Why are so many jazz guitar chords so difficult to form?

9137 why are so many jazz guitar chords so difficult to form

Jazz guitar chords are often difficult to form due to their complexity and the technical skill required to play them. Unlike more straightforward chords in other genres of music, jazz chords often include extensions, alterations, and substitutions that can make them challenging to play.

One reason for the complexity of jazz chords is the use of extended harmonies. These chords go beyond the basic triads commonly used in rock and pop music, adding extra notes that create a more sophisticated and nuanced sound. For example, a dominant seventh chord, which is commonly used in jazz, includes the root note, third, fifth, and seventh, but can also include the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth notes of the scale. These added notes can make the chord sound more complex, but also require more intricate fingerings to play.

Another reason for the difficulty of jazz chords is the use of chord substitutions. In jazz, it's common to substitute one chord for another to create a more interesting harmonic progression. For example, a musician might replace a basic major chord with a more complex chord that includes added extensions and alterations. While this can add depth and complexity to the music, it also requires a high level of technical skill to play the new chord effectively.

Additionally, jazz guitarists often use chord voicings that require stretching the fingers across multiple frets. These voicings can be challenging for beginners and even experienced players, requiring precise finger placement and good technique to play accurately.

In conclusion, the complexity of jazz guitar chords can be attributed to the use of extended harmonies, chord substitutions, and challenging chord voicings. To master these chords, it requires a lot of practice and dedication to develop the necessary technical skills. Nonetheless, jazz guitarists find the effort worthwhile, as these complex chords can create rich and sophisticated sounds that are unique to the genre.


  • Bergonzi, Jerry. Inside Improvisation Series, Vol. 4: Melodic Rhythms. Advance Music, 2000.
  • Fisher, Jody. Jazz Guitar Chord System. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2005.
  • Miller, Mark. The Jazz Guitarist’s Guide to Solo Guitar. Mel Bay Publications, Inc., 2012.