One of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century Joe Pass was known for his chord melodies, walking bass lines, and, outstanding knowledge of chord inversions and progressions. New York Magazine said of him, “Joe Pass looks like somebody’s uncle and plays guitar like nobody’s business. He’s called “the world’s greatest” and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. There is a certain purity to his sound that makes him stand out easily from other first-rate jazz guitarists”.
A chord is a group of notes played together to create a certain type of sound. The type of sound the chord makes depends upon the notes used in the chord. There are many diferent types of chord with Major and Minor chords being the most common. When you learn a new chord listen carefully to the sound and mood it creates. The following chord is a D Major.
The horizontal lines on the diagram represent the frets with the double one at the top being the nut. The vertical lines represent the strings with the thickest on the left. The black dots tell you where to put your fingers and the numbers next to them tell you which finger to use. An “X” next to a string means dont play it and an “O” next to a string means pluck the string without fretting any notes, this is called an open string.
When playing chords first of all make sure you are only plucking the strings you should be doing. Then pluck the strings one at a time starting with the thickest and make sure each note rings out clearly with no unwanted buzzing or muting. If the chord isn’t sounding right you will have to adjust your fingers and sometimes press a little bit harder. Check your fingers are only on the string they should be and are not resting on the fret wire. When you are happy the chord is correct it is time to strum the chord. Strumming means playing all the notes at virtually the same time plucking the strums using a downward sweeping motion.
Next: Beginners Chords