Basic Jazz Guitar Chords

Learn these basic jazz guitar chords and give your playing a jazz sound. Below are some of the basic jazz guitar chords that any aspiring jazz guitarist should know. Use them to play jazz chord sequences or invent your own.

The root notes in each of the following chord shapes are marked with an 'R'.


See how a master uses chords in solo jazz guitar playing. This is George Van Eps:

Basic Jazz Guitar Chords – Major 7ths

Major seventh(maj7) chords often crop up in jazz chord sequences. In fact, playing a major seventh chord in place of a major chord in any chord sequence can often give it a more jazzy sound.

As with all guitar chords, there are a number of ways to play major seventh chords. Below are some commonly used shapes for these basic jazz guitar chords:

Basic Jazz Guitar Chords Major 7
Major 7 Shapes

Dominant Seventh Chords

You probably already know at least one way to play a standard dominant seventh (7) chord. Jazz guitarists often play chords differently to other guitarists.

Here are two jazz versions of dominant seventh chords. Jazz guitarists play them this way to facilitate easy and fast chord changes.

Basic Jazz Guitar Chords 7 Shapes
Dominant 7th Shapes

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Minor Seventh Chords

Minor seventh chords have a cool, jazz-blues sound. They can be played in a number of ways, but the shapes below are often used by jazz guitarists.

Minor 7 Shapes
Minor 7 Shapes

ii V I – A Very Common Jazz Chord Progression

Two Five One (ii V I) chord changes lie at the heart of many jazz chord progressions. Use a combination of the chord shapes above to experiment playing a ii V I in C.

||: Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 :||

Dominant Ninth Guitar Chords

Dominant ninth guitar chords contain one more note than dominant seventh chords. This means that ninth chords contain five notes, the extra note being the ninth. In the case of a G9 chord, this would be an A.

Whereas a standard G7 chord contains G, B, D and F notes, a G9 chord contains G, B, D, F and A.

You can use 9th chords in place of 7th chords. Try using a G9 instead of the G7 in the ii V I sequence above.

Here are two popular ways of playing ninth chords:

Basic Jazz Guitar Chords 9 Shapes
Dominant 9th Shapes

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Diminished Seventh Chords

One other chord you will come across is a diminished seventh chord. These chords have a very distinctive sound.

Play some of the shapes below and you will recognise its unique tone. In diminished seventh chords, any of the notes can be a root note. This means that a G sharp diminished 7 chord can also be a B, D or F diminished 7 chord.

Diminished 7 Shapes
Diminished 7 Shapes

Try substituting the 7th chord in the ii V I above for a diminished 7th chord played a semitone higher (i.e. a G# dim 7th). This will give you a very jazzy sound. Try this trick with any other 7th chords you come across.


If you learn the basic jazz guitar chords on this page, you will be well on the way to being able to play any jazz chord progression. You could also try using these chords in your own music for new sounds and inspiration.

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