simple ways to help, "Bring Jazz into Your Guitar Playing Style." And, we'll do it in about ten minutes.


To be able to add the jazz sound into your guitar playing - as quickly as possible, we're going to focus on understanding the basics of something known of as "Rhythm Changes."

The term "Rhythm Changes" refers to the chord progression occurring in George Gershwin's song, "I Got Rhythm." These changes are one of the most popular Jazz chord progression sounds available. And, by simply taking a small segment from these chord changes, a guitarist - (even one completely foreign to Jazz playing), can start sounding very jazzy.

"Rhythm Changes," (the complete Gershwin approach), are typically a 24-bar progression that follows a specific format of chord changes, (see; Advanced Guitar - Stage One - Lesson 09). However, for our purpose, we're only going to focus on four chords from this standard jazz progression.

These chords make up the main element of jazz rhythm changes, and they will function as a fantastic place to start learning jazz from. The cycle of chord changes found in the first four chords of a set of Rhythm Changes will go a long way in helping a musician develop their skills for playing jazz.

First of all, let's explore the chord shapes that you'll need to become more familiar with.

The chords used in playing "Rhythm Changes" make up a popular group of chord movements that are known of as the "I-VI-II-V." This progression is extremely common in jazz music and in our example, we'll study these chords within the key of "C Major."

The "I-chord" of our progression is going to be based upon the tonal center note of the key which is "C." Typically, we'd find a "Maj7" chord performed on this degree, however we're going to play a simple extension here of a "Major 6."

The addition of the "6th" is very common and applying it will add a jazzy flair to the sound of the tonic chord.

The "VI-chord" for most "Rhythm Changes" (progressions) is generally played as a "Secondary Dominant". A "Secondary Dominant Chord," is a chord that has been converted to a "Dominant 7th chord" but normally exists as another chord quality.

In our case the "VI-Chord" would normally function (diatonic) as an "A Minor 7th." But, after being converted to a "Secondary Dominant," it now operates as an, "A Dominant 7th."

The second chord of our key, (the third chord of the progression), is the normally functioning (diatonic), "D Minor 7."

The 5th chord, (operating as the last /final chord of our progression), is also functioning as a proper (primary), diatonic, "G Dominant 7th."

Practice cycling through all four chord shapes until they begin to feel smooth and connected. Have the cycle of chords move at a slow tempo, but switch from one chord to the next quickly.

Once you're familiar with the basic chord changes, ( the chords above can be found in all kinds of different jazz tunes), the next step is to learn how a simple scale (a Major Pentatonic Scale), can be used to form a few basic jazzy melody lines around this set of chords.

For our example, we'll remain at up in and around the 7th position on the guitar neck and we'll learn one of the most common Major Pentatonic scales for the key of "C major."

Keep in mind that I've added a passing tone to the Major Pentatonic, it is a minor third interval and it functions chromatically (in between), the major 2nd and the major 3rd of the scale.

THE MAJOR PENTATONIC (w/b3 Passing Tone):

The lowered third used within this chromatic passing approach is a critical sound for us because it's going to be integral for developing the "Jazzy" effect. This "Jazzy Effect" is a core concept of the application of this scale over the "I, VI7, II, V7" chord changes (the Rhythm Changes).

Now we will use the scale from the tonic of "C" and we'll organize a jazzy sounding melodic statement that can be played along with the "Rhythm Changes" group of chords we just studied. The more you work on creating melody with the scale pattern, the more that this progression will help you get started with using this scale within a jazz format.

Melodic Statement:

As you can tell from the sound of this melody, by playing over our, key of "C Major - Rhythm Changes," using the "C Major Pentatonic Scale," (with the, "minor 3rd passing tone"), we end up producing a jazzy melodic statement that really fits the bill for the sound of this harmony.

Going forward, you can use this "Major Pentatonic b3rd" scale for creating melody over Rhythm Changes in any key. Using the "Major Pentatonic w/b3," is not only a fantastic way to get going into the world of playing Jazz, but it is easy to accomplish. So, you can start developing that "Jazz Sound," in a short period of study time.

As you can tell from studying these exercises, learning to play in the style of Jazz isn't as complicated as it might seem at first. And, your approach to jumping into Jazz chords (and creating melody over them using basic scales) doesn't take a lot of effort to in turn produce some nice jazzy sounding lines.

In fact, as you've just heard right here in these examples, the sound of the "Major Pentatonic" with the lowered 3rd included (to create that "Chromatic Passing" line). Is an excellent way to learn to form some basic /initial jazz solos over one of the most common chord progressions used in jazz music.

Well, I'd like to end the discussion by saying, thanks for joining me. If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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