Jazz guitarists frequently use barre chords in their playing. Barre chords are an essential part of the jazz guitarist’s toolbox and are used in a wide variety of contexts, from comping behind a soloist to playing chord melodies.
Barre chords are a type of guitar chord that involves using one finger, usually the index finger, to press down multiple strings across a fret. This technique allows the guitarist to play chords in a variety of positions on the guitar neck, which can be useful when playing in different keys or when trying to create a particular voicing.
One of the primary uses of barre chords in jazz guitar is for comping. Comping is the practice of playing chords behind a soloist or vocalist in order to provide harmonic support and rhythmic interest. Barre chords can be particularly useful for comping because they allow the guitarist to play complex chords with a minimum of hand movement.
Another common use of barre chords in jazz guitar is for chord melodies. Chord melodies involve playing both the melody and the harmony of a song on the guitar, which can be challenging because it requires the guitarist to play multiple notes simultaneously. Barre chords are useful for chord melodies because they allow the guitarist to play complex chords with a minimum of hand movement.
While barre chords are an important tool for jazz guitarists, they are not the only type of chord that is used in jazz. Jazz guitarists also use open chords, drop 2 and drop 3 voicings, and other types of chords to create a variety of harmonic textures.
- Fisher, Jody. “Barre Chords for Jazz Guitar.” Premier Guitar, 2015.
- Goodrick, Mick. The Advancing Guitarist. Hal Leonard, 1987.
- Pettinger, Peter. “Jazz Guitar Chord Voicings: An Essential Guide.” Jazz Guitar Online, 2021.