If you want to learn jazz guitar then you’ve come to the right place! I am a jazz, folk, blues, rock and beginners’ guitar teacher based in Sheffield and have been teaching for the past 8 years. If you’re not quite ready to start jazz guitar lessons just yet, you can still find lots of free jazz guitar lessons available on the internet. However with so much music theory, so many technical exercises and so many different approaches to jazz guitar soloing it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why I’m working on this series of blogs, designed to make life easy for the beginner jazz guitarist… And if you find that my blogs are making learning jazz guitar easier then you can progress to a FREE TRIAL LESSON. Contact me today for experienced, patient tuition in my shop in Sheffield or via Skype, Zoom or Whatsapp.
In today’s free online jazz guitar lesson, I’ll be showing you a simple arpeggio based exercise which will help you understand chord construction, help you map out strong notes for your jazz guitar soloing and train your ears to recognise common chord types used for jazz comping. You will need a basic understanding of how to construct jazz chords on guitar in order to follow this tutorial. You can find all the knowledge you’ll need in my chord construction blog available here.
A “jazz arpeggio” is a four note arpeggio, containing a first, third, fifth and seventh. They can be formed to fit with chords of the three main families; major, minor and dominant. If you want to understand how these three families function then check out my blog on how to read and simplify a jazz guitar chord chart.
Memorising the shapes of these arpeggios and getting used to playing them at speed is useful for several reasons. Firstly, they provide a quick way to memorise the positions of the notes you need to construct a jazz guitar chord quickly. Secondly, if you are trying to create a solo over a given chord, starting out from its base arpeggio is a sure fire way to play notes which sound good.
As I have said in my previous blogs there are three main families of chords- major chords, minor chords and dominant chords. Below is the arpeggio shape for each family. Each shape can be moved to any root note on either of the bottom two strings (E and A- aka the lowest in pitch). I have also included a guitar fretboard diagram showing where all the root notes are on the bottom two strings so that you can quickly find the arpeggio shape you need.
It is very good practice to play through the above shapes. For each of the shapes play them in the order:
Root, third, fifth, seventh, upper root, then the same in reverse.
Depending which note you begin each shape from, you can quickly and easily construct the arpeggio of any chord. For example if you wanted to make an A major 7 arpeggio, you would begin from the 5th fret of the E string and play:
A string 5th fret, E string 3rd fret, E string 7th fret, D string 6th fret, D string 7th fret.
Get used to listening to the characteristic sound of each arpeggio. Aim to be able to hum each of the arpeggios from a given root note- practice by picking a note at random and trying to sing each arpeggio beginning from it.
You can also use the above shapes to quickly construct chords on the fly- more information on how to do this can be found in my chord construction blog here.
When you play a four note “jazz” arpeggio, you can view each of the four notes as being either a major or a minor third away from the note below it.
For example in a major seventh arpeggio, the root is a major third below the 3rd, which is a minor third below the 5th, which is a major third below the 7th.
In a minor seventh arpeggio, the root is a minor third below the flattened 3rd, which is a major third below the 5th, which is a minor third below the flattened seventh.
In a dominant arpeggio, the root is a major third below the 3rd, which is a minor third below the 5th, which is a minor third below the flattened 7th. Those three minor thirds at the top of the dominant chord are what make it sound uncomfortable- three minor thirds piled on top of one another is what makes a diminished chord.
Here is the above information represented im a table. The root and fifth are constant and do not move.
|Major seven||Minor seven||Dominant seven|
|Flattened 7th||Flattened 7th|
|Major 3rd||Major 3rd|
A major third (starting from any string of the guitar other than the G string) will be either four frets up the neck or one fret down and one string up.
A minor third (starting from any string of the guitar other than the G string) will be either three frets up the neck or two frets down and one string up.
Using the knowledge above you can quickly and easily find an arpeggio across the whole neck. The only place this won’t work is when jumping from the G to the B string, where each interval will be one fret higher than you would expect. This is because of the fact that these strings are not tuned a fourth apart like all the others, but a major third instead (a semitone less far apart).
If you are just starting out in the world of jazz guitar there is a huge amount to learn! It’s a lot easier to start out on the right foot if you have an experienced guide… That’s where I come in. I have been playing for over twenty years and teaching for over eight. I can provide you with tailor made courses of jazz guitar lessons over Skype, Zoom or Whatsapp, to help you achieve your jazz guitar goals fast! I can also offer you a FREE FIRST LESSON so contact me now to book!
I am always working on new tutorials, free tabs, videos, cool arrangements etc and you can get an occasional digest of the latest tutorial content by joining my mailing list! The absolute maximum number of emails I will send you is one per month, probably fewer.