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Three Part Voicing Of Four Part Jazz Chords

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Guitarist and educator Chuck Anderson discusses the three chords most frequently used in jazz – the 7th, maj7th and m7th chords.

First, they are four part chords and can be played on many 4 string combinations.

Today, we’re looking at three of these string combinations: 3456, 2345, 1234. These are string groups that use adjacent strings. There are other string combinations used that do not relate to today’s topic.

Let’s begin with strings 3456.

Here are the four basic voicings for the C7 chord. This set of chords is often heavy and muddy. In order to solve that problem, eliminate the note on string 5. The notes on strings 3, 4 and 6 will remain the same. You can use any comfortable fingering to play these chords. Mute string 5 so that only the notes on 3, 4 and 6 will sound. This chord is movable up and down the neck. 

If you move the Bb note up one fret, the chord becomes a Cmaj7. If you move the E down one fret, it becomes a Cm7. This gives you three types of chords played in four positions. Since all the chords move through 12 frets, you now have 144 chords. These are ideal voicings for melody and chords in which you need string 3 as the top string. They are also great for situations that require a bass line along string 6.

Apply this same process to strings 2345 and 1234.


For strings 2345, eliminate string 4. Continue as before ie Bb to B = Cmaj7, E to Eb = Cm7. Mute string 4 so that only strings 5, 3 and 2 sound.

For strings 1234, eliminate string 3. Continue as before ie Bb to B = Cmaj7, E to Eb = Cm7. Mute string 3 so that only strings 4, 2 and 1 sound.

This is an easy way to introduce new voicings and textures into your chord work.

Check out Chuck’s Store with books and music


More Lessons from Chuck Anderson – 

Using A Dominant Substitution for Solos

What You Need To Know About Diminished Scale Fingerings and Chord Application

Helpful Tips With Symmetric Whole Tone Scale Fingering

Learn More About Double Third Chord Voicings for Guitar


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