How to play jazz guitar: 5 ways to get started

Julian Lage
Julian Lage is a modern maestro of jazz guitar; he is the goal. But you've got to start somewhere... (Image credit: Didier Messens/Getty Images)

You may have heard that jazz guitar players artfully play ‘wrong’ notes. However, if you just play at random frets you’ll probably sound more like a crashed train than Coltrane. 

A better way to think about it is as ‘tension and release’: notes that clash with the underlying chord create tension, while notes from within the chord release that tension for a sweeter sound. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jenna Scaramanga

Jenna writes for Total Guitar and Guitar World, and is the former classic rock columnist for Guitar Techniques. She studied with Guthrie Govan at BIMM, and has taught guitar for 15 years. She's toured in 10 countries and played on a Top 10 album (in Sweden).