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Jazz Guitar Comping

Toolkit
Progressive Lessons for Jazz Chords and
Rhythms
Copyright © JazzGuitarLessons.net 2017

This document may not be copied in any way, shape or form, except for small excerpts for
the purposes of promotion or reviews.

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Table of Contents
Table of Contents 2

Introduction 4
Why I Wrote this eBook 4
Who Am I to Write This 4
What You’ll Find Here 4

Chapter 1: Shell Voicings 6


Blues, Blues, Blues … 6

Chapter 2: Rhythms - Take One 8


Rhythms, Take 1: “Four On The Floor” 8

Chapter 3: Shell Voicings on II-V-I 9


More Shell Voicings 9
Variations 9
Next Action Step: Play Comping on Standards 10

Chapter 4: Rhythms - Take Two 11


Rhythms Take 2: “The Charleston” 11

Chapter 5: Shells with Extensions 12


Extensions for Shell Voicings: First Steps 12
A New Adventure 12

Chapter 6 Rhythms - Take Three 14


Rhythms Take 3: Half Notes 14

Chapter 7 “Minor” Considerations 15


Basic Chord Shapes (Minor) 15
Example 1 15
Example 2 15

Recap and ACTION Time! 16


My challenge to you 16

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Introduction
Why I Wrote this eBook

More than ever, guitarists are looking to jazz music for inspiration. Many of you are
searching for ways to get started with or improve your jazz guitar comping. When you begin
to learn jazz comping, there is a lot of information. It’s a lot of work to filter out the best
chords from those GIANT chord books (ie “Encyclopedia of 55,000 guitar chords”) as you
develop.

This ​Toolkit ​is designed to propel you in the right direction by covering the essentials of jazz
chords in an easy-to-read format. If you want to get better, and if you’re keen to start playing
chords and comping like a jazz guitarist, then this eBook is for you.

What’s the secret? Simplify!

Many beginner and intermediate players alike practice jazz chords like they’re trying to
memorize that entire GIANT chord book. Given the enormity of the task, results are often
disappointing. What you need are simple building blocks of jazz harmony and comping.
You’ll soon start creating your own comping masterpieces. When you fully understand and
integrate the content of this short eBook, I personally ​guarantee, ​your comping skills will
soar.

Who Am I to Write This

I’ve been in the jazz guitar field for over 10 years now and feel it’s important that everyone
has this information. I’m working hard to provide people with free lessons online (since 2009
on JazzGuitarLessons.net)! I’ve discovered an eBook is a fantastic way to reach you. It’s
easy and simple. You can read it in five to ten minutes and it will have a huge impact on your
playing!

What You’ll Find Here

You’ll find The ​most important jazz guitar comping tips ​I can provide in this format. My
method makes sure that you ​can ​immediately apply these ideas to your own playing and
practicing. There are many more lessons, courses, videos, sheet music exercises (and
more!) that will also help your jazz chording abilities. They’re all available at
JazzGuitarLessons.net!

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I urge you to go ahead and apply all this ideas to your playing. Don’t just read it, ​do it​!

There is so much more to learn alongside comping. You can discover scales, chords, songs,
chord melody and more by visiting the JazzGuitarLessons.net website.

Enjoy your jazz adventure! To your continued jazz guitar success.


Marc-Andre Seguin

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Chapter 1: Shell Voicings
Get started jazz guitar comping by learning Shell Voicings. These voicings are the basics of
comping, They're often the best-sounding options as well! Learn some basic 3-note shapes,
and you’re on your way. For jazz guitarists, Shell Voicings are as common as the regular C,
D, E G and F chords you may already know from playing other styles of music.

Shell Voicings are a very important tool for jazz guitarists. They work so well in jazz as they
contain the essential qualities of any chord you are playing. Using three notes -- 1, 3 and 7
of any given chord -- our ears can fully understand each chord and its harmonic context.

You can play full chord progressions using these easy-to-play Shell Voicings. Shell Voicings
are much more than easy voicings. They are gateways to new ideas such as chords
extensions (9ths, 11ths and 13ths), leading you away from traditional chord “grips” and into
new exciting musical territory. You will also learn to “break loose” from the root (the 1) of
many chords, allowing for more exploration. Understanding great guitarists like Wes
Montgomery might just a bit easier with these chords under your fingers.

Shell Voicings also teach a better knowledge and understanding of the guitar as a whole.
When you master these, you’ll really know your stuff!

​ atch our video here​. Watch it again and again!


