It can be a lot of fun to learn new chords. I think of it like learning new vocabulary and try to make learning new jazz guitar chords a regular part of my learning program.
The real key to learning new jazz guitar chords is to practice them in some type of progression that makes sense. In the same way that it’s important to use new words you learn in a sentence, these progressions can be used to strengthen your command of the chords.
Dm9, also written D minor 9, is played by putting the 2nd finger on the 5th string, 5th fret… 3rd finger on the 3rd string, 5th fret… And the pinky on the 2nd string 5th fret. The 1st finger goes on the 4th string, 3rd fret.
Cmaj9 (also C major 9) – Put the 2nd finger on the 5th string, 3rd fret… 1st finger on the 4th string, 2nd fret… Pinky on the 3rd string, 4th fret… And finally the 3rd finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret.
G13 (spoken: G thirteen) – Put the 1st finger on the 6th string, 3rd fret… 2nd finger on the 4th string, 3rd fret… 3rd finger on the 3rd string, 4th fret… and the pinky on the 2nd string, 5th fret. I’m not playing the 5th string or the 1st string.
You can pick with your right hand fingers and only pick the strings that you are fingering in your left hand. You can also deaden out the 5th string and the 1st string by slightly touching it with one of the other fingers if you’re strumming the chord.
G7(#5) – That’s a G seven sharp 5. The 1st finger is on the 6th string, 3rd fret… 2nd finger on the 4th string, 3rd fret… 3rd finger on the 3rd string, 4th fret… and the pinky on the 2nd string, 4th fret. Again I’m not playing the 5th string or the 1st string.
This chord looks the same as the G13 with the exception that the pinky is moved down one fret to the 4th fret instead of the 5th.
1. Practice the chords separately.
2. Then practice moving from chord number 1 to chord number 2.
3. Then chord number 2 to chord number 3.
4. Finally chord number 3 to chord number 4.
5. Now play all 4 chords one after another.
6. Play each chord strumming 4 times straight down (see the Jazz Guitar Chords Progression #2 cheatsheet below) with a pulse or beat. Start slowly at first and work on changing without stopping or slowing down.
Take it slow at first and work little by little to get each of the notes in the chords sounding clear. It takes practice… Be patient but persistent.
All of these chords are what we call movable chords. That means you can play them anywhere on the guitar neck. You just have to know what the root note of the chord is to know the name of the chord.
Here’s a simple chart with the root note of each chord:
This is where it helps to know a little bit of music theory, or at least to know the names of the notes on the 6th and 5th strings.
For example, if you move the G13 down one fret it now becomes an F#13 (F sharp 13). When you move it down one fret (one half step) the root note becomes F#.
Now let’s move the same chords up 2 frets from G… That’s moving up one full step. One full step from G is A. Now you have an A13 guitar chord.