Skipping Ahead

Long time learner, first time poster here.
I’m sure that skipping ahead in lessons is generally frowned upon, but hear me out a little bit and hopefully someone can provide me some guidance/suggestions.

I’ve been back and forth learning on stringed instruments (primarily guitar and banjo) for several years. I can read standard notation and/or tab (though translating standard notation to guitar is not quick for me, but I can do it). I’ve got most of the ‘standard’ chords down pretty good (struggle with speed on bar chords, but I’ll get it), and I’ve been trying to take the course on this site slowly to do things right (currently on Grade 2).

However, my son has been learning saxophone with high school band, and has got very interested in playing jazz. I would really like to learn some basics for jazz on guitar, just enough for now that I could play along with him, but the jazz course is Grade 6 here, and at my current pace he’ll likely be off in college before I get there.

Is there anything I could be working on closer to my level to put me ready for a living room session with my kid? I’m thinking if there are a handful of chord shapes to learn (seems to be a lot of sharp 7th chords?), and some general scale shapes to learn to improvise over?

It’s grade 6 because jazz on guitar is hard and relies on a bunch of technique you need to know beforehand!

I mean give it a go see how you get on but…

Hi Brad,
Welcome here and I wish you a lot of fun :sunglasses:, and in the meantime (well of course that is also fun :smile:) take a look at the beginning of the jazz standards of Justin’s lessons there you can take a look …a sip of and start with it if you already know your standard barree chords ,that is possible to do then :smiley:

Autumn leaves
It goes from " hey doable :smiley: " in the beginning to " HELP shoot me" if you have reached and can play the most barree chords in the beginning … I wish you fun and Don’t do too much in the beginning…

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@Bradofsteel82 , it’s a lot easier for a jazz musician to play rock than the other way around…

Learn some Springsteen and get your son to play The Big Man’s parts! :slight_smile:


I’d check out this video and see if you can handle playing those shapes.

Personally I see no problem with jumping around a bit to look at areas that interest you. That’s what I’m doing (only with blues lessons). I did see the jazz lessons and started to watch them, but then told myself to stop getting sidetracked (which is a perennial problem for me). If you have a son as a jam-buddy then that would be great thing to get happening.

What sort of banjo do you play @Bradofsteel82 ? I have a tenor (4 string) that I was using to play Irish music, but it was originally a jazz instrument and I have also had a go at playing some jazz chords on that.

There are 7 chords, or better said functions in one scale. Try to use chords that you know, to give harmony and rhythm. Maybe you can replace complex jazz chords, with simpler chords?

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Excellent point. The jazz chords wil sound more “jazzy”, but there is no reason you can’t start by using simpler open shapes.

You may also need to use a capo if he is playing in one of those weird sax keys. I could never get my head around that whole transposing instrument thing.

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Good advice so far. The only thing I can suggest is rather than skip ahead is that you “zoom through”. Or at least skim the contents and when you see something that is sketchy, go through it.

He cam simplify it more, from open and barre chords to power chords in standard tuning, like metal, rock, punk, grunge band. It will be jazz metal, or jazz punk, jazz grunge…He can use capo to increase pitch of all strings, or detune guitar to standard Eb, standard D, or some other lower standard tuning. He can try drop D tuning to play power chords on 654, or 6 snd 5 strings with one finger and on strings 5 4 3 normal barre chords. Or some simple 7th chords as dominant, or 5th function on 3 strings like frets 5 4 5 on strings 5 4 3, listen to Carcass - Black Star. He can try powe chords with 9th tone in scale like 3 5 7 on strings 5 4 3. Listen to Message in the bottle. Or try bass guitar abd play one note in function and play kick drum with left foot. Or use drop D tuning and play 3 thickest strings with slide to achieve blues sound.

Or you can use keyboard, or midi controller to play complex chords with just one key. It can be done with computer keyboard too. FL studio can do it. Add some drum loop and bass line. Loop it or make whole backing track in DAW.Use mouse to control effects in XY controller.

Yes mate, just crack into it.

You’re right, you’ll probably need to start working on extended chord shapes like 7ths, 9ths, etc…

There’s many variations of chords in jazz, many of which are played as ‘smaller’ shapes ( 3-4 fretted notes) which are fairly easy to play, and sound great.

Not sure what your knowledge is like on chord construction, but that’s going to make the learning curve much quicker smoother.
Either way, you’re in for some fun. :nerd_face::+1:

All the best.

Cheers, Shane

I’ve played 5 string banjo for bluegrass for several years, but never could catch on to improvising along a melody. Trying to find melody notes AND fit them into a 3 finger roll in the right place was just too much. In that sense, learning on guitar seems to be easier… or at least easier to understand how its supposed to ‘work’.

I have a fundamental understanding of how chords are created (i-iii-v for a major scale, add a vii, etc.) but certainly have a lot to learn there as well.

I think this is what I need to figure out, how to figure out what chords and scale shapes that I already know can ‘fit’ into the jazz tunes he’s playing, rather than worrying about what is absolutely ‘correct’.

You’ll most likely find a lot of at least 7ths, and 9ths in your son’s jazz playing. The good news is theres plenty of fairly simple fingerings.

Cheers, Shane