For another view on Shell Voicings, w

Blues, Blues, Blues …


I love the Blues. Nearly everyone loves it, whether they know it or not. In the v​ ideo​, we apply
the 3-note Shell Voicings to a Blues in the key of Bb. It’s pure basics: a basic jazz form using
basic jazz chords. Here are 3 Shell Voicings for Bb Blues:

Use this Bb blues as your start point. Play along with the video, then afterward play by
yourself, at faster tempos. Try to play by memory! Next, see of you can play through a Blues,
in the key of F, using the shell voicings found around frets 6, 7 and 8.

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Key Takeaway

➢ Start comping on almost any jazz song by learning some fundamental chord shapes -
Shell Voicings. Over time, Shell Voicings will provide a wealth of great sounds to your
playing. The Bb blues is an easy place to begin using these voicings!

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps


➢ Use easy 3-note Shell Voicings to get your jazz comping skills up and running. Study
the 3 shapes for the Bb blues, and get playing!

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Chapter 2: Rhythms - Take One
Rhythms, Take 1: “Four On The Floor”

Once you have the Shell Voicings under your fingers, you need to add some rhythm into the
mix. Which rhythm should you start with? Great question! We’re so often concentrated on
chord shapes and chord progressions that we forget the very vital rhythmic component. My
viewpoint is that you play your jazz guitar comping “from your heart” -- just let the rhythms
flow. Listen with focus to the music around you, and try to fit in.

Try this nice solid and trustworthy rhythmic idea. It’s called a “Four On The Floor” rhythm.

Four On the Floor (aka “chunk chunk chunk …” or “poum tchak”)

Key Takeaway

➢ Rhythm is an important element of jazz guitar comping! We’re often so fixated on the
chord shapes and chord progressions that we forget that rhythm is a HUGE element
too.

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps

➢ Get started on the rhythmic element of your jazz comping with the dependable “Four
On the Floor” jazz rhythm.

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Chapter 3: Shell Voicings on
II-V-I
More Shell Voicings
Let’s go a little deeper into chord progressions. Below are the six most frequently use Shell
Voicings for jazz guitarists. They cover the three main chords types (major7, minor7, and
dominant7). The root of each chord is found on either the 6th string or the 5th string.

Play these chords from left to right. This is your fundamental II-V-I chord progression in the
key of C Major. You probably recognize the G7 shapes from your work with the Bb Blues
earlier. :)

Variations
Variation 1: Maj7 chords might sound a bit dissonant, so it’s a good idea to learn the Major 6
shells alongside the Maj7. Replace the 7th degree of the chord with the 6th. Root, third and
sixth -- C, E and A -- CMaj6 (commonly known as C6). Simple, and very useful!

Variation 2: When you see a min7b5 chords, (also known as half-diminished), use the m7
chord shapes. Because there is no 5th (or b5) in the Shell Voicing, you avoid any potential

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conflict!

Key Takeaway
➢ You can greatly expand your range of jazz guitar comping options to include the II-V-I
by learning the six Shell Voicings in this chapter. A slight variation in fingering will
also give you a bit more flexibility with Maj7 and m7b5 chords.

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps


➢ Learn the six new shapes, then apply them to II-V-I chords progressions. Then move
on to playing your shell voicings over entire songs.

Next Action Step: Play Comping on Standards


Find a lead sheet for a song you like, and begin playing the chords using only Shell Voicings.
An important step is to simplify the extensions. Every time you see a “9, 11 or 13”, replace
the number with a “7” Look at the following example:

Becomes:

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Chapter 4: Rhythms - Take Two
Rhythms Take 2: “The Charleston”
The “Charleston” is an often-used rhythm in jazz and many other styles of music. Once you
learn it, you’ll probably begin to hear it every time you listen to music! It’s surprisingly easy to
play:

Taking the Charleston rhythm and moving it around a bar of music can create a goldmine of
rhythmic options. Discover more in our video ​about displacing the Charleston rhythm​.

Practice individual chords using the Charleston rhythm. Move on to playing the Blues, then a
II-V-7 chord progression. Finally, use the Charleston rhythm on your favorite jazz tunes!

Key Takeaway
➢ Learning the Charleston is a very versatile rhythm that will enrich your jazz comping.

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps


➢ The Charleston rhythm launches you towards new worlds in your jazz comping.
Begin by playing individual chords with the rhythm, then adding Blues and II-V-I
chords progressions.

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Chapter 5: Shells with
Extensions
Extensions for Shell Voicings: First Steps
As you get more comfortable with the basic Shell Voicings, you’ll want add some more color.
Chords “extensions” are any note that is ​above ​the 7th of a chord. There are 3 main
categories: 9, 11 and 13. Each category also has the potential to be altered either flat (b) or
sharp (#). If you’ve seen G7#9 and D7b13, or maybe Cmaj7#11, note that these are
extensions. There’s no need to learn all of this information now however. There is quite a bit
​ dding extensions to chords​!
to learn about a

Here are two ways to broaden the II-V-I chord progression in C Major, using Shell Voicings
with added chord extensions.

