This is a question I get very often. And that is in no way strange. Starting to learn Jazz guitar is the beginning of a long journey with a lot of interesting stops along the way.
In this video and post, I will try to give you some places where you can look for the things you feel you need to check out and of course also what you think is interesting.
Learning Jazz, or any other style of music is not a set path the fits everybody. We all take different routes and need to work on different things longer or shorter. That is also the reason that there is no set way to go through this and why I am calling it suggestions. You need to figure out for yourself where to go next. If I have a student learning Jazz it is common that I take a few lessons to figure out what to work on and how to work on it, so expect that when you start working as well.
That said, I will try to make this a little less complicated and stop the information overload a little because I don’t think that is really necessary.
To keep it a bit short I am going to focus on three main topics:
- Technique and Scales
- Improvisation and Songs
Technique and Scales
Keep it simple. Start with the Major scale. Don’t overdo technique practice.
Start with one position and one key. You can add positions and keys along the way, with basic exercises.
Start with these exercises:
- The Scale
- The Scale in 3rds
- The Diatonic 7th chords (Maybe Triads first, but many don’t have to)
For more information on what to do work on and how to use it:
The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz – Basic Scale exercise and Scale in Diatonic 7th arpeggios
Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it! – More thoughts on scale practice.
How to practice your scales and why – Positions – A bit of a deeper look into options with scale practice and suggestions for exercises
Jazz Chords – A solid set and learn some songs
It is practical to learn some jazz chords so that you can play chords on songs. As jazz guitarists, we spend more time comping than soloing. It is also a huge help to be able to hear the harmony that you are soloing over.
I have a study guide for Jazz Chords where the first two or three lessons will give you more than enough. How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide
Especially I would start with a set of diatonic chords for the major scale which is exercise one or two of this lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar
From that material you can gradually expand chord vocabulary, learn songs and progress into rootless voicings and more complex comping and harmonization ideas.
Improvisation and Songs
This is the most important part of how to learn jazz guitar because this is where we talk about playing music. So it is about using the material that is practiced in the scales.
If you want to play jazz you need to spend time playing the songs and improvising and you should start doing this from the very beginning. Even if you can’t really play solos that sounds like jazz, just by trying you are building repertoire and skills to use later.
A few things about improvising over changes:
A practical example of improvising with arpeggios:
For more examples of songs, easy chord melody arrangements and similar then you should browse through this playlist of easy YouTube lessons:
How To Begin Jazz Guitar – Easy lessons to gain an overview
If you start making your own Jazz Licks and develop your improvisation by working on coming up with your own lines then maybe check out this lesson:
Jazz Standards to start with and how to learn them
When it comes to which songs to start with then I would suggest you start with one of these 10 songs:
And some of the exercises and things to focus on when learning them are covered here:
Next level for Jazz Guitar
Maybe you already feel comfortable with the things I covered here, and you are looking for more challenges and explore the music further. Of course, you can browse the YouTube channel and my Website.
Another option is to join the 3000+ members of the Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook group and ask there, get inspired by the posts and comments of others:
Or join me on Patreon where you can support and help shape the content on the channel in the future. Patreon is really what has made all these lessons and the channel possible.
Check it out here: Jens Larsen YouTube Lessons on Patreon