It’s a straightforward exercise. Add the 13th to the chords with 6th-string root. Add the 9th to
the chord with 5th-string root.

A New Adventure
If you’re feeling good about your Shell Voicings, you can try to “go rootless”. You don’t need
to know anything new. Read on.

Go back and work on the Bb Blues from Chapter 1. Use the same Shell Voicings, but this
time remove the lowest note of each voicing. In other words, whichever notes you were
playing on either the 5th or 6th strings … don’t play them. Play only the remaining two notes.

What you’re now working with are the 3rd and 7th of each chord, comfortably laid out on
strings 4 and 3.

Next, try the same idea with jazz standards you also worked on earlier.

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P.S. -- You can try to “supercharge” this idea. Add extensions on the top two strings, as
shown below!

OR:

Key Takeaway
➢ It’s a modest step to add chords extensions to your Shell Voicings. They’ll bring color
and excitement to your playing. No need to know all of the theory just yet, a few key
chord shapes will get you started.

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps


➢ Add chords extensions by learning the II-V-I chord progression with some convenient
added notes. See above diagram to get started!

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Chapter 6 Rhythms - Take
Three
Rhythms Take 3: Half Notes
Another solid rhythm you can add to your comping arsenal is the half note. A very accessible
rhythm, the half note provides for a buffet of new ideas. Here’s an example:

Simply play in half-notes, starting on beats 1 and beats 3 of each measure. This style of
playing is called “playing in 2.” Often used in more “traditional” situations, playing “in 2” can
be found during the first chorus of a song. The name of the rhythmic style literally comes
from what you’re doing -- playing two solidly-placed notes per measure. Thus, “in 2”!

You can get really creative with this rhythm. By starting the rhythm on the “and” of beat 4,
you create a very hip anticipation. Before you know it, you’re playing the “and of beat 4 ​AND
the “and of beat 2. Pretty cool stuff.

​ ​ere is a video​ about it to get you going ...


To learn more about this, h

Key Takeaway
➢ Playing “in two” is a solid rhythmic idea that provides more rhythmic action in your
comping. Furthermore, getting creative with this rhythm also leads you to some pretty
hip comping ideas!

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps


➢ Start by playing some solid half-note rhythms using your Shell Voicings. Try it over
the Blues and other standard jazz repertoire. Add in some “anticipations” to help you
get hip in a hurry.

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Chapter 7 “Minor”
Considerations
Basic Chord Shapes (Minor)
When you are playing in minor keys, you can most certainly use the basic Shell Voicings
you’ve learned. However, there are other sounds that help identify the sound of the
minor-key II-V-I. To get you started, here are two sets of chord shapes to use.

These diagrams are similar to Shell Voicings because they share either 6th-string or
5th-string roots. Learn these shapes, then put them to use the same way you have with the
other Shell Voicings.

Example 1

Example 2

Key takeaway
➢ There are some special chord shapes you can use in minor keys. They’re not quite
the same as your basic Shell Voicings, but they share some common ground.

TL;DR - Summary and Action Steps


➢ Learn these two sets of chord shapes to get your basics for minor keys.

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Recap and ACTION Time!
You now know many basics of jazz guitar chords and comping. It’s time to put these ideas to
use!

My challenge to you
Practice each day for the next 7 days. Each day, absorb ​one new tip​ from this eBook. On
Day 1, read and play Chapter 1. On Day 2, read and apply Chapters 1 and 2. Day 3 -- apply
the first three chapters. Do this until you reach Day 7, with seven tips to apply to your jazz
comping.

At the end of the week, you practice sessions will be transformed for the better. Honestly, I
can’t think of a clearer and easier fast-track to becoming a confident jazz musician.

Let me recap for you:

DAY 1 - Learn and play your first Shell Voicings


DAY 2 - Rhythms: Four On The Floor
DAY 3 - Using Shell Voicings on a II-V-I
DAY 4 - Rhythms: The Charleston
DAY 5 - Shell Voicings with Extensions
DAY 6 - Rhythms: Half Notes -- Playing “in 2”

- DAY 7 -
Recap your first week with this new paradigm. Keep your head up high.
And commit to …
Accept that ...

Congratulations!

Put this into action now, and I will see you soon on JazzGuitarLessons.net !

Don’t forget to take a look at​ J​ azz Guitar Comping 101​ ​to help you this that, that and this and
that.

Marc-Andre Seguin
JazzGuitarLessons.net

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